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Wright County Board Minutes

JULY 22, 2003

The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Heeter, Mattson, Eichelberg, Russek and Sawatzke present.

Russek moved to approve the minutes of 7-15-03, seconded by Heeter, carried 5-0.

Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows: Highway Engineer Item #6, "Authorize Signatures On Agreement With Functional Industries To Use Wash Bay" (Norman); Highway Engineer Item #7, "Update, Pelican Lake Access" (Asleson); Item For Consid. #4, "Schedule Building Committee Of The Whole Meeting" (Norman); Item For Consid. #5, "Discuss Personnel Committee Agenda For 7-23-03" (Norman). Russek moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0.

The Consent Agenda was addressed. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, requested that Item A4 be changed from the date of 8-19-03 @ 10:00 A.M. to 8-26-03 @ 10:00 A.M. On a motion by Mattson, second by Russek, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda as amended:


1. Performance Appraisals: T. Decker, R. Erickson, P. Forare, J. Russell, T. Waldron, J. Wilson, Hwy.; R. Borell, Parks; J. Hartmann, M. Laurent, P. Mackie, D. Olson, Sheriff.

2. Refer Building Remodeling Updates To Building Committee.

3. Authorize Signatures, Law Enforcement Contract Amendment, City of Monticello.

4. Set Bid Date For Government Center Concrete Repairs For August 26, 2003 @ 10:00 A.M.


1. Approve Abatement, PIN #217-000-331103, Frank & Constance Kuehn (Southside Twp.).

2. Accept Resignation, Richard DeMarais, Property Appraiser, Eff. 8-1-03. Refer Replacement To The Personnel Committee.


1. Authorize Signatures On Grant Application For Emergency Funds From The Department Of Public Safety In The Amount of $3000 For The Victim/Witness Program.


1. Acknowledge Hire, Kristi L. Brantner, Court Attendant, Eff. 8-4-03 (Class B Step 3).

2. Acknowledge Hire, Darlene Greer, Court Clerk, Eff. 7-28-03 (Class D, Step 3).


1. Approve Medical/Personal Leave For Jessica Moe Through 9-2-03.


1. Parks Commission Minutes For July 2003.


1. Refer To Detention Committee Prisoner Boarding Agreement With Sherburne County.

2. Refer To Personnel Committee Jail Clerk Position.

Capt. Gary Torfin introduced Patrick O'Malley who was recently hired as the Assistant Jail Administrator. O'Malley was the Chief of Security at the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton. O'Malley was welcomed.

Sheriff Gary Miller requested adoption of a resolution authorizing signatures on the 2003-2004 Safe & Sober Grant. This is the third year of the program. Miller referred to recent negative publicity citing Wright County as a DWI fatality hot spot. He said the statistics were based on three years ago and the past two years have seen a definite reduction, due in part to the Safe & Sober Grant. If approved, Wright County would receive $34,000 in funding ($29,000-overtime enforcement and $5,100-administrative). Mattson moved to adopt Resolution #03-51, seconded by Heeter, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.

Bob Hiivala, Chief Deputy Auditor, presented the June Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines for review. The Guidelines reflect the amended budgets. Hiivala referenced the Sheriff Fuel & Vehicle Maintenance line items being at 60% of budget at 50% of the year. Norman noted that the Boarding of Prisoners line item was also over budget. He felt the increase in the maintenance budget may relate to prisoner transports. Sawatzke moved to acknowledge receipt of the Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.

An update was provided on County Ditch #13. Eichelberg, Gruber, Saxton and Wozney viewed the area with one of the residents. A beaver dam was discovered. The property owner was contacted and opened the ditch so water could move. Subsequently, the water level has gone down at least two feet. The property owner contacted the Humane Society and has requested that the beaver not be removed. Eichelberg informed them that the water needed to continue moving to avoid flooding of other properties. The property owner plans to open the ditch as needed. No action was taken by the County Board. The situation will be monitored to determine if further action is required.

On a motion by Heeter, second by Russek, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.

A Parks Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 7-15-03:

CSAH No. 12 Trail. Bidding, Time Limits, Right of Way Purchases. Mattice and Hawkins provided an update on the delay of the federal portion of the Highway No. 12 project to 2005-2007 and the coordination issues the delay raises with the grant time limits for the trail. Mattice stated in order to meet the time limits, right of way acquisition would need to begin this Fall. A commitment letter is also needed from the Board stating that the trail will be completed in 2007 as part of the Highway 12 project. The Board took action at a Board Meeting this Spring approving the $100,000 County match for the trail. Mattice requested direction in light of the delay and a letter of commitment to the project once right of way purchase begins. He anticipates right of way costs to be approximately $60,000. There was discussion on the appraisal process, percentage of the trail off road and the overall trail system. Mattice and Hawkins stated the preference is to include the trail as part of the project rather than bid as an alternate. Engineering and right of way acquisition will be done by Highway Department staff. Recommendation: Authorize Mattice to draft a letter of commitment for review by the Highway and Attorney Offices, and to begin the right of way purchase process.

Discuss Land Adjacent To Ney Park. Becca Nash, The Trust For Public Land, stated the TPL is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve land for future generations. They serve as a third party in purchasing land from the landowner, conveying the property to a public entity, and providing assistance in securing grant monies, obtaining appraisals, title work, surveying, and purchase agreement negotiations. Mattice stated Nash contacted him to inquire whether Wright County had potential projects which would meet the grant requirements. Grants are available for up to 60% of the purchase cost. A 140 parcel adjacent to Ney Park was identified. Nash has contacted the property owner and the owner is receptive to the possibility of negotiating an agreement. Mattice identified the location of the property on a map, State land adjacent to the park, and a parcel which is anticipated to be donated to the County in the future. The 140 acre parcel is located between Ney Park and the property anticipated to be donated to the County. Mattice stated approximately $115,000 is available from Park Dedication Fees. There was discussion on legislation effective August 1, 2003 which limits the use of the fee to the township in which it was collected and whether those funds can be used for part of the County portion of the purchase cost. Russek stated the use of the Park Dedication funds for Ney Park does not help the residents of Franklin Township and commented on the lack of parks in that area. There was discussion on wetland reclamation and credits, the number of building entitlements on the property, and possibility of renting out the farmland. Mattice stated he was requesting authorization in the form of a resolution to continue to work with TPL in obtaining an appraisal and negotiating an agreement with the property owner. Sawatzke felt the opportunity to preserve additional land for Ney Park should not be passed by and favored proceeding with the assistance of Nash. Heeter concurred. Mattson noted the property is designated ag in the land use plan and is opposed to purchase at housing value. Nash stated grants will not pay more than the appraised value which is based on fair market value. Eichelberg felt there was sufficient consensus to proceed. Recommendation: Authorize Mattice to draft a resolution for review by the Attorney's Office to continue working with The Trust For Public Land in obtaining an appraisal of the property and continue negotiations with the property owner.

Site Cleanup, Whipper Property At Zumbrunnen Park. The Whipper property was deeded to the County in 1971 with the Whippers receiving a life time lease on the six acre portion of the property containing the house and out buildings for as long as they resided on the property. Mattice reported family members were given until June 15th to remove personal items and the house has been boarded up. Liability issues were noted. He estimates cleanup costs to be approximately $6,000 with funds available from the Greenview account. Recommendation: Approve site cleanup at an approximate cost of $6,000 from the Greenview account.

At today's meeting, Sawatzke stated that with regard to use of funds from the Greenview account for the Whipper property, the expenditures should instead come from the appropriate line item. Mattice anticipated that a transfer would occur from Line Item 6117 to 6301. The consensus was to authorize the expenditure from the appropriate line item, realizing that the line item may exceed budget. The explanation was the overage in the Greenview line item. Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes and recommendations, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0.

Lee Raeth, District Director for the Central District of Extension, provided an update on the future of Extension. Wright County was not identified by the University of Minnesota as a location for a regional center. Over 100 communities expressed interest but the U of M selected only 18 locations. Geography was one of the overriding factors. Mattson said a concern is that regional centers will be subsidized by other counties with taxpayer dollars, costing the County more. Raeth said the bulk of Extension staff in Wright County is made up of half-time employees. In the long run, he did not envision much change in the number of staff, but there would be less need for support staff. Of the educator staff, one position is full-time and the remaining five are part-time. In terms of subsidizing other communities, taxpayer dollars will be used. However, travel and other expenses will not be realized for regional educators although they will still be serving Wright County.

Raeth said the regional center will have a regional director overseeing a group of counties. Programs will be run through different centers. Sawatzke questioned whether St. Cloud would be the regional center in this area. Raeth responded that Wright County would be grouped with other counties around St. Cloud. Sawatzke referenced Stearns County wanting to get rid of Extension three years ago. Raeth said Stearns County currently supports Extension very strongly. That criteria was not used. There are regional centers placed into locations when support for Extension has been stronger in other areas. The U of M looked for what made the most sense long term. Russek voiced frustration with the different phases which have been implemented, stating that a new phase would be implemented just as they were getting the previous one up and running. Raeth said with the first phase, their goal was to cause as little disruption as possible to staff. As they redesigned, Wright County didn't realize change in staff other than the addition of Tom Hovde. This was not the case in other Extension offices. In this next part of the plan, support will be provided by regional centers.

Discussion led to the financial impact. Currently, 60% of the shared positions are funded by the U of M and 40% by the County. The U of M paid for fringe benefits for the educators. Sawatzke thought the problem may lie in getting the same staff value out of what is expended, with the Counties now funding the entire amount. Raeth said some counties wanted clarification on where their dollars were being spent. Counties will now fund the entire amount on areas they want to enhance. There are currently 11-13 staff in the Extension Office. Sawatzke felt with the new scenario, Wright County could possibly afford five staff. With that in mind, he questioned how reasonable it was for the U of M to allow Wright County to expend thousands of dollars remodeling offices for Extension when it doesn't appear there will be a regional office located here. Raeth responded that they announced as fast as they could based on budget situations. Raeth felt with the current budget, Wright County would realize 2-3 less people as the majority are half time. In response to a question by Norman, Raeth said that Wright County will be serviced by regional programs and costs may be associated where they previously had not been. If additional assistance is required, it will cost more. The regional center will have a regional educator to provide leadership for 4-H. Currently, Dennis Moeller provides this for Stearns and Wright Counties.

The effective date of change is 1-1-04. An interest survey is being sent to the six regional educator or county extension educator staff this week. If selected as a regional employee, they would be expected to house out of the regional office. The regional positions will be announced first and staff must decide where their interests lie. This will be an ongoing process for the next several months. The cost associated with different positions and services has been provided to Hovde. Local extension offices are being asked to perform a needs assessment and to provide their recommendations to their County Boards.

Mattson referenced §38.35, "Money appropriated by the state to maintain and pay expenses of county extension work must be spent under the direction of the director of extension, who, acting with the county extension committee, shall carry out sections 38.33 to 38.38" and questioned whether it was being followed. Raeth said that there will still be a county extension committee in each county and a regional director will provide oversight on the budget. The role of the extension committee is enhanced at present with the duty of determining what is needed on a local level. Raeth said it could be argued that the State Statute was being thrown out but felt it was a different day and scenario. Norman said the County will have to fall back on property taxes versus the partnership arrangement previously held with the U of M. He felt the U of M might be surprised at the level of cuts some counties are considering for their extension programs. Raeth said this may be correct, but a survey was completed prior to this phase of the plan. Many counties said if things didn't change they would not eliminate their budget support.

It was clarified that not all employees in the Wright County Extension office are U of M employees. The clerical staff are Wright County employees. Raeth referenced Mary Ann Peterson and said she has been tied to the County system for a long time. He asked that in the short term, the County work with the U of M to keep some of these people County employees. Raeth asked that the 4-H Coordinator position that Peterson holds be kept a County position until her retirement and then it would become a U of M position thereafter.

The Wright County Extension Committee will meet yet this afternoon to discuss possible solutions. This was presented as an informational item.

Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator, presented a draft resolution approving Trust for Public Land to work with Wright County on negotiations, appraisals and purchase options for 140 acres of land adjacent to Ney Park. Heeter moved to adopt Resolution #03-52, seconded by Sawatzke. Russek said he would vote against the motion due to the $4000/acre estimate. He felt the land was over appraised compared to other land sold in that area. Mattson concurred, stating that the County should not pay more than fair market value of the land. The grant will not pay more than the appraised value. Prior sales in this area were at $2600/acre. Sawatzke said this is a case of a willing buyer and seller. The information relating to prior sales should be given to the person who conducts the appraisal. Mattson was not against purchase of park land but was concerned with overpaying. Eichelberg did not feel the Board was willing to pay extra over the appraised price. Sawatzke agreed. He pointed out that the County does get money for park dedication purposes. With the growth of the County, he felt it made sense to purchase. Eichelberg said if the land was not connected to a County park already he would not be in favor of the purchase. The motion carried 3-2 on a roll call vote with Mattson and Russek casting the nay votes.

Mattice requested authorization for Board Chair signature on a letter to the DNR indicating the County's commitment to complete the trail project from the City of Montrose to the City of Buffalo, along CSAH 12 in 2007. Construction phases of the road improvement project have moved from 2005 to 2007. The Highway Department will work with property owners to obtain ROW. Sawatzke referenced the 25-30% of trail which will be required on highway shoulder and questioned safety. Mattice said Hennepin County separates their bike trail and highway shoulder with a single concrete curb. Wright County is following Mn/DOT standards of pedestrian trails. Shoulders are not signed mainly due to maintenance. Mattson moved to authorize signature of the Board Chair on the letter to Mn/DOT, seconded by Heeter, carried 5-0.

Notice was received that the Corinna Township Board will assess landowners on Ireland Avenue for road improvements. A resurface of the road will be completed this year. This will result in a $20,000 assessment to Wright County for Schroeder Park land. There has not been a major resurface of this road since 1965 when the County partnered with the Township. Future overlays will not be assessed to the County. This was provided as an informational item.

An update was provided on Pelican Lake. Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, said a meeting was held last Friday with the DNR to discuss water and access problems. Water was still present on CR #117 last Friday. Problems have been encountered with residents launching boats from CR #117. Additional discussion at that meeting included the potential of upgrades using the State Park Road Account. The DNR does have funds and a crew available for immediate improvements to the US Fish & Wildlife access to the north of the public access. There is currently room for approximately 20 vehicles/trailers at this access. Improvements are expected in the next 2-3 weeks. The public access is currently closed. The DNR plans to issue press releases prior to the Fall hunting season stating the public access is unusable. Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, said the DNR has funds available to purchase land for a better access. They are currently researching parking options across the road from the public access. When the water recedes, it should provide enough room for launching but not for parking. Sawatzke moved to direct the Highway Department to place a sign at the public access which reads, "This access currently closed, use alternate access", seconded by Russek. As there is a possibility this access could reopen in the future, the motion and second agreed to amend the sign to read, "Access closed until further notice, use alternate access." Representative Bruce Anderson was in contact with the DNR who indicated that they would not close the access but understood it may have to be a Board decision if safety was an issue. The motion carried 5-0.

Mattson moved to schedule a letting date for the CSAH 3 project (from Cokato to the south leg of CR 129) for 8-26-03 at 9:15 A.M., seconded by Russek. The motion and second were amended to change the time to 9:30 A.M. The motion carried 5-0.

The Otsego City Council discussed the funding policy for traffic signals at their 7-14-03 meeting. The County's policy calls for the City to partially finance when there is a City leg at the intersection. The City Council took action that was in direct conflict with this policy and it would impact the funding of the proposed traffic signal project at the junction of TH 101 and CSAH 37. Fingalson said the County needs to make a decision on whether it will adhere to its policy. Notification needs to be provided to Mn/DOT if the County will not fund the City's portion, resulting in the possibility of no signal being installed. Fingalson said Mn/DOT has submitted this intersection as a full interchange for bonding money as early as 2006. Russek moved to continue to support Wright County's funding policy for traffic signals, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0.

On a motion by Russek, second by Mattson, all voted to schedule a Transportation Committee Of The Whole Meeting for 8-13-03 at 9:00 A.M., Public Works Building. The Agenda will include: 1) Discuss/Recommend 5-Year Improvement Plan for Road/Bridge; 2) Discuss Feasibility of Consolidated Maintenance Facility in Albertville; 3) Review Proposals from St. Michael. In regard to Item #2, Sawatzke said Otsego is moving forward with a westerly sewage treatment facility. It is unclear as to what extent lines will run from that plant but it would make the Mn/Road plant a more viable option. They are willing to allow the County to build at their facility at no charge other than maintenance.

Fingalson presented a request for authorization to proceed with bonding projects at the Public Works Building site totaling $173,000. Sawatzke moved to refer these items to the Transportation Committee Of The Whole, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0.

Russek moved to adopt Resolution #03-53 approving the Agreement for Railroad Crossing Signals at CSAH 14 & Soo Lane Railroad Crossing (2 miles Southeast of Buffalo). The County's contribution toward the project is $166,000 and Mn/DOT will fund $50,000. The motion was seconded by Heeter and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.

Russek moved to approve the agreement with Functional Industries, Inc. for use of the wash bay in the Public Works Building. The motion was seconded by Heeter and carried 5-0. The agreement will be on a trial basis for six months.

On a motion by Russek, second by Heeter, all voted to refer a Lake Charlotte installation problem to the Ways & Means Committee, seconded by Heeter, carried 5-0.

Draft bylaws of the Mid-MN Mississippi River RC&D Council were reviewed. Russek moved to authorize payment of $100 to remain involved with the Council, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 5-0. The bylaws are in draft form at this point. All counties involved are having their respective Attorney's Offices review and make comment on the bylaws. They will be brought back for review at their next meeting. Asleson requested additional time to review the bylaws. Sawatzke moved to lay the bylaws over for one week, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.

On a motion by Sawatzke, second by Russek, all voted to schedule a Building Committee Of The Whole Meeting for 7-28-03 at 2:30 P.M., seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.

Norman was contacted by the Human Services Director regarding three resignations referred to the Personnel Committee by the Human Services Board. They were not included on the 7-23-03 Agenda and Norman requested they be added. He also requested the Board authorize the Personnel Department to start the recruiting process through notice to expedite the process. The consensus of the Board was that this would be approved as long as the Attorney's Office concurred.

Bills Approved

AMI Imaging Systems, Inc. 2287.90

Ancom Technical Center 243.15

Andersen, Earl, Inc. 4346.83

Assn. of MN Emergency Managers


Bridge World Language Cent, The


Buffalo Bituminous 490,455.49

Buffalo Clinic 151.00

Buffalo Communications, Inc. 10,394.40

Buffalo Country Inn 128.44

Burdas Towing 150.17

Chatham Township 874.00

Decorative Designs, Inc. 175.53

Department of Commerce-Notrn 120.00

Exxon Mobil 537.20

Facility Systems, Inc. 1569.55

Feddema, Tom 100.80

Gateway Companies, Inc. 3175.00

Hickory Tech Enterprise Soluti 381.40

Hillyard Floor Care Supply 2168.25

Information Systems Corporatio 8807.15

Intoximeters, Inc. 191.70

JR's Appliance Disposal, Inc. 1262.96

Junction Towing & Auto Repair 375.85

Karels Towing 192.88

Kramber, Greg 280.80

LaPlant Demo, Inc. 445.90

Laurent, Michael 144.20

Lindell, Scott 550.00

Litfin, Glen Transfer 106.50

Loberg Electric 905.89

Madden, Frank & Associates 1738.56

Masys Corporation 2628.87

Metro Group, The, Inc. 794.49

Midwest Contracting, LLC 107,975.60

MN Highway Safety and Research 392.00

Office Depot 1074.75

ONYX 342.08

Otsego City 1976.90

Qwest 6569.99

Qwest Government Services 165.00

Shald, Brenda & Associates 255.83

Smith, Ron & Associates, Inc. 300.00

Star Tribune 397.80

State of MN Intertech Group 113.25

State of MN-Info Tech Div-Dale 265.43

Stratus Technologies Ireland L 8471.00

Streichers 239.63

Total Printing 744.87

Trimin Systems, Inc. 3631.60

Uniforms Unlimited 276.29

Varda Silent Alarm 321.11

Vibes Technologies, Inc. 306.63

Voss Lighting 131.62

WCMAP 140.00

Weinberger, James 205.92

West Group Payment Center 2473.50

Wright-Hennepin Electric 1300.84

22 payments less than $100 1093.48

Final Total $675,304.98

The meeting adjourned at 11:08 A.M.

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