January 5, 2012 at 8:26 a.m.

Gavel passes to Commissioner McMahon as Board Chair

Gavel passes to Commissioner McMahon as Board Chair
Gavel passes to Commissioner McMahon as Board Chair

County Commissioner George McMahon led his first county board meeting Tuesday, Jan 3 as the new chair for 2012. McMahon was seated on a unanimous vote, with Commissioner Lora Walker absent.

In his early remarks McMahon, Chisago City, said he hopes the Board can maintain "a climate of respect and courtesy in Board dealings and correspondence." He mentioned that he'll be talking with new county administrator Bruce Messelt prior to the next Board meeting to flesh out some details "...to continue to improve what we can improve on and do what we are doing well."

The County Board Chair recommends the annual committee assignments and there was some debate on McMahon's approach to mix things up a bit.

He recommended eliminating a few committees that do not require an elected official to sit on them as a cost savings measure. Eliminated as mandatory paid committees that county commissioners used to attend are: the Chisago Lakes Lake Improvement District Board, The Refuge, board meetings for the Comfort Lake/Forest Lake Watershed District, the county Parks Board. And, if commissioners attend the monthly township association sessions they'll only get reimbursed mileage and not the $50 per diem.

McMahon also requested Commissioner Rick Greene serve as the designated Commissioner-liaison to the Chisago County planning commission, and Commissioner Robinson would no longer serve.

Commissioner Mike Robinson opposed his removal from the group. He added, it "looks like a political move."

Chair McMahon said it's just good policy to allow another person to serve and that Robinson has been on the planning commission for years.

McMahon also recommended eliminating a commissioner from required attendance at county park board meetings. He said the parks director Laird Mork makes regular reports to the Board and the position isn't a voting seat anyway. Robinson also was opposed to not assigning a county commissioner to attend parks meeting.

Robinson was the lone no vote on the committee recommendations, which were adopted 3-1.

In policy actions for 2012, Commissioner Robinson motioned to eliminate all meal reimbursements. The motion died 3-1.

Robinson motioned to set meal reimbursements at $7 maximum and got no second and it died.

The meals policy remains the same for 2012 with breakfast receipts reimbursed up to $8, lunch (with receipt) up to $9 and dinner at $16. Reimbursement is for employees and commissioners in the course of performing work related duties, attending conferences, etc.

The commissioners designated the Human Resources department head and Administrator to handle most personnel issues. This is a departure from the commissioners ordinarily having to sign-off on personnel actions.

Commissioner Robinson was upset that the Board would not be voting directly on who gets fired anymore. He said to administrator Messelt he didn't want Messelt to "fire whoever you want" without the Board sanctioning it.

Commissioner Ben Montzka commented that often there's private data involved when an employee is terminated and the commissioners shouldn't be having access to information like that, anyway. The employee can always appeal, Montzka stressed.

Administrator Messelt said he will share circumstances around actions "to the extent we can" and that the policy is effective for one year and will be reviewed and renewed annually.

In the end the resolution on the policy got a unanimous vote.

Appointments of citizens were made to represent districts #3 and #5: Planning Commission seats due to expire went to incumbents David Whitney and Craig Mold. The Board of Adjustment seats went to incumbents Chris DuBose and John Sutcliffe.

Official newspaper status was granted based on a three-year bid in 2010; so the Post Review and Chisago County Press continue as official newspapers through a joint bid for legal notices.

Administrator Messelt proposed a $5,000 allocation to bring graduate-degree level interns in to assist the county attorney in compiling contracts for services and joint powers.

Messelt said the product will be a consolidated report on the many legal contracts the county has with various entities, and the interns will work on a policy and procedures manual. Robinson was the lone no vote. The special project is estimated to require 15 weeks at 10 hours per week.


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