Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Board appoints treasurer, awards contracts

Staff Writer | April 28, 2022 1:00 AM

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SANDPOINT — Bonner County commissioners signed contracts to chip seal 43 miles of county roads, take care of outdoor fire hazards, and appoint Clorrisa Koster as county treasurer, among other items of business at Tuesday’s hour-long meeting.

After nearly 15 minutes of public comments at the beginning of the meeting, commissioners approved the consent agenda consisting of four minor land divisions, two liquor licenses, one catering permit for Ivano’s Catering, and the minutes from last week’s meeting. Also included in the consent agenda were three invoices. One came from Emergency Services for design for a potential new building totaling $10,000. Two came from the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office; one for bullet proof vests totaling $7,700, and another for a $7,000 site lease for one of the office’s radio towers.

The main portion of the agenda kicked off with three items brought by the Airport, focusing on acquiring land and relocating a portion of North Boyer Road to comply with new federal policy regarding runway protection zones.

Runway protection zones are a portion of land just beyond a runway. The purpose of having a runway protection zone is to protect people, property, and anything else on the ground from incoming and outgoing aircraft.

“It sounds odd, but we’re buying air,” Commissioner Chair Dan McDonald said.

Director of the Airport Dave Schuck explained the reason for buying the land to the commission.

“What we’re doing here is buying land where necessary,” Schuck said. “The FAA is putting a significant amount of money into both of our airports. … In order for them to be able to put that money into our runways, they want to make sure that all of the safety concerns are taken care of.”

The county will be saving $6,500 in appraisal fees in regards to the projects. Commissioners approved of all three items.

Emergency Management also brought three items before the commission, all focusing on treating hazardous fuels.

On April 12, Director of Emergency Services Bob Howard described hazardous materials as “anything six inches and under that would be a fire risk, so fire doesn’t climb trees or ignite fuels on the ground.”

Howard brought three more contracts for treating hazardous fuels to the commission. The contracts between the county and Avista, Hauling Mass, LLC, and Patriot Land Management, LLC, are all funded by the Idaho Department of Lands’ BONfire program.

“The BONfire program is a hazardous fuel treatment program so private landowners can apply for hazardous fuel treatment on their property — to help protect their property from wildfire and make it more sustainable,” Howard said. “This is all funded by grants from the Department of Lands.”

Commissioners approved all three contracts.

“The BONfire program is always out there, and they do public outreach,” Connolly said on April 12. “If [a landowner] has issues, then we can come look at it and work with [the landowners] in order to get things done.”

More information about the BONfire program can be found on the Emergency Services department’s webpage on the county website.

Commissioners approved the Treasurer’s Office’s request to move $200 from the treasurer’s budget to the Solid Waste department’s petty cash fund in order for them to adequately make change at their Dickensheet and Idaho Hill collection sites.

The Road and Bridge Department brought three items before the commission for varying projects.

The first was a resolution seeking the commissioners’ signatures in order to enter into a sole-source procurement agreement between the county and an auto dealership to purchase a 3500 4x4 diesel truck.

A sole-source agreement is a process that allows two entities to enter into a contract, or purchase, without a competitive process. Sole-source purchases are allowed in Idaho Code, however, the county has to advertise whenever they wish to enter into these kinds of agreements.

Even though sole-source purchases are typically done when only one vendor can fulfill the purchase requirements, the Road & Bridge department asked the commissioners to allow this kind of agreement because vehicles are being sold so fast, that the county’s typical methods for making purchases cause them to miss the opportunity to purchase the vehicles before they are sold to someone else.

“This is a sign of the time,” McDonald said. “Literally the minute they hit the lot they are gone.”

The truck is intended to be used for towing the department’s crack sealer during the summer months, and snowplow during the winter months.

Although the county has yet to find a vehicle that fits their needs, they expect it to cost around $50,000. The commissioners will need to approve the spending at a future date once the purchase has been made.

A second item awarded a $954,410 liquid asphalt contract to Ergon Asphalt & Emulsions, Inc., based out of Pasco, Washington.

The liquid asphalt will be used to chipseal 43-miles of road in the county.

Matt Mulder, staff engineer for Road & Bridge informed the commission that the price of liquid asphalt has increased significant;y when compared to last year’s prices.

“Prices are up 74% from what we were paying last year,” Mulder said. “Ultimately, we were shooting for doing 70 miles of chipsealing to begin with and reduced it down to 43 miles. The roads will suffer long term because of that.”

Officials at Road & Bridge prioritized the roads that needed chipsealing the most.

In their final item, the department sought the commission’s approval to begin creating designs to replace the bridge over the north fork of the East River.

The department applied for federal funding for the bridge in 2018, which gained approval.

The county will not have to provide any local or state funding in the construction of the bridge.

Commissioners approved all three items.

The Prosecutor’s Office brought two items before the commission, one of them being another sole-source purchase agreement.

The Prosecutor’s Office asked the commission to approve a software contract to be used by the office.

The contract is between the county software provider FedRAMP. The cost of the software agreement has remained confidential.

Commissioners approved the software contract agreement.

Commissioners also approved meeting the federal reporting requirements associated with receiving $8.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding.

The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 bailout package was passed by the Biden administration in March 2021.

Although the decision was not a determination of if the county would be spending the funds, the federal reporting deadline is on April 30.

Commissioners approved meeting the deadline.

The Human Resources Department brought one item before the commission to gain permission to advertise for three open county positions. Open positions include a heavy equipment operator for Road & Bridge, a Detention Deputy for the Sheriff’s Office, and a Solid Waste Attendant for the Solid Waste department.

Commissioners approved advertising for the three positions. A full list of open county positions, along with wage rates can be found on the department’s webpage on the county website.

The final item in the public agenda was brought by the Board of County Commissioners, appointing Clorrisa Koster as Bonner County Treasurer beginning on May 23.

The current treasurer, Cheryl Piehl, is retiring before the expiration of her term in 2023. Koster will remain on the ballot in this year’s election for the following term. Koster is running unopposed for the position.

Commissioners approved appointing Koster as county treasurer for the remainder of the current term.

Shortly after, McDonald recessed the meeting before reconvening minutes later for executive session, which included a single item from the Risk Management department. Although topics covered in executive session are largely confidential, Tuesday’s agenda detailed that the item regarded a discussion and decision regarding personnel in the department.

The Board of County Commissioners hold public meetings every Tuesday at 9 a.m. in the administrative building located at 1500 U.S. 2. Those interested in virtually attending can do so via Zoom. A livestream of the meeting can be watched on the Bonner County YouTube page, where an archive of previous meetings can be viewed.