County postpones hearing for accused water board memberThe Stutsman County Commission agreed Tuesday to postpone a public hearing about removing a member of the Stutsman County Water Resource Board to Oct. 16.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
The Stutsman County Commission agreed Tuesday to postpone a public hearing about removing a member of the Stutsman County Water Resource Board to Oct. 16.
Earlier, the Water Resource Board found that its member, Jeff Mitchell, had illegally drained water from his land to other people’s property in Nogosek Township.
The commission then voted to remove Mitchell from his position, only to learn a North Dakota Century Code statute states he is to have “ample time” to prepare for a public hearing in which to refute the claims against him.
“He was asked if he was draining, and he denied it point-blank,” said County Commissioner Dave Schwartz.
Fritz Fremgen, Stutsman County state’s attorney, said that Mitchell originally requested more time to prepare before the hearing. Later, Mitchell said he was ready, but at that point Fremgen needed more time to complete his investigation into the issue.
“It sounds like there’s a lot of damage up there,” said Casey Bradley, Stutsman County auditor/chief operating officer, referring to flooding allegedly caused by the illegal drain.
Fremgen is also investigating whether criminal or civil charges can be brought against Mitchell for the damage the drain allegedly caused to farmland and roads.
“Even if there’s a legal drain, there’s procedure you have to follow,” Schwartz said, adding that Mitchell had not turned in any required paperwork or followed proper procedures for draining land.
In other news Tuesday, the commission:
* again adjusted the preliminary 2013 budget, reducing the projected mill levy increase from 5.66 mills to 2.66 mills after a 3-mill increase was removed from the emergency Human Services budget. Later it was discovered two mill levies had been combined in the accounting, leaving the projected mill levy increase at a total of 1.76 mills. The commission encouraged Bradley to continue looking for ways to trim the budget even further.
* set a township balance cap of $50,000. Most townships owe the county money, generally for road repairs conducted by the county on township roads.
* approved an out-of-state travel request for Bradley, who will attend a conference for senior executives in state and local government for 18 days at Harvard University, at no cost to the county beyond Bradley’s salary for that time period.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be
reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at email@example.com