Print Version

Home   News   Sports   Social   Obituaries   Events   Letters
Looking Back     Health Jewels    Stitch in Time

County commission minutes, July 22-23 & 25

August 12, 2013
***Monday, July 22, 2013, Commissioners met in regular session with Chairman Dan Dinning, Commissioner LeAlan Pinkerton, Commissioner Walt Kirby, Clerk Glenda Poston, and Deputy Clerk Michelle Rohrwasser.

Restorium Board members Larry Dirks, Peach Baker, Jeanne Robinson and Larry Hall stopped by Commissioners’ Office. Restorium Board Chairman Larry Dirks said the Restorium Board understands the hearing date Commissioners have set to consider a fee increase for Restorium room rates is August 19, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. Mr. Dirks asked if the time of the public hearing can be changed to 7:00 p.m. so the people who work during the day can attend. Mr. Dirks said he doesn’t have anyone specific in mind, but it’s just for those who may not be able to attend during the day. Chairman Dinning said Commissioners would consider the Restorium Board’s request. Mr. Dirks inquired about the date and time of the Commissioners’ town hall meeting scheduled for this Thursday and asked if the topic of the Restorium will be discussed. It was said there has been a request to discuss the Restorium as it relates to the concern of privatization, but that the topic of the Restorium would be added. The town hall meeting is this Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 7:00 p.m., and it will be held in the Boundary County Middle School cafeteria.

The Restorium Board members left at 9:02 a.m.

Commissioners gave the opening invocation and said the Pledge of Allegiance.

9:03 a.m., Road and Bridge Superintendent Jeff Gutshall joined the meeting to give the departmental report. Mr. Gutshall presented a written report. Mr. Gutshall informed Commissioners there is no one in the Road and Bridge Office currently as the department is short staffed and Office Manager Renee Nelson is helping flag. Road and Bridge has finished paving Moon Shadow Road and it came out well, according to Mr. Gutshall. The next two days have been spent leveling and grader patching. Road and Bridge will go back to Moon Shadow Road to restore the shoulders along the asphalt as well as chipsealing the areas patched beyond the new pavement near the Hofer property. It should come out pretty good, according to Mr. Gutshall.

Mr. Gutshall said Road and Bridge staff is busy working underneath the Copeland Bridge to finish work on the navigation lights and crews are using harnesses and tag lines. Mr. Gutshall said chipsealing is to begin. The top of Paradise Valley Hill near Shamrock Road has been repaired and Road and Bridge will bill Cabinet Mountains Water District for approximately $1,000 worth of asphalt. The work came out pretty well and Mr. Gutshall said he feels the issue has been addressed.

Mr. Gutshall said he returned a call to county resident, Mr. Vandenberg in regards to Wheatland Road. Mr. Gutshall said he had heard there was state right-of-way beyond Wheatland Road and told Mr. Vandenberg in a voice message that determining the state’s right-of-way would need to be determined by Mr. Vandenberg himself.

Mr. Gutshall said a complaint he had received about Meadow Creek Road has been taken care of. Road and Bridge has relocated a guide sign for Blume Hill Road.
The meeting with Mr. Gutshall ended at 9:25 a.m.

9:26 a.m., Courthouse Maintenance Jerry Kothe joined the meeting to give the departmental report. Mr. Kothe presented a written report. Mr. Kothe’s reported included: ordering more paper supplies, re-plumbing the irrigation pits for the new water cannon, completion of staining the wall at Memorial Hall by Fulton Construction, and Dirks Tree Service stopping by to prune a tree at the parks and hauling away branches that were too big for the chipper.

The meeting with Mr. Kothe ended at 9:30 a.m.

Deputy Clerk Nancy Ryals joined the meeting at 9:35 a.m.

Commissioner Pinkerton moved to approve indigent application 2013-23 as per the Clerk’s recommendation. Commissioner Kirby second. Motion passed unanimously.

Deputy Clerk Ryals left the meeting at 9:40 a.m.

Commissioners tended to administrative duties.
Commissioner Pinkerton moved to reimburse County GIS Mapper Gary Falcon for the cost of a data package as it pertains to helping the State of Idaho’s broadband team in locating cellular phone dead zones in rural Idaho. Commissioner Kirby second. Motion passed unanimously.

10:00 a.m., County GIS Mapper Gary Falcon joined the meeting.

Chairman Dinning informed Mr. Falcon that Commissioners have made a motion authorizing him to sign up for the program to assist the State of Idaho’s broadband team in locating dead zones for cell service. Mr. Falcon said he would look into adding the program to his iphone.

Chairman Dinning mentioned that he had attended the most recent wildland urban interface (WUI) meeting and an inquiry was made to obtain a map of just the plots of structures in the county so they could be added to an aerial map for WUI planning purposes. Mr. Falcon said the only structures he would have are the ones that have an address. Chairman Dinning asked if there is a newer version of aerial maps that would be available for this purpose. Mr. Falcon said he would see what program the person who made the request is running.

Mr. Falcon left the meeting at 10:05 a.m.

Bonners Ferry Herald Reporter Laura Roady and Blue Sky Broadcasting News Reporter Mike Brown joined the meeting.

10:08 a.m., Commissioner Kirby moved to recess as the Board of County Commissioners and convene as the Governing Board of the Boundary County Ambulance Service District. Commissioner Pinkerton second. Motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Kirby moved to adjourn as the Governing Board of the Ambulance Service District and to reconvene as the Boundary County Board of Commissioners. Commissioner Pinkerton second. Motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Brown and Ms. Roady left the meeting at 10:14 a.m.

Commissioner Kirby moved to go into executive session under Idaho Code #67-2345(1)b, to consider the evaluation, dismissal or disciplining of, or to hear complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent, or public school student. Commissioner Pinkerton second. Commissioners voted as follows: Chairman Dinning “aye”, Commissioner Pinkerton “aye” and Commissioner Kirby “aye”. Motion passed unanimously. 10:35 a.m., Commissioner Pinkerton moved to go out of executive session. Commissioner Kirby seconded. Motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Pinkerton moved to leave the time set for the public hearing for the proposed Restorium room rate increase at 1:30 p.m. Commissioner Kirby second. Motion passed unanimously.

Commissioners said another reason not to change the date of the public hearing is that the Restorium rate increase will not be the only matter of business discussed.

10:36 a.m., Commissioners and Clerk Poston conducted a budget workshop for the proposed budget.

11:45 a.m., Commissioners received a telephone call from Restorium Administrator Karlene Magee regarding tires for the passenger van recently offered to them by the Seniors Hospitality Center. Restorium board members had gone to pick up the set of tires, but Barbara Kovacs with the Seniors Hospitality Center had requested reimbursement of $1,000 for that set of six tires with rims. Chairman Dinning said the tires have been talked about, but Commissioners don’t recall these tires and wheels had been a part of the arrangement concerning the passenger van. Commissioners gave approval to purchase the tires and wheels.

The call with Ms. Magee ended at 11:45 a.m.

12:30 p.m., There being no further business, the meeting recessed until tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.

***Tuesday, July 23, 2013, Commissioners met in regular session with Chairman Dan Dinning, Commissioner LeAlan Pinkerton, Commissioner Walt Kirby, and Deputy Clerk Michelle Rohrwasser.

9:00 a.m., Commissioners held an elected officials/department heads meeting. Present were: Chief Deputy Clerk Tracie Isaac, Solid Waste Superintendent Claine Skeen, Extension Educator Carol Hampton, Prosecutor’s Office Manager Tammie Goggia, Planning and Zoning Administrator Dan Studer, Courthouse Maintenance Jerry Kothe, Noxious Weeds Superintendent Duke Guthrie, Road and Bridge Superintendent Jeff Gutshall, Assessor Dave Ryals, and Restorium Administrator Karlene Magee.

Chairman Dinning said when offices need to use Computer Arts for issues that arise it costs the county for those hours so please use that time sparingly.

Chief Deputy Clerk Isaac said she had given out updated personnel policies some time ago and she asked if anyone had any questions. Chief Deputy Clerk Isaac said Idaho Counties Risk Management Program (ICRMP) is having another online training session for employees, one being a harassment course and the other a safe driving course.

Boundary County Economic Development Specialist David Sims joined the meeting at 9:03 a.m.

Chief Deputy Clerk Isaac said the county can save 5%, which equates to $9,000 to $10,000 on insurance premiums per year once employees complete the courses.

Chairman Dinning said the County’s Title VI Coordinator Renee Nelson had passed out Title VI forms for each department to complete so please be sure to get those done and turned in to Ms. Nelson.

Commissioners introduced David Sims as one of the county’s public information officers (PIO). Mr. Sims said Michael Meier is the county’s main PIO and he is back up. The PIO’s can be contacted for any county press releases. In the past the PIO’s only dealt with emergencies, but if there is other positive information, Mr. Meier or Mr. Sims can also send out that information. It was said the primary PIO, Mr. Meier has extensive background in this field.

Sheriff Greg Sprungl joined the meeting at 9:10 a.m.

Chairman Dinning said the county has finally worked out the budget and unless something comes up, all county employees will receive a 2% increase. The extra holiday days are gone. Commissioners said they have included a night shift additional wage increase of $.30 per hour for normal work schedules. Commissioner Pinkerton added that this pertains to a regularly scheduled shift. Commissioners gave an example that if a blizzard hit after the normal scheduled hours for Road and Bridge employees, those employees working would not receive an additional $.30. Chairman Dinning said the additional $.30 is for hours between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., and if this happens in the middle of the shift, the differential is only for those hours during that time frame. Commissioner Pinkerton mentioned there will be overlapping times for the Restorium, Road and Bridge and Sheriff’s Office employees so a new time sheet will have to be developed to make it easier. Chief Deputy Clerk Isaac clarified that this shift differential of $.30 doesn’t apply while an employee is on vacation as it is only for the hours worked.

Chairman Dinning informed Sheriff Sprungl that Commissioners also added an additional 2% increase for a certain class of deputy. Sheriff Sprungl said the increase is appreciated.

Assessor Ryals asked for the status of ambulance service. Chairman Dinning said an agreement has not yet been reached with Boundary Volunteer Ambulance (BVA). Commissioners have sent a letter to Bonner County Commissioners requesting to renew a proposed agreement if something is not worked out with BVA. The current agreement with BVA expires September 30, 2013 so Commissioners said they would see where that goes.

Mr. Gutshall provided an update on the Deep Creek Bridge replacement project. The bridge is officially closed although it was open last night, according to Mr. Gutshall. Apollo Inc. has placed their excavators and office at the site. By the end of the week this bridge, which is approximately two miles north of Naples, should be closed until sometime in October. There may be an issue with the emergency projects south of the train trestle as that will also result in a road closure of about three weeks, but it’s not yet known when that will happen. This project should be bid any time and it should be completed sometime in September, according to Mr. Gutshall. Traffic can get around via Lion’s Den until that project starts and then travelers will have to take the detour through Pleasant Valley, which is now a fairly good route. Assessor Ryals agreed that the detour does look good. Mr. Gutshall said since he is not certain when these projects will line up, people may not be limited to that one access, but if they are, it should only last approximately three weeks. Mr. Gutshall said people won’t experience the kind of delays that are happening on Highway 95 currently.

Mr. Skeen said the Solid Waste Department will have to pay $25 per ton to dispose of co-mingled recycled material, but it’s still a plus compared to putting 440 tons of recycled material into the landfill’s hole as that was how much co-mingled material was recycled last year. Ms. Goggia asked if the county could set out recycle bins at the local events. Mr. Skeen clarified that recycled materials are being shipped out and not buried as some rumors have going around.

Ms. Hampton said the Extension Office is getting ready for fair week, which will start mid-August. There is also free movie night at the fair grounds.

Mr. Studer said Planning and Zoning has been fairly quiet.

The elected officials/department heads meeting ended at 9:30 a.m.

9:30 a.m., County Noxious Weeds Superintendent Duke Guthrie stayed after the elected officials/department heads meeting to present his department report. Mr. Guthrie said he has treated most of the roads for weeds. Mr. Guthrie said he has filled out paperwork for the agreement for a vehicle so it should happen soon. Commissioners briefly reviewed the budget for Mr. Guthrie’s department in relation to a new vehicle and purchasing chemicals. The cost for chemicals increases approximately 5% each year. There is $17,000 listed under Capital-Other, according to Mr. Guthrie. Chairman Dinning said it’s in the current budget, but not the budget for next year so it has to be spent. Mr. Guthrie said those funds should’ve gone back into the chemical budget, and after checking Chairman Dinning said it has. Chairman Dinning suggested Mr. Guthrie speak with Clerk Poston about budget. Chairman Dinning questioned who would be responsible for the weeds in Pacific Gas’ right-of-way.

The meeting with Mr. Guthrie ended at 9:45 a.m.

Commissioner Pinkerton moved to sign the Assignment of Interest and Dissolution of Joint Powers Agreement-District I Juvenile Detention Center. Commissioner Kirby second. Motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Pinkerton moved to sign the Memorandum of Agreement with the Kootenai County District I Juvenile Detention Center. Commissioner Kirby second. Motion passed unanimously.

Commissioners tended to administrative duties.

10:00 a.m., Joe Farrell and Darlene Schneider with Pace-Kerby Real Estate, Planning and Zoning Administrator Dan Studer and property owner Deborah Davis joined the meeting to discuss a property matter. Ms. Davis said she had moved to Bonners Ferry approximately 30 years ago with her husband and they had bought a piece of property with a shell of a log cabin and utilities for two homes on it. Ms. Davis said she and her husband had wanted to divide the property in order to sell a parcel. Ms. Davis said her mother has passed away and her husband has had some medical issues in the meantime. The county has since adopted a new Planning and Zoning Ordinance and Ms. Davis is no longer able to divide per property into smaller parcels as she had been given permission to do before. Ms. Davis said she had last worked with former Planning and Zoning Administrator Mike Weland on her matter and had thought that everything was fine. Ms. Davis said she has had her property listed and now has a buyer, but she’s finding out she is not able to sell the smaller parcel. Mr. Farrell said Mr. Weland had informed them of the family hardship that was involved. Mr. Farrell said Ms. Davis has lost her mother and her husband has suffered an illness, and Mr. Weland had informed them the split would be allowed so that process was started.

The survey of the property was done after talking to Mr. Weland, which was approximately four years ago, but the process of splitting the property wasn’t completed. The County now has a different Ordinance and Mr. Studer said the issue is beyond his ability to fix so he had suggested Ms. Davis talk to Commissioners. The size of the parcel in question is 2.5 acres, which is what is wished to be sold and the other piece is approximately 21 acres. This is an area just past Hermann Lake. Commissioners reviewed an aerial map. The smaller parcel does have county road frontage, power, a water hook up, and access road. Chairman Dinning asked if there is a hardship provision in the current Planning and Zoning Ordinance. Mr. Studer said no, but there is a family split provision. It was said there is an exemption for financial reasons, but that isn’t the case here.

Chairman Dinning said four years ago, the current Ordinance was not yet in place. The property owner was told they could split the property, but the execution of the deed was not done. Chairman Dinning asked how this is any different than the last matter Commissioners addressed that was similar in nature. Mr. Studer said this situation is different in that the previous matter had gone through two public hearings for a long plat and in this case, he would have to say it is similar in that regard as it’s a matter of setting up what had been discussed, but the property owner just didn’t complete the process. Mr. Studer said in his previous discussion, there is a possibility of applying for a variance as there is 23.5 acres. With the current Planning and Zoning Commission, Mr. Studer said it is his personal observation that Planning and Zoning is looking at a variance to divide property in half. If the division of property was in half, there is no variance, but a simple subdivision. It was said that Ms. Davis hadn’t wanted to split the property in half, and Ms. Davis said it’s also a matter of not having funds to pay for a survey again.

Commissioner Kirby said his thought is if the process had been completed four years ago, the parties wouldn’t be sitting here today and it’s a simple oversight. Commissioner Kirby said he personally doesn’t feel the applicant should be punished for that oversight. Ms. Davis would probably lose the ability to sell the parcel in today’s market by having to sell in a larger piece and in this case nobody gets hurt. There are hundreds and hundreds of properties that are substandard in size so what is one more, according to Commissioner Kirby. The applicant used the process provided, but unfortunately due to oversight, didn’t complete the process. Mr. Farrell said in hind sight he could take some of the blame as when the new Ordinance was adopted he didn’t red flag the property as he had it listed.

Commissioner Pinkerton said the process has already been started, three-quarters of the work has been done, and the survey has been paid for so that should also be considered, but then you also have to think that there are other property owners who would like to have smaller acreage. Commissioner Pinkerton said at one point the county has got to start following its own guidelines. Chairman Dinning said in this case there had been communication and intent, but due to circumstances whatever happened, happened. There is no intent to deceive, according to Chairman Dinning. Mr. Studer said he would issue a simple subdivision and would sign off on a development permit for this discussion, and that is it. Mr. Studer said he is just waiting for Commissioners.
Commissioner Kirby moved to approve the simple subdivision documents for Deborah Davis. Commissioner Pinkerton second. Motion passed unanimously.

The meeting with Mr. Studer, Mr. Farrell, Ms. Schneider, and Ms. Davis ended at 10:20 a.m.

10:30 a.m., Commissioners spoke to Brad Niemeyer with JUB Engineering (JUB) via telephone. Chairman Dinning said he was told how the process would work to purchase the properties as it pertains to the airport’s expansion. Mr. Niemeyer said the question was a concern over the amount of money the county would have to expend on the property purchases before the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reimbursement comes in and how long before it comes in as the process for the FAA is a reimbursement program. Mr. Niemeyer said he has worked with the FAA on coordinating in the past and one thing needed for the properties is a Certificate of Title that the county attorney signs and submits to the FAA before the FAA makes a payout. Mr. Niemeyer said he will coordinate that with the county’s civil attorney. When that is done, Mr. Niemeyer will also coordinate timing on the closing of the properties, their purchase with an amount of funds for escrow with a request for reimbursement from the FAA. All that paperwork will be ready for signature and for submittal at the same time. Once submitted to the FAA there will be notification to the FAA that payment is coming and everyone will work closely and not be blindsided. The FAA will get the finalized paperwork and get it turned around in a day or two with a wire transfer. There are three or four different things to coordinate in order to run smoothly, according to Mr. Niemeyer. That is how JUB sees this going forward to limit the amount of time the county has to carry a large balance on this project.

Mr. Niemeyer said the other matter discussed was relocation housing, which is a dollar value the county would pay to escrow for individuals who are getting relocated, or a down payment on new home. That would be coordinated closely with the FAA so when the county writes the check a request for reimbursement from the FAA will also be written up. Mr. Niemeyer mentioned smaller miscellaneous items the county would also have to cover. Invoices would be provided to JUB to verify compliance with the law and JUB would forward those invoices to the county for reimbursement.

Chairman Dinning asked for a general idea of how it went for each offer. Mr. Niemeyer said the property owners were contacted personally on July 3rd, so the offers were made the first week of July. Since then there has been communication with all four property owners for the 2013 cycle. Mr. Niemeyer said there is a signed purchase and sale agreement from the Dinning’s, an understanding agreement with the Bylers for fair market value determined, the process is still ongoing with the Merrifield’s and the FAA for their property, and there has been contact with the Speed’s who is still considering the offer.

Mr. Niemeyer said the 2014 projects include the Howard and Wheatley properties. There has been conversation with the FAA regarding the Howard property regarding access to his property as the existing 60 foot easement that crosses Highway 2 to the north needs to be eliminated. The review of this property was completed in the Seattle FAA Office. Mr. Niemeyer said there has been conversation with Gary Gates out of the Helena, Montana FAA Office and parties will need to discuss what opportunities and options are out there for the FAA, County and property owner. Mr. Niemeyer said he is to meet with Mr. Howard tomorrow. Information will be presented to the Airport Board during their normal board meeting and we’ll have to look at the overall project and development alternatives, etc., and to coordinate with the FAA, according to Mr. Niemeyer.

Those present discussed the Wheatley property. Mr. Niemeyer said he’s received an initial response from the FAA regarding the FAA’s 7460-1 Form request for some level of development. The FAA said the 35 foot building Mr. Wheatley would like to build will not be allowed in the areas proposed. Mr. Niemeyer reviewed the letter with Commissioners over the phone, and he said it was determined that the FAA had combined JUB’s airport 7460-1 request and Mr. Wheatley’s request into one. Mr. Niemeyer said he’s asked the FAA to break their response into two since the requests came from two separate individuals so he’s waiting for that in order to make a final recommendation to the Airport Board on the amount of property that Board is looking to acquire from Mr. Wheatley. Commissioner Pinkerton questioned if the Helena, Montana FAA Office would allow the construction of a 35 foot tall building. Mr. Niemeyer said he needed to look more into that. The FAA didn’t find issue with JUB’s request, but did find issue with Mr. Wheatley’s request so JUB will ask the FAA to respond to the issues separately. Commissioner Pinkerton questioned what it is that JUB has submitted that the FAA says won’t work. Mr. Niemeyer said if the FAA doesn’t approve JUB’s request, he would meet with the Airport Board to see what land to acquire. Mr. Whatley has combined two parcels into one so JUB would have to look into that. Chairman Dinning said Commissioners can go to the Airport Board meeting as minutes will be taken so he will see if a Commissioner can attend.

Commissioner Pinkerton said right now three separate parcel options for Mr. Wheatley have been submitted for review. Mr. Niemeyer said what JUB has prepared is an exhibit and a request to have a property of air space and that was just one submittal. It was a worst case scenario for airspace. The location used in the FAA’s response wasn’t necessarily the most extreme location, according to Mr. Niemeyer. The other three requests were from Mr. Wheatley so only one combined response came back from the FAA.

The telephone call with Mr. Niemeyer ended at 10:55 a.m.

Commissioners tended to administrative duties.

12:00 p.m., There being no further business, the meeting adjourned until the town hall meeting held on Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. in the Boundary County Middle School cafeteria.

***Thursday, July 25, 2013, 7:00 p.m., Commissioners met at the Boundary County Middle School cafeteria for the purpose of holding a town hall meeting to discuss specific requested topics. Present were: Chairman Dan Dinning, Commissioner Walt Kirby, Commissioner LeAlan Pinkerton, Clerk Glenda Poston, Deputy Clerk Michelle Rohrwasser, Charlene Wells, Eldora Gatchell, Wilma DeVore, John Alt, Frank McCormick, Charles Fox, Cindy Atkins, Alice Hendrickson, Steve Tanner, Ken Irons, Bonners Ferry Herald Reporter Laura Roady, Damon Severson, Krystal Gordillo, Barbara Castellan, Delores Jantz, Jenny Brown, Roy Hale, Mary Voglewede, Audrey Byrer, Richard Hollenbeck, Fred Hendrickson, Don Jordan, Donna Thomas, Elsie Hollenbeck, Boundary Economic Development Specialist David Sims, Sharon Fitzgerald, Restorium Assistant Administrator Jeri Witt, Restorium Administrator Karlene Magee, Judy Lyle, George Hopkins, Dennis Johnson, Robert DelGrosso, Ray Olson, Linda Endow Hall, Shelby Cowley, Larry Hall, Peach Baker, Larry Dirks, Judy Dirks, Janet Sapp, Rod Robinson, Jeannie Robinson, Lois Weakly, Laurie Lowther, Robert Weakly, and Terry Capurso.

Chairman Dinning described the evening’s proceedings. A sign in sheet was passed around and Commissioners gave introductions. Chairman Dinning said he wanted to address the rumors about the Restorium, and that there is no validity in the rumors about the Restorium being sold. The budget for the Restorium consists of levying $391,000, which is double the amount from five years ago. Commissioners are looking at increasing room rents by 5 percent this year and next year for existing residents and charging new incoming residents $2,500 for a certain size room as of October 1, 2013, and there are two rooms that will have a higher rate due to their set up.

Commissioner Pinkerton said Commissioners want to hear the concerns, but to also stay on topic so the various issues can be addressed as these town hall meetings are held.

Denise Thompson said she is speaking in support of the Restorium and was disturbed by a newspaper article about the Restorium. Ms. Thompson briefly reviewed a list of her concerns and comments. Ms. Thompson’s concern is that the Restorium remain in county ownership and not become privately owned. Ms. Thompson questioned the connection to Valley Vista, the assisted living facility that conducted a report on the Restorium at Commissioners’ request. Chairman Dinning said Valley Vista Care Center has many facilities and they were contacted to provide a financial analysis as they have more expertise in this field than Commissioners. Ms. Thompson said that raises a red flag as when financial matters come up usually a certified public accountant comes in and they don’t care to see the outcome. Commissioner Kirby said Commissioners are not going to do that to the Restorium. Commissioner Kirby said the county is not going to sell, lease or have someone else run the Restorium, and Chairman Dinning assured him of that when having the analysis done. Commissioner Kirby informed Ms. Thompson the county is not going to sell the Restorium, and as long as he is involved the Restorium will use taxpayer funds.

Ms. Thompson asked if there is an agenda for the Restorium and its well being. Chairman Dinning said the county budget is getting to the point where it can’t sustain. Idaho Code has limits and the county is starting to stretch the limits. If the Restorium is to expand, the budget can’t continue in this fashion. Ms. Thompson asked if the levy amount of $391,000 would alleviate this burden. Chairman Dinning said that is the issue and the county had to forego employee benefits.

Commissioner Pinkerton said a business is being run by the county. The Restorium budget is over $1,000,000 and $391,000 is county tax for the Restorium, but the Restorium is losing and it needs to start paying for itself. There are approximately 10,000 residents in the county and $391,000 is going to the Restorium for a total of 35 beds. A lot of people could use that benefit as well. People are getting older and the Restorium may need additional rooms in the future.

Larry Dirks introduced the Restorium Board members and informed those present that the Restorium Board members are to act as the advisory board to the Commissioners. Mr. Dirks referenced the newspaper article on the Restorium and said Restorium Administrator Karlene Magee is great and operates under budget. A fee of $2,000 will be paid by the taxpayers for the report done by Valley Vista, according to Mr. Dirks. The Restorium was built many years ago for the elderly. Mr. Dirks said the levy amount of $312,146 is 7 percent of the levy tax funds of $100,000 assessed value. That is approximately $30 per year in taxes or one half tank of gas. Mr. Dirks said he has asked large landowners how they feel about supporting the Restorium. One Commissioner said he’s irritated that his tax dollars go to the Restorium, according to Mr. Dirks. The Restorium is the jewel of the county and has received improvements. All but one room has been remodeled.

Mr. Dirks reviewed a list of room increases from year 2004 to October 1, 2012. This is a 60 percent increase over six years. Some staff at the Restorium work for less than $8.00 per hour with no benefits. The Restorium has received an Outstanding Recognition Award, and he is proud that his tax dollars supports the Restorium. Commissioner Pinkerton said he agrees that the Restorium is a jewel and Commissioners do want to keep it. Mr. Dirks asked how the levy amount is known if the proposed room rates haven’t been determined yet. Chairman Dinning said the Restorium provided a budget request and the county came up with the preliminary budget that included the recommended rates submitted by the Restorium. Chairman Dinning said there would be a public hearing on the budget.

Jeannie Robinson said she is a member of the Friends of the Restorium and their concerns are cuts to the number of employees; one being the food service manager position. The person who fills this position has to be trained, know the menus and know the answers to questions the state may have. The Friends of the Restorium are also concerned over the loss of the position of activities director who is helpful to the residents.

Linda Hall said she is the high school Spanish teacher and a business owner. Ms. Hall asked Commissioners if they’ve ever had friends, neighbors, or family who have utilized the Restorium. Ms. Hall said if the entire county was surveyed there are probably a lot of people who have had someone in the Restorium. Ms. Hall said she works with kids and volunteers at the Restorium and the community’s young kids and seniors are the most disadvantaged in the county. Ms. Hall said she has done her research on the county’s budget. Ms. Hall asked if Commissioners have spent time at the Restorium and watched the employees. Of the 25 employees 14 are full time and the benefit package stood out to her as it’s a larger benefit package than other similar facilities have. Ms. Hall asked if any other county department has been considered as there are a lot of different options to balance the budget so why have seniors been singled out. Ms. Hall asked about forming a taxing district to take care of seniors who once took care of them.
Chairman Dinning reviewed what departments are mandatory for the county to have as per Idaho Code statutes and he said to keep in mind that people chose to have the Restorium. Chairman Dinning responded to Ms. Hall’s questions that every department is considered when looking at the budget. The Solid Waste Department also has a good portion of part time employees. Chairman Dinning said for clarification that there are other part time employees.

Steve Tanner mentioned the Restorium has been running in the red since the beginning. Chairman Dinning said it has since the new facility had been built. There is a report showing the amount of loss, but that was made up with the county subsidy. Mr. Tanner said the Restorium is well run, has a great atmosphere and it’s been well done, but he doesn’t believe it’s proper for government to house anyone. Government has not been instituted to care of us from cradle to grave. Mr. Tanner said we take care of our family. It’s not the state and the county is a form of the state. Government is not here to house us. It cannot and will not otherwise it is just takes by force to pay for it. Our Constitution is instituted with preamble. God is the lawgiver, not man. Mr. Tanner said if God doesn’t have authority to take money, does man by force? It’s not an issue of the Restorium being a nice building, according to Mr. Tanner. The Restorium needs to be sold to the private sector to operate much more efficiently than bureaucracy.

Mr. Tanner said he also had on the agenda the topic of the bailiff/court security position. This position used to be part time. Now there are less jury trials and the position is full time. Why is this position full time if there is the same number of jury trials or less? Mr. Tanner said he can understand the security issue so let people pack a gun. Chairman Dinning said the bailiff is a county employee funded by the county, but under the control of the Administrative Judge in Coeur d’ Alene. The courts ands judges have control of the person in this position and the county has to provide this in some fashion. The Sheriff would have to take one of his deputies to provide this function if there was no bailiff. Chairman Dinning said the county just went through the process of hiring the new bailiff and it’s a catch 22 as the position is a county employee only in name.

Mr. Tanner said he feels there should be term limits for advisory board members and he referred to the Planning and Zoning Commission. The intent of the term limit is to keep one person from being on a board for too long. Mr. Tanner referenced former Planning and Zoning Administrator Mike Weland sitting on the Planning and Zoning Board. Mr. Tanner said this is not a personal issue, but that is too much time on that board. Commissioners informed Mr. Tanner that Mr. Weland had actually resigned from the Planning and Zoning Commission not too long ago.

Barbara Castellan said she is a new resident to the area and she has heard the conflicting information in this meeting such as the Restorium is operating at a loss, but then it’s within budget and in the black. Ms. Castellan asked if these statements have to do with subsidy. Commissioner Kirby explained how the budget is produced by the Restorium Administrator and how the Clerk reviews the budget information and compares it to the prior year’s information. Commissioner Kirby said for the longest time the request has been for tax dollars because not enough funding is generated from Restorium rents. The county has to levy the taxpayer to make up that difference. Ms. Castellan asked if this is not a philosophical issue as opposed to financial. Commissioner Kirby said he’s the one who wants to pay. It’s not fair to have residents in the Restorium paying 1950’s rent prices in the 2000’s. The county is determined to pay its share and wants the residents to pay their share as well. The Restorium is a jewel and it’s been done right, according to Commissioner Kirby.

Charlene Wells said she is Vice President for the Friends of the Restorium. Ms. Wells asked if the Restorium would be in the black financially if all residents paid $2,000 per month. Commissioner Kirby said no, but the county would only have to levy approximately $70,000. Ms. Wells asked if the levy would then decrease or would it just get absorbed into the county budget. Ms. Wells asked if there would be a Restorium expansion.

Chairman Dinning said with the new residents this will be a five plus year process. Commissioners have looked at there being a minimum amount in the reserve and Chairman Dinning mentioned the concerns of the reserve as it pertains to a potential catastrophe so Commissioners can’t guarantee anything today.

Mr. Dirks and Ms. Wells both mentioned the donation of funds for projects. Mr. Dirks said the Friends of the Restorium have been indispensable. It used to be that when the budget was set it was “here’s the budget, but please don’t spend it, according to Mr. Dirks. There are a lot of improvements to be made at the Restorium.

Dennis Johnson said his mother has been a resident of the Restorium and he has had to subsidize and he voiced concerns of a rent increase.

Larry Hall said a part of Commissioners’ job is to be innovative and to have ideas so what have Commissioners done to bring in business to help the community as far as people and their taxes. Chairman Dinning said the Cities, County and Tribe employ an economic development specialist to research business. One issue this area has is a real lack of infrastructure to attract new businesses. Chairman Dinning introduced David Sims as the Boundary County Economic Development Specialist.

Mr. Sims said his position is funded by the State of Idaho, City of Moyie Springs, City of Bonners Ferry, Boundary County, and Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, and he is working to bring in new businesses, etc. Mr. Sims spoke of a feed stock company out of Oregon that is looking to possibly relocate to this area, the library expansion project, and looking for an alternate internet service provider. Mr. Sims said more businesses would relocate to this area if there is faster internet service so he is looking into that. There are monthly Economic Development Committee meetings and if interested, people can get on the advisory board’s mailing list.

Mr. Sims asked Chairman Dinning to explain Secure Rural Schools (SRS) funding. Chairman Dinning said before year 2000 or 2001, 25% of gross receipts off the national forest came to the county with 70% going to the county and 30% going toward schools. The amounts got too low so the SRS program was started to help with funding. This project may be extended one more year or it may expire. One half of the Road and Bridge Department budget comes from this funding and that is why the county has to look at the big picture. The county has never levied taxes for the Road and Bridge Department. Health and safety is the county’s responsibility and Commissioners have to prepare as if the SRS program expires next year. It was asked if the county has an audit for Road and Bridge. Chairman Dinning said the county is audited every year.

The town hall meeting ended at 8:40 p.m.

DAN R. DINNING, Chairman


By: Michelle Rohrwasser, Deputy Clerk
 Questions or comments about this article? Click here to e-mail!