County Commissioner meeting

Bear Lake County Commissioner meeting

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The three county commissioners held a regular meeting on March 8, 2021, assisted by Joe Hayes, County Prosecutor, and Cindy Garner, County Clerk. One item was added to the agenda regarding the County’s annual memorandum of understanding and other members of the Four-County Commissioners group.

Trisha Poulsen was processing monthly invoices and preparing for litigation regarding taxes now three or more years delinquent. She asked for guidance on the maintenance employee’s phone expenses and was directed to investigate other counties’ procedure then institute the one least expensive to the county.

Sheriff Heslington focused on the communications tower which still needs adjustment. Working with the prosecutor and the courts, he expects to be ready when court cases recommence. The Sheriff explained snowmobile trails were groomed as they were in the past; however, snowfall accumulated without a good base so groomers’ work sometimes appeared as though no effort was made. Rasmussen indicated a conversation is necessary between the Sheriff and the Prosecutor regarding a personnel issue.

County Assessor Heber Dunford remarked there was a power outage followed by surges requiring re-boots of the state registration. The backup generator kicked on, but is not designed to serve the whole building. Even though personnel are proficient with on-line registration, it was documented to take as much as 45 minutes for one vehicle. A part-time employee is training while simultaneously mapping which is currently five to six months behind recordings. Property tax reduction applications have been processed, but many delayed applying which means a rush later. There may be excess Covid-related funds so plans are to engage extra help temporarily. Dunford expressed thanks for feedback and assistance given his department. Rasmussen related another county’s vehicle registration patrons waited outside the building and down the sidewalk. Rasmussen also knew an individual visits Bear Lake every year to register vehicles because it is smoother here than in his home jurisdiction.

Treasurer Poulsen remarked the legislature removed the April 15 deadline for the year’s property ownership changes. The Treasurer and Assessor will formulate a process to streamline procedures, though it is anticipated there will be more tax cancellation than in the past.

Claims presented were approved unanimously. Minutes for the regular January 8th meeting were approved unanimously.

Spencer Bailey and county representatives visited Fish Haven Canyon to examine his proposal on a snowmobile trailhead. Commissioner Jensen reported that after visiting the site and discussing the proposed improvements, he saw the plan as a win-win. It was unanimously approved that at the developer’s expense the trailhead be moved and improved as soon as possible and the roadway adjacent to the development be brought to County standard, then the road and trailhead transferred to the county for year-round maintenance. At Bailey’s instigation, the County engineer will review the drawings then Esquibel and Jensen will work through details to be memorialized by Prosecutor Hayes.

The annual audit was unanimously approved but the succeeding audit will not include the landfill which is now under the jurisdiction of the regional landfill.

Esquibel explained a mid-February request was received that the County terminate the lease on the Parker gravel pit and while it is hoped the new owner will agree to renewing the lease, a motion was unanimously adopted to terminate at this time.

The School District held a supplemental levy election and the commissioners set March 15th at 9:00 a.m. to canvass the election. The special meeting date was unanimously approved as scheduled.

Deputy Clerk Amy Bishop reviewed Senior Center grant compliance. She identified a number of approvals and documents required and, in each case, a motion was unanimously approved to execute the required documents. In addition, Bishop was appointed the Fair Housing Coordinator and commissioners will review the ADA Transition Plan next month. The courts periodically need interpreters so individuals will be hired as needed. With respect to an ADA Grievance Procedure, a short conversation ended with an intent expressed to organize a group to make recommendations.

Sheriff Heslington and Prosecutor Hayes had discussed radio phone issues on M Hill communications, including the School District’s request for rack space with commensurate compensation. Road and Bridge and inter-personnel communications will be addressed, perhaps via phased-in improvements.

Payne praised the airport for finding grants and a CRRSAA grant of approximately $9,000 was unanimously approved.

The Sheriff’s Office has a contract with Bonneville County enabling the dispatch transition and CAD mapping component. The commissioners unanimously approved a communications grant of $12,000 to move the mapping forward.

Building Inspector Davidson was recuperating from a fall but was present to report new residential building permits are ahead of the norm and he has received calls regarding “strange things” such as a cob house built with clay and straw.

He is working with Paris City on ordinances so there is an understanding of the city’s expectations. Bloomington and St. Charles are debating similar inspection arrangements and Davidson will change the signature clause as the commissioners requested. He predicted that even with some lumber rising from $15 to $32 per foot, building will continue at a high rate.

Commissioner Payne announced the Fair Board had carnival date conflicts and proposed dates from August 16th through 21st. He added that there is a new building at the airport to be constructed this summer. With regard to the new courthouse, issues remain on unmatched millwork and bullet-proof glass so a hold-back is unpaid. When the one-year warranty commences will be identified by Payne. The Senior Center’s remodel seems to be working well, the Regional Commission is preparing a budget, Jensen met with Bear Lake West homeowners regarding ice and steep roads to be fixed, a commissioner’s hearing on the road map, the old courthouse time capsule’s map and location marker and a memorial park near the previous structure.

Airport hay bids on Parcels “A” and “B” were opened. The lease will specify a five-year term with a 5% deposit of one year’s payment. In both cases, Payne Livestock offered the highest bid and will be contacted to complete the lease. Due to his family relationship, Commissioner Payne abstained from the discussion, motion or approval of the bids.

John and Holly Williams applied to remove snow from an undeveloped road where the County provides no winter maintenance. Following a lengthy discussion on liability, fence damages, run-off, roadway hazards and others’ private property involved, Rasmussen proposed the matter be delayed pending discussions to learn other counties’ processes.

Brandee Wells, Soil & Water Conservation District, reported on Georgetown Irrigation Project, Crane Project, stream diversion, Dyers Woad with the suppression program continuing this year, Bennington diversion at Maple Canyon, St. Charles Creek to be completed this spring, Lincoln County’s support of the program near Geneva and Bloomington Canyon where a portion has been completed. In addition, mowing above Bear Lake West is finished and eventually the same program will extend from one side of the County to the other.

Fire Chief Mark Parker commented on a truck fire above Fish Haven Cemetery along an undeveloped road, stating people “are burning up outfits.” Rasmussen and Esquibel agreed problems persist where emergency vehicles must navigate one-lane roads at the same time curious drivers block access and endanger or slow response. He wondered if fire trucks could turn onto Fish Haven Canyon’s entrance off Highway 89. In response to Payne’s query, Hayes stated that, “At the end of the day, you cannot contract away liability . . . they will come to the County because the County was the party who let it happen.” County officials hesitated to increase maintenance while facing limited funding but realized neglecting to maintain roadways also impacts emergency services delivery. Esquibel continued that his February report was brief but spring will see substantially increased activity by his department.

The level of Bear Lake was projected to be 25% lower than average and snowfall lagged behind normal at 83%. With irrigation demands, the lake may drop to 5914’ which can negatively impact recreation. Rasmussen cautioned that many think Covid danger has passed but on March 6th, Bear Lake had nine cases, Caribou four and Franklin nine, repeating that, “We still have to be careful.” Rasmussen encouraged attendance at the shooting club’s March 24 the meeting for the officer election. A board of guardians meeting was set March 10th and a discussion will be arranged with Simplot regarding a Georgetown mine.

Stace Gearheart gave the Juvenile Justice yearly update and showed fewer cases were under supervision which may be attributed to Covid restrictions.

The Commissioners held an executive session and, afterward, indicated they had discussed a recommendation from the County Attorney regarding a personnel issue and had considered a contractual matter that may have legal implications if unaddressed.

Due to lack of action designation, the Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation to rezone property owned by Doug Armstrong will be decided at a future meeting. Mitch Poulsen explained the application involved two steps, the first being a rezone from rural community to agriculture (reversing an earlier rezone) and the second a conditional use permit application for a gravel pit. Bryce Thompson, Wyman Ray, Tori Sommer and Don Decker opposed the rezone inasmuch as approval might be considered tacit acceptance of a gravel pit. They opposed such a use, reminding the commissioners that neighbors purchased with the understanding surroundings would remain rural with farming, families and homes.

BLM representatives participated via Zoom and addressed the Bear Lake area for stimulus funding on county roads leading to the agency’s roads. Rasmussen inquired if permission remains for a North Canyon parking lot and confirmation was given.

Beau Williamson researched costs of a new ambulance with features making it operational in the space available. Grant funds are expected for the ambulance and power lift and bid wording separated those items. Consideration was given to extending the county’s fire station north of Montpelier and to a county-wide fire district to handle expenses. Hayes and the Fire Chief will collaborate on bid wording and the commissioners unanimously approved the extension, depending on funds, inasmuch as the effort would clean and remove trash.

General discussion involved the Eastern Idaho State Fair which is expected to hold all activities this year. Also, the commissioners thanked the Sheriff’s Department for its work on the February 23rd avalanche which had difficult terrain.

Chris Shurian requested permission for the Trifecta Marathon near North Beach as in the past and the race is scheduled June 12th between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. The commissioners approved unanimously pending receipt of proof of liability insurance.

Hay bids for Parcel “C” at the airport will be taken in 2022 when the five-year lease term expires.

The meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m.

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