Over the course of more than 20 minutes of back and forth with commissioners, Jensvold said unnamed commissioners had approved certain road projects for themselves and their friends in the past, had been unresponsive to letters, had given him conflicting information about where his road stands in line for paving, said one unnamed commissioner ordered a stop to all work on his road and, finally, questioned why Road 5 is receiving chip sealing while his is not.
“Is there somebody you know on the golf course?” Jensvold asked commissioners of the Road 5 improvements. “Is that the point, that I don’t know some of you that personally? I don’t know.”
As Jensvold began reiterating his case that his road has enough daily traffic to merit paving, French cut him off.
“We aren’t going to base our decisions on whoever comes to a public hearing and b——es the most and continually b——es non-stop, b——, b——, b——, b——,” French said, using an expletive. “I mean that’s all you do is b—— about it. There’s a lot of good folks out there, that (have) hundreds of (average daily traffic on their road).”
“They’re not here,” noted Jensvold.
“No, because they’re good citizens and out there working their rear end off and you got time to come b——, b——, b——,” retorted French.
Commissioners had scheduled the hearing at 7 p.m. instead of earlier with the intent of giving the public a better opportunity to attend. Jensvold noted he had a right to be at the hearing and French agreed.
“I have a lot of information you may not want me to go public with,” Jensvold said.
“You go public. ... I’m not afraid of you writing all the letters you want. I’ll help you out,” French said sarcastically.
“OK, good,” said Jensvold.
“Write until your hand just hurts,” French said.
“I will,” Jensvold said.
Jensvold closed by apologizing for taking so much time and French said, “Thanks for coming.”
It was an uncomfortable ending to a conversation that began much as it has for the past few years’ budget hearings: Jensvold making his case for paving his road and commissioners explaining why it hasn’t been paved.
Commissioners said other roads, as identified by the Road and Bridge Department, are higher priorities.
Jensvold noted that other groups have received additional money and road and bridge help by asking commissioners, while he’s yet to get his road paved in 20 years of lobbying. He also said some commissioners and their friends — who he did not name — had received the priority of road and bridge crews.
Commissioners Joe Tilden and Loren Grosskopf each said they did not know what Jensvold was talking about.
“You seem to make some rather pointed accusations, and I have no idea who you’re talking about,” said Tilden. “But since I’ve been on this commission, I have never seen any favoritism on any roads in this county as far as commissioners are concerned.”
Jensvold said he was talking about events before Tilden and Grosskopf’s tenure.
Grosskopf also took issue with Jensvold’s statement that commissioners hadn’t responded to his concerns and questions, noting that he’d answered Jensvold’s emails. Jensvold clarified he was referring to letters sent a couple years ago.
At Tuesday’s regular commission meeting, Grosskopf said he wished he hadn’t responded to Jensvold’s questions that didn’t relate to the budget.
“I think just answering the questions the way I did, it didn’t improve the hearing,” Grosskopf said. “It made myself feel better because I know I responded to him — even though he said I didn’t — but that wasn’t what we went there for ... last night.”
He suggested, and the rest of the commission agreed, to provide formal, written answers to Jensvold’s questions.
French did not bring up his comments.
During the hearing, Jensvold said chip sealing his mile of road would cost about $13,500. County Engineer Greg Meinecke said it would be closer to $132,000.
Jensvold found some support on his complaint that the county has undercounted traffic on his road in recent years. Commissioner Dave Burke, who unsuccessfully voted to pave Jensvold’s road the last two years, said he’d support directing the Road and Bridge Department to retabulate the traffic counts.
“I think in all fairness, we need to wipe the slate clean and we need to look at Road 6,” said Burke, who will retire at the end of the year. Earlier in the hearing, Burke was thanked by Jensvold for his hard work and for listening; Jensvold also thanked road and bridge staffers for their help.
Commissioner Bucky Hall noted that the county, through the application of dust suppressant on the road, has made some efforts on Road 6, but he seconded Burke’s call for a fresh look at the traffic numbers.
“Maybe we can get you up the priority list (of roads for paving). Certainly no promises and you haven’t had a lot a luck,” he said, adding, “I admire you for being here.”
French wasn’t open to just re-examining the traffic counts on Jensvold’s road.
“There’s nothing wrong with taking another look at that, but we’re going to have to look at every road out there, and we may not have the money to do what you’re requesting,” French said.
It was soon after that French had the heated exchange with Jensvold.
Also in attendance at the 45-minute long hearing were a number of county staff, two media representatives and county commission candidates Greg Gaspers and Alex Gisoldi.
The county approved its $24.16 million budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year on Tuesday without any changes.