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Wright County Board Minutes

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

The minutes of 11-25-03 were discussed. At the last meeting, a Registered Land Survey was approved but the number assigned by the Recorder's Office was not available at that time. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, stated that the number assigned should be #37 (page 2, paragraph 3, 1st sentence). Mattson moved to approve the minutes as corrected, seconded by Heeter, carried 4-0.

Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows: Consent Item A3, "Authorize Signatures On Law Enforcement Contracts: Hanover, St. Michael, and Maple Lake" (Norman); Consent Item A4, "Refer To Building Committee Meeting: 1) Jail Water Heater and 2) Boiler Room Heat Exchangers" (Norman); Consent Item E2, "Acknowledge Appointment, Daniel J. Lang, Deputy Sheriff, Eff. 12-11-03, Grade 4" (Norman); Item For Consid. #3, "Otsego Transportation Meeting" (Eichelberg); Item For Consid. #4, "Discuss Sending Letter To Governor RE: Department Of Corrections" (Mattson). The Agenda incorrectly listed the Budget Of The Whole Meeting reconvening at 10:30 A.M. today and was corrected to reflect 10:00 A.M. Heeter moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Mattson, carried 4-0.

On a motion by Heeter, second by Mattson, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda as amended:


1. Performance Appraisals: S. Rief, Aud./Treas.

2. Claim, Cy-Con Inc., $126,155.70.

3. Authorize Signatures On Law Enforcement Contracts: Hanover, St. Michael, and Maple Lake.

4. Refer To Building Committee Meeting: 1) Jail Water Heater and 2) Boiler Room Heat Exchangers.


1. Approve Subscription to Assessor's Commercial Exchange.

2. Approve Abatement, PIN #208-200-012300, Gerald & Gayle Litfin (Franklin Twp.).


1. New Tobacco Licenses For: Highway 25 Gas Stop (Monticello) & Spectator's Grille & Bar (Albertville).

2. 2004 Renewal Tobacco Licenses For: Casey's General Store #2412 (Albertville); Casey's General Store #1647 (Cokato); Casey's General Store #1881 (Montrose); And Casey's General Store #2156 (Rockford).


1. Accept Resignation, Chris Hanson, Probation Agent, Eff. 12-01-03 & Authorize Replacement. Authorize replacement of subsequent openings should position be filled from within.


1. Acknowledge Resignation, D'Arcy Holm-Bourdon, Communications Officer, Eff. 12-04-03 & Authorize Replacement.

2. Acknowledge Appointment, Daniel J. Lang, Deputy Sheriff, Eff. 12-11-03, Grade 4.

Doug Gruber, Auditor/Treasurer, requested the cutoff date for final approval of the claims for 2003 be set for 12-23-03 at 4:30 P.M. Sawatzke moved to approve, seconded by Heeter, carried unanimously.

On a motion by Mattson, second by Heeter, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit. Heeter noted that $7,400 was expended for boarding prisoners out of the County.

A Budget Committee Of The Whole meeting was held on 11-25-03. Heeter moved to approve the minutes and recommendations, seconded by Mattson. Mattson said the minutes as written are correct but had a concern that the CSAH 35/Bison Boulevard signal was not warranted. He said the City and School District have borrowed funds back and forth to one another and did not feel taxpayers should be involved in that type of transaction. Eichelberg said this issue will again be discussed in January and has not yet been approved. Norman noted that the minutes reflect the meeting was recessed to this afternoon at10:00 A.M. With approval of the minutes today, Norman will forward a letter to the Township Officers' Chair to request that Ag Inspector Services be placed on the Township Officers' Agenda for discussion. Sawatzke said both the City of St. Michael and the City of Otsego have a large amount of agricultural land and don't come to Township Officers' meetings. He requested that a letter be sent to them inquiring to what extent they utilize the services of the Ag Inspector and their opinion on continuing with that service. The motion carried 4-0. The minutes follow:

Discuss Funding Of Signalized Intersection, CSAH 35/Bison Blvd. Mert Auger, Buffalo City Administrator, requested consideration by the County to finance the City portion of the signal which would allow the City to reimburse the County through a special levy. There was discussion on the balance in Capital Improvement as well as the fund source for the County's $45,000 portion of the signal cost. Fingalson stated funds were not budgeted in the Road & Bridge Budget for this project. Auger stated this is one option the City is pursuing in securing funds for the project. Recommendation: Hold for discussion in January after close of the 2003 Budget.

Agricultural Inspector Services. The current contract with the Agricultural Inspector will terminate the end of December. Approximately $12,000 was budgeted for this service in 2003. According to State statute the County is no longer required to provide this service as townships and cities are required to have agricultural inspectors. There was discussion on the type of services provided and whether the current inspector is interested in continuing in this capacity if the County decides to continue funding. Recommendation: Notify the Agricultural Inspector that the County is discussing whether to continue this service and determine whether he is interested in continuing in this capacity if the County decides to continue funding.

Extension Budget/Parenting-Through Divorce Program. Mary Ann Peterson distributed a handout reviewing the number of participants, income and expenses of the Parenting-Through Divorce Program. She requested support staff assistance of approximately10 hours per month. Discussion followed on budget and staffing in Extension and the Parenting-Through Divorce Program. Hovde stated according to recent legislation Parenting-Through Divorce cannot be a part of the Extension budget. There was discussion on assigning Parenting-Through Divorce to another department. Sawatzke felt it belongs in Court Services. MacMillan stated he was of the opinion from earlier conversations that it was going to become a part of Human Services. There was general consensus to assign Parenting-Through Divorce to the Court Services Department. Norman stated his office would be willing to help provide support staff when Court Services is unable to. Eichelberg suggested Peterson, Norman and MacMillan discuss support staff needs and arrangements. Recommendation: Assign Parenting-Through Divorce to the Court Services Department. Peterson, Norman and MacMillan to meet and determine support staff arrangements.

Credit Card Payments. LaVonn Nordeen requested approval for credit card payment of court fines. She reviewed a handout of associated costs from three credit card companies. There was discussion on the amount of outstanding fines/fees and whether there would be sufficient increase in payment of fines to offset the credit card costs. The County currently retains approximately 30% of court fines/fees with the balance going to other agencies. After July 1, 2005 the County will no longer receive any portion of outstanding fines and fees when the State completes takeover of the court system. MacMillan stated he budgeted for credit card costs in the 2004 Court Services budget but has been waiting for a decision to be made regarding Court Administration's request. He agreed with Nordeen that even without increased collections there would be a benefit in terms of staff time, repeat court appearances, and followup. There was general consensus to proceed with negotiating a credit card agreement with Wells Fargo for Court Administration and Court Services on a trial basis which would not extend beyond June 30, 2005. Sawatzke recommended the application and terms of the agreement be carefully reviewed. Norman felt the agreement should be signed by the Auditor/Treasurer or the Board Chair. Recommendation: Proceed with negotiating a credit card agreement on a trial basis to not extend beyond June 30, 2005. The County Attorney's Office should review the agreement prior to Board action.

Rate For Ditches & Lake Improvement Districts Borrowing Money From General Fund. Doug Gruber reported the Lake Charlotte District currently has a negative balance and requested an interest rate be set for borrowing money from the General Fund. He stated the interest rate has typically been based on the rate of interest which would be earned at the bank. Hiivala reported the interest rate was set at 7% several years ago. The Auditor/Treasurer's Office is recommending the rate be set at 3%. There was general consensus to set the interest rate for lake improvement districts at 3%, which includes administrative costs. Gruber stated assessment letters need to be sent for work which has been completed on Ditch 14 and requested the interest rate be set for ditch assessments. There was consensus to set the interest rate for ditch assessments at 3%. Recommendation: Set the interest rate for both ditches and lake improvement districts borrowing money from the General Fund at 3%.

Equipment Note. Norman requested authorization to work with Springsted on preparation of the equipment note so funds can be received in January, 2004. During the 2004 Budget process approximately $4.5 million in equipment was identified for securing a three year note. There was consensus to proceed with an equipment note in the amount of $4.5 million + expenses with Springsted, Norman, Hiivala and Gruber will meet with John Sanders from Springsted. Recommendation: Gruber, Norman & Hiivala meet with John Sanders to proceed with securing an equipment note in the amount of $4.5 million + expenses with Springsted. The meeting was recessed to 10:00 A.M., Tuesday, December 2, 2003, with the addition of the following agenda items: 1) Indirect vs Direct Cost Allocation Plan; and 2) Emergency Management Services.

A Labor/Management Health Insurance Committee meeting was held on 11-26-03. Mattson moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 4-0:

Members reviewed the Group Summary Data provided by Medica for the 12-month period of 9/1/2002 through8/31/2003. It was noted that the County's loss ratio was at 92.41% for this time period. The loss ratio for the prior year for this reporting period of 9/1/2001 through 8/31/2002 was 103.48%. The significant decrease was due to the Inpatient Hospital Costs, which went from 33.51% to 18.76%, a savings of $371,000. There was also discussion about the increase in the premiums that were paid to Medica. This increase reflects the policy change that full-time employees cannot waive health insurance coverage. Therefore, the County is contributing more dollars toward the premiums paid. A letter from Medica was given to the members advising Wright County that one-half of December's Health Insurance premium will be waived. Wright County has been contacted by Paul Coglitore, B&C Consulting LLC, to offer his services as a broker. A broker is used to analyze data and work with Medica regarding premium rates. Personnel contacted Medica and asked about their thoughts of using a broker. They stated it is very common for a company to use a broker for efficiency and they work with them all the time. The broker is paid through Medica for their services and the cost is already built into our premium. The committee recommends that we utilize this service and advised Personnel to contact Paul Coglitore. The annual Benefits Fair is schedule for Thursday, January 29, 2004.

A Personnel Committee meeting was held on 11-26-03. Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes and recommendation, seconded by Heeter, carried 4-0: Extension Service Support Staff. Norman stated that during the 2004 Budget process the staffing level in Extension was discussed several times. With the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement with the University of Minnesota, it was agreed that one support staff position would remain in the Department. Thus, two support staff positions will be eliminated as of January 1, 2004. After discussion, it is recommended that Norman distribute lay off notices to these individuals and also notify them of their rights under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

A Negotiations Committee meeting was held on 11-26-03. Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes and recommendation, seconded by Mattson, carried 4-0:

Post Retirement Health Care Savings Plan. Norman distributed handouts of a proposed Memorandum Of Agreement - Post Retirement Health from Teamsters Local No. 320, Sheriff's Essential Supervisory Unit; a proposed modification to the Memorandum from the County's labor law attorney; and general information regarding a health care savings plan for discussion. Recommendation: Implement the Post Retirement Health Care Savings Plan upon signature of the modified Memorandum Of Agreement by Teamsters Local No. 320.

The Board discussed a draft Resolution of Support for the Monticello Township Planning Process. Present for today's discussion were two members of the Monticello Township Board. Franklin Denn stated the Township is in the process of defending themselves on a large annexation. The question is whether there is land use planning in the area and could it be improved. Denn explained they have had effective land use planning since 1968 through the County, including an orderly annexation area. Sawatzke said the City was aware this issue would be on the agenda today and they did have a copy of the draft resolution for review. Eichelberg referenced language in the draft resolution which states, "Whereas, an orderly annexation area existed in Monticello Township which was successfully administered by a board comprised of City, Township, and County officials from 1979 until 2002, when it was dissolved as a result of actions by the City of Monticello." Sawatzke responded that the Orderly Annexation Board was ruled illegal by the Courts. Denn responded that the Township did not appeal the decision. The Township grew tired of the situation and the City did not want to participate. Sawatzke understood that the City informed the Court there was not an agreement but the Township indicated there was an agreement. The City requested that this be dissolved and that it not be a legal requirement. Denn said the majority of the land requested to be annexed is under County planning.

The County's Planning & Zoning performs planning for the townships except in the situation where they want to do their own. Eichelberg's concern was that the County also represents all of the cities, which have a larger population than the townships. He did not know whether the County should support a resolution for one township. He referenced the past actions in Otsego, St. Michael and Frankfort Township and that a resolution of support was not passed at that time.

Mattson referenced the Otsego area and the LaFebvre family farm. He said the city can take over a township and put a farming operation out of business, which is what occurred in this situation. Mattson supported staying as rural as possible. When Maple Lake Township looked at turning 4000 acres into ag/residential, it was reduced to 900 acres. Mattson said if the County doesn't control what is happening, there will not be agricultural left in Wright County.

Heeter stated one of the toughest jobs the Board has is to preserve country. Most of the cities see growth as good. She felt it was important that the County face this issue to preserve ag land and country. Heeter said she did not have a history on this issue in terms of what would be a correct action in supporting townships. However, she did feel the Board has supported the townships on other issues. Heeter planned to support the resolution because of item #2 of the draft which addresses the City and Township working together toward future land use planning and zoning in the proposed annexation area.

Sawatzke referenced a newspaper article regarding growth. The article included quotes of Tom Salkowski, Planning & Zoning Administrator, and Sheriff Gary Miller relating to the impacts of growth. The Sheriff indicated that the County needs to work with the cities on growth related issues. The draft resolution indicates that this area has planning and zoning. Sawatzke said he would hold the planning efforts of the County to any in the State. He felt it was the position of the County Board that the City and Township work together and that all residents needed to be considered. Many people make their living from farming and their interests needed to be considered as well. Sawatzke planned to support the resolution. Although Eichelberg raised legitimate issues, he said the system is different than it was four years ago when a board was appointed to review this type of situation. Denn stated that each situation in each township is unique and that they should be addressed individually. He said they want to make sure the State knows that they are performing land use planning in the annexation area.

Sawatzke moved to adopt Resolution #03-74 in support of the Monticello Township planning process, seconded by Heeter. Eichelberg felt this situation should be worked out between the City and the Township. Sawatzke agreed, stating this was one of the three main themes of the resolution. He said if it hadn't been included, he would have requested it be added. Mattson said after reading recent Monticello Times articles and comments made by the Mayor regarding this issue, that this would be the positive way to proceed. The motion carried 3-1 with Eichelberg casting the nay vote. Eichelberg said he did not feel there was enough time to make a decision from the time they received the draft resolution. He felt waiting another 1-2 weeks could have answered more questions. Denn said they are the victims of the State's budget crisis and the Township is doing the staff work for them. He felt this issue should have been investigated by the State. They were given a 10-day time limit to submit information but this date was extended to December 4th when the hearings commence.

Eichelberg referenced a memorandum from the Highway Engineer encouraging attendance of all the Commissioners at a Transportation Meeting being held in Otsego tonight. Norman indicated that the meeting is informational. At some future date, a formal presentation may be made requiring the Board to take action on specific issues. It was noted that more than two Commissioners may attend this meeting.

Mattson suggested that a letter be drafted to the Governor requesting the formation of a task force to review the operations of the Department of Corrections (DOC) and judicial system. He referenced the recent abduction of a person, sentencing guidelines for sex offenders, and costs counties are realizing in corrections. He felt the DOC could support counties more to eliminate some of the costs. Sawatzke agreed, stating assistance could be provided with more efficiencies running county jails. He referenced budget cuts and the DOC's requirement to increase staff in Wright County's jail. Norman stated he is currently working toward setting up a meeting with the DOC and legislators to discuss these issues and the construction of a jail. He suggested that the Attorney's Office be contacted for input prior to sending a letter to the Governor asking for assistance. Information could be provided on sentencing guidelines for sex offenders. This topic would be far beyond discussions with the DOC on rules and procedures for operation of a jail.

Bills Approved

American Correctional Assn 165.50

Ancom Technical Center 696.11

Aramark Correctional Services 5137.53

Assn of Metropolitan Cty Offic 220.00

AT&T - Universal Biller 4419.70

Bear Graphics, Inc. 1150.06

Bristows Kawasaki & Polaris 344.77

Buffalo Bituminous 77,164.86

Buffalo Township 778.40

Buffalo City 403.49

Buildings Consulting Group, Inc. 5671.35

Cellular 2000 of St. Cloud 112.79

Climate Air 13,641.06

Corrections Products Co. LTD 144.05

CPS Technology Solutions 195.00

Diers, Carter 598.68

Emergency Physicians Professio 248.00

Facility Systems, Inc. 3189.25

Franklin Township 26,651.82

Gateway Companies, Inc. 20,624.85

Gau, Todd 158.40

GCS Service, Inc. 398.48

Global, Inc. 499.28

W Grainger, Inc. 335.99

Hertzog, Amy 105.48

Jahnke, Chris 225.00

Kramber, Greg 155.88

LaPlant Demo, Inc. 666.85

Maco 1975.00

Maple Lake Lumber Company 169.65

Marco Business Products 1923.11

Mid-America Business Systems 3937.09

Minnesota CLE 195.00

MN Counties Computer Co-op 1700.00

MN Deputy Registrar Assoc. 495.00

MN Sheriffs Association 367.06

MN Supreme Court 436.00

Moon Motorssports 172.05

Morrison Cty Sheriff 7464.55

Nextel Communications 138.72

Novell 9458.27

Office Depot 258.57

Olsen Chain & Cable Co., Inc. 625.13

Olympus 135.00

Peterson, Barbara 114.88

Qwest 4417.84

St. Joseph Equipment, Inc. 260.90

Sterling Drug 5187.28

Stieg, Theresa 171.00

Total Printing 603.22

Uniforms Unlimited 361.04

University of Minnesota 690.00

Verizon Wireless 448.81

Wal-Mart Store 01-1577 468.88

Weinberger, James 252.00

Westside Wholesale Tire 653.73

Wright County Highway Dept. 798.40

28 payments less than $100 2,272.67

Final Total $210,253.48

The meeting adjourned at 9:54 A.M.

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