Newly elected Hubbard County commissioners took their oaths of office Tuesday. Dave De La Hunt, Tom Krueger and Ted Van Kempen won seats for Districts 1, 3 and 5, respectively, in the November election.
County commissioner Dan Stacey, who was first elected to the board in 2012, was named the chairperson at the Jan. 8 meeting. County commissioner Char Christenson, appointed in July 2016, is vice-chair.
After reviewing bids, the board named the Park Rapids Enterprise the legal newspaper for 2019.
The Minnesota Secretary of State defines legal newspapers as "officially designated publications in which governmental units advertise notices required by law." The law requires that notices must be placed in legal newspapers for many public hearings, opening of bids for public contracts, public land sales and numerous other government activities.
Nerness said Minnesota statute requires a 10-day notice for a public hearing or other county matter.
According to a verified audit, the Enterprise reaches 2,781 households in Hubbard County. The Northwoods Press' circulation is 1,100.
There was a 75-cent difference between the newspapers' ad rates for printing delinquent tax lists and other legal notices. The Enterprise offered $3.75, while the Northwoods Press offered $3.
For first and second publication of county financial statements, the Enterprise quoted $3.75 for both. The Northwoods Press bid $3 for first publication and $7.50 for second.
By statute, legal notices are also posted on a newspaper's website at no charge to the county and are accessible to all readers.
County employment openings are published in both newspapers.
"Northwood Press is again cheaper as they were last year; however, Northwoods Press isn't always here. Shannon (Geisen) or a representative of the Enterprise is here faithfully, not only for the board meetings but the work sessions. Even though the Park Rapids Enterprise is higher priced, I think we should take that into consideration," Christenson said.
Krueger pointed out that the Enterprise's circulation reaches "a broader range of people."
Christenson asked Auditor-Treasurer Kay Rave how often tax delinquent lists are published.
Rave said those lists are published twice per year, as are tax forfeitures.
De La Hunt inquired how much is budgeted for public notices. "I imagine the financial statements are the largest expenditure," he said.
A complete report wasn't available since numerous county departments (auditor-treasurer, human resources, the land department, etc.) must publish notices, but Rave said $26,000 was budgeted in the general fund alone. As of the end of November, the county had spent $22,000.
"We're a little under budget," Nerness said.
Christenson made a motion to accept the Enterprise's bid "based on the circulation numbers and the fact that they have, since I've been on the board the last two-and-a-half years, consistently been here at every meeting to cover what's happening."
Van Kempen seconded.
Stacey asked Nerness to estimate the cost increase for the county.
"Probably about a 15 percent increase, which would probably be between $4,000 to $5,000," Nerness said. "I don't think the difference would compromise us financially in any way. And our obligation is to accept the lowest responsible quote, not necessarily the lowest quote. I think commissioner Christenson has raised some good points that are worthy of consideration by the board."
Stacey noted "nay," stating, "it's cheaper with Northwoods Press than Park Rapids."
Krueger voted in favor of the Enterprise, noting it has "more than twice the number of circulation."
The vote passed 3-2, with Stacey and De La Hunt opposed.
New solid waste hauling
Solid Waste Administrator Josh Holte requested board approval to partner with two neighboring counties to haul solid waste.
Last month, the county gave 90-days notice of termination of its contract with KRD Trucking of Lynwood, Ill. due to "recurring issues," Holte reminded the board.
"So we're in need of having our waste hauled for the remainder of 2019, and I'd like to partner with Beltrami and Polk counties to haul the waste," Holte said. "All of our waste goes to the same facilities, so it makes sense. We have some advantages to joining with these counties."
Polk County entered into a joint hauling contract with Beltrami in 2018.
Beltrami County would administer the hauling contract and pay the hauler directly, then charge the counties 7.6 cents per mile. The trucker charges $2.067 per round-trip mile, so the total cost to Hubbard County would be $2.143 per round-trip mile, Holte explained.
"Currently, we're at $5.28 per loaded mile," he said.
The board unanimously approved the partnership, effective March 1 through Dec. 31.
In other business, the county board did as follows:
• Accepted a $147,590 quote from Northland Truck Sales of West Fargo for a 2018 Freightliner rear-load packer truck for county recycling. "This will help us collect recyclables around the county from area businesses and our dropshed sites," said Holte.
• Accepted a $119,944 quote from RDO Truck Centers of Fargo for a 2020 Mack tandem snow plow truck chassis and a $103,144 quote from Towmaster Truck Equipment of Litchfield for tandem snow plow equipment for the county highway department.
• Reviewed results of the Jan. 7 timber auction. County Land Commissioner Chip Lohmeier reported that roughly 10,000 cords sold for $268,189. "We're down roughly 40 percent from our high back in 2016. We've lost considerable value in our timber. That's just the market - the wood yards and mills are full," he said.
• Learned that the Hubbard County emergency operations plan is due for review in 2019. Emergency Manager Brian Halbasch said the plan is on a four-year review cycle. Sections have been emailed to department heads for approval and signatures. Halbasch would like the plan approved by March 1.
• Approved a $23,043 final payment to Polk County for six-inch, edge line striping districtwide.
• Approved a $5,928 final payment to Roseau County for intersection lighting districtwide.
• Accepted the resignation of environmental specialist Nickolaus Phillips, effective Jan. 10, and authorized refilling the position.
• Hired non-certified attendants Andrew Peterson and Troy Heegard, effective Jan. 2.
• Accepted $5,461 in donations toward the purchase of a new K9 for the sheriff's office.
• Forwarded a Subsurface Sewage Treatment System Ordinance violation to the county attorney.