Idaho County Commission Notes image

GRANGEVILLE — At the Sept. 7 Idaho County Commissioners meeting, the commissioners accepted the sole bids from Rad Mulching and Fire Reduction LLC, for fire mitigation projects on five properties: Swanstrom, Gardelius, DeHaas, Yokum and Wolverton. The projects are designed to treat fuels on a total of 43.6 acres for a combined total of $90,160. They are being completed through the county’s fire mitigation program, which includes working with private property owners to reduce fuels in the wildland urban interface. Sandi Paul is the program’s coordinator.

The commissioners decided to exempt mining claimants from paying solid waste fees for their mining claims. According to county commissioner Skip Brandt, they should not be charged a fee since they are no longer able to live on their mining claims unless they have an (approved) operating plan from the Forest Service.

After hearing from airport hangar lessees at the Sept. 1 meeting about proposed increases to their rates, commissioners decided to adjust all rates every five years using the consumer price index (CPI). Airport manager Mike Cook explained that for this five-year period there will be two rates: 7 cents per sq. ft. and 10 cents per sq. ft. The lessees who currently pay a 7 cent/sq.ft. fee will continue with that for the next five years and the newest lessees will pay the 10 cent rate.

After hearing from Cook that 23 of 27 lots on the west end are leased with maybe 4-5 more once the airport layout plan is finalized, Commissioner Ted Lindsley asked Cook, “Do you think the rates should creep up a little?” Cook responded “I’m feeling a little gun shy about that at the moment.” He explained that two recent lessees and two new lessees will be charged the higher rate.

During the budget hearing, no public comments were received. Commissioner Skip Brandt explained that all departments got a 10 percent increase for next year. He acknowledged this is considerably higher than past years when the increase has been more like 2 percent. Brandt described the difficulty of hiring and retaining employees to keep up with pay rates at other employers in the area for similar jobs. Brandt clarified that the 10 percent increase does not mean that all employees will receive a 10 percent increase. Each department head has flexibility to increase pay for high-performing employees and offer a step and grade scale.

The commissioners approved Ackerman’s request to purchase electronic poll books for $22,000, through a grant available from the Idaho Secretary of State’s office. Instead of staying late on the Friday before the election to print hard copy books, her staff will upload the list of all registered voters to a Chromebook or Apple device. Data will include who has voted early, who has requested absentee ballots, and what each person is eligible to vote for, depending on where in the county they live. Elections staff will then distribute the devices to each polling location. She does not anticipate poll workers using the devices connected to the Internet because of varied reliability of Internet and concerns for security.

Ackerman was initially dubious about training older poll workers a new technology, but has learned from other counties that their people love them and find them easy to use. After a question from Commissioner Denis Duman, Ackerman explained the devices are just for the list of voters. The vote tally books will not change.

The new devices will also allow poll workers to scan in each voter’s driver’s license, creating a record. Ackerman acknowledges that some of “the very people who want integrity in elections will not want their driver’s license scanned.”

The commissioners approved a request from County road superintendent, Gene Meinen, to proceed with advertising two rock crushing contracts, one in Kooskia, the other in Clearwater for inventory, maintenance and chip sealing. Meinen confirmed that usually bidders for this type of contract are pretty local because of the relatively small amounts and the transportation costs.

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