Pursuant to notice made to the newspaper of general circulation throughout Grant County, the radio station in Grant County, and to interested persons on the Grant County e-mail list, a regular meeting of the County Court was held at the County Courthouse in Canyon City OR.
9:10 am -- Called to Order. Present were Judge Mark R. Webb and Commissioners Scott W. Myers and Boyd Britton, Secretary Mary Ferrioli, and Pastor Sharon Miller. The Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States flag. An opening prayer was given by Pastor Sharon Miller.
PROGRAM. MSP: Webb/Myers - to accept the program with the addition of transferring responsibility of mental health to CCS, a proposed change in public comment protocol for land use applications, a tax refund order, and proposed policy on rehiring former employees.
Webb and Britton reported on the August 26th breakfast meeting with Congressman Gregg Walden that was attended by all court members.
Myers planned to attend the Commission on Children & Families board meeting September 2nd at 5:30 pm at the DHS Conference Room, where a self-assessment of the board would be conducted.
Myers planned to attend a quarterly meeting of the Northeast Oregon Housing Authority on September 16th in La Grande.
Myers said he and Commissioner Britton would attend a lunch meeting at noon today with Scott Reid, Vice Provost of OSU Outreach.
9:25 am - Gary Judd entered.
Webb commented on the Oregon Rural Congress meeting that he attended in Cascade Locks August 21st & 22nd.
MINUTES. MSP: Myers/Webb -- to approve the August 20th Minutes as slightly amended.
AIRPORT PROJECT. Airport Manager Gary Judd recommended approval of a Federal Aviation Administration Grant Agreement for Phase 3 for the extension of Runway 17/35 and Runway 9. Judd explained that the FAA agreement includes the 25% funding shortfall (previously held because of Congressional authorization), plus another $107,000 in state apportionment dollars. Judd said, if Connect Oregon broadens their scope, the extra $107,000 would allow total completion of all aspects of the Knife River Project. He added that the FAA would prefer completion of the parallel taxiways as part of this project. Judd said that Knife River believes they can complete all aspects of Phase III this year.
In response to Webb's question, Judd replied, the FAA match that is still needed for the terminal project would probably be reduced to about $100,000. Treasurer Smith sought clarification from Judd about components to be completed in Phase I (engineering and bidding), Phase II (site preparation), and Phase III (runway extensions). Smith stated that she did not want the terminal project to begin until all of the other phases are done, because she wasn't confident the matching funds necessary funds for Phase I and Phase II are secured. Court members expressed confidence in securing the necessary funds. Judd explained how impressed he is with onsite supervision, engineering changes, opening / closing runways, and coordination with pilots for which Knife River has been efficiently responsible. He added that they seem to be confident the work can be completed this season. Judd said he would send the documents to legal counsel for signature, and make sure they are received at the FAA by September 9th. MSP: Myers/Webb -- to authorize Judge Webb to sign the FAA Grant Agreement (Phase III) for extension of Runway 17/35 and Runway 9, and the related paperwork. Judd provided the court with an update on the current status of various issues associated with the Grant County / Forest Service joint airport terminal project.
10:00 am - Lane Burton and Brenda Percy entered.
TAX REFUND ORDER. The court signed Order 08-11 refunding personal property taxes / 2007 to Tammy Joslin of Mt. Vernon in the amount of $76.46, as presented by Assessor Lane Burton.
PROPOSED REHIRING. Assessor Lane Burton asked for discussion on possible county policy that would allow a former employee to be rehired within one year of separation, if the Department Head and employee both agree. Burton said he has an individual with prior experience in his office, who would like to return to fill a vacant position. Burton's reasons for the proposal were to save the extensive time that is required for advertising, interviewing, and (especially) new employee training -- just to satisfy the requirements -- when the most experienced person is already known to be available.
Britton expressed concern about possible labor law requirements and the public's perception. Personnel Manager Brenda Percy saw possible problems with public perception. She noted, though, that this individual only left her previous job to have a baby. Myers felt like such a policy would seem like we are preventing the public from seeking public employment. Webb said he was not ready to make a decision today, and he was concerned about public perception. Treasurer Kathy Smith suggested (instead) that the court be approached for a hiring policy waiver, since this situation would be rare, MSP: Britton/Webb - to grant Mr. Burton a waiver of hiring policy so he can fill this position with an experienced former employee. Burton stated that he would like to be prepared for setting the tax roll, by September 20; therefore, needs to fill the vacant position as soon as possible. Smith noted, if someone is hired by September 2nd, they would only have to wait until the end of September for insurance. Otherwise, they'll be waiting until November -- according to insurance company rules. Some discussion followed about employee turnover as well as the difficult tasks and complicated policies and procedures that are necessary for employees in the Assessor's Office to understand.
CAPITAL OUTLAY / SHERIFF. The court considered a previous request from the Sheriff to purchase four handheld portable radios that include antenna, belt clip, leather case, battery and rapid charger. Treasurer Kathy Smith explained that the Budget Committee approved the purchase last year and had suggested that the radios be purchased with available 2007-2008 funds, but for some reason that did not happen. She added, if the purchase is approved today, a transfer from Contingency would be needed since we are now in a new budget year. MSP: Webb/Myers - to approve the Sheriff's request to purchase handheld portable radios with associated equipment.
COMMUNITY COUNSELING SOLUTIONS. Webb explained that, yesterday, Kimberly Lindsay requested that the court approve mental health employees' accrued sick and vacation hours to be rolled over to Community Counseling Solutions as of September 30th, because CCS will be taking charge of mental health services on October 1st. Webb added that comp hours are expected to be taken off or paid down to the cap by then. Discussion followed about future talks that Treasurer Kathy Smith will have with CCS about the transfer. The expectation is that these employees will reduce comp time down to the CCS cap within the first year. MSP: Webb/Myers - to approve all sick and vacation hours (for the mental health employees) that have been accrued by September 30th, to transfer to Community Counseling Solutions by October 1st.
LAND USE PLANNING. Webb explained his conversation, yesterday, with Planning Director Hilary McNary about a problem caused because all email messages from CenturyTel clients are now being blocked as spam by the county's (ESD) servers. McNary had suggested that the department begin stating in notices, to property owners for land use issues, that comments will not be accepted via email, rather only by US mail, fax or hand delivery by the due date, to be considered. Webb said he told McNary to go forward. Both Commissioners agreed with that directive.
EXTENSION DISTRICT. The court (and governing body of the Extension & 4H Service District)
talked about the current status of the proposed relocation of district offices. Myers said that the extension office and local contractors have been quite busy. However, in Myers' and OSU's opinion (without a formal feasibility study) Suites 1 & 2 at 530 E. Main are the better, more logical location for the district office - in terms of remodel cost, location of a T-1 line and accessibility to the public. Myers said, next, he'd ask two retired contractors to walk through both locations and give an opinion on remodel costs.
Webb stated, if Extension goes to 530 E. Main, he believes the county needs to get the space in working order i.e. finish the floor, ceiling and walls, but any additional money invested in additional walls, special flooring or other amenities comes from the district. Webb noted that the district's budget contains enough funds to do something like that, but the county's budget does not. Myers felt that Eastern Oregon Professional Services could be contacted about the county's best avenue for this project at that location, because formal bids will most likely be necessary. Webb pointed out that the county will need to expend funds to relocate and house county property that is currently being stored at 530 E. Main. It was felt the expectation was that the move could take place soon after the new calendar year.
At 11:45 am Commissioner Britton and Commissioner Myers are to attend a lunch meeting with Extension Vice-Provost Scott Reid, of Oregon State University Outreach, about the evolvement of OSU Extension and 4-H programs in the future. Webb (who was unable to attend the luncheon) believed it would be a good educational opportunity for OSU graduate students, through the Extension Service, to help the county address future challenges of an agricultural nature. For instance, it would be nice to have a good business plan or some kind of strategy for addressing noxious weeds i.e. what would it cost to be effective over the next 10, 20 or 30 year period.
10:40 am -- Adjourned
Mary R. Ferrioli
County Court Secretary