MINUTES

USDA Service Center

Jefferson City, Missouri

March 20, 2007

Present

Fred Feldmann, President

Steve Radcliff, Area II

Not Present

Bruce Biermann, Area I

Harry Robbins, Area VIII

Kenny Lovelace, Area III

 

Beverly Dometrorch, Area IV

George Engelbach, Area V

Marie Iiams, Area VI

Sharon Gifford, Area VII

 

Steve Oetting, Past President

David Dix, Treasurer

 

Peggy Lemons, Exec. Director

 

Leslie Michael, NRCS Area Conservationist

Bill Wilson, DNR Program Staff

Richard Hoelscher, Area V Alternate

Don Hicks, Area IV Alternate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

President Fred Feldmann welcomed everyone and called the meeting to order at 1:00 p.m. Roll call and quorum established.

The minutes from the January 30, 2007 meeting were approved as mailed. The motion was made by Steve Radcliff, seconded by Beverly. Motion carried unanimously.

David distributed a treasurer report. 101 districts have paid state dues in full. He gave a list of those districts that have not paid to the Area Directors. There were also financial reports for the CREP funds and the CRP-BOB funds. The 990’s for 2006 have been prepared and signed and will be submitted to IRS this week. A motion was made by Beverly, seconded by Marie, to approve the Treasurer Report as presented. Motion carried unanimously. Peggy also mentioned that there had been an individual membership received in the mail.

David stated that he had run into a slight problem with changing signatures on the bank account in Eminence. The original motion made was for addition of Sharon and Peggy to the account. If we want Fred added to the account and the others except for David Dix taken off the account, this needs to be included in the minutes. A motion was made by Beverly to add Fred and remove Steve Oetting and David Braun from the bank account in Eminence. This was seconded by Steve Radcliff. Motion carried unanimously. 

MDC REPORT: Brad McCord was not in attendance. Peggy did report that she is working with Brad on how to close out the original MOCREP and CRP-BOB agreements and return the unused funds to MDC.

NRCS REPORT: Leslie Michael attended for Roger Hansen who is in Washington, DC working on the budget. Leslie stated that they are finishing EQIP contracts. There was a special EQIP for windbreaks this past sign-up. The budget crunch on personnel was discussed and Leslie stated they had been assured that they will be able to pay the staff for the remainder of the fiscal year. She was asked about office closures and she stated there had been 1 RC&D office relocated into a field office, but she was not aware of any planned office closures coming up. The earmark funds in the budget for the watershed program still have not been approved. Most of the watershed staff has either been detailed to other states to do disaster work, the remainder are working on regular conservation operations work. The watershed work has currently been put on hold. There are a total of 60 staff years funded by the watershed funds.

COMMISSION REPORT: Bill Wilson stated the Commission scheduled for the following day had been cancelled due to lack of a quorum. The next scheduled Commission meeting is May 24. There have been no changes to the Commission since our last meeting. Bill reported that Mr. foster is looking at potential changes in the Program Office. He is looking at designating a person for accounting issues (not the accounting program but questions that normally would be asked of an accountant) and a person for personnel issues. He is also planning to work with the Commission to have the Commission concentrate on cost-share and DNR handle the administration for the districts. He is looking at ways to support the districts, one way he is considering is to have their newsletters reviewed by the Program Office person with a degree in journalism. He is hoping this will help the districts develop more professional newsletters, also he is considering providing articles that districts can include in their newsletters. Bill Wilson stated he had reviewed the costs from Tan-Tar-A since at the last meeting it was mentioned that the costs were higher this past conference than the previous years. He stated what he found was that the higher cost was in meals where the guarantee number of meals based on pre-registration was higher than the number of actual meals. This is occurring due to allowing people to pre-register for the conference and not pay until they arrive, but between the time of registering and arriving at the conference, they have decided not to do the meals. The board discussed with Bill Wilson changes that could be put in place to get a better idea of the number of meals that are needed. He stated the meals most responsible for the differences were the breakfasts.

DISTRICT EMPLOYEE ASSOCIATION REPORT: Ben Reed was not in attendance, however the Employees Association is continuing to work with MASWCD and DNR on a better health insurance plan.

Old Business:

Peggy gave a legislative update on the budget and the bills being followed. The budget has been approved by the Appropriations Committee and the Budget Committee with the 8% increase in District Assistance funds. The budget is currently in the Rules Committee and should be to the House floor next week after the Legislative break. The other bills on the dam safety and removing gravel have both been passed out of committee and are also currently in the Rules Committee.

Fred discussed with the board how the legislative work was being handled and the need to officially appoint a Legislative Committee. Currently Peggy, George and Sharon Oetting have been handling the issues with phone calls, letters and visits. A motion was made by Steve Radcliff to have a Legislative Committee appointed by the President. This was seconded by Kenny. Motion carried unanimously. Steve Radcliff made a motion to approve reimbursement of Sharon’s expenses to represent the board in legislative work (mail, mileage, hotel, etc.) effective January 1, 2007. This was seconded by Marie. Motion carried unanimously.

Fred, Marie and Peggy attended the NACD Meeting in Los Angeles last month. They reported that the regional structure where 30% of the NACD quota was returned to the region for the region to hire staff was done away with. The current staff working in the regions will be full-time NACD employees directed by Krysta Harden. They will be available to all states, not just those in one region. Steve Robinson of Ohio was elected as 1st Vice President and Bob Cordova of Colorado was elected 2nd Vice-President. Gary Mast of Ohio was recently named USDA Under-Secretary for Natural Resources. Missouri receive a quota award for being in the top 10 of the highest quota dollars paid. We are running behind this year, however, the quota notices have just recently been received by the districts. The auction item donated by Missouri this time, the fishing trip, did not go over very well. Sold for about 1/3 of what the value was. Before the auction item is selected for next year’s meeting, the list of all auction items from this past auction will be reviewed to see what sells best.

New Business:

The work on a group health insurance plan for district employees was reviewed. Bill Wilson discussed how the Program Office perceives the funding of this to work. He stated that DNR did not have a provision to accept payments from the districts for withholding for dependant coverage or for additional coverage such as dental and vision. Their thoughts are for MASWCD to handle the financial end of the insurance. DNR would provide the funds to cover the employee costs and the districts would submit to MASWCD the funds to cover the other coverage and the dependant costs. Then MASWCD would actually make the payment to the insurance company whether it is Missouri Consolidated or some other company. A motion was made by Beverly, seconded by Kenny, to approve MASWCD administering the funds for the employee group health insurance plan. Motion carried unanimously. There was discussion on whether there needed to be a request for bids from other companies since we currently have 2 bids, one from Missouri Consolidated and one from another insurance company. A motion was made by Sharon, seconded by Beverly, to advertise for bids on the employee health insurance plan. Motion carried unanimously. Bill Wilson stated he would get information on how extensive the request needs to be advertised based on how the state advertises for bids. The companies who have already submitted bids have also asked for underwriting forms to be completed by all the employees so they can give a more precise cost. These forms will be sent to the districts asking for them to be returned by May 1. If other bids are received, the underwriting issues will be handled for them at that time in the most efficient manner as determined. The Area Meetings will be held in June and the main topic will be the health insurance. Peggy will be attending all area meetings to help with the presentation and discussion on the insurance. Following the area meetings, a poll will be taken of the districts to make sure that the majority are in favor of a group health insurance plan. If at that time it is determined this is what they want, then the target date for implementation is September 1, 2007.

Peggy also asked the board about obtaining Errors & Omissions coverage due to the increased nature of business the board is now involved in with the potential health insurance and the MDC grants. A motion was made by George, seconded by Kenny, to approve pursuing purchase of Errors & Omissions coverage. Motion carried unanimously.

Area Meetings were then discussed, location and time for each area. A list was prepared of those areas where it was felt the meeting should be in the day and those for evening. The time frame being considered is 9 am to 1 pm and 5 pm to 9 pm. Day time meetings will end with a lunch and evening meetings will begin with a dinner. Most of the locations used last year will be used this year. A larger crowd than in the past is expected so that is being taken into consideration when looking at the locations. The majority of the 3-hour program will be the insurance discussion. There will not be any agency reports, etc. Election s will be held in Areas 1-3-5-7.

Area Reports:

2—Steve Radcliff indicated their district had purchased a GPS lighted bar guidance system with a screen for use on a 4-wheeler to help in laying out terraces. It seems to be working well and there may be a workshop on this at the Training Conference. With the improved weather field work is getting started.

3—Kenny indicated he has spent time asking for input on the time and location of the Area Meeting. He also had served on the SALT Committee looking at ways to improve the program. One of their suggestions was for more education to the staff before starting the project.

4—Beverly stated she had attended the Lafayette SWCD open house. She had polled the districts in her area concerning the Area Meeting and also administrative funds versus benefits. She stated the younger employees appear to prefer more money in their pocket where the older employees are more interested in the benefits. She also stated that some of the District Managers were concerned about the CCE computer system and how to use some of the programs. They are asking for some training. She will be attending the Moniteau SWCD annual meeting at the end of the month.

5—George stated most of his efforts have been on the time and location for the Area Meeting as well as legislative work. He will be attending the Lincoln SWCD board meeting on March 27. He has been asking for suggested topics for the Training Conference. He does have a concern on the watershed funding as there are some new watersheds in his area.

6—Marie indicated she will be attending the Lawrence SWCD Annual Meeting next week. She went to Stone SWCD, they are getting started again and have hired 2 employees now. The surrounding counties have been very helpful in Stone SWCD getting going again.

7—Sharon stated her area has been dealing with the aftermath of the ice storms.

Correspondence: None

Other Business: Fred reported he, David Dix and Steve Oetting had attended the Livingston SWCD Annual Meeting. Bill Wilson and Judy Stinson of the Program Office were also there. Steve Hopper is retiring from the Livingston SWCD board after serving for over 20 years and having served as MASWCD President and also on the NACD Executive Board. Fred stated he had also attended the Annual Meeting in Pemiscot SWCD and the Envirothon Committee meeting in Jefferson City. Steve Oetting and Fred both are working on coming up with conservation practice needs of the districts that are not currently available through regular cost-share. The process for getting pilot practices approved is to write to the commission and ask for consideration of the practice as a pilot. Their main concern is why some districts are not spending all of their initial geographical cost-share allocation.

George mentioned he would like a copy of the approved items for matching grant purchases. He stated it was shown at the recent Commission meeting, but he didn’t get it written down. Other Area Directors also asked for a copy as well.

Fred stated that at the President’s Association breakfast at the Los Angeles meeting there was a discussion about how to raise funds for the renovation of the NACD office in Washington, DC. The office needs new carpet, painting and a couple of walls moved to make better use of the office space for current staff. One suggestion was that districts who have had presidents of state associations donate $100 per president to this fund.

The invoice for NACD quota was received in the mail recently. A motion was made by Steve Radcliff, seconded by Steve Oetting, to pay the $775 quota amount. Motion carried unanimously.

A letter requesting support for the 2007 Women In Agriculture meeting was also received. A motion was made by Sharon, seconded by Kenny, to send $250 to help support this meeting. Motion carried unanimously.

Steve Radcliff expressed his appreciation for all the cards, phone calls and e-mails he had received during the time he was laid up.

Bill Wilson stated they are also working on job descriptions and suggested salary ranges for district employees. Bill Foster is also looking at developing a list of standardized educational programs and wants to move toward working with the teachers to train them to provide the conservation education to the students. They are also working on getting the manuals updated and possibly getting them put on the web page.

The next regular meeting will be held on May 23 at 1:00 p.m. at the Cole County USDA Service Center. The Commission Meeting is scheduled for May 24. There being no further business the meeting was adjourned at 4:50 p.m. Motion for adjournment made by Steve Radcliff, seconded by George. Motion carried unanimously.

Respectfully submitted,

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Peggy Lemons, Executive Director   Fred Feldmann, President