Commissioners Bill Canda, Tom Flower and Jay Printz.
Photo by Jackie Bubis
The New BOCC: Action Started
on Personnel Policy and Courthouse Hours – Printz in Opposition
CCEDC Getting $1 Million DOLA Grant
Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)
—November 22, 2017
by Jackie Bubis
The meeting started at 10 a.m, after Tom Flower and Bill Canda were sworn in, with the Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call. Due to the size of the crowd, the meeting was held in the courtroom.
Attorney Clint Smith and Clerk Kelley Camper drew lots for a temporary chairman to open the meeting. Commissioner Printz won the draw. He opened the meeting. All three commissioners wanted the chairman position and reported why they would make a good chairman. The men then voted in a chairman (Tom Flower) and vice-chairman (Bill Canda) to serve until the first meeting in January.
Commissioner Canda and Commissioner Flower then took an opportunity to express their thanks and their priorities for the job of commissioner. Both expressed that the citizens are their boss.
Commissioner Printz reported on a meeting with the Wetmore Community Center board. He stated that the Board accepted the idea that, with the future online streaming of meetings, the frequency of meeting in Wetmore might change. He also reported on the E911 meeting. Mr. Flower interjected that it will be very important to get the word out that the fees paid on cell phone bills might be going elsewhere and that citizens should check their bill.
The Board then decided the commissioner areas of responsibility for the various departments and boards. The list (See page 8) will be in effect through the end of the year.
Mr. Smith has been working with Jackie Hobby on sorting out an illegal subdivision created years ago. Apparently, the owner did put the pieces back together before they were repossessed so the issue is settled. He is also working on a bill from Mastercard sent to the airport. With regards to an ongoing security issues that he briefed the former Board on in executive session, Mr. Smith will speak with the new commissioners individually on the matter.
The Board approved and signed the E911 Inter-governmental agreement.
Lisa Rowe, the administrator to the courts, met with the Board regarding the loss of the Underfunded Courthouse Grant. At the October 31st meeting, former Commissioner Hood reported that the request for a change of scope for this grant, allowing the funds to be used for plans for a new justice center building was due on November 1st. She stated that she and Brenda Gaide would attend to that after the meeting. It is unclear if that November 1st deadline was met. Ms. Rowe did say that there might have been a different outcome if the request for extension had gotten in sooner. Apparently, the extension was not granted as the state commission felt that the Board didn’t have a clear direction on where they wanted to go. Mr. Printz was “really bothered” by losing this grant and called it “political.” Ms. Rowe did not disagree. Mr. Flower stated that after reading the email turning down the extension, it was clear that this was political. The grant can be reapplied for in 2018.
The Board then met with Charles Bogle of the CCEDC (Custer County Economic Development Corporation.) The DOLA grant for $1M needs to be signed by December 1. Mr. Canda and Mr. Flower questioned Mr. Bogle extensively about the Broadband project. They were extremely careful to make sure that signing this document would not commit the county to funding any part of this six-tower project, though Mr. Printz was adamant that it would not. Mr. Bogle also told the Board that, no, there were no commitments at this time for companies to place equipment on these towers and reported that only three of the six were usable for cell service. The Board expressed that the citizens were more concerned about cell service (especially in emergencies) than in Broadband. Unrelated to the DOLA grant, there were questions about the $23K in the preliminary budget for the CCEDC (a private corporation) and in this meeting, Mr. Bogle told the Board that this money would be used for operating funds for the corporation. The preliminary budget has not yet been approved. (See breakdown of previous claims regarding this $25K here.)
There were several people in the audience that wanted to give input on the topic. Mr. Printz stated that comments were to be held until the Public Comment time at the end of the meeting. Both Mr. Flower and Mr. Canda expressed that they welcomed input and that holding it until the end of the meeting was useless. After further discussion, a motion was made and passed to sign the DOLA grant request with the caveat that there was no present or future financial commitment from county monies.
IT Director Ippolito addressed the Board to find out if they wanted to move forward on streaming the BOCC meetings online. The Board decided and directed him to move forward. He also updated the board that there had only been three applications for his position. He stated that the requirements for that position that were written by former Commissioner Hood were unrealistic and needed to be rewritten and reposted. The Board agreed.
Jackie Hobby and Vic Barnes from the Planning Commission addressed the board regarding their upcoming workshop. They will be revising the Zoning Resolution. They will work on making language consistent with other documents and clarifying how the BOCC makes appointments to their boards. The item regarding possibly banning storage units was removed from their agenda after discussion. However, the Dark Skies/light pollution issue was not. After much discussion, the PC will move forward with that topic. It was unclear if the Board wanted them to simply render a decision on whether they recommended moving forward for the time-consuming job of crafting language on the subject of a Dark Skies “ordinance” or if they were actually going to proceed with crafting that language.
Next on the agenda was sending out the letter to the newspapers requesting bids for the public notices. This decision will be made at the first meeting of the new year. Historically, the bid is awarded to the lowest bidder. The discussion became contentious when Mr. Printz wanted to add “other criteria” to the decision. When pressed for what criteria he wanted, he answered that there was a wide variance in distribution between the two papers and that circulation needed to be added to the decision process. His motion failed in getting a second but he stated that he would bring that circulation data into the discussion in January. (Editor/GG: Since the Sentinel started bidding on the County’s legal notices, every bid was won by the low bidder (twice for Sentinel and once for the Tribune). Mr. Printz’s point on circulation size is curious as last year Mr. Printz himself made the motion to award the bid to the low bidder, the Sentinel, which has the lower circulation of our two local newspapers. No mention of “circulation” last year from Mr. Printz. I wondered what changed his mind? Also, since the since the inception of bidding for legal notices every Commissioner on every bid vote, voted for the low bid (including former Commissioners Hood and Kattnig who voted for the Sentinel’s low bid next year). In addition, Mr Printz, an attorney, in a startling act of failing to provide full disclosure and possible prejudice to the BOCC, did not mention that he represented the Tribune in their effort to get the legal notice bid writing a letter to the Board on November 24, 2014, advocating for the Tribune. I believe he even attended the BOCC bidding discussion meeting and made his pitch there. He should have recused himself from the current discussion.)
A notice will go out requesting letters of interest for serving on the various boards. Those board vacancies will be filled at the first meeting in January.
A special event permit was approved for the New Year’s Eve event at Beckwith Ranch.
The Capital Improvement Plan was approved for the Airport.
Mr. Flower was appointed to work with CSU Extension on the hiring of another Extension Agent.
There was a discussion regarding lights in the county right-of-way on Muddy Road. Commissioner Printz suggested that the Zoning office be asked to look into this.
Mr. Canda had two items that he wanted to address under new business. Mr. Flower allowed it, despite them not being on the formal agenda. Canda’s first proposal was that public comments be allowed when discussing any topic that required a vote. The other commissioners agreed, and this change will be made on the agendas in the future; leaving a time for general public comments intact.
The second proposal by Canda – that the new personnel policies and hours be rolled back – became combative as Printz disagreed. He also suggested a committee of employees be asked to put together a new personnel policy, thereby getting buy in from the county employees. Mr. Printz grew adamant, saying that the “employees, for the most part, have accepted it and most of them have approved it.” When Flower and Canda shook their heads, Printz went on, “You can shake your head no, but that is a true statement.” He continued, “I feel that it is appropriate for any organization with eighty-plus personnel. I see no reason to change a policy that has finally brought us into the 21st century and has this county running much more smoothly than it has before. I am vehemently opposed to this, having been an integral part of this process.”
He further claimed that every department head had input and discussion.”
Canda stated that he has gotten a great deal of negative input from the employees, especially with the new hours. Flowers agreed that he has heard from employees that the new policy has created some heartburn and that morale has dropped.
Again, Mr. Printz called the process a joint effort with the department heads, saying that they added things the employees wanted and took out things they didn’t. “It was not something that was stuffed down their throats. This was done as a cooperative effort with the entire county. They bought off on it. They agreed to it. They signed the document.”
Several department heads that were in attendance gave each other looks of incomprehension and shook their heads. (Editor/GG: Folks, if you think the County’s employees wanted this we have a bridge in Brooklyn for you….)
Canda proceeded to say that there is considerable unrest about this policy and that he didn’t want to continue to try to convince the employees that “this is the greatest thing that ever happened.” He wants them to come to that conclusion themselves by having input and buy in. He thinks it’s worth the effort and time to clear the air.
(Reporter’s Note: this was one of the reasons for the Recall and was a promise by all the replacement candidates during their campaign.)
Mr. Printz: “I would like to go on record and say that this is out of order. I object. It is not an agenda item. I feel that this vote that you’re about to take is inappropriate.”
Further argument prompted Clerk Kelley Camper to speak to the issue. She informed the Board that the major sticking points for the employees were the new hours and the performance-based raises. She went on to say that the new hours were problematic. Her office and others have kept track of the business they’ve gotten between 4 and 5 p.m. and there isn’t much.
Mr. Printz conceded the point but thought that maybe that’s because the word has not gotten out.
Camper stated that the flex-schedule has been hard for her office. Some offices, that don’t deal with the public, aren’t even open to 5 p.m. The Court is also not open until 5 p.m.
Dawna Hobby also stated that all the offices that are open until 5 p.m. have online capabilities to take credit cards and many people do their business online and don’t rush to make it in between 4 and 5 p.m.
Mr. Flower brought the discussion back on topic and it was decided that Mr. Canda would retract his motion and the topic would be placed on the agenda for November 30th.
The Board took a four-minute break before public comments. During that break, one of the County’s elected officials informed Mr. Printz that the department head’s budgets were threatened by recalled Commissioner Hood if they didn’t sign off on the personnel policies.
During public comment this reporter asked the status of the three laptops that were purchased by Mrs. Hood last January for the commissioners. Mr. Printz still has his, Mr. Kattnig brought his to Mr. Canda and Mrs. Hood has promised that she will give hers to Mr. Flower when she returns from Aruba later this month.
The meeting adjourned at 3:10 pm.