The February 28th Newaygo County Board of Commissioner Meeting
By Charles Chandler
On Wednesday, February 28th Chairperson Kolk called the Board of
Commissioners’ meeting to order at 9:30 AM. Administrator Wren and Commissioners, Delaat, Bird, Kruithoff, Cooper, Trapp, and Maike were present and accounted for. County Clerk Jason VanderStelt offered the opening prayer and Kruithoff led the Pledge of Allegiance. A motion was made by Bird and seconded by Trapp to approved the amended agenda. There was no public comment and the Consent Agenda Items were read and unanimously approved. Business as usual.
Presentation – Next on the Agenda was the presentation of Retirement Resolution #02-003-19 recognizing Chief Deputy Clerk Pamela A. Rolfe for her 16 years of service and retirement.
At this point, things got a little damp and squeaky. Clerk Jason VanderStelt asked Ms. Rolfe to come forward and as he read the Resolution. The bottom line of the resolution stated that the County of Newaygo through its Board of Commissioners wishes to thank Pamela Rolfe, for a job well done and to express its appreciation for the service she has given. Clerk VanderStelt gave a personal and heartfelt thanks to Ms. Rolfe for her many roles and contributions in the department. He mentioned her friendship, professionalism, wonderful personality and bright smile that would be truly missed around the office. Especially her ability to enjoy an appropriate and well-told joke and her analysis and disdain of one that was not funny. The Commissioners filed down and expressed their gratitude with officious hugs and a few misty eyes. The presentation was followed by photos and cake and coffee.
Standing Committee Reports
Commissioner DeLaat presented the Finance Committee business.
Motion 19-073-1 to approve the Blue Cross Blue Shield agreement for Newaygo County inmates, from February 1, 2019, through January 31, 2020, and to authorize the Sheriff to sign any and all necessary documents. This was a significant move because the County is currently processing about $100,000 in unpaid inmate medical bills. It appears that the number of inmates being housed at County is growing and their healthcare services are as well. It also appears that health care providers delivering these inmate medical services are not following the required billing practices as defined by the regulatory ground rules. For whatever reason, these practice by the inmate health care providers results in a significant challenge for the County staff. They have to determine if the inmate is indeed a registered guest of the County, the explanation of benefit (EOB) is accurate and the bills received for service are valid and the true and final responsibility of the County. This correspondent has been an employee and senior manager for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan of Texas and can say with high confidence that healthcare billing is a huge leaky boat. The entire health care system is computer-based and driven by coding. Coding accuracy begins in the health care providers office and drives the entire process. These codes determine wither the EOB is accurate and or if the bills should first go to some other agency like Medicare, Medicaid or Private Insurance Carrier or to the County. The motion to approve the Blue Cross Blue Shield agreement passed unanimously. It is the opinion of the N3 correspondent that the agreement with Blue Cross and Blue Shield to monitor the accuracy and help process inmate healthcare services billing will be extremely beneficial to the County. The County has hired a really, really big dog to watch the foxes and guard the hen house. Hats off to Administrator Wren and our Commissioners for a decision well made.
Motion 02-002-19 regarding the 911 surcharge, and authorize the Central Dispatch Director and County Clerk to sign and all necessary paperwork. This was the voter-approved ballot proposal that would provide dedicated funding to pay for an enhanced 9-1-1 Public Safety Dispatch system including technology upgrades. This resolution has to be approved by the Board of Commissions so that the State can implement the new 911 surcharge increase. The County also received a $`10,000 ten-year low-cost loan to make technology and facility upgrades to Central Dispatch. Motion passed.
Motion 19-075-01 to execute the attached Mid Mitt ESInet Intergovernmental Agreement and authorize the Board Chairperson and County Clerk to sign and all necessary paperwork. This appears to be the 911 system agreements between other County (MECOLA) central dispatches that provide necessary robust 911 call redundancy and the opportunity for a scale of economy cost sharing. Motion passed.
Motion 19-076-1 to approve the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) Grant with consideration and discussion related to the reporting requirements. This motion was to formalize the agreement with the State so that Newaygo County could begin to implement its plan to ensure that all those that appear for arraignment are provided with appropriate facilities and council. Administrator Wren forewarned that he expects the cost for this mandated program will escalate and that the State must continue to fund this program and that the cost of the program cannot be relegated to or funded by the County.
Motion 19-083 to accept The Fremont Area Community Foundation Grant #20181214 in the amount of $500,000.00 for Michigan’s Dragon Trail at Hardy Dam and authorize the Board Chairperson and the County Administrator to sign any and all necessary documents. The motion carried. The County and other project stakeholders are awaiting final project approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). This FERC approval is required for recreational development at Federal Licensed Hydropower facilities like Hardy Pond.
Motion 10-084 to accept the Fremont Area Community Foundation (FACF) Grant #20181246 in the amount of $75,000.00 for recycling services and authorize the Board Chairperson and the County Administrator to sign any and all necessary documents. The motion carried. The Commissioners mentioned that the County and the FACF were currently splitting the operating cost for the Fremont Facility. Commissioner DeLaat suggested that the Fremont Facility was a model for recycling and that County Citizens should visit, use and volunteer at the facility.
Miscellaneous Committee Reports
Commissioner Cooper reported that he had attended the Fremont Leadership Committee Meeting He also recommended that the County continue to be represented on that Committee
Commissioner Kolk reported that he had attended Michigan Association of Counties and the Public Safety and Judicial Committee meetings.
Administrator Wren provided updates on a Marine Patrol grant and Educations grant that had been applied for. Also, an update on the recently approved county contract with The Newaygo County Regional Education Services Agency (NCRESA) through Newaygo County Advanced Technology Services (NCATS) to address a vacancy and an addition to the onsite IT positions. In the afternoon Commissioner Wren and other County officials have the opportunity to the enjoy the conclusion of their hard work as they attend an open house in Big Rapids at the new morgue and where they will meet our new forensic pathologist, Dr. Dan Schultz.
“Schultz has more than 20 years’ experience in forensic pathology and is returning to Michigan to serve eight counties, including Clare, Lake, Mecosta, Montcalm, Oceana, Otsego, Newaygo and Wexford," aid Wren. "Officials have indicated more northern Michigan counties are expected to join this morgue authority. Now, northern Michigan families will have a new, hard to come by resource that will be able to answer their questions about the death of a loved one. Medical examiners said having Schultz in northern Michigan is the most efficient way to meet national standards.”
Another job well done.
Commissioner Wren mentioned that the March Board of Commissioners meeting will be on the Thursday the 28 rather than on Wednesday 27th.
Drain Commissioner Dale Twing gave an extensive update on the Fremont Recycle Center. He thanked key stakeholders like Paul Mellema for the use of the land where the Center is located, the City of Fremont, County Road Commission and all the many volunteers that have been helping staff the site. He mentioned that they are soliciting donations at the Center. He said they are looking at all options to make the Center a sustainable operation. It is recognized that the County cannot continue long term funding for the Recycling Center operations. He mentioned that he was applying for grants to fund placing additional recycling bins at local Schools.
Mr. Joe Fox Director from The Commission on Aging presented The Silver Tsunami News Letter and advertised the upcoming St Patrick Day Baked Potato Fundraising Lunch.
Ms. Holly Moon our County Treasurer informed the Board of Commissioners that her Circuit Court date was on Tuesday the 26th and Judge Springstead had approved 67 of the requests for extensions for delinquent tax payments. They will have until August 9th to pay their 2016 taxes and penalties and interest will continue to accrue. It is expected that there will be a 90 percent collection rates on the extensions.
Ms. Julie Burrell from the Right Place introduced herself to the Board of Commissioners. She discussed the purpose of the Right Place and some of the activities and projects that she is involved with including manufacturing and tourism. She specifically discussed the Redevelopment Ready Program.
As previously stated, it was business as usual. However, for those that notice such things it remarkable obvious that the new Commissioners and Chairperson are operating in a collegial and efficient manner. It is also obvious from attending these meetings that the Board of Commissioners, the County Administrator and Staff and other Department Head are very effective and efficient when conducting the County’s business. It appears that they are excellent stewards of our Taxpayer dollars and are continuously looking for opportunities for collaboration, partnerships, and the economies of scale with other area governments and agencies. It also appears that they are personally looking for ways to develop their own knowledge and represent the County's best interest in various meetings, on committees, and at public events.