Editor's note: The story that ran in Wednesday's paper incorrectly identified the commissioners that were sworn in at Tuesday's meeting. This article has been updated with the correct names.
Two newly re-elected county commissioners, Cindy Schwehr and John Froelich, were sworn in during the regular meeting of the Barnes County Commissioners on Tuesday.
The commissioners approved a contract with Valley City for a financial split and a return of funds to the county for operations of the 9-1-1 system.
According to the contract, the county will pay for one dispatcher, the city will pay for two dispatchers, and the 9-1-1 fund will pay for three dispatchers. The city and county had met and agreed on the contract, but Valley City Administrator Dave Schelkoph told the commission that Valley City Commissioner Dewey Magnuson had spoken to him and wants the county commission to know that if it was still intent on taking over the 9-1-1 system, then the city may want to re-negotiate the ratio. Magnuson also wanted it to be known that negotiations for the Law Enforcement building may be eminent if the county pursued its plan to take over the system.
Commissioner Knutson asked if Schelkoph spoke for the entire city commission or just for Magnuson. Schelkoph replied that it was just Magnuson. Knutson said the cost share agreement was agreed upon previously and if Mayor Bob Werkhoven didn’t want to sign it, then it was up to him.
State’s Attorney Lee Grossman advised the commission to act on the contract, then the city can act on it as they see fit.
Commission members John Froelich and Phil Leitner voted against the contract with Froelich stating that he knows where the county is headed with the contract (the county take-over of the 9-1-1.
The commission voted to increase its minimum wage to $13 per hour, plus it approved an across-the-board pay increase of three percent for all county employees, including the commission. The three percent will go in to effect first, then employees who do not hit the $13-per-hour will be bumped up to that level. Commissioner Roger Bernston voted against the increase. He later told the commission that he was concerned with the overall cost of pay increases, which was unknown with the commissioner’s increase.
Betty Koslofsky, on behalf of the planning and zoning committee, addressed the commission regarding property owners who have hauled fill into the flood plain or the floodway to build dykes or to raise their property levels. According to Koslofsky, the county sent out letters with surveys to those property owners to find out if their work was legal by state or federal standards. As of now, said Koslofsky, none of the surveys had been returned. The council agreed that letters should be sent out to the property owners explaining the urgency for returning the surveys. The commission also discussed whether property owners could be penalized for not returning the surveys, but did not act on the idea.
Resident Paul Diegel questioned who had final say regarding building permanent dykes around flood-prone properties, and why the federal government paid for some dykes and not others. He also mentioned that the North Dakota Century Code allowed dykes to protect livestock, but what is considered livestock, he asked.
Commissioner Leitner questioned whether the commission should get answers before sending out the letters.
Knutson explained that everything in the letter was in the code book, what they were trying to do was find a way to get around Federal Emergency Management Agency laws.
The commission also approved $2,145 for the Sheriff’s Department to purchase scanners for squad cars that will allow deputies to scan driver’s licenses and registrations.