A special meeting of the Bear Lake County Commissioners was held on April 28, 2021, with Chairman Vaughn Rasmussen and Commissioner Rex Payne in attendance. Commissioner Brad Jensen could not attend inasmuch as he was chairing the Regional Landfill meeting. The Commissioners were assisted by Cindy Garner, County Clerk, and Joe Hayes, County Prosecutor. The agenda was unanimously approved as published.
A lengthy discussion was held with respect to adding a full-time staff member to the Assessor’s office specifically for mapping duties, rather than hiring part-time employee as had been done in the past. The prior part-time-employee had transferred to another department. Considering the weeks left in the fiscal year, Amy Bishop calculated the additional cost for a full-time rather than part-time employee would be approximately $47,000 for the initial period then $50,000 annually for the foreseeable future. She had concerns about finding those dollars in the budget, especially in light of the legislature’s continuing financial adjustments. Various financial sources were posed such as Covid-related funds for the first period, increasing tax revenue through required/higher assessed values, increasing the tax levy, shifting funds among departments, etc. Chairman Rasmussen mentioned the Gem Plan may be increasing its rates a few percent and the Clerk’s Office should expect a letter with details soon. He also explained he met with Assessor Dunford and had “pushed back” concerning the mapping problems. He had come to a better understanding of the overall duties of the position and the impact of mapping on other departments. With input from others, concensus was reached that a full-time hire was needed and the funding would have to be found. Chairman Rasmussen reiterated his opposition to using Covid monies inasmuch as those funds must eventually be paid back, whether by this generation or those in the future, but this is an expense that all feel is required for efficiently operating the county overall. A motion was unanimously passed to go ahead to advertise the position. A job description will be developed by the Assessor and Commissioner Payne for review at the May meeting.
Chairman Rasmussen repeated a description of the two parcels which the County and City of Montpelier intend to trade along Main Street and near the Fairgrounds. A motion was adopted unanimously to have the quitclaim deeds prepared and executed to complete that trade.
Commission Payne attended the 4-County Board of Commissioners meeting where Sandra Thoen of the Idaho Supreme Court made a presentation regarding both a 5-county and a 4-county Board of Guardians with a preference for a 4-county arrangement inasmuch as Bannock County had concerns that their inclusion in a 5-county arrangement would overwhelm their resources.
By revising Franklin County’s Bylaws (with Cody Brower’s help) and having Franklin perform as the initial lead, then rotate among the counties for that duty, the Board of Guardians could begin functioning more quickly and efficiently. The membership from each county had been proposed to include three members: the county attorney, treasurer and coroner. Volunteers will be trained as guardians and Bannock County offered to send personnel to assist in that training. The name of the Board would be “Southeast Idaho Quad County Board of Guardians.”
Chairman Rasmussen currently sits on Bannock County’s Board of Guardians and he agreed that going with Franklin County is a good recommendation for Bear Lake and that there is insufficient demand for any of the four counties to operate alone. Prosecutor Hayes commented that four years ago the county could have used a Board of Guardians, but if it is not used, such a board falls apart. He will work with Cody Brower to revise Franklin’s Bylaws to fit the situation to create the 4-County Board of Guardians as contemplated.
With the outline in mind, a motion was made and unanimously adopted to join the Southeast Idaho Quad County Board of Guardians to be represented by the Prosecutor as lead, with the treasurer and the coroner as Bear Lake’s initial board members.
The meeting adjourned at 9:35 am