Haakon County Commission rescinds gravel hauling bid
The Haakon County Commission met for their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, April 6. Haakon County State’s Attorney Ralph Kemnitz requested that a roll be called of the Commission present. Commissioner Steve Clements was absent. Those in attendance recited the pledge of allegiance, followed by approving the agenda and meeting minutes from the March 2 regular meeting, March 4 special meeting, March 16 special meeting and the March 23 special meeting.
Chairman Mike Gebes stated that the County had formed and mutually signed a settlement with former Haakon County Director of Equalization, Rose Bennett. The settlement was included in the meeting packet and was in the amount of $10,000.00.
Chairman Gebes asked State’s Attorney Kemnitz to clarify why he asked for a roll call of the Commission. State’s Attorney Kemnitz stated, “I just wanted to establish that one commissioner is absent.” Chairman Gebes recited South Dakota Codified Law 3-4-2 section 4 which states “Resignations may be made as follows: (4) Of all elective county officers, by filing with the county auditor such resignation in writing, which shall be filed or deposited with the board of county commissioners, which resignation unless a different time is fixed therein shall take effect upon filing.” Chairman Gebes stated the Commission cannot move forward with the vacancy of Commissioner Clements until he submits a formal resignation. “Where we can’t move forward, we cannot nominate anybody. The other thing is that we have to continue paying him for up to four months before that office can be declared vacant,” said Chairman Gebes. State’s Attorney Kemnitz stated that he had contacted Commissioner Clements and stated that he needs to file his signed resignation with the Auditor. State officials, according to State’s Attorney Kemnitz, say that it is not valid until a signed resignation is filed.
Stanley Reimann, of Pack Mule, LLC, was present to discuss gravel hauling bid concerns. Reimann reminded the Commission of the approval of two sealed gravel hauling bids during the Commission’s regular February meeting and stated that both bids were of differing amounts. “Who’s going to get paid what?” stated Reimann. “Does the County pay Pack Mule, TC Bar Trucking’s rate or does the County pay TC Bar Trucking, Pack Mule’s rate?”
Commissioner Steve Daly stated that Pack Mule should be the priority bid, unless Pack Mule was not available and that if multiple companies were hauling, each company should be paid the same rate. Reimann presented the calculations for what the difference in hauling costs would be for Haakon County between the two bidding companies and presented that though the bids look to be within cents of each other, the total could be costly. Extensive discussion was held on this topic and can be read in the minutes in the Public Notices section of the Pioneer Review or on Ravellette Publication, Inc.’s Facebook page. The Commission motioned and approved to rescind the original gravel hauling bid. Following, the Commission motioned to approve the acceptance of Pack Mule’s bid, due to it being the lower of the two bids, while also extending the bid to outside contractors.
Haakon County Sheriff Fred Koester provided his report. Sheriff Koester provided an update regarding the security camera project. He stated that Johnson Controls bid had been received, in the amount of $6,800. He has also contacted Ron Larson at Hometown Computer Services for a quote on the project as well. He stated there may be some licensing issues that may have to be worked out. Sheriff Koester requested permission to approve the work to be done by HCS if a similar system can be provided at a lower cost, as he would prefer the work to stay local. The Commission motioned and approved to have Sheriff Koester move forward with the camera project with some discussion held on which budget the expense would come out of. Haakon County Auditor Carla Smith provided the Commission with information on liquor taxes that the State of South Dakota collects and distributes back to the counties (into their General Fund), as a means of potential finance or as a supplement.
Discussion was also held on ordering a couple of portable parking signs, in hopes of reserving parking spots for court days and with respect to handicapped individuals. It was decided to have a pair of “Reserved Parking Only” signs ordered with opposite facing arrows (that would point towards each other).
Haakon County Treasurer Harla Schofield requested that two drop boxes be installed inside of the courthouse (without damaging the existing building) so that taxpayers can drop off their tax payments, rather than coming upstairs to pay. The drop boxes would not be available to taxpayers before or after hours, due to the courthouse being locked. Commissioner Nick Konst was not in favor of the tax boxes, as he does not feel that they provide any benefit.
Auditor Smith notified the Commission about a recent public records request made by Cassie Wendt. State’s Attorney Ralph Kemnitz asked Auditor Smith if Wendt had asked for any copies. Auditor Smith replied that Wendt did not request copies, but was given copies of agendas as they as given out at each meeting.
The e-mail request received from Wendt included the Pioneer Review and reads as follows:
Pursuant to SDCL 1-27-1, I am giving you notice of my intention to examine public records held by your office and/or to obtain copies of public records held by your office. Should you provide me with copies, I will not be required to examine the same within your office. Should that request be denied, then I shall come to your office during business hours on April 2, 2021 to examine the same.
If provided by copy, I would ask that it be post marked no later than March 31, 2021. Otherwise, I will review the same April 2.
Pursuant to SDCL 1-27-1.3 ". . . the citizens of this state shall have the full right to know of and have full access to information on public finances of the government and the public bodies and entities created to serve them." Additionally, pursuant to SDCL 1-27-1.5, these records are not included in those " . . . not open to inspection or copying."
The records that I am requesting to examine are:
(1) any and all information regarding the $2,500 in postage utilized and cited as used for COVID purposes by the Haakon County Treasurer. I would request a receipt for the postage purchased, the date, the time of all postage purchased and used. Additionally, I would request a copy of any documentation that was provided to taxpayers utilizing this postage.
(2) A copy of any application for tax abatement that has been considered or granted by the Haakon County Commission for the past 3 years, including, but not limited to all Application for Abatement that were filled out or signed by the Auditor at the permission of Commissioner Konst during the March 2 commission meeting which was recorded and made public by Ravellette Publications.
(3) A copy of the Monthly verification of treasurer's accounts as required by 7-10-3 for the past 3 years. This documentation is required to be reported to the Commissioners at each regular meeting, showing bank balances and total amounts of funds. This report is required to be made a part of the Commission Proceedings. I would also request a copy of each agenda where these reports were considered, reviewed, or discussed by the Commission.
Should you be willing to provide copies of the same, you may produce the same to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via hand delivery at a time agreed upon by you and I. If you are not willing to provide copies, I will be at your office on April 2nd and would ask that you have this documentation ready for my review.
Following the meeting, Wendt submitted another request, as follows:
Pursuant to SDCL 1-27-1, I am requesting copies of all of the documents listed below that I was ONLY allowed to review under supervision.
Pursuant to SDCL 1-27-1.3 "... the citizens of this state shall have the full right to know of and have full access to information on public finances of the government and the public bodies and entities created to serve them." Additionally, pursuant to SDCL 1-27-1.5, these records are not included in those " ...not open to inspection or copying."
The records I reviewed are from the request (see previous request, sections 1-3).
I was not provided any receipts for the postage of the Treasurer as I requested. I would ask that itemized receipts or any EDDM papers filed at the U.S. Post Office or online with the U.S. Postal Service be turned over for the past 3 years. Finally I request a copy of any receipt for personal reimbursements by the Treasurer.
Please provide me copies of any information held by Haakon County in any office regarding the website located at https://haakon. sdcounties.org from the date it was created on or near November 4, 2012 to today's date. Please provide copies of any minutes where this website was discussed. Finally please provide copies of all emails, training materials or handouts or any other material or communication between Haakon County and any State official regarding this website.
Please provide those copies to provide copies to me within 7 days at email@example.com.
Treasurer Schofield stated that the discrepancy in bank reconciliation was an error on her part. While using the computer program, Quickbooks, she understood the bank statements to be reconciled. It was discovered that there are a couple of steps she needed to complete, but was unaware that they were necessary in order to reconcile completely. As of the meeting, Schofield had gone back to reconciling in a book and had March’s statements reconciled.
State’s Attorney Kemnitz left the meeting.
Auditor Smith informed the Commission that Emergency Manager Lori Quinn was out for the time being, as she is helping some family members through surgeries. As soon as information is available, Hazard Mitigation planning meetings will be scheduled.
Auditor Smith stated the Haakon County Public Library received a grant, in the amount of $1,000 and requested to supplement the supply budget.
The Commission reviewed liquor license applications for Lake Waggoner and a three-day permit for the Philip Bronc Match. Both were approved with a second. Auditor Smith stated T-34 had not submitted their application prior to the meeting.
Auditor Smith informed the Commission about the county lien property and had spoken with the previous owners on removing belongings prior to May 7. Discussion was held on the City’s Free Dump Day and if the family was eligible to utilize it.
The Commission was informed that the South Dakota Department of Public Safety is implementing a Text to 9-1-1 program, as of March 2021.
Auditor Smith informed the Commission that various monies were received. STP funds were received ($225,427.54) along with a 50% match from the State ($24,825.92) and COVID funding ($50,552.98). Eligible expenses include all supplies and/or equipment purchases for the Highway Department. Auditor Smith was unsure what the State was matching, as the figure does not match 50% of the other two amounts.
The annual review for the Department of Equalization was not held due to the position being vacant. The Commission (per State’s Attorney Kemnitz’s advice) was contacted individually via phone to provide their vote on publishing it in the newspaper. The position is to be advertised in the paper for two weeks.
Highway Superintendent Assistant Val Williams presented her report. The steel for the highway shop repair project has been received. Concrete will need to be poured in order to fix a broken beam.
A right of way agreement was presented on behalf of a company assisting Golden West. The agreement was approved.
Discussion was held on old equipment at the highway shop and what method would be best to get rid of it, whether through an auction or sealed bid. A list of equipment will be provided to the Commission at a later time.
A road haul agreement was discussed, regarding upcoming construction held between Cottonwood and Quinn. The agreement will be presented to the Commission once all parties have signed.
The Commission motioned to enter executive session per South Dakota Codified Law 1-25-2 section 2, personnel. Upon exiting executive session, the Commission motioned and approved to promote Otis Funk to Foreman for a period of six months at $20.00/hour. The Commission will review his performance at the end of the six month period and decide whether or not to make him Highway Superintendent.
The minutes can be read in the Public Notices section in this issue of the Pioneer Review.