Crow Wing County commissioners Tuesday heard a recommendation in favor of abolishing their water plan advisory group and replacing it with a task force.
The task force is modeled after an Aitkin County version which doesn't have an appointed committee. Voting members come from the public with the stipulation they attend three meetings in 24 months.
Keith Pohl, Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District, provided information on Aitkin County's model, saying it may be easier to fill open positions using that approach. Paula West spoke for the advisory board, saying keeping the current structure now could provide continuity in the midst of the current water plan update. West said if the desire is to have more public input, subcommittees could tap into that involvement. West said the county doesn't provide enough resources or planning for water protection and a full time water plan administrator is needed.
The completion for the county's water plan was extended to Oct. 31, 2009. It is designed to obtain funding to protect water resources.
Commissioner Paul Thiede said the current structure does not appear to have a good communication between the advisory board and the county board. Thiede suggested abolishing the current board, which has about 15 members, and replacing it with a board of five appointees, one from each commissioner's district. Thiede said the Aitkin County model could bring new enthusiasm and new focus to an old problem.
Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom said the issues with this single advisory group highlights an overall issue the county board has with committees. Nystrom said she'd like the board to look at the committees, restructuring and per diems when the board meets in January. Nystrom said she needed more time to consider the change. Thiede said what is there isn't working.
County Administrator David Hamilton said he wasn't sure the Aitkin County model, which opens the committee up to anyone whether they live in the county or not, may only add to the existing confusion. Board Chairman Dewey Tautges agreed.
In other business, the county supported a Region 5 Development Commission plan to incorporate a wider five-county regional plan with the Brainerd Lakes Chamber's micropolitan planning for Crow Wing and southern Cass counties. Region 5 is applying for funding. Cheryal Hills, Region 5 executive director, said the work would not be a duplication of the chamber's efforts.
Abolished the obsolete Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District Joint Powers Appeal Board that was established in the early days of the Wetland Conservation Act. The appeal board has not heard an appeal in 13 years.
Considered buying an ATM machine and placing it in the jail entry for the ease of people using services at the county campus buildings. The ATM could have a surcharge of $3 with the county keeping $2.70 from each transaction with an anticipated 10 transactions per day. The issue is expected to return to the board in January.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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