A special meeting of the Bear Lake County Commissioners was held on Monday, October 4, 2012, with Chairman Vaughn Rasmussen and Commissioner Brad Jensen attending in person. Commissioner Rex Payne attended via conference call and County Clerk Cindy Garner assisted in person. The two-item agenda was approved with topics covering America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and a discussion of personnel policy updates to be presented by Deputy Clerk Mindy Williamson.
Deputy Clerk Amy Bishop introduced specific requests and possible uses of $1.2 million in ARPA funds which have been designated to Bear Lake County. Half of the funds have been received by the County and the second half is due in July 2022. Chairman Rasmussen repeated that official federal guidelines for use of the monies have not been received but interim guidance suggests that counties be cautious, discuss possible uses and keep in mind that the funds are meant to respond to Covid and financial impacts of the pandemic.
The commissioners addressed the possible uses, commenting on several that may be related to Covid or those which they felt should be considered later or for which they needed more information. As an example, application of magnesium chloride on roads at $30,000 was listed but the commissioners were uncertain the influx of second home owners was directly related to Covid to the extent that the dust suppressant in the stated amount would be justified. On this and similar funding possibilities additional guidance will be obtained through the final regulations when they are available.
In other requests, alternate sources of funds were considered preferrable, such as FEMA or CDBG. Alternate sources have covered expenses such as CERT training or Oregon Trail Center costs. Information is being gathered concerning county-wide EMS communications and, until agreement is reached, the amount of funding is not sufficiently defined nor is equipment selected.
The lost revenue category showed losses of $3,115 in Assessor’s Office fees, $12,115 by highway users and another $4,545 under HB312 regarding highway users, $8,111 in court fines and fees and unknown amounts in sales tax and fair grounds.
The County Ambulance Service submitted a request list as well. After review, the Commissioners opted to obtain additional information on #3, Lifepak 15(4) $158,000; #9, Quick Response Vehicle $40,000; and #10, Extrication tools.
Via telephone, Commissioner Payne commented on sidewalk at the fair grounds, improvements at the Allred building and there was a brief discussion regarding a new jail. The Allred building needs plumbing and roof repairs. As one of emergency centers in the county, it is appropriate that it be considered, the commissioners reasoned. Using CARES money for first responder time was mentioned and the commissioners agreed that helping the Senior Citizens’ Center should be a priority. The pandemic had kept most seniors at home, which impacted the Center’s ability to serve that population at the very time their needs rose acutely. Ms. Bishop was asked to work with the Senior Citizens’ representatives and return with a proposal.
While it was agreed relocation services may fit the funding criteria, there were concerns regarding ADA compliance at its present basement location. Another situation with improved access
was recommended and Alan Eborn was to be contacted to report on the matter at the meeting scheduled the following Tuesday.
Chairman Rasmussen added that Covid cases in the county have risen to the highest level experienced during the pandemic and Idaho hospitals (including Bear Lake Memorial Hospital) are struggling to provide beds and equipment. He shared a patient’s recent experience where a bed was unavailable in his local area. A search in surrounding counties resulted in the patient being unable to reach one hospital before the available bed had been taken by another patient so a new search had to be conducted then there was no ambulance available to make the transfer. In another instance, a heart attack victim was in and out of the hospital in one day even though such an ailment usually requires an overnight stay.
The commissioners would like to use ARPA funds to assure all courthouse employees are able to work remotely. A separate fund had been created for these federal monies so that the use can be easily traced. A proposal was made regarding employee bonuses using the funds and the suggestion was tabled for discussion at the four-county commissioners meeting.
Bloomington Mayor Ted McGhee and Councilman Dan Porter approached the commissioners with a request to use ARPA funds to turn their townhall into one of the County’s emergency locations. While it has restrooms in the basement, they explained the City Hall has a handicapped accessible restroom on the main level. The commissioners suggested Bloomington apply for ARPA funds directly and noted there are approximately $45,000 set aside for Bloomington but application must be made. Ms. Bishop agreed to provide information regarding application. The City’s representatives also inquired about roads inasmuch as the Covid-related population had impacted that resource to escape and Canyon speeds mean repairs are needed urgently.
The second agenda item addressed a series of changes in the County’s employee handbook that had been primarily recommended by ICRMP. Deputy County Clerk Mindy Williamson spoke with the Commissioners to comment on each proposal and respond to questions. Changes considered included deletion of wording specific to terminating employees who do not meet the job’s minimum standards, hourly employees being ineligible for comp time accrual, the time period when insurance benefits will be instituted for new employees, policies involving use of sick leave and vacation time and other employee-employer matters to be discussed and decided upon at the next meeting scheduled on Tuesday, October 12, 2021.
The meeting adjourned at 10:35 a.m.