October 21, 2021
Chairman Franchuk called the special meeting of the Stark County Board of Commissioners to order at 9:00 AM. Commissioners Present: Dean Franchuk, Bernie Marsh, Neal Messer, and Ken Zander. Commissioners Present Via Telephone: Carla Arthaud.
Department Heads Present: Auditor–Karen Richard, States Attorney-Amanda Engelstad, Recorder-Kim Kasian, Tax Director-Natalie Wandler, Human Resources – Joetta Pearcy, County Park Director-Lisa Heiser, Sheriff Corey Lee, and Road Superintendent–Al Heiser.
Chairman Franchuk requested that the Public Hearing Stark County Delinquent Properties Price Minimums be removed and put on the November 2, 2021 agenda.
MOTION BY: Commissioner Messer
SECONDED BY: Commissioner Marsh
To approve the amended agenda.
DISPOSITION: All voted aye. Motion Carried.
Tom Roll, Mike Farley, and Olivia Krebs appeared on behalf of the City of Richardton requesting Stark County sign a letter of support regarding street improvements.
MOTION BY: Commissioner Zander
SECONDED BY: Commissioner Messer
To have Chairman Franchuk sign the letter of support as requested by the City of Richardton.
DISPOSITION: Roll call: Commissioners: Zander – aye, Messer – aye, Marsh – aye, Chairman Franchuk - aye. Motion Carried.
State’s Attorney Engelstad updated the commission advising the state law regarding the hours to sell liquor have recently changed to 8 am open and 2 am close. Engelstad advises to her knowledge Stark County does not have a policy regarding liquor sales hours, so she has been advising establishments to follow state law. This is just for the establishments within the county, those that are in municipalities would follow that city’s policy.
MOTION BY: Commissioner Zander
SECONDED BY: Commissioner Messer
To have Stark County liquor license holders follow the state laws regarding liquor sales open hours.
ADDITIONAL DISCUSSION: Marsh expressed concern that patrons may leave a bar within the City and try to drive to a Stark County establishment for an hour from 1 am to 2 am.
DISPOSITION: Roll call: Commissioners: Zander – aye, Messer – aye, Marsh – nay, Arthaud – nay, Chairman Franchuk - aye. Motion Carried.
Commissioner Arthaud joined the meeting via telephone at approximately 9:10 am.
Richard addressed the commission regarding the $80,000 Auditor salary motion and feels this was done not based on facts and the information provided. She states we are a larger county in ND and by electing to put her at $80,000, according to surveys done, this put her salary in the lowest 18% range of what an auditor makes in our size county. She states she was brought in to do things differently, to provide transparency and provide management over the auditor/treasurer’s office – and believes she has attributed a lot and has stepped up to the plate. Marsh asked where are you now? Richard advised that $80,000 is $38.46/hr. and $85,000 would be $40.87/hr. Richard states if you want to retain employees you need them to be at the 50% range. Zander questioned if there are going to be consulting fees coming up? Richard advised there will be some fees as she feels Ms. Betlaff is an asset and is going to help with the redistricting and addressing. The budget does have a line item for her consulting at $12,000 if needed.
MOTION BY: Commissioner Messer SECONDED BY: Commissioner Zander
To amend the Stark County Auditor’s salary for the calendar year of 2022 to $85,000 from $80,000 that was approved at the last commissioner meeting.
DISPOSITION: Roll call: Commissioners: Messer – aye, Zander – aye, Marsh – aye, Arthaud – nay, Chairman Franchuk - aye. Motion Carried.
Zander states he believes his position is well known to the commissioners. Zander also states when it is time for him to vote on any motion involving him, he will abstain. Engelstad states that at the July meeting the vote was to not approve Arthaud’s attorney fees and to revisit it after a policy had been put in place. That motion still stands today. Messer asked for clarification from Engelstad if it is her opinion that 4 of the 5 commissioners are eligible to vote on the attorney fees motions or if it is 3 of the 5. Engelstad responds that because they are 2 very separate requests and issues she believes 4 of the 5 are eligible to vote on the issue that doesn’t correspond to them. Marsh questioned the policy status. Engelstad responds the policy is done and it was supposed to come in front of this commission many times, but has not. Messer responds that for the September meeting we were one day late to get it on the agenda. We were then going to bring the policy in under the osmosis that we would deal with the policy first and the potential reimbursements second, and that was not acceptable to one of the commissioners, as it was their wish to bring the reimbursement conversation first. Arthaud states she was the commissioner who asked for the policy to not be brought forward and this bill is more about the process to her. Chairman Franchuk asked Marsh and Messer if they were ever presented the final investigation report on this incident – they both responded no and Franchuk thinks this should have been brought up the year the expenses were incurred and that asking 2 commissioners to vote on something they hadn’t seen is not fair. Engelstad states you have 3 options to resolve this: vote to approve, vote to deny, or enter into negotiations. Franchuk asks if we go thru a mediator, does it then have to go thru the commission for final approval? Engelstad advised in negotiations the commission appoints a person to the negotiation and would authorize that person to settle any dollar amounts.
MOTION BY: Commissioner Marsh
To enter into mediation on attorney fees for Commissioner Zander.
DISPOSITION: Motion died for lack of a second
MOTION BY: Commissioner Messer
SECONDED BY: Commissioner Marsh
To deny Commissioner Zander’s request for reimbursement of legal fees.
DISPOSITION: Roll call: Commissioners: Messer – aye, Marsh – aye, Arthaud – nay, Zander – abstain, Chairman Franchuk - aye. Motion Carried.
Chairman Franchuk advises there is a motion in place that states we need to put a policy in place before we can move forward with Arthaud’s attorney fees, we will need to have that rescinded to proceed. Arthaud asks who put this policy together? Engelstad advises she put most of it together and then it was sent to Messer and Pearcy. Arthaud states how she does not agree with items in the proposed policy and that it may violate century code. Engelstad states that as the States Attorney she would not put a policy together that violates century code. Arthaud states she has not seen this proposed policy and is concerned we are going backward in transparency instead of forward. Franchuk asks Arthaud if she has not seen the policy, then how does she not agree with it or think it violates century code? Arthaud, states she is withdrawing her bill, because she is very disappointed in how this meeting has been organized and put together and will advise the commission within the next 2 months if it will come back. Zander believes we need to follow thru with the proposed policy and then move forward with the items on today’s agenda. Engelstad states no motion is needed to put the policy on the agenda, we can just put it on the agenda, like any other policy we review. Zander would like the previous motion regarding his attorney fees rescinded. Engelstad states that if you want to have the policy in place before you approve or deny previous attorney fees, then you would need to rescind that motion. Messer states let’s bring the policy forward for approval or denial and then potentially revisit some of these. Franchuk states the policy will be on the November 2 agenda.
Commissioner Messer made MOTION to adjourn, Commissioner Marsh SECONDED, Adjourned.
Karen Richard, Auditor
Dean Franchuk, Chairman
(Dec. 15, 2021) 12928