It was obvious that changes would be afoot when four new members joined the Wright County Board of Commissioners, but it isn’t taking long for the new commissioners to look to propose change.
At the Jan. 15 meeting of the Wright County Board, Commissioner Charlie Borrell asked that the board discuss changing its system of appointing people to the different committees and advisory boards that have members of the public appointed by the county commissioners.
Borrell said he has no issue with any of the people he inherited that are currently serving terms on committees representing his commissioner district. However, he proposed changing the county policy to sync up commissioner appointments with their own commissioner terms.
“What I find a little bit troubling is that these appointments don’t run along with commissioner terms,” Borrell said. “That person serves at the pleasure of the board and I believe that those appointees should be brought in by the commissioner who represents that district and not necessarily that commissioner that preceded him.”
Borrell reiterated that he had no problem with the appointed positions from district, saying that there are a couple up for re-appointment that he intends to keep, but said that the objective of his proposal would bring more uniformity to the appointment process and would make the commissioners themselves more responsible for those they appoint to represent their districts.
“It will make that commissioner more accountable,” Borrell said. “That doesn’t mean you want committee appointees that are merely in the back pocket of that commissioner, but I think it would add a good level of accountability to the people of the county that a commissioner is responsible for the people he or she appoints to represent the residents of their district or the county as a whole.”
The board referred discussion of potentially enacting such a policy change to the committee of the whole meeting scheduled for 10:30 a.m. following the Jan. 29 board meeting.
In other items on the Jan. 15 agenda, the board:
• Acknowledged receipt of the 2012 Voluntary Leave Without Pay report, which allows non-essential employees taking time off during the summer without pay as a cost-saving device for the county. In 2012, the county saved $52,763 under the program.
• Authorized board attendance at Transportation Day at the Capitol Thursday, Feb. 7. The program will run from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will provide an opportunity for the county commissioners to meet with legislators and learn about updates in transportation funding and new legislation.
• Laid over for two weeks bids received on the 2013 county rural street lighting projects, which will place street lights at 10 rural intersections in the county. Seven bids were received – four of which were well above the $180,000 engineer’s estimate. The low bid was $138,756 from Design Electric in St. Cloud – a bid more than $30,000 less than the next-lowest bid.
• Approved a partial payment of $12,417 to Fyle’s Excavating for work completed on the Joint County Ditch 15 repairs. Initially, the request from Fyle’s was to receive payment of $15,000, which represented 80 percent of the work completed on the project. However, Kerry Saxton of the Wright Soil and Water Conservation District said that, upon examination, 80 percent of the work wasn’t completed. As part of that, the percentage of payment was reduced to a figure that represents 60 percent of work completion.
• Scheduled a parks committee of the whole meeting for 10:30 a.m. following the Feb. 5 meeting. The agenda will include discussion of the Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park, including the project history, planning, partnerships, timelines, agreements, funding and grants.
• Received an update on the joint planning board of the Clearwater Orderly Annexation Area. The COAA has five members – two appointed by the city, two by the township and one agreed upon by both the city and township. For the past four years, that fifth position was held by former Commissioner Rose Thelen. No official action was taken because the county only steps in with an appointment if the city and township can’t agree on the fifth member of the board.
• Approved a right of way plat for the CSAH 35 bridge project. The approval allows the process of acquiring easements to get underway. Bids for the project are expected to be opened in March.
• Set a transportation committee of the whole meeting for 1:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4.
Freelancer John Holler covers government and the Wright County Board of Commissioners.