Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes – Town Hall Meeting January 18

***Thursday, January 18, 2024, at 6:00 p.m., Commissioners held a town hall meeting at Memorial Hall to explain the function of Commissioners’ Office, county departments that fall under Commissioners’ Office and to answer general questions raised by the public.

Present were: Chairman Tim Bertling, Commissioner Wally Cossairt, Commissioner Ben Robertson, Deputy Clerk Michelle Rohrwasser, Wendy Bertling, Doug Higgins, Assessor Olivia Drake, Adrienne Norris, Caleb Davis, Treasurer Jenny Economu, Clayton Isaac, April Isaac, Caleb Watts, Hilary Kraly, John Poland, Tony Jacobs, Bonners Ferry Herald Staff Writer Emily Bonsant, George Almond, Fay Almond, Solid Waste Department Superintendent Richard Jenkins, Lester Pinkerton, Jim Woodward, County Noxious Weeds Department Superintendent Dave Wenk, Haley Wenk, Mark Quinn, Elena Quinn, Lynda Fioravanti, Mary Fioravanti, Greg Lamberty, Dave Ingle, Jon VanGesen, Adam Isaac, and other unidentified members of the public.
Commissioners said the Pledge of Allegiance.

Chairman Bertling opened the meeting by stating that this Board of Commissioners is a fairly young board in the history of this community, but Commissioners are getting things done and he appreciates Commissioner Cossairt and Commissioner Robertson. Chairman Bertling added that you can get a lot accomplished when you have like-minded people.

Commissioner Robertson thanked the public for coming to the meeting. Commissioners informed the public how the county budget works. Commissioner Robertson explained the total county budget, the yearly allowable 3% increase, how much of the total budget comes from property taxes, the amount levied for Road and Bridge, and anticipated income via state grants, which is an unknown amount, but Commissioners have to budget for it. Commissioners also explained the Justice fund, solid waste being fee-based as opposed to a tax, and county employee salaries. Commissioner Robertson listed the number of employees in each county office and mentioned that every salary is different. Between salaries and benefits, it adds up. Commissioners budgeted for the cost of a Planning and Zoning Administrator, which is currently unfilled, Road and Bridge has hired three employees and the Sheriff’s Office is advertising for a position in the jail.

Commissioners are looking to bring Planning and Zoning inhouse, but they cannot get applicants to apply. Road and Bridge is being required to do a lot more maintenance, but they have less manpower than they did years ago, and they added another office staff member due to the increased reporting requirements. In the jail, there have been times when there was only one detention deputy working solo, which isn’t right, so another position is open. Ms. Quinn asked for the total budget for salaries and Commissioner Robertson gave an example of one department’s salaries, excluding benefits as being approximately $1,479,000. The cost of benefits range depending on the size of the family, so it’s not a fixed number. Ms. Norris said the budget for County Civil Attorney Tevis Hull was $130,000.00 and now the county is splitting that into two positions, totaling $180,000.00. Chairman Bertling explained that the county is breaking the advertisement into two positions to see what they can fill, so costs may be reduced. Boundary County was extremely lucky to have Attorney Hull, according to Commissioners. Chairman Bertling explained that the county is throwing out a wide net in order to hire an attorney and he clarified that Commissioners are planning on just one attorney.

Commissioners discussed misconceptions of how the public thinks Commissioners govern over other elected officials. Commissioners don’t govern over other elected officials, but they do collaborate in work with them. Commissioners cannot dictate to other elected officials and they’re also not in charge of water associations, cities, municipalities, other taxing districts, but they do collaborate.

Another misconception is having unlimited resources, but that is far from truth. Commissioners are in favor of grants when the county can get them and they do try to apply for them. Ms. Quinn asked how much money are in federal grants. Chairman Bertling said most federal grants are for the airport or are through the Federal Highway Administration. The Riverside Road Improvement Project is a Federal Highways Administration project. This project goes from Bonners Ferry out to the Kootenai Wildlife Refuge and Riverside Road is proposed to be lowered and widened in order to accommodate bikes and make it safer. Commissioner Robertson said the county works with both the state and federal government. Commissioners discussed funding for road projects, such as chip sealing. This last year’s cost to chip seal one mile of road was $24,000.00. The county was hoping to chip seal approximately 18 miles of road and that adds up fast, so that is where extra grant money comes in. It was said the county roads are thought to be on a seven-year rotation for chip sealing, but had failed on that and have been breakdowns. Mr. Wenk asked if the cost of $24,000.00 per mile is just oil and labor. Commissioner Robertson said his understanding is that it’s material costs. Commissioner Cossairt added that is if there are no prior repairs needed and he listed Brown Creek Road repairs as an example.

Commissioner Robertson said another misconception pertains to Commissioners being able to visit and inspect the site involved in a Planning and Zoning application. It is against state statute for Commissioners to inspect a site prior to a public hearing. Commissioner Robertson said it doesn’t make sense to him, but that is the law.

Ms. Quinn questioned the amount of anticipated funds and only a certain amount being levied and she asked for an explanation of where certain portions of the budget are expected to come. Commissioner Cossairt explained that Road and Bridge receives funds from fuel taxes from the state, payment in lieu of taxes (PILT), and Secure Rural Schools (SRS) funds. Chairman Bertling mentioned that he had traveled to Washington DC to talk with Congressional members to explain SRS and to advocate for those funds. Chairman Bertling said the county also has very little ARPA dollars left. The county does have the Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Funds (LATCF).

Commissioners discussed the county departments that fall under their office, starting with Road and Bridge. Chairman Bertling said when he was elected to the Board of Commissioners, Road and Bridge dump trucks were 20 years old. Road and Bridge has two new dump trucks in order to put an emphasis on roads, be efficient and get roads plowed and chip sealed. Road and Bridge purchased a belly dump in order to haul a lot more rock. More Road and Bridge employees were hired to help get these projects done, otherwise the county would have to use Road and Bridge Office staff in order to help flag. Ms. Norris said when she had spoken with community members, there were a lot of complaints, so maybe it’s kicking the can down the road and she mentioned the thought that Road and Bridge should be its own taxing district. Comments about roads falling apart were made. Chairman Bertling said there are other issues involved in that and he added that if Road and Bridge could be approached differently, we could get things done. Commissioner Robertson said forming a highway district requires going to vote. Commissioner Robertson added that to put money and manpower where it needs to be and to be efficient, it may cost more now, but down the road we’ll see the results of that. Commissioners discussed increasing the budget in certain areas for Road and Bridge and experiencing equipment breakdowns, but the county puts money and manpower where it’s needed. Mr. Wenk complimented Road and Bridge for the work they do. It was said that plowing snow is not fun when you don’t have experience. Mr. Wenk discussed how funding has not been coming to Road and Bridge, but that department is doing a really good job and he asked Commissioners to let them know. Chairman Bertling explained how a Road and Bridge plow truck went into the ditch, because a car would not move over.

Mr. Almond asked what portion of funding goes towards roads for the 25% fund. It was said that is for timber sales on the National Forest; not the state. Mr. Almond asked what proportion is the county getting and if it’s miniscule? Chairman Bertling said yes. Commissioners said they’ve not heard it referred to as 25% funds. Commissioner Cossairt said 30 years ago, it was a lot of money. Of the SRS funds, 70% goes to Road and Bridge and 30% goes to the School District. Commissioner Robertson said one difficult part with Road and Bridge is hiring qualified people, because they have to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Now the county will send an employee to school to get their CDL and will pay for the course, but if the employee quits working for the county prior to two years, they have to reimburse the county for the cost of the course. Ms. Norris discussed looking at employee wages as that might be why it’s hard to find people to work. Commissioner Robertson said the county gave every single employee a $1.00 raise, except for Commissioners. The private sector is showing us that the county is far behind, according to Commissioner Robertson. Raises given to employees were as follows: $1.00 increase for employees who have worked for the county up to 5 years. A $1.50 increase to employees who have worked for the county 5 to 10 years and a $2.00 increase to employees who have worked for the county 10 years or more. Chairman Bertling added that wages have been a problem. Mr. Wenk said he appreciates the wage increase, but the benefits really adds to the value. If you go to work somewhere else, you’re not going to get the retirement and benefits. The county does a really good job with what it has.

Commissioners discussed the landfill/Solid Waste Department and they said at some point in time the county will have to close the main landfill, but they’re trying to extend its life. By extending the life of the landfill, it keeps taxes down. If the county needs to go to tipping and transfer, it will increase fees quite a bit. The county is looking at purchasing an air curtain burner machine for wood waste and is in the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) permitting process now. Before, the county contracted for grinding the wood and sending it out for hog fuel, but it was a no-win situation with shipping, etc. With an air curtain, hopefully the county can also get a permit for bio char. The county is also looking at composting at the landfill and Chairman Bertling explained that the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho was awarded a $1,500,000.00 grant to compost food waste at the landfill. If we could make compost and put it in with bio char, it would be good for the soil, according to Chairman Bertling. Chairman Bertling said Commissioners would also like to recycle glass. Glass can be treated and turned back into sand and repurposed, so the county is looking into that. Boundary County is allowed 20 tons of garbage per day, but the average has been 23 tons and up to almost 50 tons in the summer. Mr. Quinn asked, if plans go well, what is the life expectancy of the landfill. Chairman Bertling said Commissioners are to find out shortly, since they will be meeting with DEQ, but the landfill has quite a few many years still. Mr. Quinn commented how Boundary County is growing as a community. Mr. Quinn asked if food composting will be restaurant based? Chairman Bertling said yes and they will also consider grocery stores. Chairman Bertling explained the composting unit to those present and Commissioner Robertson reiterated that the county is in the very beginning stages. Chairman Bertling mentioned that the composting system could possibly be an incentive-based program. Mr. Jenkins said this type of composting unit can be used all year long. Mr. Jenkins informed those present that food waste can account for up to 50% of solid waste. Commissioner Robertson said roller compaction dumpsters have been moved to the remote sites for efficiency and cost savings. Using the Naples site in an example, Mr. Jenkins said the Solid Waste Department used to have five to 10 trips per day using roll off containers and those trips have decreased to four trips per week using compacting dumpsters, so it’s a large savings on diesel fuel and manpower. A member of the public questioned if the costs could be offset by selling the biochar. Chairman Bertling said absolutely. Ms. Quinn asked about the cost of an air curtain and Chairman Bertling said the cost is approximately $186,000.00. The budget amount of $100,000.00 for wood grinding over the last two years will be put toward the cost of the air curtain. Chairman Bertling said that Commissioners had sat through a presentation on this system at a Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative (KVRI) meeting. Mr. Poland said in Naples, more recycling was being done and he commented on recycling more if it does become cost effective to do so. Glass can sit, so there is not much pressure, but if we can recycle, please keep doing that. Chairman Bertling said we do, with the exception of glass. Glass used to be crushed and used for road base with rock, but that is not happening now. Mr. Jenkins explained that there is no facility in this area for glass, so that is why glass cannot be processed here. Mr. Jenkins explained having to put six inches of dirt over the compacted material at the landfill every day and an additional foot after 30 days, per DEQ requirements.

Regarding Parks and Recreation, there is a walking path down by Ball Park Road. There are five acres that had been for sale and the county has acquired it to expand Riverside Park. There won’t be homes built on this property and Chairman Bertling said he’s excited for that to be turned into a park. The Parks and Recreation Department does have long term plans to put in a drifting dock for boats and a boat launch. Commissioners are still trying to get restrooms built at the fairgrounds, but the project bids came in very high, so Commissioners are looking into prefab buildings. Commissioner Robertson explained that the county has a Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and staff. Ms. Fioravanti asked if Commissioners were going to increase the size of the skate park. Chairman Bertling said Commissioners had not been approached about that. Clayton Isaac mentioned there is a group trying to raise funds to put toward the skateboard park. Over $10,000.000 has been raised and this group is also applying for grants. Chairman Bertling asked Mr. Isaac if they’ve contacted the Tony Hawk Foundation. Mr. Isaac said he didn’t know, but they did reach out to someone in Montana. Commissioner Robertson suggested Mr. Isaac contact Commissioners about a support letter. Chairman Bertling explained the history of trying to get a skateboard park built in front of middle school.

Commissioners were asked about Emergency Management and Boundary Community Hospital. Mr. Wenk said the hospital building is county-owned and the county pays the hospital’s insurance premium. Mr. Wenk asked how much it costs the county and it was said $370,000,000 is budgeted and $340,000.00 was levied. The county does have an emergency manager who is part time. Mr. Almond said where the hospital is located is a residential area. The helicopter that comes to the hospital flies in over power lines and houses and it’s dangerous. It can be in excess of six to eight trips per day. The neighbor’s corn has blown down. It was said that coordination comes from the State Aeronautical Division. Mr. Almond said the county has an airport in another area and helicopters go there as it’s already an approved site. Chairman Bertling said helicopters do go to the airport in some cases. Mr. Almond said it’s a concern of his and Chairman Bertling said that is something Commissioners can keep in mind. Mr. Almond asked if the hospital is doing anything about it? Commissioner Cossairt said the Hospital Board of Trustees meetings are the last Friday of every month. Mr. Higgins asked how the ambulance service is funded and Chairman Bertling said ambulance service is funded by the county at a certain levy rate. Commissioners have used ARPA funds toward the purchase of a new ambulance. Mr. Higgins said to give the ambulance service all the funding the county can. Commissioner Cossairt said nobody thinks about ambulance service until you call and need them. Chairman Bertling said he wants Boundary Ambulance Service to be accountable on their books.

Mr. Quinn asked if the county supports the golf course and Commissioner said no, the golf course belongs to the City of Bonners Ferry.

Ms. Fioravanti asked if all three Commissioners have read the emergency management procedures and she questioned there being procedures, such as if a train carrying oil were to blow up. Chairman Bertling said that he had not read the manual, but it was in the process of being updated. Ms. Bonsant added that Burlington Northern has emergency management training. Commissioner Robertson said he also has not read the manual, but he did attend an emergency management class last year. Commissioner Robertson explained the involvement of Commissioners in emergency situations and he said the emergency managers are hired to take on more of a role. Mr. Wenk added that the City of Bonners Ferry Fire Department and fire taxing districts have procedures for train derailments. Commissioner Robertson said he had worked for Burlington Northern for 17 years and he said to let the railroad personnel deal with those emergencies first and keep other people away. Commissioners are called to make an emergency declaration in an incident. It was said that fire departments participate in railroad related trainings.

Commissioners discussed the Restorium. ARPA funds have been used to redo the flooring, heating/cooling splits and walk-in tubs for the residents. COVID-19 was very tough for the Restorium since it severed a lot of ties for the community to be able to help out. Commissioners are keeping The Restorium operating. A new administrator has been hired. It was asked how many assisted living facilities are county funded and Commissioners said just one; the Restorium. Commissioners’ goal is to get the Restorium to be cost efficient. Commissioners were asked how much is taxpayer support for the Restorium, such as a percentage? Chairman Bertling said he would have to get information, but it’s not even close to 40% or 50%. Commissioner Robertson reviewed the overall budget for the Restorium, but he didn’t have information as to how much residents pay, because there are various rates depending on the level of care and room arrangement. The Restorium has approximately 30 residents, currently. Prior to COVID, there were approximately 38, but then that number dropped to the low 20’s. Mr. Woodward said the Restorium is really a treasurer for this community, since it is locally operated, instead of having some corporation run it, and you get really great care from people in the community. It’s not something you want to give up and it’s not too much to ask. Ms. Norris asked about the percent of community residents in the Restorium, versus residents from out of state. Commissioners said they didn’t have that information. Commissioner Robertson said someone had inquired if local residents could pay less, but that is discrimination. Commissioner Robertson added that the Restorium needs to strive to be self-sufficient and Chairman Bertling added to that saying, as much as possible.

Under Idaho Code, the county has to have a Probation Office and it falls under the Commissioners, but this office works primarily with courts, etc. This department has a new chief probation officer.

Commissioners discussed the Sheriff’s Office budget and plans for the jail with timelines. The Sheriff sets his own budget and Commissioners review it. Chairman Bertling said Commissioners have always supported law enforcement. Commissioner Robertson commented that the joke across the state is that no matter what budget is set for the Sheriff’s Office, the Sheriff will always ask for more. Commissioner Robertson explained how the Sheriff will submit his budget for approval. Ms. Quinn said she knows the jail is in bad shape. Chairman Bertling said the county just had a new roof put on it. Ms. Quinn spoke of Sheriff Kramer having a fund for jail improvements, but it will cost a lot. Commissioners commented that it will cost $9,000,000.00 to remodel the existing facility and $11,000,000.00 to build a new one, and that is just an estimate.

Ms. Fioravanti said she had heard about the ticket quota for the county.

Commissioner Robertson said the Sheriff doesn’t have a time line for the jail. The only way is to put the jail improvement cost in a bond and go out to a vote. There is a possibility for a local option tax and that is up to public as well. It comes down to whether or not the public wants a jail; not if Commissioners want a jail. Commissioner Robertson said there used to be a vast number of grants, but they’re no longer available. Ms. Norris mentioned housing state inmates and Chairman Bertling said he had heard of that pot of funding drying up a bit. It’s not guaranteed the county would get the state prisoners, according to Chairman Bertling. He would rather go a different route. Mr. Wenk asked if the jail can be condemned, such as like a public school. Commissioners said they would have to look into that. Chairman Bertling said there isn’t a set time line for the jail. Ms. Norris discussed letting people out of jail early due to being short on bed space. Ms. Quinn discussed the difficulty with men and women inmates.

Mr. Ingle said he’s lived here 10 years now. His observation is that many county clerks have issued absentee ballots to people in the county and this is an infraction of code, which requires they personally sign. The County Board of Canvassers has the authority over the Clerk in that situation. Mr. Ingle discussed the oversight of Chapter 24 pertaining to voting machines. Mr. Ingle questioned the county’s canvass process and if there is public documentation of that canvass? Chairman Bertling said Commissioners leave that portion to the Clerk’s Office. Chairman Bertling said his personal opinion is that the election process in this county is sound and he has the utmost confidence. Boundary County has not had a problem here. Mr. Ingle agreed. Chairman Bertling said when voting, he’s had to show his identification to people working the election, even when they’ve known him for 30 years. Mr. Ingle said he’s not trying to rehash old elections; just trying to protect new ones. It was said that everyone received absentee ballots. Chairman Bertling said Commissioners could have a conversation with the Clerk. Mr. Ingle suggested following the comprehensive guidelines for canvassing. Mr. Wenk said not everybody received an absentee ballot, but you can request one. Mr. Wenk reiterated that an absentee ballot was offered, but one was not sent. Mr. Ingle said he disagreed. Mr. Wenk said it was a request that was sent. Mr. Woodward said there was confusion during one election cycle. At one time an absentee ballot was sent, but two ballots were inadvertently sent. Mr. Lamberty said he remembered during the 2020 primary election, due to COVID-19, that the Secretary of State required everyone to get an absentee ballot. Ms. Bonsant said there were people showing up to vote in Moyie Springs that year. You can request an absentee ballot. Mr. Woodward said the state did audit the elections and Boundary County participated in that audit and was spot on. Ms. Norris questioned how many voters were removed from the registry and Mr. Ingle said over 1,400 names were from the registry due to having moved away or were deceased. Commissioner Robertson asked if those names had voted and Mrs. Norris said no. Mr. Ingle said he found several problems with the voter roll. It’s a mess. Chairman Bertling mentioned being asked about cameras being focused on the ballot box at the Courthouse. Commissioner Robertson said there is already a camera in place, but Commissioners will talk to their IT Director about how to live steam the ballot box.

Commissioners discussed traffic tickets. Chairman Bertling said he has a printout of how revenue from traffic tickets is dispersed. Boundary County receives $5.00 per ticket, but it’s a different story for the city. Chairman Bertling reviewed percentages of revenue from tickets and which agency those funds go to. 90% of ticket given within city limits goes to the city. Commissioners said tickets are not money makers for the county. The idea of the county being a revenue generating machine because of tickets is not true. Ms. Norris asked if Sheriff Kramer is going to remove the Top Cop Program? Commissioners said they did not know. Commissioner Cossairt said he has no problem with someone getting a ticket if they deserve one. Ms. Norris spoke of law enforcement in relation to creating a competitive system. Commissioner Robertson said to be clear, Commissioners don’t have a say about an incentive program or not. In the Sheriff’s Office explanation of this program, the award is being voted on by other officers, not by the tickets they give out. It was said that, personally, it’s a good thing to be voted on by peers. Ms. Quinn said her take is on three things, one of which is the number of driving while intoxicated (DUI), another one is drug arrests, and the third one is to be voted on as far as in-house and how an officer is acting with the community; not pertaining to traffic tickets. These are good things. Chairman Bertling said he has no problem with that.

The Planning and Zoning Administrator position has not been filled. The county is trying to bring this position in-house and to give it more hours. The county cannot dictate to the public what they can and cannot do with their property, if it is allowed by ordinance. As for growth, we need growth where we have more resources around and closer to town, but someone can move somewhere and just pack water in, if they want. Mr. Quinn said there seems to be a strategy, because we are growing and talking about having to catch up. There will be more and more businesses that will bring in a lot of people, as with Tractor Supply. The Sturgeon Station owners have a lot more land and there’s sure to be more plans. Will it be retail? Commissioners said they don’t know what is planned. Mr. Quinn said he sees a lot of traffic in retail and service, but not much in manufacturing. Given those things, housing, taxes on solid waste, etc. it seems that someone should have a big plan to do this wisely and in control. Chairman Bertling said to look at there being Highway 95 and two railroads as far as growth and he added that if you’re looking for a quiet town, look at Troy or Thompson Falls. Commissioner Robertson said there is the possibility of impact fees to businesses and there is state code, but it’s very restrictive and there isn’t enough to get the job done. Commissioner Robertson added that he’s spoken with Commissioners from other counties and most are giving up on assessing impact fees, because it doesn’t work. Commissioners are looking at impact studies for different roads. Commissioner Robertson said in his personal view, if someone wants to do something on their property and it’s zone properly and it’s within the ordinance, it’s legal and he won’t tell them what to do. If someone can subdivide their land legally, he won’t tell them where to do it. Mr. Quinn said the county should be looking forward instead of reacting. Chairman Bertling said you can encourage manufacturing with tax incentives, but it’s tough to bring them here. It’s possible to be in a lawsuit for denying something that is allowed. Ms. Norris said she has been following Planning and Zoning for two years and she thinks Commissioners have done well. Ms. Norris spoke of wanting to bring Planning and Zoning back and Commissioners are working toward that goal. Ms. Norris said she felt the county did well working with Ruen-Yeager in trying to adjust the ordinances. Increasing the Planning and Zoning application fees was good, because a lot of corporations would want to come in and taking advantage of a small town. Ms. Norris said one of the top four or five complaints she receives pertain to zoning violations. Various homeowners who live on Smith Lake Road have made complaints to her, but she only deals with transparency and accountability; not the civilian end. She relayed that a lot of people feel Commissioners are allowing conditional use permits under zoning ordinances that are not appropriate. It was said that people have bought land in that zone and people in the Smith Lake area don’t want to see the smaller subdivisions. Chairman Bertling said the last application Commissioners addressed pertained to Legacy Ridge Lane and it was totally within the county ordinance and those were 10-acre lots. Some of the people on Smith Lake Road are on five acres. Commissioner Robertson added that this application did fit the ordinance and comprehensive plan. Ms. Norris referenced Tractor Supply and said that application did not and there are some people using their properties outside of the zoning. Chairman Bertling said right now Commissioners are looking at re-working the county’s land use ordinance in order to put some teeth into it. There are many Planning and Zoning violations right now. Chairman Bertling said that County Planner Tessa Vogel has mentioned that people are finding the loopholes, so the Planning and Zoning Commission and County Commissioners are trying to clean those up. Commissioner Robertson said he’s of the mindset that do what you want with your property as long as it doesn’t negatively impact your neighbor. Your private property rights stop at your property line, granted that is maybe an over simplification of how it has to work. Commissioner Robertson added that it’s not a perfect world and he is personally torn on some of these things. Using the term junkyard, one person’s treasurer is the next person’s junk. There may be commercial ventures that shouldn’t be operating where they are and they should be happening on commercial property. In the case of someone who has five older vehicles on their property and they think they’re classics, but their neighbor might think it is junk. Where do you draw the line in writing the ordinance to try and prevent those situations? This is a position where you can never make everyone happy and you cannot even try. Ms. Norris said she agrees and added that nobody will come on to her property and tell her what to do, but she’s in an area with large acreages and nobody messes with each other. When you look at the Tractor Supply property, that should not have happened and now you have a gentleman with a cracked foundation. Ms. Norris said she’s saying that if we’re not careful and we don’t have civil engineers coming in who can give a few hours of consultation on how to build this city, if we don’t tighten up our ordinances, we will have a bit of trouble. Ms. Norris spoke of having been in Mobile, Alabama, and she had been forced off of the highway, because they didn’t do the road properly. Eminent domain is also a concern for Ms. Norris. The county is doing a great job, but maybe it’s time to change it up and maybe it’s also time to update the comprehensive plan and to have residents within those zones actively participate in the planning process for their zone, while being overseen by Planning and Zoning and a final decision by Commissioners.

Mr. Wenk discussed water adjudication, saying that the Kootenai Valley is not adjudicated and he asked if that takes an act of the Board of Commissioners to ask the state to have that done. Chairman Bertling said yes and Commissioners have made plans to have that done.

Mr. Higgins said no matter how many regulations you put in place, someone is going to get around them and you just can’t police them all.

Commissioner Cossairt said farmers can approach their legislators and ask them to adjudicate. There are three different ways to do it, so a person doesn’t have to go to their commissioners.
Mr. Poland questioned how Commissioners are going to address enforcement when it comes to zoning issues, because it has to go through the Prosecutor’s Office at some level, and with Attorney Hull being no longer with us, how is that going to be handled. Commissioners said they have County Prosecutor Andrakay Pluid in the meantime, until she can hire an attorney for civil work. Commissioner Robertson said until the ordinance is fixed, there is not much enforcement. Enforcement letters still are getting mailed out, according to Chairman Bertling. Commissioner Robertson said the county intends on filling the Chief Deputy Prosecutor/Civil Deputy position, but that is the Prosecutor’s department.

Weed control in the county was discussed. The county does have weed control. There are a lot of different invasive weeds that come in, such as the puncturevine. Mr. Wenk said Idaho has a noxious weed law that states it has 73 noxious weeds and Boundary County has 32 of those listed weeds. State statute requires a property owner to control the weeds on their property. Mr. Wenk said the county will send the property owner a notification about the weeds and after so many days if nothing is done, the county can put a lien on the property. Mr. Wenk said he would never want to see the county do that and he would rather see neighbors being good neighbors and helping each other out. The county has programs that will help a property owner with purchasing herbicides at no cost to the homeowner.

Ms. Fioravanti asked if the bike trail was going to happen. Commissioners explained the proposed bike trail going from Riverside Road out to the Kootenai Wildlife Refuge. Commissioners are working through it and it is a process. Phase 1 of this project going to the Deep Creek Bridge. The dike would be lowered by four feet.

Mr. Wenk thanked Commissioners for holding the town hall meeting. Commissioners thanked people for coming.

Clayton Isaac asked Commissioners about a budget category, such as if the Coronavirus relief funds can be used for the skate park. Chairman Bertling said those funds have already been allocated. Commissioner Robertson suggested Mr. Isaac meet with Commissioners to talk about grants for the skate park.

The meeting ended at 7:45 p.m.