Wright County Board Minutes

December 28, 2004

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

The minutes of 12-14-04 were laid over for discussion. Mattson did this to allow all five Board members to be present when he voiced his concerns. Mattson provided copies of the following: St. Michael City Council Minutes of 8-10-99 reflecting discussion on a neighborhood meeting relating to striping of CR 19; Wright County Board Minutes of 8-10-99 relating to CSAH 19; and an email message from Tim Mitchell, DNR, relating to non-eligible activities for recreational trail projects. The 12-14-04 minutes reflect County Board approval of a stoplight at the intersections of CSAH 12 and TH 25, as requested by the City of Buffalo. Since that time, Mattson was contacted by one of the landowners in this area about his property being landlocked and parking concerns. Mattson said the City of Buffalo should have visited with landowners prior to presenting this for County Board approval. Mattson said the Board did not see the City’s survey results. With the approval of the stoplight by the County Board, the landowner now has no recourse. Mattson referenced the portion of the minutes which relates to CR 12 and the trail between Buffalo and Montrose. The minutes referenced a project completed on CR 20. Mattson said today that there is no comparison between the two projects. The CR 20 project was designed for new development whereas the CR 12 project involves life-long residents. He said it was not a concern with the design of the road but an issue with the trail in resident’s front yards. He thought residents would be happy with a trail separated from the road by rumble strips. Mattson said after the DNR information was brought forth on non-eligible activities for trails, the information sent to residents was changed from trail right-of-way to road right-of-way. He said he was elected by the people in his district and needed to support them. Since the approval of the signal, he had not been contacted by one person thanking the Board for doing so. He has had people inquire why it was approved. He felt the City did a disservice by sending a survey to 1500 people but not discussing the stoplight with the property owners most affected. Sawatzke said one of the property owners had contacted him indicating that the City had not talked with him. From the remarks made by the City at the 12-14-04 Board Meeting, Sawatzke hoped that the City has since been in contact with him. He felt it was important that the City address this resident’s issues, which he felt were legitimate. The property owner was surprised that approval by the County had already taken place. Sawatzke felt there would be some type of contractual agreement presented at a future date between the City and County for the intersection. Russek did not favor the stoplight and felt it was a waste of money. He said the minutes were accurate and reflected the action taken at the 12-14-04 Board Meeting. Mattson made the following correction to the minutes, page 4, 3rd paragraph, 2nd to last sentence, change from “The public informational meetings could ...” to “The public informational meetings should ...” Eichelberg moved to approve the 12-14-04 County Board Minutes with the one change, seconded by Heeter, carried unanimously.

Eichelberg moved to approve the 12-21-04 County Board Minutes, seconded by Mattson, carried 3-0. Russek and Sawatzke abstained from the vote as they were not present at the last meeting.

Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows: Aud./Treas. Item #3, “Country Estates, Victor Twp.” (Hiivala); Item For Consid. #7, “Health Insurance 2005 Plan Rates” (Norman); Item For Consid. #8, “Jail Elevator” (Norman). Russek moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0.

On a motion by Russek, second by Heeter, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:


1. Performance Appraisals: P. Melvin, L. Pawelk, Admin.; T. Voigt, Atty.; W. Augustin, K. Mortenson, Hwy.; R. Broadhead, P&Z; M. Gardner, L. Westphal, Recorder; K. Kremer, D. Nystuen, A. Pribyl, Sheriff; D. Evjen, Surveyor.

2. Claim, Frank Madden, $6,097.91.

3. Approve Request From City Of St. Michael To Increase Contract Hours Beginning July 1, 2005.

4. Set Closed Meeting To Discuss FLSA Litigation, 11:00 A.M., January 4, 2005.


1. Approve Hire, Kim D. Hartje, Court Attendant, Eff. 1-03-05 (Step 4).

Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, requested approval of the Country Estates Plat in Victor Township. The plat has been reviewed and approved by the Planning Commission. Russek said the Planning Commission worked a long time with Victor Township on this plat. Tom Zins, Assistant County Attorney, said all of the critical items have been addressed but there are outstanding items involving easements. One is a private easement that has to be vacated and another involves an outlot allowing access through the plat. Another requirement is a blanket utility easement for the entire area which needs to be signed before platted. Approval today would be contingent upon these actions being completed. Zins said that this situation could take time due to the involvement of public utilities and the railroad. Verbal assurance has been given that this action will take place but he felt additional time to complete these items would have been preferred. Larry Unger, Recorder, referenced a letter from Zins to the Auditor and Planning & Zoning Administrator outlining problems discovered upon review of the Country Estates Plat. Unger cited Item #6 indicating that the blanket utility easement requires a release and the Recorder should not record the plat until the release from the utility company is presented for recording. If the plat is recorded in 2005, all taxes would have to be paid. Discussion followed on whether this item should be laid over. Zins said that blanket easements may take time to process and some accommodation may need to be made for approval of the development. A requirement of Section 505 is that all property owners must sign the plat. If there is an outstanding easement, it may imply the power company must sign off but Zins was unsure that Section 505 was that precise. He suggested a written document binding the developer to honor the easement process and vacating of the blanket easement. Chris Denn, Taylor Investment Corporation, said he met with Ruth Taylor at Great River Energy who provided assurance that the document number will be provided to Unger by Thursday for recording of the easement. The urgency for approval is that a closing is scheduled for 10:00 A.M. on 12-29-04 and the sale cannot take place without a recorded plat. If the plat is not approved today, the total taxes for 2005 would be $864.00. Denn said that Taylor has provided a letter of intent which outlined the location of the easement. Mattson moved to lay the issue over for one week, seconded by Russek. Jay Wittstock, Surveyor, said the developer may not have been familiar with the process and time lines associated with plat approval. With staff out due to holidays and vacations, it has been hard meeting the requirements. He anticipated that next year they would have an earlier cutoff in order to deter some of the problems associated with year end. Other counties have similar processes. With regard to the process, he felt the easement should be received before the plat is recorded. The plat approval was added to the Agenda today and approval has been granted previously for plats petitioned onto the Agenda. However, those plats were non-controversial unlike the one being presented today. Sawatzke noted that members of the public would not have an opportunity to voice their concerns if approved today. It was the consensus that the issue would be laid over for one week. If additional time is needed, the issue will be removed from that Agenda. The motion carried 5-0.

Hiivala presented the November Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, had contacted Hiivala regarding Page 16, Sheriff’s Department, reflecting $479,000 for police aid. Hiivala said that the cities were paid in December so that amount is down to $333,000. Hiivala referenced Page 25, Interest Income under Budget 820, Non-Departmental, reflecting $592,000 or 70% of budget. In December, $154,000 was recorded. Heeter moved to acknowledge receipt of the Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.

The claims listing was reviewed. Heeter referenced a claim on Page 12, Fischer Scientific ($20,375.58) of which $19,949.58 was identified for two casualty shelters. Hiivala said the claim is for 16’ x 18’ casualty shelter tents and is associated with a grant. Mattson referenced a claim on Page 10, Sterling Drug ($12,634.52) for pharmacy payments for October, November and December. Mattson thought the bills should be more up to date. On a motion by Mattson, second by Russek, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.

Jay Wittstock, Surveyor, requested approval of Wright County Right-of-Way Plat No. 52 relating to the Otsego Levee and authorization for the County Board Chair and County Coordinator to sign the Plat. Letters were sent to local landowners in November requesting comment. No comment was received. The Army Corp of Engineers has given verbal approval of the Plat. Written authorization will follow. In the 1960’s, the easement was not recorded. On 7-27-04, the County Board adopted Resolution #04-45 authorizing the County Surveyor to survey the Otsego Levee right-of-way. The survey is complete and will be recorded upon approval. Once recorded, the Plat will be referenced by the County Attorney’s Office when memorializing the easements. Sawatzke extended appreciation for the efforts of the Surveyor and his staff. Mattson moved to approve Wright County Right-of-Way Plat No. 52 and authorized signature by the Board Chair and County Coordinator on the Plat. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried unanimously.

Mary Anderson, U of M Extension Service, requested reappointment of Tammi Dahlman to the Wright County Extension Committee, District 5, for a three-year term to begin January 2005. Dahlman has just completed her first three-year term on the Committee. Mattson moved to reappoint Dahlman, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.

A Personnel Committee Meeting was held on 12-22-04. At today’s County Board Meeting, the following corrections were made to the minutes: Page 1, 16th sentence, place a space between the words “other” and “counties”; Page 3, 2nd paragraph, 2nd sentence, correct from “sTated” to “stated”. Sawatzke stated information was presented by the Sheriff and Attorney at the Committee Meeting and their experience, qualifications, duties/responsibilities and performance was acknowledged. The Attorney and Sheriff were invited to attend today’s Board Meeting if they did not feel the recommendation was acceptable and desired to discuss it with the full Board. Neither the Attorney or the Sheriff were present at the Board Meeting. Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes, recommendation and corrections to the minutes. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0. The minutes follow:

Attorney And Sheriff Compensation For 2005. Kelly stated that as elected officials State statute allows the County Attorney and Sheriff to set budget and negotiate their salary, and that for the past four or five years neither he nor Miller have asked, nor received, more than the same cost of living increase as non-union employees. Kelly stated that based on years of experience, the nature of their jobs being different from other department heads because they are elected positions, the duties and responsibilities of their offices, and that they will not receive a severance package when they leave office that they were requesting a 3% increase in addition to the 2% cost of living increase that will be received by non-union employees. Sawatzke stated when both Kelly and Miller were appointed to complete the term of their predecessor he felt their salary should have been set lower, but they pushed to have their salaries set at the top. Miller stated the County Attorney is not on a salary schedule and that at the time he was appointed it was fine for the Sheriff position to be on a salary schedule, but that things changed when he ran as an elected official and his position should not be on a salary schedule. Norman stated they both received a severance check at the time they assumed their elected positions and that the County continues to make retirement contributions. Miller stated his job is different from other department heads and is a 24/7 job with no vacation, sick leave, or post retirement healthcare benefit and, therefore, loses that fudiciary benefit. He stated an elected official doesn’t have the guarantee of continuing employment and has considerable out-of-pocket campaign costs. Sawatzke suggested job descriptions of their duties and responsibilities could be submitted to Hay for an unbiased evaluation of how their responsibilities compare to other department heads for comparison purposes. Kelly stated statutes state he is not under a salary schedule and the process provides for negotiation. Miller stated as an elected official it’s a County-wide job and that he attends many functions and it is a matter of principal more than monetary although his retirement is affected. Sawatzke stated as elected officials they are not restricted to the use of vacation and sick leave and can take time off as they choose. Kelly and Miller stated while they are allowed to take time off their job duties and responsibilities don’t allow them to be gone yet they will not be compensated in terms of a severance payment for not taking time off. Norman stated the County Board has to have a rationale for where they set compensation. Sawatzke stated the County Attorney is already the highest paid County official and giving them an additional 3% increase just widens the gap between them and other department heads. Miller stated there already is a separation between his salary and the County Attorney’s and felt there should be a 3% difference between the Sheriff position and other department heads. Miller stated he wants the Board to recognize there is a difference in being elected as well as Wright County having the third largest law enforcement department in the State which makes his job different from other counties for comparison purposes. He stated Wright County also is recognized as a leader in contract setting with cities and other municipalities. Norman stated statute says the County Board sets salary and they have the right to appeal the decision to the district court. Miller stated he is asking to be off the salary schedule based on how the position has changed in the last four years and that there should be some separation for elected positions and that he deserves some recognition for one of the toughest positions in the State. Eichelberg asked whether they would be asking for an additional 3% every year. Miller stated no. Sawatzke asked what their intentions were if the Board grants only the 2% increase. It was noted the process allows them the option to appeal to district court if they should choose to do so. Sawatzke requested Kelly and Miller respond to the following list of things to be considered in setting an elected department head’s salary: experience, qualifications, performance, duties and responsibilities, other County officials, and budget.

Kelly stated he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse and his law degree from William Mitchell College of Law. He clerked a couple years with judges working fulltime in court. He started at Wright County in 1984 as a prosecuting attorney at a difficult time when a number of attorneys had quit and was in court five days a week. In 1990 he became chief attorney of the criminal division and prosecuted numerous jury trials, has a huge amount of litigation experience, has been to the Court of Appeals twice, has experience in delegating and supervising. He was appointed to complete the remainder of Wyman Nelson’s term and ran for office in 1998. He stated Wright County is unique in doing the prosecuting for just about everybody. He was instrumental in the development of the check program which has collected $118,000 on behalf of victims. Last year he received the Kurt Weiche Friends of Education Award from the Buffalo High School. Over the last three years he has spoken to every Buffalo Civic’s class and has gone to all the other high schools in the County presenting a powerpoint on life in general. He routinely attends civic functions with the Rotary Club and Lions Club and has tried to bring the office to the people. Kelly stated he has done a good job with the budget process and for 21 years has put Wright County in the forefront, and that over the past 5 years never came forward to negotiate his salary because of his layed back style and being a team player.

Miller stated he worked as a deputy on a part time basis from 1975 - 1978 when he was hired full time. He has worked every job in the department and was appointed administration lieutenant in 1990. He stated he has served in administration for 14 years from a time when there was no one else other than the Chief Deputy and he ran the daily operation. In 2000 he was appointed to complete the remainder of the Sheriff’s term and ran for election in 2002. He attended school two years in Rochester, one year at Willmar and one year at St. Cloud and is a licensed officer. Miller stated he runs one of the largest and most complex departments in the State with a cost/deputy as one of the lowest in the State. He stated the department is run efficiently, pay for stay has taken in over $100,000 since it was initiated, Wright County has the largest patrol division in the State yet the facilities have had to be changed little because of personnel dispersement to sub stations where they are also more visible. A performance review was done in November and a majority of the Board said he did his job well. He stated he has doubled the number of contract hours to Cities, has developed a good relationship with city officials, other municipalities, schools, and that Wright County is recognized as a leader in areas such as contracts and MEADA.

Kelly mentioned at the County Attorney Association he has never seen teamwork like at Wright County between the Attorney and Sheriff Departments and believes it starts at the top and that they have done a remarkable job putting Wright County out in front. Miller stated he feels as an elected official he is held to a higher standard by the people and wants the recognition he feels he deserves, and that it is not unreasonable to receive a 5% increase five years after taking office. Both Miller and Kelly stated they have done more than is required in their jobs because it is the right thing to do and not to get re-elected. Miller stated the people give you a big responsibility when you take an oath of office and he has taken it upon himself to educate each new deputy on what it means when they take an oath as a deputy. Kelly stated he is uncomfortable having to toot his own horn but the law allows them to negotiate their salary and after 5 years feels it’s reasonable and appropriate, and that no one else is negotiating salary for him and so he needs to do so. Eichelberg stated they each made a good case, but his problem is with the amount of the increase and how it is viewed by other department heads. How the Board can justify giving them an additional 3% increase with the State deficit and uncertainty of funding was mentioned. Lack of severance and post retirement health benefits were again mentioned. Norman stated none of the non-union employees have a post retirement health benefit at this time. Sawatzke stated it’s not that elected officials aren’t eligible for a post retirement health plan and that the Auditor/Treasurer has suggested elected officials opt for such a plan. He stated the biggest problem is that they were skillful in getting placed at the top on day one and now want to build on that rather than if they had been placed at a middle salary figure like they should have been. Miller stated his recollection was that Sawatzke was the only one who voted against it. Sawatzke felt it was a 3-2 vote. There was brief discussion on a handout from Norman comparing sheriff and county attorney compensation at other counties.

Norman stated the Committee needs to make a recommendation to the County Board. Miller and Kelly left the meeting for the Committee to discuss a position on the issue. When they returned Sawatzke stated after reviewing their input and with the greatest respect for the outstanding job both Miller and Kelly have done both as elected officials and in their positions prior to that, but recognizing the organization of Wright County as a whole are going to recommend a 2% increase. He stated they are welcome to attend the Board Meeting on 12-28-04 at which time the full Board will take action on the Committee’s recommendation and to notify the County Coordinator’sOffice if they want time on the Agenda to address the full Board. Sawatzke suggested that next year the issue be placed on an earlier agenda if they wish to go through the negotiation process. Sawatzke suggested the Auditor/Treasurer may also want to be included in this process. Norman suggested the Board may want to take action on these positions prior to setting the salary schedule for non-union employees. Recommendation: Approve a 2% increase for the County Attorney and Sheriff. (End of Personnel Minutes)

On a motion by Mattson, second by Russek, all voted to reappoint George Bakeberg, 5th District, to the Planning Commission for a three-year term, effective January, 2005.

Eichelberg said Gordon Weber was appointed to the Planning Commission in January 2003 to complete the term of Chuck Van Heel. Eichelberg moved to reappoint Weber to the Planning Commission, 4th District, for a three-year term, beginning January, 2005. The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried 5-0.

Russek said Lawrence Bauman is the one member that serves both on the Planning Commission and the Board of Adjustment. Russek moved to reappoint Bauman to the Board of Adjustment, District 3, for a three-year term, beginning January 2005. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0.

Norman presented a draft resolution setting the 2005 salaries for elected department heads and the Court Administrator. representing a 2% increase. The State will take over the Court Administrator position effective July 1, 2005. Mattson moved to adopt Resolution #04-81, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote:

Resolution #04-81

BE IT RESOLVED that the 2005 salaries for elected department heads and the Court Administrator shall be as follows:

County Attorney $103,000

Sheriff $ 97,321

Auditor/Treasurer $81,945

Court Administrator $80,659

Norman presented a draft resolution setting the 2005 per diem rate for County Commissioners at $40.00 effective 1-01-05. After discussion, the following were added to the listing of eligible function for per diem payments: M.E.A.D.A. (Meth Education Drug Awareness Program), Mid Minnesota Mississippi RC&D, and Safe Communities of Wright County. With regard to the Civil Defense Committee, Reese is supposed to bring forth a request to change the name to Emergency Management Committee. That name change request will be handled when brought forth. Mattson moved to adopt Resolution #04-82 setting the 2005 per diem rate at $40.00 effective 1-01-05 for those duties, committees or commissions as listed. The list includes the addition of M.E.A.D.A., Mid Minnesota Mississippi RC&D, and Safe Communities of Wright County. The motion was seconded by Heeter and carried 5-0 on a roll all vote.

Norman presented a draft resolution setting the 2005 salary for County Commissioners at $33,092, effective 1-01-05. The salary reflects a 2% increase. Russek moved to adopt Resolution #04-83, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.

Norman said a meeting was held with B&C Consulting, a brokerage firm representing Wright County’s medical insurance, to discuss the 2005 insurance rates. Medica originally proposed a 3% renewal rate increase based on their calculations. After initial discussions with the broker, the rate was lowered to 1.7%. The broker met further with Medica and has informed Wright County that the health insurance rates for 2005 will remain the same as the 2004 rates. This is a total premium savings of $121,200. The County’s contribution toward medical insurance will increase by $60/month effective 3-01-05, saving those on the family plan $720 for the plan year. The average community rate for Medica reflects a 15.1% increase.

Norman said the Jail elevator will require emergency repair due to replacement of the cylinder. The elevator is currently inoperable. Parts are on order through MN Elevator Company and the total cost of repair is $28,556. It will be 3-4 weeks before the parts are on site and the elevator will be repaired thereafter. Norman said a purchase order was issued for the repair. Funding will either be from Site Improvements or the Building Care & Maintenance repair line item. The bill will not be processed until 2005. Mattson inquired whether any warranty will apply after the work is completed. Norman said he was unsure but will provide that information.

Eichelberg said the Dangerous Dog Contract was discussed at the last meeting and laid over to today’s meeting. This issue was not listed on the Agenda. Norman indicated that Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, requested this item be laid over as he was unavailable today.

Sawatzke was thanked for serving as Board Chair in 2004.

Bills Approved

Albertville Body Shop Inc. $1,388.69

American Public Works Assoc. 152.50

Ameripride Linen and Apparel 190.99

Aramark Correctional Serv. 10,160.79

Auto Glass Center Inc. 220.01

B & D Plumbing & Htg. 159.00

Baers Body Shop Inc. 1,965.29

George Bakeberg 317.50

Barnes Distribution 141.17

Lawrence Bauman 296.12

Bills Gun Shop & Range 404.17

Blaine Lock & Safe Inc. 590.00

BLM Technologies Inc. 1,584.72

Bolton & Menk Inc. 9,549.38

Buffalo Clinic 386.00

Burdas Towing 101.18

Cargill Inc.-Salt Division 8,230.48

CDW Government Inc. 125.22

Cellular One 110.17

Central McGowan Inc. 3,269.13

Chamberlain Oil Co 1,024.27

Channing Bete Company Inc. 1,272.88

Climate Air 360.47

Cokato Equipment Inc. 1,491.00

City Cokato 400.00

Commissioner of Trans. 625.73

Cub Foods 396.00

Deatons Mailing Sys. Inc. 267.21

Decorative Designs Inc. 184.31

Design Electric Inc. 619.81

Ralph Douglas 356.25

Duininck Bros. Inc. 63,822.21

Educational Images LTD 525.40

Elk River Ford 18,716.30

Dale Engel 208.88

Enterprise Dispatch 261.45

Fisher Scientific 20,375.58

Gateway Companies Inc. 5,568.00

Greenside Up 946.10

Amy Hertzog 133.13

Hillyard Floor Care Supply 4,979.74

Imageware Systems Inc. 6,175.00

Interstate Battery Sys. of Mpls. 148.99

Intoximeters Inc. 3,674.25

Carl Johnson Mech. Contra. 183.52

Junction Towing & Auto Rep. 277.18

Greg Kramber 127.13

Jason Kramber 104.80

Lakedale Telephone Co. 153.12

LaPlant Demo Inc. 514.91

Loberg Electric 1,043.50

Michael MacMillan 274.50

Marco Business Products 2,998.62

Martin Marietta Aggregates 304.97

Richard Mattson 301.86

Menards 602.75

Midland Corp. Benefits SVC 1,500.00

Midway Iron & Metal Co. Inc. 792.14

Minnesota CLE 170.00

MN Assn. of Assessing Officers 490.00

MN Counties Comp. Co-op 1,760.00

MN State Auditor 2,329.88

MN Transportation Alliance 170.00

Mobile Vision 367.27

Monticello Ford Mercury Inc. 458.92

MTI Distributing Inc. 179.76

NADA Appraisal Guides 110.00

Nature Watch 491.26

Nexus Information Systems 976.00

North American Salt Co. 23,952.92

Office Depot 3,834.94

Onanegozie RC & D 100.00

Tom Praska 128.25

Prosource 290.00

Ragan Communications 139.00

Reason 2,151.00

Renodis.Net.Inc. 1,983.33

Royal Tire Inc. 2,372.50

Jack Russek 305.22

Russell Security Resource. 3,080.47

Ryan Motors Inc. 749.57

Sherry Schliesing 266.85

Sherburne Co. Sheriff 35,941.53

Software House Int’l Inc. 6,567.88

Sprint-Local Telecom Div. 158.63

SRF Consulting Grp. Inc. 4,882.27

Sterling Drug 12,634.52

Storm Contracting 1,597.50

Synergy Graphics 8,970.77

Thomas Mfg. Co. Inc. 1,496.70

Tool Warehouse Inc. 2,459.33

Total Printing 612.38

Keith Triplett 188.25

Uniforms Unlimited 1,023.25

United Rentals Hwy. Tech. 23,678.15

University of Minnesota 14,764.00

Bob Vanlith 926.32

Matt Vanlith 3,000.00

Verizon Wireless 494.68

Victor Township 955.90

Voss Lighting 349.41

Westside Equipment 300.01

Wright Co. Highway Dept. 1,776.19

Wright Hennepin Electric 343.89

Xcel Energy 816.63

38 Payments less than $100 1,846.22

Final total $353,696.02

The meeting adjourned at 10:05 A.M.