Wright County Board Minutes

March 21, 2006

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

The following correction was made to the minutes of 3-14-06: Page 2, 3rd paragraph, 3rd sentence, change the word “meeting” to “meet” (Eichelberg). Russek moved to approve the minutes as corrected, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0.

Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows: Item For Consid. #2, “Update RE: Stearns County Boundary Issue” (Asleson). Eichelberg moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0.

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


1. Performance Appraisals: E. Ross, Hwy.; T. Fedor, R. Miller, Parks; S. Arp, P&Z; J. Olson, R. McKay, D. Weed, Sher.

2. Claim, Nelson Building & Development, Inc., $18,056.64.

3. Claim, Frank Madden, $5,068.12.

4. Refer To Building Committee Modular Office Furniture For Commissioner’s Offices.

5. Authorize Use Of East Parking Lot By Buffalo Days Committee, 6-10-06.


1. 2006 Tobacco License Renewals: Uptown Bar & Grill (Waverly City).


1. Acknowledge Receipt Of $6,000 Check From City Of Buffalo Police Department.

Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, requested authorization for Brad Fyle, Fyle’s Excavating, to complete repair work on County Ditch 7 at an estimated cost of $595.00. Approximately 300’ of the ditch will be cleaned (from behind Kirk’s Travel Plaza to the East side of Faribault Foods). A quote was sought from Morris Excavating with no response. Mattson moved to authorize cleanout by Fyle’s Excavating, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.

A quote was received from Fyle’s Excavating for removal of two beaver dams on Judicial Joint Ditch 15 (CR #31 near Terning Seed) at a cost of $295.00. Russek moved to authorize Fyle’s Excavating to complete the beaver dam removal, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0.

Hiivala informed the Board that Wright County had been audited by the Minnesota Department of Revenue. Road & Bridge was also audited. Information distributed reflected it was of their opinion that Wright County underpaid sales and use tax in the amount of $30,419.07 during the period of September 2002 through 2005. An example of where use tax should have been submitted and was not was with safety equipment for deputies. The Department of Revenue originally said an additional $40,000 would have to be submitted. In review of the audit by the Auditor’s staff, this amount has been reduced to $30,419.07. Certain types of purchases have been flagged so that sales/use tax is paid in the future. The Auditor’s Office agrees with the remaining errors. The audit is based upon a random sample of transactions and was multiplied by a formula based upon error ratio. Each transaction is not audited. The error rate found was .02967967300%, which is small, but a large volume of transactions was reviewed. The Auditor’s Office agrees with the remaining errors. The total amount owed, with interest, is $32,984.28. This claim was paid by Auditor’s warrant and charged to the General Fund (Non-Departmental, Misc. Expense) so no further interest would accrue. This was provided as an informational item.

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

A Transportation Committee Of The Whole (TCOTW) Meeting was held on 3-15-06. Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, presented the minutes. The minutes follow with discussion at today’s County Board Meeting reflected in italics:

Karla Heeter, County Board Chair, called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m. All but the following three items were removed from the agenda in order to accommodate those intending to attend the funeral of former County Commissioner Ken Jude. Those items that still need discussion will be brought before the Board on March 21 or will be put on the agenda of the next TCOTW meeting. The Cornerstone Development Access Issue agenda item had been removed from the agenda by the City of St. Michael.

Discuss CSAH Changes for Screening Board Submittal. Fingalson displayed a large map of Wright County showing the recommended changes in the county’s County State Aid Highway (CSAH) system. Recommendations to the District State Aid Engineer are due this Friday, March 17, after which they will be presented to the State Aid office and ultimately to the Screening Board for review. The more miles that are on Wright County’s CSAH system, the more money the county will receive in state aid funds; but in order to be considered for more miles, some segments of roadway that are currently classified as CSAHs, but that do not meet the criteria, need to be removed from the system. These are the recommendations:


• CSAH 21 in the southwest corner of the county really doesn’t belong on the system because it is not a link to any other CSAHs in the county. It should be re-classified as a county road.

• CSAH 53 in Cokato has already been addressed and will be removed.

• A portion of CSAH 55 dead-ends in the City of Howard Lake and should be taken over as a city street or as a county road.

• CSAH 54 in Delano is scheduled for turn back to the city.

• The easterly portion of CSAH 30 in Delano is scheduled for turn back to the city.

• CSAH 60 in Montrose does not meet the criteria of CSAH and should be taken off the system.

• CSAH 38 will be recommended for removal from the system because it is not an important segment of a CSAH system.

• CSAH 7 in Clearwater is already scheduled to be turned back to Clearwater.

• CSAH 4 may be scrutinized by the Screen Board for removal because it doesn’t go anywhere in the county, but state aid money that was received for recent improvements will have to be paid back if this is taken off the CSAH system. The amount will be pro-rated, but could run as high as $300,000 or more.

• CSAH 42, because of its close proximity to TH 101, could be given to Otsego if the County takes over Nashua Avenue NE and ties it to Naber Avenue NE for an additional north/south route. CSAH 42 doesn’t really fit the system because it leads to a city street in Elk River. However, Otsego has expressed its unwillingness to take this over, primarily because of the bridge that is located on the north end of CSAH 42. Fingalson said that he left CSAH 42 on the County’s system because he assumed that the Board members would not want to go against the wishes of Otsego. They affirmed his assumption and CSAH 42 was left on the County’s system. Additions:

• Nashua Avenue NE and Naber Avenue NE provide a good route for a future CSAH, but this would not be completed until the current CSAH 19 becomes a Municipal State Aid Street (MSAS). This new CSAH would be more of a regional route that could possibly lead to a future bridge crossing. Identifying this route now will help the process move ahead of further development in this area. If the Screening Board accepts this recommendation, then segments can be built at different times.

• CR/107/CSAH 7/CR 107 could be extended to CR 115 to keep local non-through traffic off the main highways, such as TH 12. This would be more of a local collector system. Mattson commented that 40th Street SW, just west of CR 107 and between CSAHs 5 and 6, is in excellent shape and might act as a good extension of CR 107. Fingalson said that the rising population and traffic in the easterly part of the county offer good argument for more miles, but it will be harder to convince the Screening Board that CR 107/CSAH 7 should be extended westerly.

• CSAH 14 south to CSAH 13 would be a natural connection, but a large wetland in that area could prevent actual construction. However, Fingalson said that establishing the need for this connection could gain mileage for the county and result in additional money. It would then be the County’s decision how to use the money, and a connection from CSAH 13 to Brighton Avenue might be considered.

• The two one-way segments of CSAH 35 in St. Michael have already been approved by the County Board and will add mileage to the CSAH system.

• CR 110 will be recommended to become an extension of CSAH 10 up to TH 12.

• CR 111 will be recommended to become an extension of CSAH 11 all the way to CSAH 75, crossing I-94.

• CR 101 will be recommended to become an extension of the west end of CSAH 39 over to CR 136.

• CR 136 will be recommended to become an extension of CSAH 3, going north crossing TH 55 to CSAH 2.

• Turning CR 117 back into a CSAH highway is a consideration and would involve participation by both Rockford and Buffalo Townships since extending it south would follow Farmington Avenue NE (township road) to CSAH 33. A more direct north/south route from Delano to Monticello would be an extension of CSAH 14 to existing CR 117, but this would mean building a new roadway where one does not exist now, which would not be very practical with right-of-way costs, etc.

Fingalson said that this information is due March 17 at the District State Aid Engineer’s office. It will first go to the Mileage Sub-Committee, which is made up of three engineers (from northern, central, and southern Minnesota) and State Aid staff. They in turn will make a recommendation to the Screening Board. A road tour will be taken in late April or early May by the Mileage Sub-Committee to give them the opportunity to carefully scrutinize the requests that are submitted. Wright County’s recommended changes listed above total a net addition of 39 miles to the CSAH system. These decisions were influenced by the Northeast Study and the Supplement to the County Plan, both of which were done by a firm that is known to be very experienced in transportation planning, which will lend further credibility to Wright County’s recommendations. Wright County already has a high percentage of CSAHs compared to County Roads on its system, with a total of over 400 CSAH miles, which may hurt our chances of success. Steele County will also be submitting a request for a fairly large addition of miles. RECOMMENDATION: It was the consensus of the TCOTW that Fingalson present the above recommendations regarding Wright County’s CSAH system to the District State Aid Engineer for review and consideration by the Screening Board in an attempt to add net state aid miles to Wright County’s inventory.

Right-of-Way Ordinance. Cordell presented to the Commissioners a right-of-way schedule fee and a copy of a right-of-way registration form. He said that the $40 annual registration fee is pretty typical of what other counties are charging. Cities and Townships within the county would not be charged a fee to register, but they would be required to register annually. The standard right-of-way permit fee was set at $100, with $50 added for each additional mile or portion there of after that. Working without first obtaining a permit would result in a fee that is four times the regular fee. Asleson commented that he is not aware of anything in case law that says this would be excessive. Sawatzke asked if schools had to pay for a permit fee, and Cordell said that he could add them to the exception list if that is what the Commissioners wanted. Affected parties would be required to register annually, but they would also be required to apply for individual utility permits. Filling out an annual registration form would be acknowledgment of the intent to abide by the ordinance. A bond schedule was also included in the information and follows the current procedures, but it helps define the policy for the permit technician on what to require for bonding. The public hearing is set for April 4th, which will give citizens the opportunity to review the schedule and voice any concerns or ask any questions. Cordell said that he will be putting this proposed right-of-way ordinance on the County’s website rather than mailing out copies to utility companies. This ordinance will deal only with right of way along county routes. RECOMMENDATION: It was the consensus of the TCOTW that this Right-of-Way Fee Schedule and this Right-of-Way Ordinance be approved for public review as presented here.

Update on Otsego Truck Station Fingalson gave a brief update indicating that he and Meyer had met with Otsego officials last Thursday. The meeting went well. The staff is proceeding with the building permit, access plans, etc. We are waiting for the cost of the proposed utility assessment estimate from the City. Fingalson indicated that large “For Sale” signs have been placed at both the Albertville truck station and at the Delano shop property.

At today’s County Board Meeting, Fingalson estimated the cost of the Otsego truck station at $550,000-$600,000. Mattson inquired whether the ROW Ordinance would be retroactive. Fingalson said it could be effective as early as 4-04-06 if adopted by the County Board. However, a transition period would need to be considered for current projects such as the CSAH 12 project. Mattson inquired whether the Ordinance would apply to areas just outside of the current phase of the CSAH 12 project. Fingalson did not feel it would be as pre-construction hearings had been held and permits issued. On a motion by Sawatzke, second by Russek, all voted to approve the TCOTW Minutes as presented. (End of TCOTW Minutes)

On a motion by Mattson, second by Russek, all voted to set a Transportation Committee Of The Whole Meeting on 3-31-06 at 1:00 P.M., Public Works Building. The Agenda will include: 1) Request from City of Monticello for Roundabout on CSAH 18; 2) Discuss Agreement with Hennepin County for County Line Routes; 3) Update on Otsego Truck Station; 4) Discuss selling of Albertville, Delano and Chouinard properties; and 5) Preview DVD entitled “Road and Loads - Finding a Balance.”

Fingalson distributed a revised Addendum to Agreement #05-50 with the City of Cokato and requested approval. The revision changes Item 3 to read, “The County’s total share of the construction shall not exceed 105% of the amount as determined by the low bid prices, without prior approval by the County (i.e., approval of extra work, if needed, prior to the work being completed on the project).” Mattson moved to approve the Addendum to Agreement #05-50 noting the additions and with the approval of Asleson. The motion carried 5-0 on a second by Sawatzke.

Fingalson brought forth discussion on the future Otsego truck station. He felt it would be cost effective to enter into an agreement with Oertel Architects for the design build phase of the project. This firm designed the Cokato Shop. The basic plan would be updated with code changes. What is further recommended and agreed to by Oertel Architects is to make an electronic version available to the architect hired by the contractor. Oertel Architects would complete the work for $6,300. Mattson questioned the cost, as the basic plan from the Cokato Shop would be used. Fingalson said code changes would require a large revision to the plan. Inflation plays a part as well. A salt storage facility will be located on site. The potential of a satellite fuel system has been discussed which would allow deputies to fuel at that location. Eichelberg questioned the bid process. The response was that the design build portion can be funded through professional services. A written proposal will be obtained from the Architect. Eichelberg moved to approve entering into an agreement with Oertel Architects for the Otsego truck station at a not-to-exceed figure of $6,300. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried unanimously.

At 9:31 A.M., Heeter closed the regular meeting and opened the Public Hearing on the issuance of Revenue Bonds for the Courage Center. Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, said Minneapolis Community Development Agency will issue the bonds. Proceeds will be used towards construction, renovation and equipment costs for the headquarters located in Golden Valley, as well as the Camp Courage Facility located in Maple Lake. Larry Johnson of the Courage Center was present for discussion today. Wright County is required to hold a Public Hearing and adopt a resolution consenting to the issuance of bonds by the Minneapolis Development Agency. At 9:33 A.M., the Public Hearing was closed and the regular meeting reconvened. Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #06-26, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.

Greg Kramber, Assessor, said Honeywell has filed tax court petitions for the 2003, 2005 and 2006 assessments for property located in Buffalo. He requested approval to hire Paul Bakken, the Valuation Group, Inc., for appraisal work of the Honeywell facility, funded from Department 820, Professional Services. The fees for a limited restricted appraisal are $5,000 but if this case were to go to trial, an additional expense would be accrued for a complete self-contained appraisal plus $250/hr. for trial preparation and court testimony. The last time the property went to trial, the Judge valued the property at $3,440,000. That is the current value the County has placed on this property. The property is for sale at $5.3 million. Sawatzke moved to approve the hire of Paul Bakken, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0. This is scheduled for trial in late August, 2006.

Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, said that about one year ago, Xcel Energy began discussion with Goodhue, Sherburne and Wright County, as well as with cities that are “host communities” for their largest generating facilities. The talks were aimed at stabilizing the tax revenues these governmental entities receive from Xcel, in light of possible Department of Revenue rule changes which could have the effect of reducing the valuation of certain utility property by up to 30%. Asleson, Kramber, Hiivala and Sawatzke have taken part in various meetings and conference calls and are seeking authorization to continue discussions with Xcel. Asleson indicated that the Department of Revenue has reviewed how properties are valued that Xcel owns. Xcel is concerned as they know that their host communities rely heavily on their tax revenues for the tax base. If a reduction occurs in the tax amount on generating equipment, the missed tax dollars would be spread against the remaining tax base (of which Xcel pays a large portion). The other part of the equation is that a few tax appeals have been filed involving gas pipelines. The Department of Revenue does not feel their evaluation process will stand up under tax court scrutiny. The County and City staff are negotiating with Xcel on a potential Stabilization Agreement to mitigate the potential impacts of a rule change. The Agreement between Goodhue, Sherburne and Wright Counties would establish a set amount of tax paid by Xcel for a specified time period. If agreed to, counties involved may be required to abate taxes at the end of the agreement. Xcel has introduced a bill to the Legislature amending some of the economic development laws making it possible to provide that type of abatement if the situation arose. Staff does not see a problem with this bill and it does not bind the County in any way. Asleson felt it laid the groundwork for discussions to occur. The action item requested today is to authorize staff to continue meeting with Xcel and other communities on this issue. Russek inquired as to who determined the 30% reduction in utility property valuation. Asleson indicated that Xcel has formed an argument on why the current depreciation formula is incorrect. The Department of Revenue will decide whether this is correct. The argument is that depreciation should occur at a faster rate which could impact Wright County by 15-30%. This may be a positive move for Becker and Sherburne Counties. However, the facility located in Wright County is going through re-licensing. The large investment of funds (if re-licensed through 2030) could far offset the reduction in depreciation. The County may lose out on that investment if it would establish a set amount of tax paid by Xcel. Another issue to be included in the Agreement is that tax would be paid on dry cask storage. Sawatzke said correspondence from Xcel reflects the position that they will not try to claim an exemption on the casks. Sawatzke said his position was that he supported the bill passing. This was provided as an informational item.

Russek requested the Board authorize signatures on the Wetland Management Plan, Sugar Lake Watershed, Project Proposal Application, Mid-MN Mississippi RC&D Council. This is at no cost to the County. Sawatzke moved to authorize signatures, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.

Asleson brought forth discussion on a Stearns County boundary issue. Last July, Jay Wittstock (former Wright County Surveyor) and Denny Kron (Stearns County Surveyor) met with the Board to provide an update on a boundary issue. For the past 102 years, this parcel was taxed by Wright County even though it lies within the boundaries of Stearns County. The owner of this parcel also owns 80 acres in Stearns County. The estimated cost of the correction is $3,000 (legal fees) to be split by Wright and Stearns Counties. The landowner would not bear any cost but has consented to correction. The landowner should not be responsible as it is a situation where land records from many years ago should have been recorded in both counties when conveyance from the railroad occurred. The action requested today is authorization of signatures by the Board Chair and Coordinator on the Assent to Registration form. The original will be forwarded to the Stearns County Attorney and filed in Stearns County District Court. Russek moved to authorize signatures on the Assent to Registration, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0.

Mattson announced that Howard Morris (from Stockholm Twp.) passed away last week. Morris was the Wright County Fair Board Secretary for 30 years and was a past two-term President of the State Fair.

Bills Approved

Allina Health Systems. $500.00

Allina OCC Med 355.00

American Instit. Supply 499.58

American Messaging 748.46

Ameripride Linen/Apparel 607.36

Ancom Communications. 46,474.14

Ancom Technical Center 656.78

Aramark Correctional Serv. 4,990.96

B & D Plumbing & Htg. 336.00

Barnes Distribution 569.42

Buffalo Hospital 9,208.98

CDW Government Inc. 2,502.74

Center Point Energy 20,664.74

City Cokato 109.07

Compview Inc. 6,470.01

Cub Pharmacy 460.62

Dash Medical Gloves 195.60

E. Central Reg. Juvenile 11,880.00

Ben Ehlinger 428.60

Federated Propane 131.86

Gateway Companies Inc. 662.00

Glock, Inc. 395.13

Gordys Foods 178.79

Karla Heeter 219.38

Hennepin Co. Treasurer 1,539.80

Holiday 9,745.59

Indianhead Specialty Co. 225.19

Information Systems Corp. 202.40

Intereum Inc. 101.18

Interstate All Battery Center 203.84

Karels Towing 133.00

LaPlant Demo Inc. 538.10

Lorman Education Services 319.00

Marco 181.23

Marco Business Products 705.04

Martin Mariette Aggregates 152.96

MCF-RW 1,323.00

Minncor Industries Central 187.12

MN Alcohol Traffic Safety 190.00

MN Assn. of Jail Programs 195.00

MN Chemical Company 287.59

MN CLE Inc. 585.00

MN Elevator Inc. 225.67

MN Hwy. Safety/Research 2,880.00

MN Office of Enterprise Tech. 370.00

MN Recreation & Park Assn. 395.00

Monticello Auto Body Inc. 122.47

MRPA Best Practices Summit 100.00

Naaktgeboren Decorating 531.97

Office Depot 848.77

Michele Pecharich 189.00

Prosource 2,097.00

Qwest 9,237.67

RDO Equipment Co. 62,252.45

Scenic Signs 221.18

Shell Fleet Plus 3,461.95

Shiftwork Solution LLC 400.00

SKC Communication Prod. 130.15

State of MN-Adminis. Hea 2,084.70

Cody Thompson 341.25

Uniforms Unlimited 487.55

Upper Midwest Comm. Pol. 200.00

Victory Corps 278.45

C. Walker Trucking 240.00

West Payment Center 603.80

Wright Hennepin Electric 733.00

22 Payments less than $100 833.58

Final total $215,325.87

The meeting adjourned at 10:01 A.M

Published in the Herald Journal April 17, 2006.