The Cavalier County Commission held their first meeting for the month of July on Thursday, July 6. The commission had a full agenda as they prepare for budget time.
By Melissa Anderson
The first item of business that the commission addressed was a request from Cavalier County Social Services to trade in a vehicle and purchase a new one. While the social services board approved the purchase, they do not have authority to allow the department to purchase real property, such as vehicles or buildings. After some discussion, one idea proposed was to take the old vehicle and have it be used for county business such as out of area trainings.
The commission spoke with Cavalier County States Attorney Scott Stewart on the matter. Stewart explained that it is really at the county’s discretion what is done with the vehicle and if the social services is allowed to buy a new one. The commission approved the request to buy a new vehicle for social services but tabled the issue of the old vehicle as Stewart will determine how best to handle the matter.
Another issue that the commission requested Stewart’s opinion on was mileage reimbursement for county commissioners who are on boards that require a county commissioner to be on it by law. The argument being that those boards would be considered as public duty. The commission and Stewart discussed this issue at length but no decision was made.
The commission moved on to the issue of omitted properties in South Olga Township. This was a result of the decision made at the previous commission meeting where the townships 15 percent increase limit was revoked. There were several residents present to voice their concerns about the increase in land values as a result and the inaccuracies that were present on the new assessments without the modifiers. Many of the issues presented were related to native woodlands and mistakes that were made several years ago on the properties. Those present also voiced concerns about how those who are on fixed incomes will not be able to afford to pay the increases in taxes. The commission stated that they understood the concerns and that by next tax year the issues will be worked out and the new modifiers and soil values will be in place.
The commission had a phone conference call with NRG, a Bismarck computer consultant firm that specialize in tech support and data security. The representatives from NRG explained the services they offer and answered questions that the commission and heads of departments had in terms of how they would provide service to the county courthouse. NRG answered how they would handle long distance tech support and in the case of hardware issues that they were willing to find a local tech support to handle it or make the drive themselves. The commission and the department heads agreed that NRG had a good background and references but tabled the decision of IT support until they could discuss with a closer tech support service.
The commission met last with the Cavalier County roadmen. The commission and the roadmen discussed how they could best work together on finding the best solution to recording work hours. After extensive discussion the commission asked the roadmen to decide how they would like to proceed and address concerns brought forward.
In Other Business
• The commission met with Cavalier County Road Supervisor Terry Johnston who gave an update on the county roads and current construction projects. Johnston also informed the commission that the county will be replacing three, 7 feet by 81 feet long culverts that gave out. The total estimated cost to replace will be $51,000. Johnston stated that there is the possibility of disaster declaration which could see the cost of replacement covered or partially covered by FEMA.
• The commission heard preliminary budget proposals from the Cavalier County Clerk of Court, Cavalier County Sheriff’s Department and dispatch, Cavalier County NDSU Extension Service, and Cavalier County Emergency Management.
Most of the budgets will stay around the same with very little fluctuation. Cavalier County Emergency Manager Karen Kempert requested a raise higher than what was put forward by the salary committee for her position as the duties have expanded exponentially over the last few years. Kempert’s duties have increased due to the updated and expanded 911 system which has seen Kempert having to put in substantially more hours. Kempert also noted that she is on call 24/7 and has no back-up in her office.
The commission voiced their understanding of Kempert’s obvious need for a raise and why, but decided to wait until after the Human Resources Officer had completed a study on compensation so the commission could make the most informed decision.