OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS OF THE STARK COUNTY COMMISSION SEPTEMBER 15, 2021 Chairman Franchuk called the special meeting of the Stark County Board of Commissioners to order at 9:00 AM.

SEPTEMBER 15, 2021
Chairman Franchuk called the special meeting of the Stark County Board of Commissioners to order at 9:00 AM. Commissioners Present: Dean Franchuk, Carla Arthaud, Bernie Marsh, Neal Messer. Commissioners Absent: Ken Zander.
Department Heads Present: Acting Auditor-Karen Richard, Recorder-Kim Kasian, Tax Director-Natalie Wandler, Veterans Service Officer-Jessica Clifton, Sheriff-Corey Lee, County Park Director-Lisa Heiser, and Road Superintendent-Al Heiser.
MOTION BY: Commissioner ArthaudSECONDED BY: Commissioner Messer
To approve the agenda as presented.
DISPOSITION: Roll call vote. All voted aye. Motion Carried.
Auditor Karen Richard reviewed the proposed budget as follows:
Governing Board: Ms. Richard advised that after visiting with Chairman Franchuk the proposed budget reflects a 2% salary increase. Other changes were: Commissioner Zander's cell phone allowance added back in and longevity has been taken out.
Human resource: Ms. Richard presented a proposed $1.00/hour salary increase, with no other changes to the budget. Richard asked the commission how to handle wage increases on staff with more than one job description (eg: Human Resources and Risk Management). After discussion, it was decided to combine those 2 lines into one salary and make risk management part of the job detail.
Auditor: Ms. Richard presented a proposed $1.00/hour salary increase for staff and changed Ms. Richard's wage from hourly to salary, also decreased Ms. Betlaf to approximately 5 hours a week, on an as-needed basis. Commissioner Arthaud expressed concern with the salary raise for the Auditor position and feels that it is high. Commissioner Messer asked what the advertised salary range was when Ms. Haag resigned. Richard advised it was $85,000.00 for 6 months and then move up to $92,000.00. Messer stated he is looking at it as a package and when you take the potential consulting fee of $12.500.00 plus the $85,000.00 that makes it $97,500.00. Commissioner Marsh stated he is comfortable with it except for the amount we pay Betlaf. Arthaud would like to see the salary at the 2% proposed rate of $78,540.00 or $1,00/hr. to $79.080.00. Richard advised that comparable size counties are paying their auditors in the high 80s low 90s. Chairman Franchuk stated that in the past when someone came in and took someone's position they typically got the salary of the person before.
Planner: Ms. Richard presented a $1.00/hour increase and an overtime line was added for $1,000.00. The city typically matches what we do. No overtime last year, as he didn't have a line budget.
States Attorney: Ms. Richard presented a $1.00/hour increase and longevity was removed from Ms. Engelstad. The 3rd state's attorney line is open as they may need to hire another attorney, depending on the workload. The contingency fund is for if we have to fly witnesses in for court or expenses of that nature.
Recorder: Ms. Richard presented a $1.00/hour increase with the only other change being overtime and travel increased for conferences.
Tax Equalization: Ms. Richard presented a $1.00/hour increase and noted an increase in travel and appraisals have decreased.
Custodian: Ms. Richard addressed Mr. Dschaak's salary and that compared to other counties he is being paid less, so proposing a higher raise. Ms. Wanner took over the contract custodian for $30,000.00, so she has a $1.50/hour bump and Mr. Fiedler is at a $1.00/hour increase. No other line changes.
Elections: Ms. Richard reported we aren't sure how the election mandates will go this year. She budgeted $38,000 less than 2020.
Public Safety: Ms. Richard advised the proposed wage increase was not at $1.00/hour across the board, like the other departments - the $1.00/hour was figured and then raises were given based on positions. Sheriff Lee stated that is correct - they did some restructuring.
Law enforcement maintenance: Ms. Richard reported this is the LEC building and the budget is Stark County's share. Commissioner Arthaud asked do we give the money to the jail to cover the maintenance for the whole building? Richard advised we have the LEC main budget and then the jail budget which is using our capital projects levy - also what we pay for our inmates - so we have a lot of different amounts we pay to the jail. At the end of the year, whatever the jail is over budget, Stark county pays. Arthaud suggested we don't put Capital improvements in the budget as a line item - if they need it then we give it to them. Sheriff Lee stated he believes they bank it and then they aren't coming with a huge request. Commissioner Marsh will find out what the money is being spent on.
Disaster Emergency Services: Ms. Richard reports the salaries are split with E911. $1.00/hour across the board salary increase. No other big changes.
E911: Ms. Richard reports this is not levied the revenue comes from Siren 2020 and phone tax. Commissioner Arthaud pointed out, this department head's salary is way under the previous department head salary and this is something we should look into.
Information Technology: Ms. Richard reports this budget is being updated, with some line items renamed. The ARCA Search was not levied for and will be a funding request. Commissioner Messer asked about the computer and updates line - what is the long-term plan? Commissioner Marsh responded that the 2023 budget will probably remain the same, we are trying to update all computers and trying to get them on a regular rotation. It's been neglected for so long, that it is now a big expense. Richard reported that IT funding could potentially be covered under the loss of revenue ARPA funding - and that could help keep some of these costs down.
County Park: Ms. Richard reported a proposed $1.00/hour salary increase. On the fair event activities line of $160,000 - $84,000.00 is requested from the Roughrider Commission, we could bring that down by $40,000.00 to bring down the general levy. $80,000.00 is typically given to the roughrider commission. Ms. Heiser reported the Lakeview estates is the park across from the county shop, that has not been maintained, the $20,000.00 budgeted and along with some pending grants is to repair and maintain the park.
County Road and Bridge: Ms. Richard advised the mils went from 1 mil to 11.5 mils, to add in the 10-mil fund, as that is going away. This budget is determined by the actual tax basis, the budget is based on what is available from the mils. Mr. Heiser stated this is a combination of Special Road and 10 mils and renaming it County Road and Bridge.
County Roads - Unorganized: Ms. Richard reports this is at 18 mils and includes all the properties in the county outside of the city limits (outside of all cities in the county). Mr. Heiser noted that a full mil for County Roads is valued at $68,890.00 while a county mil is valued at $203,860.20.
Highway Distribution: Ms. Richard advised partial revenue comes from the state highway tax distribution and some miscellaneous, so we only levy for what is leftover. There is a proposed $1.00/hour raise.
Capital Improvement: Ms. Richard reports we are not levying for capital improvements, we are just estimating on the expenses.
County Jail: Ms. Richard reports we levy 10 mils for the county jail and use the capital projects levy which is not available for any more mil without a vote. Commissioner Arthaud asked with this amount, do we still have to compensate at the end of the year? Richard responded yes, the county has to pay whatever we are short. Sheriff Lee advised everything is split amongst counties, by population, for the jail.
Emergency: Ms. Richard advises we are not milling for this. You can normally mil for this - but because we have extra revenue in our special projects we could pull from that.
Veterans Service: Ms. Richard advises we did not levy for this, as there are funds available. There is an addition for Ms. Clifton, extra compensation of $9,000.00. The county receives $36,000.00 for services from Grant, Hettinger, and Billings counties, and we would pay Clifton $9,000.00, which is $3,000.00 per county and is contingent on those counties staying with Stark County. There are no other significant changes. Clifton added for clarification, she was hired as the Stark county Veteran's Service officer and Stark county has not compensated her for those extra county services. Clifton advises she spends a lot of weekends and evenings traveling to these counties and tries to flex her time and not claim overtime.
County Agent: Ms. Richard reports Mr. Froelich requested the staff get $2.00/hour which is not levied as there are past available funds. Michaela's wages are being split between weed and county agent and weed is only requesting $1.00/hour. There is an increase in cell phone allowance. Commissioner Marsh stated we trying to stay within a range and shouldn't step up to the $2.00 range. Richard stated that even though there were no raises approved last year, last year's approved budget had them getting a raise, and they didn't get that.
Weed control: Ms. Richard advises she did meet with the weed board to talk about the budget, as it is running in the red. They are going to reduce the cost-share amount on chemicals, and we are going to transfer over the cost of retirement, health and social security, and Medicare for their employees over to the general. They are at the max of 4 mils. Levied for $30,000.00 to go into weed to get them back in the green. Proposed a 1.00/hour wage increase.
SW Victim Witness: Ms. Richard reports that this is not levied for, she is hoping the grant she submitted is approved. The biggest change is going salary vs hourly. She is also looking to bring on an assistant to help with some of the paperwork. Commissioner Messer responded that the assistant is subject to getting a grant.
2022 Funding County Request: Ms. Richard advises these are requests that were not levied. We could potentially use some of the other funding options for these requests. ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding, the county received $3,058,184.50 and will receive the same amount next year. $2,000,000 is currently pledged to the career academy. The strings are very tight on what the funding can be used for, but the county has a loss revenue calculation of about 6 million dollars between 2019 and 2020. So, that opens the ARPA funding up to be used for things like
county road, health services, emergency services, sheriff dept. and IT. Richard reports the following have been requested: Sheriff department - 3 cars 150,000.00; ARCA online minutes - 13.499.00; Weed Control Side by Side - $50,000.00; County Park Restroom facility - $230,000.00; Portable bleachers - $62,000.00; Electrical pedestals - $60,000.00; Fair and motorsport signage - $125,000.00; Motorsport chain link fence - $35,000.00. Sheriff Lee advised they may have a request for body cameras - about $400,000.00.
2022 Funding Other Entity Requests: Ms. Richard went back thru the minutes to see what was asked for and where they could be funded from, whether it meets ARPA or Loss of Revenue guidelines. The Elder Meals for $54,000.00 will probably need to be covered as the mil was short about .08 on the levy.
2022 Contributions: These contributions were included in the estimated tax statement levies. The Belfield/Billings Ambulance Service was levied for $220,000.00, but they have not come forward with a formal request for that amount. Ms. Richard advised JDA job development was at 1 mil and went up to 2.47 mils, you may be able to reduce those to 2 mils. Bob Zent addressed the commission regarding how JDA started and funding. Vector control also came back on (mosquitos), going from 0 to 0.64 mil.
Sheriff Lee addressed the commission regarding a change to the road budget: Ms. Tessier was not adjusted on the road budget and Sheriff Lee would like to see her at a Corporal rate of $70,500.00.
Public Hearing
Leslie Ross addressed the commission regarding Commissioners responsibilities, some have lots of portfolios and some only a few, but yet their rate of pay is the same. She also addressed the Commission with a history of the Stark County Veterans Service Office and how the joint powers agreements came about, along with questions and concerns regarding the decreasing numbers of veterans being serviced yet wages having increased. She also feels the commission should be asking more questions of the Veterans Service Office, such as claims submitted, how many active claims, etc. She also addressed how she believes the salaries in Stark County should not follow the position and we need to have proof of performance to provide raises.
Bob Zent addressed the commission regarding the weed board and asked if they spray exclusively in the county or if they also spray in the city? Ms. Richard advised that the county and city are separate and each do their own spraying. Commissioner Arthaud advised that just started this year. Zent also asked the 10-mil levy is dedicated to replacing bridges and improving roads, with it being moved, what is the plan forward? Mr. Heiser responded that it hasn't really moved, it has changed, according to legislation, it is combined with the Special Road and Bridge. Richard advised the 10 mil is now part of the 10-mil levy that got combined with Special Road and Bridge which was at 1.5 mil out of 10. We can mil 11.5 until the end of 2024 and then if tax base isn't high enough we would need to put up the 1.5 mil for a vote.
Chairman Franchuk addressed Ms. Ross's comments stating the county is working on performance evaluations. He also addressed the portfolios of the commissioners and stated that most of the commissioners volunteered for those.
Public Hearing Closed
Commissioner Messer stated that on the estimated notice that went out we are levying more dollars than we did 12 months ago - it would be his goal to take that to zero. Ms. Richard advised that you would need to lower the mils by 3.02 mils, which is about $611,000.00 total that would need to be cut to match last year. If you want to get the dollar amount down to what it was last year, that would be about $904,000.00. Both Messer and Arthaud expressed that they would like to see the money come out of reserve, and not raise property taxes. Richard advised you cannot use ARPA funding to offset tax dollars, that would disqualify some of that funding. It is the mils that needs to be kept the same.
Bob Zent addressed the board and feels that it would be just to make the levies equal, if your property value went up then your taxes should go up.
Tax Director Wandler addressed the board and stated she agrees, if your property value goes up, then the tax dollars should go up. As long as we get the mils down - if the property value stayed the same the taxes should be the same.
Commissioner Arthaud made MOTION to adjourn, Commissioner Marsh SECONDED, Adjourned.
Karen Richard, Acting Auditor
Dean Franchuk, Chairman
(Nov. 3, 2021) 2909772