November 12, 2008
Steve Radcliff, Area II
Kenny Lovelace, Area III
Beverly Dometrorch, Area IV
George Engelbach, Area V
Sharon Gifford, Area VII
Steve Huber, Area VIII Alternate
Peggy Lemons, Executive Director
Fred Feldmann, President
Bruce Biermann, Area I
Harry Robbins, Area VIII
Richard Hoelscher, Area V Alternate
Shelly Sumpter, District Employees Association
Ronny Margason, Parliamentarian
Marie Iiams, Area VI (2:20 pm)
Steve Oetting, Past President (4:15 pm)
Due to the absence of President Feldmann, Vice-President Steve Radcliff welcomed everyone and called the meeting to order at 1:40 p.m. with a quorum established by roll call.
It had been previously requested to record the meetings for accuracy of the minutes. Beverly Dometrorch motioned no on the recording. George Engelbach motioned yes on the recording and pointed out that you can’t make a negative motion. Kenny Lovelace seconded the motion to record the meeting. Motion carried with a vote of 3 yes and 2 no. The meeting will be recorded.
George Engelbach motioned to approve the meeting agenda. Motion died due to no second. Beverly Dometrorch moved to revise the agenda to include bringing up the items tabled at the last meeting and adding a new item of election of Supervisors. Sharon Gifford seconded the motion. Motion carried with a vote of 5-1 with George Engelbach casting the opposing vote. Agenda was revised.
The minutes from the September 9, 2008 meeting were approved as mailed. The motion was made by Kenny Lovelace, seconded by Beverly Dometrorch. Motion carried unanimously (6-0).
treasurer report prepared by
NRCS REPORT: Roger Hansen reported their budget is still
on a continuing resolution through March 6, 2009. There are a lot of unknowns, and have been
told to be very conservative. They are
not sure if a full budget will be passed in March or another continuing
resolution. No earmarked funds are
released until there is a full budget approved. EWP funding will help close the
budget gap. They are on limited travel
with no hiring. Roger also commented on the
recent national financial audit for NRCS.
He stated that due to the level of funding they are now receiving that
triggered this audit. The auditors
expect a lot of paper trail and want to be able to know exactly what the fund
balance is at the end of a quarter. Due
to findings in the audit, there are $100 million of open obligations that need
to be addressed. Between now and
December 29, they will have to open all case files, answer questions, document
and send to headquarters. There are over
10,000 case files to go through. He
stated that audits will now be ongoing, hopefully everyone will be able to get
back to the field in January. He stated
he planned to talk more about this at the Business Meeting at Tan-Tar-A. Beverly Dometrorch stated she had received
concerns from districts in her area asking if there were things they needed to
worry about concerning the memorandum of understanding. Roger stated, yes, probably do. He talked about the partnership, it works
best when look at the work as one big program, not a lot of individual
Marie Iiams joined the meeting at 2:20 p.m.
stated that the Technician II’s will still have NRCS job approval authority,
will not be having authority for large jobs, but will do terraces under a
certain size. He stated he is not as
concerned with the Technician II certification as he is with keeping the
offices working together as 1 team. He
stated NRCS will continue to offer training as always to District
employees. There is plenty of work to be
done for both programs. George Engelbach
questioned about the 6-month liming requirement, he stated he wanted
clarification that it was an NRCS requirement not a Commission
requirement. When asked, Roger commented
on his recent award – Secretary’s Honor Award.
Six individuals received this award in the
Ronny Margason, professional parliamentarian joined the meeting. She was asked to review the current bylaws due to questions as to if an election for officers was required this year or next year. She stated in reviewing the bylaws she saw several areas that needed clarification. A lengthy discussion ensued about proposing changes to the current bylaws and going over the bylaws section by section to see what should be changed. A motion was made by Kenny Lovelace, seconded by Beverly Dometrorch to approve payment of $150, mileage at the state mileage rate and Tuesday lunch, to cover the cost for having Ronny Margason’s work so far and have her at the Business Meeting at Tan-Tar-A. Motion carried unanimously (7-0).
Brad McCord, Bill Wilson, Mike Well, Steve Oetting and Henry Heinze joined the meeting at 4:15 p.m.
COMMISSION REPORT: Bill Wilson stated the next meeting is December 1 at Tan-Tar-A, also the joint meeting with the MASWCD Board in the morning on December 1. They are helping with a couple of workshops at the conference. The proposed Supervisor election rules were tabled. They are proceeding on with the cost-share rules changes and equipment incentive program rules. There was nothing changed on the pond policy, but they are looking at ways to clarify some issues.
Mike Wells, DNR Deputy Department Director for Water Resources, stated Fred Feldmann had called him and asked how DNR was addressing the issues raised recently on the work study and allegations related to the work study. He stated that after the Employee meeting allegations DNR asked an internal audit group to do an audit review of the BIS company. There were 2 program staff assigned to help compile the information from the work study into the spreadsheet. They were never told to change any numbers and there was no pre-determined outcome. One employee had been a coordinator for some of the counties participating in the work study that had shown up with 0’s in some categories and had pointed it out to the contractor. Mr. Wells said he took information from the Warren and Pulaski work study figures and couldn’t track it. He stated he did have some concerns, and asked the auditors to look at all 22 of the work study counties information. They saw some incomplete forms or forms not filled out properly. Obviously there was a strong disconnect between the information provided and what was presented. The contractor had made notes from personal interviews, which the auditors say is an accepted procedure. The contract did not require the contractor to keep the interview notes. He has agreed to try to find his notes. Shelly Sumpter indicated the employees involved have told her there was no discussion on hours in the interviews. Chris and Joyce did what the contractor told them to put on the spreadsheet. The original intent of the study was staffing levels, adequate compensation for employees and addressing the issue of cost-share dollars spent compared to funds spent for salaries. In the audit review they wanted to make sure nothing illegal had occurred, the auditors are not recommending taking anyone to court, they have concerns but don’t feel there is sufficient evidence for any charges. Bottom-line is that they are not prepared today to ask for a full audit, not overly optimistic they will get the interview notes. The work study was never intended to be used for anything more than a snapshot of the workload, making sure they have the right people in the right place based on the needs of that county. The Commission is struggling with what to do now. In looking at the qualifications of the contractor, he was an efficiency expert, no reason to say he was not capable. He was not familiar with districts and what is federal and what is state. He stated they did ask the Office of Administration to make sure everything was handled properly on the DNR end. How do we put this behind us? Mr. Wells also stated that the 319 program is not making a request for proposals this year in agriculture due to trying to work with the SALT funding and come up with a program for a 40% match.
Kenny Lovelace stated he felt the only way to put this behind us is to get rid of Bill Foster. Beverly Dometrorch stated it would help to not have any more Memo 44 issues (saying we support an issue or approve something when we have not discussed it). Mike Wells stated they wanted Bill Foster to get out in the Districts. He stated they also felt like the coordinators were not coordinating. They are hopefully are trying to improve communications. In the past month any communication sent out has been reviewed by Mr. Wells. He stated he doesn’t see DNR taking any aggressive personnel actions between now and January 12. It was suggested a document that outlines the Commission role and the Program Office role might be a good idea. He stated they need to respond to every piece of communication. Everyone feels the door to communication has been shut. Putting something out to the Legislature retracting the work study information would be good Shelly Sumpter suggested.
DISTRICT EMPLOYEE ASSOCIATION REPORT: Shelly Sumpter stated they are working on the Trade Show for the Training Conference. There are 18 booths so far, which is down from last year. She stated she has been getting questions on insurance, what about the State Association getting bids and handling the insurance. There is a lot of concern about the Commission DVD’s being altered, public comments from the end of the meeting. She stated the Attorney General has information about the work study process, also Kenny Hulshoff. A new DNR Director will be coming on and they are taking the issue seriously. She said they are looking at criminal charges potentially, bringing in an outside attorney to handle the issue.
MDC REPORT: No report.
Plans for the Training Conference were discussed. Quite a lot of pages need to be printed for the conference bags, about 12,500 copies. A bid from a local printer to print these copies and the program booklets is approximately $1100.00. George Engelbach made a motion to approve this printing bid. Kenny Lovelace seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously (8-0). Will check the bylaws, if not required by the bylaws, the internal financial audit will be done at the next regular meeting following the Conference. Steve Oetting made this motion, seconded by Beverly Dometrorch. Motion carried unanimously (8-0). The Board discussed having a cash bar at the Tuesday banquet. An approximate cost is $75 for the bartender. A motion was made by Steve Oetting, seconded by George Engelbach, to pay for the bartender if it can’t be negotiated for free for cash bar at the banquet. Motion carried with a vote of 7 yes and Sharon Gifford opposing.
The discussion of who will be attending the NACD meetings will be held for the meeting at Tan-Tar-A.
Committee Reports: Beverly Dometrorch reported she had attended the quarterly FAC Meeting.
Area Reports: Marie Iiams stated she had been defeated at her area election. She had been approached by people in the area asking about the legitimacy of some Districts travel expenses to attend meetings when they felt they were not attending any of the meetings. She also stated she had been contacted by an employee who stated they wanted her to know that all employees were overworked, was happy with their job but was concerned about personal business being done on official time.
Beverly Dometrorch stated she wished the Commission would step up and do their job. The family health insurance cost is outrageous. She was requested to attend a District board meeting and was asked about the survey and the 5-year needs assessment. She indicated they stated they preferred a 3-year plan, not 5 years. She stated someone had indicated to her that they had heard a rumor there was going to be recruitment for educated farmers and that they would be paid.
Kenny Lovelace stated his area had expressed concerns on Mr. Foster.
Correspondence: There was no correspondence, only outstanding bills. A motion was made by Kenny Lovelace to pay all 4 outstanding bills. Marie Iiams seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously (8-0).
Other Business: A motion was made by Kenny Lovelace to no longer use the BIS work study recently completed. Sharon Gifford seconded this motion. Motion carried with 6 votes yes and 2 opposing. Kenny Lovelace made a motion to bring off the table the motion from last meeting to send a letter to the Commission requesting removal of Bill Foster. Sharon Gifford seconded the motion. Motion carried with a vote of 5 yes and 3 opposed. A roll call vote on the original motion passed 5 yes and 3 opposed. George Engelbach – no, Steve Huber – yes, Kenny Lovelace – yes, Sharon Gifford – yes, Beverly Dometrorch – yes, Marie Iiams – no, Steve Oetting – no, Steve Radcliff – yes.
next regular meeting will be held on Monday, December 1, at Tan-Tar-A Resort in
Peggy Lemons, Executive Director
Steve Radcliff, Vice-President