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Wright Co. Board meetings to be streamed live starting in July
June 24, 2013

By Ivan Raconteur

WRIGHT COUNTY, MN – Wright County residents will soon be able to view county board meetings without having to travel to the Wright County Government Center in Buffalo.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved live streaming of the meetings via the Internet starting in July.

Once the process is in place, the recordings will be archived permanently, so residents will be able to view past meetings (as far back as the start of live steaming).

Residents will also get a better view of the meetings.

The board approved the purchase of a new camera from EPA Audio Visual at a cost of $9,267, with funding from the building care and maintenance budget, furniture and equipment line item.

The new camera will allow more viewing angles.

In addition, the new system will provide a better view of items presented during meetings. Currently, residents watching meetings via cable TV see a camera shot of the screen on which PowerPoint presentations, maps, and other items are projected.

The new system will allow viewers to see images via computer, and viewers will have the option to pause the video to take more time to read a document, spreadsheet, or map.

During the June 10 committee of the whole meeting, Information Technology Director Bill Swing said archived meetings will become part of the county’s permanent record management system. Planning commission meetings, public hearings, and board of adjustment meetings could also be streamed.

The board also approved contracting with Livestream for streaming county board meetings at a cost of $49 per month, with funding from the county board operating supplies budget.

Board minutes format changes approved

After discussing live streaming of meetings, the board took up the subject of meeting minutes.

Commissioner Mark Daleiden questioned whether the county will still need to take detailed meeting minutes after it begins streaming meetings.

There was discussion about abbreviating the minutes.

Board Chair Pat Sawatzke said some people find it easier to read a written record of the meetings.

A concern was raised about being able to research items from past board meetings (it is currently possible to search key words in a PDF or Word document).

There was further discussion, and the board requested administration staff begin abbreviating committee minutes immediately, and county board minutes once streaming of board meetings begins in July.

In making the decision, the board considered the statement of position on meeting minutes provided by the state auditor’s office.

Minutes, defined as a record of the proceedings of a governing body, must include a minimum of the following information:

• the subject matter of a motion;

• the persons making and seconding the motion;

• the roll call vote of a motion;

• the character of resolutions or ordinances offered, including a brief description of their subject matter; and

• whether the motion was defeated or adopted.

Similarly, Minnesota’s open meeting law requires that minutes include the individual votes of each member of the governing body on any action, including each appropriation of money other than “payments of judgements, claims, and amounts fixed by statute.”

Beyond these statutory requirements, the decision regarding how elaborate or extensive the minutes should be (the amount of detail included) is within a governing body’s discretion.

The Office of the State Auditor often reviews meeting minutes and recommends that meeting minutes include the following information in addition to the statutory requirements:

• type of meeting (regular, special, adjourned regular, adjourned special, recessed, or emergency);

• type of group that is meeting (whether the meeting is a meeting of the governing body or committee, for example);

• date and place the meeting was held;

• the time the meeting was called to order;

• approval of minutes of the previous meeting, with any corrections noted;

• identity of parties to whom contracts were awarded;

• abstentions from voting due to a conflict and the member’s name and reason for abstention;

• reasons the governing body awarded a particular contract to a bidder other than the lowest bidder;

• granting of variances and special use permits;

• approval of hourly rates paid for services provided, mileage rates, meal reimbursement amounts, and per diem amounts;

• a listing of all bills (including per diems) allowed or approved for payment, noting the recipient, purpose and amount;

• a list of all transfers of funds;

• appointments of representatives to committees or outside organizations;

• reports of the officers;

• authorizations and directions to invest excess funds, information on investment redemptions and maturities; and

• the time the meeting concluded.

The Office of the State Auditor recommends that the minutes be signed by the clerk or secretary.

Meeting minutes also should be approved by the governing body, usually at the next meeting. The minutes should be signed and dated by a designated member of the governing body to indicate that they are the official meeting minutes.

The approved minutes are the official record of a proceeding.

Audio or video recordings of meetings are not meeting minutes and are not a substitute for meeting minutes, according to the state auditor’s office.

Another good year for assessor’s office

The board acknowledged County Assessor Greg Kramber and his staff for 11 consecutive years with no changes from the state board of appeal and equalization.

Each year, the state reviews the county’s valuations for property.

The state accepted all of Wright County’s valuations without changes.

Sawatzke said this is no small feat, and noted some counties receive adjustments from the state every year.

Sawatzke said in the 1990s, Wright County had adjustments some years, too, but has had none for the last 11 years.

Kramber expressed his appreciation of his staff and local assessors for their continued good work.

Odds and ends

In other business, the board:

• authorized Parks Administrator Marc Mattice to apply to the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission as a representative of Region 4, and authorized participation if appointed.

• approved awarding a contract for grooved edge lines to Traffic Marking Services for a bid of $197,475. Funding includes $177,728 in federal highway safety improvement funds and $19,748 from the local levy. The bid was about 20 percent under budget, according to County Engineer Virgil Hawkins. Three bids were received.

• scheduled two public hearings for Tuesday, July 9. The first, at 9:30 a.m., concerns amending the fee schedule for the public health department’s family planning program. The second, at 9:45 a.m., concerns issuance of revenue bonds for Lake Ridge Care Center. The county would simply be acting as a conduit for the bonding, and approved a fee of $1,000 to cover the county staff time required to complete the process.

• scheduled a personnel committee of the whole meeting Thursday, June 27 at 9 a.m. to discuss county hiring practices.

• heard a legislative update from State Representative Marion O’Neill, Dist. 29B.

• approved rezoning 42 acres owned by Jeff Vanderlinde in Franklin Township from general agricultural to agricultural-residential.

• approved rezoning 20 acres owned by Wayne Gangl in Chatham Township from general agricultural to agricultural-residential.

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