Wright County Board Minutes


The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Heeter, Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek and Eichelberg present. On behalf of the County Board, Heeter offered condolences to the family of Dottie Anderson, wife of Representative Bruce Anderson, who recently passed away.

The minutes of 9-05-06 were discussed. Mattson referenced page 3 of the minutes, 1st paragraph, involving discussion on the Honeywell abatement request. Mattson said in two situations the minutes reflect, “In response to Sawatzke...” and “In response to Mattson...” and wondered whether the minutes should reflect the actual questions asked. Sawatzke responded that the answer reflects what the question was. Relative to the same portion of the minutes (Honeywell abatement discussion), Sawatzke hoped that Asleson and Kramber had reviewed the minutes for accuracy. Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes as presented, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.

On a motion by Russek, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the Agenda as presented.

The Consent Agenda was discussed. Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, referenced Item C1 and said it should be changed from “Albertville City” to “St. Michael City.” On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Russek, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda as corrected:


1. Performance Appraisals: P. Forare, Hwy; L. Beauchane, D. Flom, Sheriff.

2. O/T Report, Period Ending 8-25-06.

3. Refer to Ways & Means Committee, City of Cokato Funding Agreement, CSAH #3.


1. Approve Abatement, PID #118-083-002060, Salvatore Catapano (City of Otsego).


1. Approve Tobacco License For Thrifty White Drug (St. Michael City).


1. Ratify MCCC Contract With Optimum Software, Inc. (OSI) In The Amount Of $63,160.89, Including Sales Tax, For Licensing, Implementation Services, Training Services, & One Year Of System Support For A Human Resource System For The Administration Department. Authorize Signatures On The MCCC Ratification Statement.


1. Accept The Findings And Recommendations Of The Planning Commission For The Rezoning:

A. Earl Foster (Silver Creek Twp.). Planning Commission Unanimously Recommend Approval Of The Request To Rezone 20 Acres From AG to AR.

Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented the claims listing for approval. Heeter referenced a claim on Page 1, Karla Heeter ($384.07). The claim reflects reimbursement for the cost of a bus trip ($150); however, she actually drove to Chicago to attend a conference. Bus transportation to the conference was available at the $150 cost but Heeter elected to drive and be reimbursed up to that amount. Hiivala will change the claims listing to reflect “mileage reimbursement” for the $150 portion of the claim. On a motion by Russek, second by Sawatzke, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.

A Deferred Compensation Committee Meeting was held on 9-05-06. At today’s County Board Meeting, it was noted that action was taken on this item at the last County Board Meeting. Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0:

Request To Withdraw Funds, Unforeseeable Emergency. The Committee reviewed an employee’s request to withdraw funds. It was determined that the circumstances meet the definition of an unforeseeable emergency. Recommendation: Allow employee to withdraw from the Deferred Compensation Program. (End of Deferred Compensation Committee Minutes)

A Quad County Meeting was held on 8-29-06. At today’s County Board Meeting, the following change was made to the minutes: Page 1, Members Present, Benton County, change from “Walter” to “Walters” (Mattson). Russek moved to approve the minutes as corrected, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0:

Welcome and Introductions, Karla Heeter, Wright County Board Chair.

Medical Examiner Services. (Wright) Wright County has contracted with Midwest Forensics for a number of years for Medical Examiner Services. Midwest Forensics is going out of business. Dr. Janis Amatuzio will now provide service through Anoka County. If Wright County decides to contract with Anoka County in 2007, it will result in a substantial cost increase based on population. Currently the cost is $167,000 and will rise to over $300,000 per year. If the Counties of Anoka, Crow Wing, McLeod, Meeker, Mille Lacs and Sibley join, the cost per capita will be $2.73. If the Counties of Isanti, Todd, Sherburne and Benton are added, the cost per capita reduces to $2.38. Sherburne County contracts with Ramsey County. They have been contacted by Anoka County on the new service being provided. There is some interest due to location and faster turn around for lab services. Sherburne County recently hired four part-time crime scene investigators. Stearns County contracts with Ramsey County and has been in contact with Anoka County. Ramsey County appears to be more cost effective. Stearns will continue with Ramsey County at this point. Their relationship has been positive. Benton County has an elected Coroner who also serves as the jail medical provider. They utilize Ramsey County for autopsies and have not been approached by Anoka County. Their relationship has generally been good but their has been recent frustration in the increasing costs. Miller stated that traditionally, mortuaries transport to and from Mercy Hospital. This has been an issue with funeral directors. Ramsey County provides basic autopsy services but does not provide training. The new proposal through Anoka County would include the morgue, crime and death scene investigation training, and testimony by Amatuzio on criminal cases representing the Medical Examiners point of view. Sherburne County did not feel a contract through Ramsey County would provide the same level of service as through Anoka County (timeliness, lab work and testifying). Miller stated the quality of the service provided by Amatuzio has been phenomenal. The services provided to the victim’s families has been a great benefit and takes a burden off the Sheriff Department. Training is provided to first responders on crime scenes. Amatuzio’s testimony generally leads to plea agreements in cases. With the proposed contract, fees will not be incurred for transports to the City of Ramsey (location of the new morgue). They will also provide DNA testing and drug screenings. The quick turnaround time of lab work meets requirements for a speedy trial; otherwise, cases may lead to plea agreements. These factors result in savings to the County. Miller supported regional services. He felt the Quad Counties could take on a role to share resources and develop facilities to meet the needs rather than to be dependent on the State. The State recently added additional labs but they are already backlogged. He felt regionalized services were the way to proceed in the future.

Strategies For Dealing With Federal Reimbursement Changes For Social Services. (Wright) Wright County sought input with regard to Federal reimbursement cutbacks taking place in 2008 and potentially in 2007. An email received yesterday from our Human Services Director reflects that overall, a reduction of $250,000-$275,000 in Human Services and Public Health funding is anticipated. In addition, the Child Support incentive reductions will not be realized until 2008, on top of the projections for 2007. To assist with balancing the budget in 2007, Wright County will levy to offset the loss in revenue, as well as use $300,000 in Human Services reserves. Sherburne County has an almost identical situation, as the County plans to levy for a portion and the remainder will be transferred from the Human Services fund balance. Stearns County’s original estimate is not as great as projected. They will be able to capture part of their loss through targeted case management and possibly through MSHO. Overall, the estimated loss is $500,000. Benton County, like Stearns, will realize new revenues from the MSHO contracts which will help to offset the reduction in Federal reimbursement. Agency wide, they will realize $100,000 less in revenues in 2007 which will be covered by the levy. Discussion involved funding programs mandated by the State. Counties are required to provide services. Stearns County felt it was fortunate that Federal funding has been available. Although the Legislature was approached last year on a tax bill to help fund programs, nothing was acted upon.

Compare Meal Reimbursement Policies. (Benton) Benton County recently developed a policy after review of neighboring counties policies. Their policy was patterned after Stearns, reflecting reimbursement for meals outside of Stearns, Sherburne and Benton Counties. Their Auditor/Treasurer saw significant problems with the policy. Stearns County indicated they adopted the three-county exemption for reimbursement because Benton County is only several blocks from their downtown office. They have a unique situation where most employees work close to the County line. Their policy has adopted the IRS schedule for reimbursement for various cities in the Country. This was because of the variance in meal costs from one city to another. Sherburne County has a $30/day maximum reimbursement with an exemption for out-of-state conferences. Documentation is required (actual meal receipts) within Minnesota. Out-of-state reimbursement requests do not require as much documentation. Wright County distributed a copy of their Business Related Expense Reimbursement Policy (attached) which is relatively new. The policy for reimbursement of client meals will be addressed by the Personnel Committee.

Time Limits For Mileage Claims. (Benton) Benton inquired what time limits were imposed by the other Counties with regard to mileage claims. In Stearns County, the County Auditor’s financial policy dictates when bills will be paid, which is generally 30 days into the new year. The County has made exceptions dependent upon the circumstances involved. There is nothing specific with regard to mileage reimbursement. Reimbursement is made if proper documentation is provided. Stearns County requires the immediate supervisor or department head to approve of mileage claim reimbursement requests. Sherburne County has a policy reflecting how long reimbursement requests will be accepted after January 1st. They do not have a County-wide personnel policy. Wright County’s policy on mileage claims is outlined in the Business Related Expense Reimbursement Policy (attached). Requests for mileage reimbursements require approval of the immediate supervisor or department head.

Experience Using Paid Time Off. (Benton) Benton County is reviewing the use of Paid Time Off (PTO). Stearns and Sherburne Counties currently use PTO and have provided input to Benton. At this time, Benton has not elected to offer PTO as they sense they are not ready for it. The perception is the lost time. They have added a feature allowing employees to increase their severance payout using sick and vacation hours. Wright County does not offer PTO. Sherburne County has used PTO for 5-6 years and has simplified their system. They feel it has improved the relationship between supervisors and employees and has made the system less subject to abuse. The PTO benefit offers 2-3 days less time off to employees. Those who utilize a lot of sick leave do not favor the system but everyone else benefits as they receive more time off. The Stearns PTO Policy is almost identical to Sherburne County’s and all unions have adopted it. Administratively it is viewed positively but it took a lot of time for conversion, implementation and talking employees into it. The viewpoint is that it rewards loyal employees. If an employee exhausts their PTO and a medical situation occurs, Family Medical Leave is utilized.

Proposed St. Cloud Area Regional Human Rights Office. (Benton) Benton said the task force assigned to this venture recently made a presentation to their County. No commitment was offered. The task force is encouraging cities to join. Benton County asked the position of Stearns and Sherburne on this subject. Sakry stated he was co-chair of the task force which studied the need for a regional office for those who have been discriminated against (i.e., age, housing, race). A draft resolution supporting the creation of a Regional Human Rights Task Force was distributed (attached). The resolution urges interested jurisdictions in Benton, Sherburne and Stearns Counties to enter into agreements with St. Cloud for these services. Sherburne County has passed a resolution and have implemented an additional system. Human Rights calls are now directed to the Social Services staff. Staff members have and will continue to be trained. This new procedure provides an opportunity to track the amount of requests to determine future need. This has not proven to be expensive and is providing a service to the community. Wright County has experienced a couple of human rights claims which related to inmates who felt they were not provided proper service.

County Levy Proposals. (Stearns) Stearns County levy request for 2007 reflects an 11.58% increase. The overall budget is at a 1.7% increase. Sherburne County will propose a 10.9% increase in levy with an overall budget increase estimated at 3-4%. Budgets have not increased much but revenues are down. Benton County expects a 6.0% levy increase. If they didn’t have debt service, they would be at 3.2%. They will realize a 3% increase in health insurance costs next year and are looking at possible road bonding. Wright County is estimating a 9.6-9.7% levy increase. When initial budgets were submitted, the levy was over 20%. The County’s goal is to keep this under 10%. Some of the areas which rely on Fees For Service have seen a decrease in projected revenues for 2007. This is especially prevalent in the Recorder’s Office due to a decline in home sales. Wright County is planning for 2008-2009. An Architect and Construction Manager have been hired for the new Jail/Law Enforcement Center. Ground-breaking will occur in the Fall of 2007. The County will face a substantial increase in debt service for payable 2008 plus all of the staff and operating expenses associated with the new building. All four counties are realizing increased costs associated with maintenance of roads. Substantial cost increases have been realized in projects due to increased pricing of petroleum based products. The amount of State Aid has also diminished. Wright County had a $3 million local levy for Road & Bridge in 2005. In 2006, this rose to $6 million and is projected at $7.5 million for 2007. Stearns County issues cell phones to various employees and their Policy requires reimbursement of personal calls made by employees. The last cell phone agreement was charged at $.15 per minute. They are discussing whether to discontinue issuing cell phones and instead would reimburse employees for calls made. The use of cell phones has resulted in a lot of paperwork and administration. Consolidation of plans is a cost saving measure. Long distance calling cards are issued for County calls. Stearns also issues various hand-held PDA’s, generally to department heads and supervisors. Sherburne County issues cell phones to selected employees. Previously, numerous departments had plans through various vendors. They now work with one vendor and their plan offers a specified amount of minutes. This lowered their cost by 50%. Benton County utilizes a Sprint plan which has been cost effective. They do not issue many cell phones to employees. Employees are allowed to make personal calls as long as the free minutes are not exceeded. Wright County does not reimburse employees for personal cell phone use. A copy of the Use Of Telephones Policy was distributed, along with a copy of the Use Of Computers & Related Equipment Policy (attached). Cell phones may be addressed at the next Technology Committee Meeting when the Committee discusses laptop computers. Personal use of email was discussed. Stearns County indicated that employees should be informed if their email will be checked. Sherburne County has a Policy reflecting that email is public. The employee is required to sign a statement acknowledging this as part of their new employee packet. Wright County’s policy is similar to Sherburne’s.

Update On Elk River Watershed Issue. (Sherburne) Sherburne County has a watershed association (not a district) that is shared by Benton and Sherburne. There is a push by some groups to form a watershed district. Stearns County has watershed districts. One watershed, however, was not making use of their funding and was disbanded by BWSR. This was an unusual case involving a small watershed district. In small districts, it is hard to afford an administrator. Taxpayers did not support the watershed because of the cost and the water quality was not improving. It was suggested that the Auditor address levy limits before a watershed district is considered. The larger the area, the more tax base and the more successful watershed districts are. As the disbanding has just occurred, BWSR is expected to make a decision on whether a redetermination of the landowners on the ditch is required (as the County took back the ditches). Discussion involved the requirement of 50 petitioners to form a watershed district. Stearns County said although this is the requirement, the County’s opposition to the formation of the district holds much more weight than it used to. Wright County has the Clearwater River Watershed District.

Other Issues. Wright County inquired whether the other Counties had formal policies on take home vehicles and whether these policies addressed the IRS tax implications for those employees. The IRS rules do not apply to law enforcement personnel. Benton County does not have any take home vehicles. Stearns County only allows law enforcement to do so. Sherburne County has one take home vehicle which is parked at their public works site in Sauk Rapids. They have two or three others that also have take home vehicles. Wright County allows take home vehicles for the Highway Engineer, the Highway Maintenance Superintendent and Crew Supervisors, and the Facilities Manager. Heeter distributed a brochure (attached) on an upcoming MEADA Conference, “Medical Minds & Meth” being held on 10-18-06 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. This is a new initiative which addresses needs of health care providers. The Conference is being funded by MEADA, MN Teen Challenge, Initiative Foundation, and Hythiam. Although the Conference is geared toward medical professionals, anyone would benefit from attendance. The cost is $195.00. Stearns County commended the group on this effort. Their Sheriff has advised them the public needs to be informed on ways to fight this problem. It cannot be solved by law enforcement alone. Benton County said hardware stores can assist by providing law enforcement with license numbers of those people who purchase materials used in the manufacture of meth. (End of Quad County Meeting Minutes)

Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, requested approval of Cooperative Agreement #06-54 with the City of Monticello for construction and maintenance of multi-lane roundabout on CSAH 18. The City approved the Agreement on 9-11-06. Sawatzke moved to approve Agreement #06-54, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.

Fingalson requested that the item, “Approve Cooperative Agreement with the City of Monticello for Turnback of CSAH 75 be pulled from the Agenda and laid over to a future meeting. The City will address questions by their legal staff and payback of State Aid dollars before the road is taken off the State Aid system. This item was tabled to a future date.

Fingalson presented for approval a draft resolution vacating a portion of former CSAH 2 in French Lake Township. A bridge was replaced on CSAH 2 and a portion of road segment needs to be vacated in accordance with the project. The Township is aware of this action. Russek moved to adopt Resolution #06-53, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.

A draft resolution was presented revoking a portion of CSAH 7 (1.40 miles) and CSAH 63 (0.23 miles) in the City of Clearwater, changing the jurisdiction from the County’s State Aid Highway System to the City’s local street system. The City will take over maintenance this Winter. The County will need to complete some work on the segment next Spring. This action will allow the County to use the mileage elsewhere on the State Aid System, which will be discussed at a future Transportation Committee Of The Whole Meeting. Heeter inquired whether this was the project that Fingalson recently met with the City on. Fingalson responded that it was, that the project has been controversial due to the increased cost. The City has decided to proceed with the project. Russek moved to adopt Resolution #06-54, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.

Fingalson requested approval of a resolution revoking CSAH 50 (0.13 miles) in the City of Annandale, changing the jurisdiction from Wright County’s State Aid System to the City of Annandale’s local street system. Sawatzke moved to adopt Resolution #06-55, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.

A draft resolution was presented revoking a portion of CR 134 (0.25 miles) in the City of Buffalo. Fingalson said the City Administrator, Mert Auger, has agreed to this action. The major portion of this road was previously revoked to the City. The remaining portion recently had surface improvement work by Wright County and has now been annexed into the City. The City is not required to take formal action as it is not a County State Aid Highway. Mattson asked whether the County would retain liability for the trail along the western portion of CR 134. Fingalson responded that the trail was actually along the eastern side and the County is responsible for anything within the ROW. Once it has been transferred to the City, that would not be the case. The trail was approved as a City trail. Mattson said a statute relating to utilities was used to place the trail close to the road on CSAH 12. Normally, trails are supposed to be 20’ from a road with a 50 mph speed limit. Fingalson said different standards apply to CSAH 12. Different standards are used when an existing roadway is involved. In the CR 134 situation, the trail and the road will be the responsibility of the City. Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #06-56, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.

Richard Norman, County Coordinator, requested that the Board schedule a Committee Of The Whole Meeting with the Judges to discuss the Law Enforcement Center, Jail, and Courts procedures. Sawatzke moved to schedule the Meeting for 9-19-06 at 12:00 P.M., County Board Room. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0. The Agenda will include: Video Arraignment, Courtroom at the Law Enforcement Center, and Efficiencies in Managing Inmates.

On a motion by Russek, second by Eichelberg, all voted to cancel the 10-31-06 County Board Meeting due to the occurrence of five Tuesdays in October. This is the date of the next Quad County Meeting which will be held in Stearns County.

Norman presented a draft resolution establishing the draft 2007 Budget and Certified Taxable Levy. Mattson noted that the figures can decrease but cannot increase. Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #06-57, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote:


BE IT RESOLVED that the Wright County Board of Commissioners hereby establishes draft 2007 budgets as follows:

GENERAL REVENUE $ 39,206,904

ROAD & BRIDGE 19,781,126


DEBT SERVICE 1,957,201


TOTAL BUDGET $ 80,915,431

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Wright County Board of Commissioners hereby establishes a draft 2007 Certified Taxable Levy of $37,862,282. (End of Resolution 06-57)

Sawatzke moved to adopt Resolution #06-58 approving a Charitable Gambling Application Form LG230, Monticello Lions Club, Silver Springs Golf Course, 1854 County Road 39 N.E., Monticello, MN 55362 (Monticello Township). The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.

On a motion by Russek, second by Eichelberg, all voted to authorize the AMC Delegation to attend the Annual Conference on December 4-6, 2006 in Rochester, MN. Norman said this was placed on the Agenda so those attending could make hotel accommodations. The cancellation of the Board Meeting for that date will be on an upcoming Agenda.

Mattson requested the establishment of meeting(s) with Township officials to discuss planning and zoning issues. He received support for the idea from Township officials at a recent Meeting. The meeting(s) would be held to allow Township officials an opportunity to provide input and hopefully would result in better communication overall. Mattson felt the Western portion of the County was possibly not being listened to. He suggested Russek and Salkowski meet with Township representatives to explain the Planning & Zoning process. Minutes of the meeting would not be required. Sawatzke felt the dialogue may be good but he did not want to create the expectation that it would change things such as the Land Use Plan. There is already a process in place for that. When the NE quadrant of the Land Use Plan is complete, other portions of the County will be addressed. Mattson said that at the March Meeting of the Township Officers, representatives were voted in. He felt that a representative from each Township could be invited to attend the meeting so the entire Planning & Zoning process is understood. Russek has served on the Planning Commission for 13 years. He said he would be willing to explain their processes. However, the County Board cannot overrule a Board of Adjustment ruling. Heeter supports better communication with all government entities. She questioned whether this would be a learning seminar to provide an opportunity to better understand the process. She did not want a situation where those attending would question specific denials. Mattson said the purpose would be to provide information on the Planning & Zoning process. Mattson moved to direct the Administration Office to send a letter to the Township Clerks inviting one Township representative to attend the meeting. A meeting date will be established once input has been received from the Townships. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0.

Bills Approved

Brian Abrahamson. $145.07

Albertville Body Shop, Inc. 481.60

American Instit. Supply 105.24

Ameripride Linen/Apparel 429.48

Ancom Technical Center 1,673.07

Aramark Correctional Serv. 165.00

Arctic Glacier Inc. 562.20

Arrow Terminal LLC 390.36

B & B Products-Rigs/Squa 3,415.90

Barnes Distribution 619.10

Patrick Berkery 1,200.00

Boyer Truck Parts 2,427.12

Buffalo Bituminous 206,526.37

City Buffalo 42,808.54

Burdas Towing 164.01

CDW Government Inc. 260.48

Center Point Energy 2,238.94

Centra Sota Lake Region 23,717.30

Central McGowan Inc. 484.04

Climate Air 551.72

Cokato Equipment Inc. 10,910.71

Collins Brothers Towing 308.86

Eagle Point 3,039.00

Nicholas Eastman 125.00

Emergency Physicians PA 321.00

EPA Audio Visual Inc. 607.05

First State Tire Recycling 291.15

Raymond Glunz 200.00

Granite City Ready Mix Co. 522.45

Greenview Inc. 14,127.58

H & H Sport Shop Inc. 126.00

Hawthorn Suites Duluth 314.14

Karla Heeter 384.07

Hennepin Co. Treasurer 16,831.34

Hirshfields Dec. Center 198.85

Holiday 23,415.20

Idexx Laboratories Inc. 834.68

International Code Council 338.50

Interstate All Battery Center 229.80

J Craft Div. of Crysteel Mfg. 391.92

Kramers Hardware 127.29

Lakedale Telephone Co. 457.08

LaPlant Demo Inc. 1,217.26

Michael Laurent 283.49

Law Enforcement Training 259.00

Lawson Products Inc. 345.75

Loberg Electric 2,793.14

Marco Business Products 1,187.68

Marks Standard Parts 1,898.31

The Metro Group Inc. 4,580.35

Midland Corp. Benefits 997.75

MN Corrections Assoc. 145.00

MN Recreation & Park Assn. 125.00

Morries Buffalo Ford Merc 648.46

Nexel Communications 575.43

Office Depot 534.78

Lynn Peavey Company 149.00

Wallace Peterson 100.13

Prosource 795.00

Quinlan Publishing Co. 329.90

Reed Business Transp. 1,252.92

Royal Tire Inc. 961.53

Russells Security Resource 170.00

Ryan Motors Inc. 615.89

Software House Int’l 1,265.22

Star Tribune 950.80

Brian Stoll 117.48

Sweeney Brothers 964.72

T & S Trucking 804.00

Tools Unlimited 476.30

Truck Utilities Inc. 811.33

Veolia ES Solid Easte MW 368.31

Verizon 411.26

Victory Corps 287.04

Waste Management TC W 1,113.97

Westside Equipment 419.43

Wright Co. Journal Press 121.56

30 Payments less than $100 1.308.29

Final total $391,852.69

The meeting adjourned at 9:49 A.M

Published in the Herald Journal Oct. 9, 2006.