Wright County Board Minutes

JANUARY 23, 2007
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Heeter, Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek and Eichelberg present.
On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Heeter, all voted to approve the 1-16-07 County Board Minutes as presented.
Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows: Hwy. Engineer Item #3, “Crop Land Rental Agreements” (Norman); Hwy. Engineer Item #4, “Detour Compensation Agreement, TH 24” (Norman); Item For Consid. #6, “Quad County Meeting” (Norman). Heeter moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Eichelberg, carried unanimously.
The Consent Agenda was discussed. Sawatzke requested that Item C1, “Highway, Authorize Fingalson & Hawkins To Attend NACE Annual Meeting In Milwaukee, April 22-26, 2007” be removed and referred to Hwy. Engineer Item #5. On a motion by Sawatzke, second by Heeter, all voted to approve the balance of the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: W. Mar-schel, Aud.; J. Sturges, J. Wilson, Hwy.; A. Barthelemy, IT; R. Broadhead, P&Z; K. Davis, E. Kunkel, D. Weed, Sheriff.
2. Claim, Frank Madden, $2,380.55 (Service For December, 2006).
3. Claim, Prairie Country RC&D, $8,353.00.
4. Charitable Gambling Application Form LG220, Ducks Unlimited Wright County, Silver Springs Golf Course, 1854 Co. Rd. 39 NE, Monticello MN 55362 (Monticello Twp.).
1. Approve 2007 Tobacco License Applications: Heidi’s Market (Albertville); Cruiser’s Gas’n Goods (Monticello).
1. Accept The Findings & Recommendations Of The Planning Commission For The Following Rezoning:
A. George Fake (Franklin Twp.). Planning Commission unanimously recommends rezoning 40 acres from AG to A/R.
At 9:05 A.M., Chief Deputy Joe Hagerty presented a retirement plaque to Sgt. Keith Heaton for his 28 years of dedicated service to the Sheriff Department and Wright County. Heaton served in the position of Deputy until being transferred to the Civil Division in 1986. In 2003, Heaton became Sergeant in charge of three Divisions (Civil, Warrant, and Transport/Bailiff). There are now three Sergeants in charge of the work Heaton completed for years. Heaton was described as compassionate with the ability to work with others. Heaton stated he treats others with respect and courtesy. He was appreciative of being able to work for Wright County and for being promoted to Sergeant. He extended thanks to his wife, Rita, for being supportive through the years. Heaton was thanked for his service.
Chief Deputy Hagerty presented a request for participation in the “Grants To Encourage Arrest Policies & Enforcement Of Protection Orders Program” through the U.S. Office on Justice Programs Office on Violence Against Women. The Program recognizes domestic violence related crimes requiring the criminal justice system to hold offenders accountable for their actions through investigation, arrest, and prosecution of violent offenders, and through close judicial scrutiny and management of offender behavior. The Program is interested in funding several projects to serve as models for other jurisdictions similarly situated. These models should incorporate methods of examining and implementing changes where needed so concerns for victim safety guide the actions of all partners in the system. The program challenges the entire community to listen, communicate, identify problems, and share ideas which will result in new responses to ensure victim safety and offender accountability. Tom Feddema, Court Services Supervisor, said this is an opportunity for the County to apply for up to $200,000 in Federal funding over a two-year period. If awarded the grant will require an audit of the current County process, which would be performed by those in the community trained in the area of domestic violence. Interviews will be conducted and changes may be implemented as needed. Other than staff participation, there is no County funding involved. A letter of interest was submitted last week per Grant requirements. Heeter moved to authorize submission of the grant documents, seconded by Sawatzke, carried unanimously.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, submitted the claims listing for approval. On a motion by Mattson, second by Heeter, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.
Greg Kramber, Assessor, requested that the County Board of Appeal & Equalization dates be set. Current law provides that the County Board of Appeal & Equalization may meet on any 10 consecutive meeting days in June, after the second Friday in June. Heeter moved to schedule June 11th from 9:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. and June 14th from 9:00 A.M., if needed. The motion was seconded by Sawatzke and carried 5-0. Kramber said a Local Board of Appeal training is being held on 1-24-07 at 12:30 P.M. in the Community Room.
A Building Committee Meeting was held on 12-27-06. At today’s County Board Meeting, Mattson moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Heeter, carried 5-0:
Public Works Building Parking Issues.
Jobe presented a request to retain designated parking for two vehicles in the Public Works garage. This past summer, one of the overhead doors of the building was shifted in an effort to accommodate vehicle movement. This resulted in some parking spots being eliminated. This included two of the three vehicles for the Survey Department. These include a crew vehicle with equipment and a pickup. The third vehicle was acquired from the Sheriff Department for use by Jobe. The vehicle has provided better mileage and mobility. In 2007, the pickup will be replaced with a small vehicle. The new vehicle will be placed in the garage and the car moved outside. Jobe’s request is to accommodate trips made to businesses during the day. Parking spaces for smaller vehicles for Highway and Parks were eliminated from this heated area as well. The Parks Department previously had three-four spots and now has two spots for pickups with plows. Jobe offered the suggestion of two spots each for Parks and Survey. The Highway Department would have different needs for equipment storage. Jobe provided photos of the area and suggested parking options (three spots on the west side mirroring the Parks Department plow pickups). Fingalson said decisions on the layout of the heated building were made prior to Jobe being hired. The purpose of moving the overhead door was associated with the size of the trucks, close proximity of the area, and to avoid small accidents. The cold storage shed was constructed for extra storage. Fingalson’s vehicle will be stored outside this winter. Although Jobe feels strongly about the proposed location for his vehicle, Fingalson said to park it in that area causes problems with the equipment and defeats the purpose of moving the overhead door. Once the survey work is complete for the Highway Department, they would offer the space designated for their survey crew van. The van would then be placed in cold storage. It would not be a permanent situation but would provide space for the winter months. The importance of keeping specific vehicles in warm storage was discussed along with other options for parking. Meyer stressed the fact that due to weather conditions and vehicle repair, the heated storage building may be dirty, greasy, etc. With equipment/vehicle movement, there is also greater chance of vehicles being bumped. Mattson supported providing parking space in the warm storage building for all three Department Heads. Fingalson said an effort was made to find a compromise and temporary space has been provided to Jobe until this issue is resolved. Recommendation: For the remainder of the winter, the Survey Department will utilize the parking space which will be vacated by the Highway Survey Crew van. Additional parking spaces should be available in the spring. The Departments should continue to work toward resolution as this issue will arise annually when specific vehicles are required to be in warm storage. (End of 12-27-06 Building Minutes)
A Building Committee Meeting was held on 1-10-07. At today’s County Board Meeting, Heeter moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Mattson. Discussion followed on the Committee’s recommendation to approve the request for the Courts to hire a consultant for up to $2500 for remodeling of Courtroom space. Sawatzke questioned why a consultant would be able to better plan that area than those who use it. Heeter said the Committee asked the same question. One of the issues involves the door installed in the corridor for security purposes. Based on previous discussion with one of the Judges, the door installation was completed. It was suggested that Courtroom #5 would only be used for arraignments. It has since been decided that the door is not preferred. Heeter said the Committee recommendation was for Nordeen to meet with all six Judges for a consensus on what is needed. The Committee was not necessarily in favor of the consultant so a limit of $2,500 was established. The motion to approve the Committee minutes as written carried 5-0. Discussion followed on the recommendation to hire a consultant. It was the consensus that Nordeen should work with the Judges to reach agreement on what changes should be made. That information should be brought back for Committee review. The Committee will then determine whether to hire a consultant. Sawatzke moved to approve the Committee recommendations excluding the following language from the Committee recommendation for Item II: “Nordeen has the option to meet with a consultant to develop a proposal, which should be brought back to the Building Committee for review. Total expenditures for the consultant should not exceed $2,500.” The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried 5-0:
I. Redesigned Work Space For Clerks, Courtroom #1 & #5.
II. Secure Properly Designed Appearance Area For Defendants In Custody, Courtroom #5, & Means For Group Rights Advisory In Holding Area.
The current work space for Clerks in Courtrooms #1 & #5 doesn’t accommodate use of computers, printers, walk space, and files/forms used in Court. The area is not ergonomically designed. Nordeen requested that in both Courtrooms, the location of the Court and Witness Stand areas be reversed. She asked that someone be brought in to design courtroom space. The Judges would like a designated area for defendants to appear. Nordeen said the Courts briefly used a defendant area. This worked well in concept, but the area was too close to the clerks. Korbel said the area would be used as both a holding area and somewhere to provide rights to a group of inmates. Nordeen suggested the possibility of doing so by closed circuit television. An idea presented by the Sheriff’s Department would be to reverse the location of the jury box and the judges’ station. With some modifications, the jury box area could be used for group arraignments and changed back when a jury is required. Existing doors could be used. Nordeen said there are other courtroom issues to be addressed as well. Nordeen requested that someone with courtroom design experience be hired to suggest possible layouts for consideration. Recommendation: Nordeen was directed to consult with the 10th Judicial District Judges. A consensus should be reached between all six Judges on what courtroom changes should be made. Nordeen has the option to meet with a consultant to develop a proposal, which should be brought back to the Building Committee for review. Total expenditures for the consultant should not exceed $2,500. If after meeting with the Judges it is felt that a consultant is not required, Nordeen should bring the Judge’s recommendation to the Committee for review.
III. Space Needs for Bailiff/Courthouse Security Personnel.
Heaton requested additional room for Bailiff/Courthouse Security Personnel. They currently occupy two small rooms. There are currently 9 employees and space for 4. This Spring, the number of employees may increase to 10-11. Although the employees are not necessarily in the space all at one time, the space is used for paperwork and the computer. The request is to exchange an office currently occupied by a State employee (Child Support Magistrate) one day per week. Room dimensions currently are: Bailiff office (7’ x 8’); Bailiff office (14’ x 8’); and Child Support Magistrate office (10’ x 16’). Nordeen felt that Government Center security personnel should be located elsewhere. Otherwise, expansion of the Courts would be further limited. Further discussion occurred on other associated costs including rewiring of cameras and panic buttons. If the Bailiffs moved out of the larger of their two office spaces, rewiring would be required. These modifications would need to be completed by associated vendors. A tour of the area was completed. The suggestion was for the Bailiff’s to vacate the smaller of their two office spaces and to occupy the room currently being utilized by the Child Support Magistrate. The Child Support Magistrate can then occupy the office area being vacated. Nordeen said the space needs to accommodate the Magistrate, office supplies, and exhibits (which must be secure). Recommendation: Direct the Bailiffs to vacate the smaller of the two office areas and move into the area currently being occupied by the Child Support Magistrate. The Child Support Magistrate will occupy the space vacated by the Bailiffs. The Bailiffs will retain use of the office space that currently holds their cameras and security systems. (End of 1-10-07 Building Committee Minutes)
The meeting was recessed at 9:32 A.M. The Public Hearing was held on the proposed Official Mapping Ordinance. Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, said that the Planning & Zoning Administrator was unable to attend today’s meeting but had requested that any action on the Ordinance be delayed to a future date. Asleson referred to Section 1 of the Ordinance which describes it as “Identification on an official map of land needed for future public uses, permits both the public and private property owners to adjust their building plans equitably and conveniently before investments are made which will make such adjustments difficult to accomplish.” Asleson said the importance of the Ordinance is to preserve the land along the Highway 55 Corridor for future needs. The proposed Ordinance is generic under State Law, but it must be in place before the County can adopt a map for any particular area. Part of the delay in adopting the Ordinance was that State Law adopted in 1974 has not been used much. Washington County had the Ordinance that was found. The draft presented today is based upon that as well as State Law. If the County Board adopts the Official Mapping Ordinance, an official map of a specific area could be presented. This could relate to a highway or parks project, or even for a future government center. The County would be required to hold a public hearing specific to the map presented. Section 6 of the draft, “Subdivision 1-Notice” reflects the type of notice required prior to holding a public hearing on a proposed official map. This language relates to the County Planning & Zoning Ordinances and State Law. A public hearing is held and if the Board adopts the official map, then it is recorded. One of the main purposes of the Ordinance is to put people on notice. It does not mean that the County necessarily has any ownership interest in the land reflected in a corridor; it is meant to prevent people from making large investments for something that may be needed in the future for public use. There are obvious implications, as a highway project may not happen for some time. Landowners may feel that adoption of the map has devalued their property. There are no reported court cases on that issue, but that is a possibility. Asleson did not feel this would be a reason to not proceed. One of the effects of adopting the Official Mapping Ordinance would be that a person may be denied zoning approval if their project lies within the official map boundaries. They would have an opportunity to appeal the denial through the Board of Adjustment. The basic concept of the Official Mapping Ordinance is to inform people of future public improvements and prevent them from unnecessarily proceeding with improvements if it would not be wise to do so because of the pending future improvements planned. Property owners would be paid fair market value for land through the eminent domain process.
Mattson referenced the potential future bypass of Howard Lake. He suggested to Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, that this area should be identified as well to avoid new businesses building in this area. Fingalson stated that the Official Mapping Ordinance would need to be adopted first and then specific projects would be dealt with thereafter.
Dean Mahlstedt, Cokato Township Supervisor, expressed concern on the adoption of the Official Mapping Ordinance. He felt in the extreme sense, this would provide a means to overlay the entire County and take all properties away. He felt this was a backwards concept to make people go through such extreme processes to maintain or keep what they have. He compared this action to the Met Council’s approach on completing projects. He felt government should step back and deal with things as they come up. In that scenario, County government may have to pay more for a piece of property that is acquired to complete a project. Although the Official Mapping Ordinance is the first step, he said the Ordinance is not only available to identify areas for highways but also includes such things as playgrounds and County parks. Mahlstedt suggested that parks be removed from the proposed draft. The County has a method in place to condemn property. Russek said one of the issues is to let a property owner know of future public improvements so that the property owner does not put up a building next to a highway, only to have it torn down when the project goes through. The property owner may then be able to adjust their plans so the building is not within the project area. This will also prevent extra expense for the County. Mahlstedt understood the proactive approach. However, he felt that government takes ownership once the Ordinance is placed into effect. It fast forwards the process. He also felt a property owner should be allowed to build in the areas identified for future projects. He gave the scenario of a person constructing a small business to run until the time highway improvements are made. That person may be able to make money at the business in the meantime. He referenced CR #35 in St. Michael where buildings were removed at an intersection for improvements. He noted there is a new building in the southwest corner and said this may be one of those situations. In the large scheme, Mahlstedt said the Ordinance may not extend the official power of the County but the shadow has become much larger. He did not feel that this action followed the Constitution. Mattson said the County’s largest concern is safety. Highway 55 has experienced a large number of deaths in the area from Buffalo to Rockford. The County would like to preserve the area for a four-lane road. Mahlstedt said as far as safety, he felt government needed to protect the public from foreign entities or other threats. If people drive too fast or inattentively in the 55 corridor, it may produce safety concerns or fatalities. However, he did not feel that government should be the first to step in and be the safety officer for the purpose of controlling traffic to reduce deaths. He didn’t feel that everyone could be protected. He felt people could just choose a different corridor. Mahlstedt said once the County becomes the safety officer for everyone, he once again had lost his freedom. He did not need government to tell him how to drive or how to make a road safer. He would adjust his route of travel accordingly. Russek said those who travel to the metro area every day must allow extra time for travel because of congestion. Also, highways get to the point where they cannot handle traffic. Mahlstedt said that if for the purpose of commerce and the Highway 55 Corridor, the Ordinance is the best way to make that work, then it will happen. He does not use the Highway 55 Corridor on a daily basis. He was concerned however with Mattson’s reference to the Howard Lake area, which is close to the area where Mahlstedt lives, and suggested the County utilize the eminent domain process instead.
Dan Bravinder, Cokato Township Chair, was struggling with the Ordinance because of what Mahlstedt said on ROW issues and how those are presently handled. He referenced the Hwy. 12 project when the State expanded the road. That was not a difficult process. Bravinder understood the need for commerce and for highways to be able to carry the traffic load but did not support the inclusion of things like parks and playgrounds in the Ordinance. Control should be at the local level of government. The City of Cokato requires developers to fund parks when a development is established. He felt the Ordinance expanded government allowing the Planning & Zoning administration to complete things without having to go through the public elected officials. Bravinder referenced Section 8 of the Ordinance which states “After an official map has been adopted and filed, the issuance of all land use or zoning approvals or building permits shall be subject to the provisions of this Ordinance. The Wright County Zoning Administrator shall deny every application for a permit to construct a new building or structure or expand an existing building or structure within any area designated on the official map.” He struggled with placing all control in the hands of the Zoning Administrator and did not feel that was what elected government was about. Bravinder serves in the smallest form of government as a Township official and thought decisions should be in the hands of elected officials.
Fingalson respected the positions of Bravinder and Mahlstedt. He felt it would be rare that the Ordinance would be used for parks but there is that possibility. He felt the best way to describe this was to use the example of the TH 55 Corridor. Mn/DOT has indicated that TH 55 will be a four-lane highway. The area has been identified but the County has not officially mapped the area. He referenced the recent construction of a Trueman Welters business on the east end of Buffalo along TH 55. Both the County and Mn/DOT worked with the business and convinced them to locate their new facility outside of the Corridor. Fingalson said that action saved the County $1 million in ROW acquisition costs. In the scenario where a business owner did not want to move, the Official Mapping Ordinance would be used. Although this may be to the government’s favor, Fingalson viewed this as being on the side of taxpayers. The improvements made to TH 55 have cost $11 million of which $9 million was for ROW costs. The Official Mapping tool would be used to potentially avoid these extra costs.
At 10:00 A.M., Russek closed the bid process for the Chouinard Property.
Discussion continued on the Official Mapping Ordinance. Fingalson said that if the Official Mapping Ordinance is imposed, the County Board or city council is involved in the process. Asleson pointed out several areas of the Ordinance. The first is that official control would only be in those areas that are unincorporated. When the County first met with the cities along the TH 55 Corridor, the County indicated that if a corridor were to be preserved within a city they would have to adopt a similar ordinance. The County does not have the ability to preserve corridors within cities. Secondly, the Statute reflects that this will not affect buildings or structures existing prior to the adoption of the Official Mapping Ordinance. With regard to the language cited by Bravinder in Section 8, Asleson felt that the Ordinance would be to prevent such things as development of a 20-acre residential property for more intense commercial or residential use. These are some of the issues that will be discussed with the Planning & Zoning Administrator prior to County Board action. The third point Asleson made about the Ordinance is that eminent domain will still apply. The map is meant more as an information and prevention tool. The County must still go through all of the eminent domain steps prior to condemning property, including trying to arrange a voluntary purchase with landowners.
Discussion followed on what types of things should be included in the Ordinance. Sawatzke questioned the inclusion of such things as schools, civic centers, and travel facilities as these are not areas that the County is involved in. The main goal of the Ordinance is highways. The County may elect to include parks in the Ordinance to be used as a means to identify property that they may want for park land in the future. He used the YMCA property as an example. Sawatzke was willing to look at the removal of some of the items listed, as the County may never be involved with that type of land use. Sawatzke said the County is trying to prevent the construction of a large facility next to a roadway planned for expansion. With proper notification, the facility could be moved to a location outside of the corridor. This would result in less taxpayer dollars spent in the future for acquisition of land. Asleson said the Ordinance and Statute also address the scenario where things are planned and cannot be moved outside of the corridor. The Board of Adjustment would become involved. As the road authority, the County would then decide whether it would be in the best interest of the County to acquire the land earlier. If so, that process would take place. The main point of the Ordinance is to inform people so they can adjust plans as needed.
Bravinder suggested that the Ordinance be limited to the TH 55 Corridor at this time. Referring back to Section 8 indicating that approval for building permits are subject to the provisions of the Ordinance, Bravinder felt that when a person is subject to something they are not the owner. This changes the purpose of the Ordinance from putting someone on notice. Instead of adopting the Ordinance, he felt notice of the TH 55 Corridor project could be provided by the Planning & Zoning Office (to those coming in for building permits or property adjustments). Once a policy is established that covers broad areas, the Ordinance will take another shape and there will be more government control over people. He was concerned with Mattson’s reference to CR 6. He said that is how fast things move from one area to another. Sawatzke said the TH 55 process has been going on for some time, whereas CR 6 is a hypothetical possibility. Township input was sought on the TH 55 Corridor project and it was felt this would occur on other projects as well. Bravinder suggested that parks be removed from the draft. He felt it was in the best interest of the County to negotiate this type of thing with landowners rather than to outline it in a plan. He understood the concept of highways and felt that was the only thing that would be justified at this point. Russek noted that all park property that the County owns came about because of a seller contacting the County. Asleson suggested that the draft Ordinance be laid over to the 2-13-07 County Board Meeting to allow staff time to meet and discuss the draft.
At 10:23 A.M., the Public Hearing was closed and the County Board Meeting was reconvened. Heeter moved to lay the Wright County Official Map Ordinance over to the 2-13-07 County Board Meeting, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0.
The meeting recessed at 10:24 A.M. and reconvened at 10:36 A.M.
The next item addressed was the bid opening for the Chouinard Property located along CSAH 22 in St. Michael. The County advertised the sale of the property with a minimum bid of $600,000. No bids were received. Asleson said Statute would allow the County to proceed with a broker for sale of the property or they could re-advertise with a different minimum bid. There would be any number of options for negotiating with a single person that may be interested. If such interest did arise, this could be brought back to the Board. Eichelberg suggested that the sale be laid over to a future Transportation Committee Of The Whole Meeting (May or June). This would allow the Wright County Economic Development Partnership an opportunity to email out information to potential buyers. Those interested would then have a chance to respond. Heeter moved to lay this item over to a future TCOTW Meeting. Should an interested buyer surface between now and then, that potential offer should be brought to the Board. The motion was seconded by Sawatzke and carried 5-0.
Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, brought forth discussion on the relocation proposal from Xcel Energy relating to the CSAH 17 project which is scheduled to start later this year. There are a number of Xcel structures located in the CSAH 17 area. Xcel has a broad form easement for utilities. The first proposal from Xcel was for $450,000 to relocate the structures. Richard Marquette, ROW Agent, verified that Xcel did not have the broad form easement in all areas identified. The proposal was reduced to $120,000. Fingalson said Xcel would like to move the transmission facilities out of the ROW. Typically, roads are constructed with ROW to allow for snow storage, drainage and utilities. Xcel has taken the position that the facilities be out of the ROW so when the time comes, the County would have to reimburse Xcel. A compromise has now been reached at $50,000 with the caveat that the County would provide a recordable document reflecting that if the County requires Xcel to move the poles in the future there would not be any cost to Xcel. Fingalson said this could be 50 years into the future. Asleson is supportive of this position. The disadvantage of placing the facilities outside of the ROW is the location to homeowners and trees. It was felt that if Xcel were to have their appraisers contact homeowners ahead of the County, that would drive up the cost of ROW. Therefore, the proposal of $50,000 was agreed upon. State aid reimbursement will be received. The transmission facilities will be located within the ROW and the County would have to pay $50,000. A formal relocation agreement will be presented to the County Board in the future. Five structures are involved. Fingalson requested authorization to sign on behalf of the County, allowing Xcel to proceed with their design. Eichelberg moved to allow Fingalson to proceed with the proposal, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 5-0.
Fingalson requested that the Board approve the proposal to submit the Safety Project (Comprehensive Highway Safety Program) for a Region 7W Safety Grant (Wright, Benton, Sherburne & Stearns Counties) for edgeline rumble stripes. This proposal came up at the last County Engineer’s District Meeting. The Board previously authorized the submittal for grant funding for intersection lighting which they are still proceeding with. The “rumble stripes” are actually rumble strips with highly reflective paint on them. Even in wet conditions, they are highly reflective. The stripes also provide audible sound. It was felt there was more chance of receiving funding through the multi-county approach. A total of $450,000 will be requested. If received, each County would probably receive 20 miles and the stripes would be placed in areas where run off road crashes occur. There would be no cost to the County except for the application and bidding. Mattson moved to support the application for grant funding, seconded by Heeter, carried 5-0.
The County Board recently approved to extend the Rasset cropland rental contract for two years (27.75 acres @ $55/acre) and to extend the Stemper cropland rental contract for one-year (19.44 acres @ $65/acre). Mattson moved to approve the agreements, seconded by Heeter, carried 5-0.
Fingalson presented a draft resolution approving Detour Compensation Agreement No. 88789 with Mn/DOT for TH 24. This will allow Mn/DOT to pay the County $112,361.87 as compensation for road life consumed by the TH 24 official detour routes (on CSAH’s 7 & 39). The project is scheduled for an April, 2007 letting. In response to Mattson, Fingalson indicated that townships are eligible for reimbursement on township roads affected by projects such as this. Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #07-06, seconded by Heeter, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Referred from the Consent Agenda, discussion followed on Item C1, “Highway, Authorize Fingalson & Hawkins To Attend NACE Annual Meeting In Milwaukee, April 22-26, 2007.” Sawatzke inquired what out-of-state conferences Fingalson will attend this year. Fingalson said only the NACE Meeting in Milwaukee. Sawatzke moved to authorize Fingalson & Hawkins to attend the NACE Annual Meeting in Milwaukee, April 22-26, 2007. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0.
A Labor/Management Health Insurance Meeting was held on 1-10-07. At today’s County Board Meeting, Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0:
BCBS Health Insurance Renewal Rates Effective 3-01-07. Paul Coglitori of B & C Consulting, Inc. reviewed the 2007 Health Insurance Renewal Summary, Delta Dental Renewal Calculations, and Delta Dental Benefit Summaries. Wright County experienced a 111% total loss ratio during the Plan year. The claims increased by 5.4%. To reach the 111% total loss ratio, BCBS looked at the trend of about an 11% increase per year and the fact that the County has been under funded for the past couple of years. One year ago, Medica proposed a renewal increase of about 30%. On behalf of the County, B&C Consulting reduced this increase to 17%. BCBS subsequently offered a 9.28% renewal increase with a rate cap of 18% for the two following plan years. Claims history is a major area that carriers base the renewal upon. Looking back to 2001, the average renewal rate for the County is 9.89% which is below the industry average of 12%-15%. A renewal rate comparison was prepared by B&C Consulting. If the County would have remained with Medica, it is projected that the renewal rate for 2007 would be 29% or 36% over a two-year period. With BCBS, that rate would be at 27.3%. With regard to dental insurance, the County had a combined premium through Medica. BCBS & Delta Dental provide medical and dental insurance as separate pieces. Delta Dental has a 12% rate cap. This year, dental claims were expected to be higher because access to dental providers wasn’t there previously. The target loss ratio was 79.03% with an actual experience loss ratio of 86.62%. The renewal increase should be at 16.68% but the rate was capped at 12%. With health plans, Coglitori said going out for bids annually sends a negative message to underwriters. Although bidding annually may result in a first-year renewal decrease, that may not be the case in subsequent years. If claims reduce, the County should seek bids next year or the year following. Issues discussed included the suggestion of employees reviewing medical printouts on care to assure they are being billed correctly. Other employers are implementing higher deductibles and copays (average of $500 deductible and $20-$25 copays). Wright County’s plan is currently higher than the marketplace average.
Delta Dental Voluntary Dental Coverage. A handout was provided on voluntary dental coverage outlining a Core Plan (preventive) and a Buy Up Plan. The Wright County Benefits Fair will be held January 25th. The Personnel Department will be sending information to employees on open enrollment and health providers. (End of Labor/Management Health Insurance Minutes)
A Ways & Means Committee Meeting was held on 12-27-06. At today’s County Board Meeting, Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0:
Plat, Monticello Travel Center, 2nd Addition. The issue relates to a plat which the Surveyor does not want to approve for the Monticello Travel Center, 2nd Addition. The area in question is a portion of Cedar Street which was vacated by the City of Monticello at their meeting on 10-24-05 (the vacation was actually recorded 8-10-06). Jobe’s recommendation is to have the developer proceed with a quiet title action. The history is the State gave the road to the County, the County completed a quit claim deed to the City, and the City completed a quit claim deed to the developer. Jobe did not feel ownership should defer to the developer of the property. A quit claim deed basically transfers right. The road was acquired through condemnation for easement purposes. Upon vacation of a road, it reverts to the fee owner. The fee title has never been transferred from 1931 to present. McCoy said that a title commitment has been obtained as required by the City. The title commitment states the title company is willing to insure that the title is good. They have also obtained a letter from the title company stating they would add the County as an insured under the policy. The developer’s intent is to record the plat by the end of the week. Jobe responded that the letter to the County is dated 12-26-06. He did not feel the County was in a position to proceed as liabilities are unknown. As County Surveyor, he did not recommend the plat for approval. Zins said this was a technical and legal issue. He agreed with Jobe’s position to proceed with quiet title action as there is an underlying title defect. A requirement of platting in the County is a title opinion from a private attorney. Zins suggested that if the developer can provide a title opinion indicating that the developer is the owner of the property and it is marketable land, he would recommend the plat for recording. The title insurance binder is short of what the County requires for quality of documentation from townships. Zins was in contact with the Monticello City Attorney and indicated that if he were to draft the letter that it was a marketable title, he would recommend approval. The County’s standards require a title opinion by someone licensed to practice law skilled in these matters. Rohlin said their position was that they failed to see where the County has any responsibility. The property was transferred by quit claim deed to the City and the City sold it to a developer. The plat was approved by the City. If a problem arises with a questionable title, they could have a quiet title on that lot. Zins said the County may not have liability but does have a ministerial obligation to see that certain minimum standards are met. Jobe said the County should be careful on making decisions based upon the likelihood of something happening. Zins said the County Board appoints the Surveyor for four years. The Board cannot direct the Surveyor to do something that he deems inappropriate or illegal. What is decided is subject to legal challenge. He restated that if the developer is able to assure the property is marketable at the proper legal level, then any problems which occur would not be the County’s. McCoy voiced frustration with the plat approval timeline. He said the plat was submitted for review in February, 2006, and the issue did not arise until the mylars were approved. If they proceed with quiet title action, the timeline will extend into 2007. Jobe stated that approval does not require Board action. The plat will require signature by the Surveyor, review by the Auditor/Treasurer Office, and recording of the plat. The position of Zins was that the plat could be signed upon documentation by an attorney who is licensed to practice law skilled in these matters. Jobe said the County received a letter from the developer which exhibited a lot of posturing. The plat was in the Surveyor’s Office for review. The vacation of Cedar Street did not occur until August and the mylars were submitted to the Survey Office the end of October. He cautioned the City to review their process with regard to vacating streets as there is another plat in Monticello that is similar to this situation (it does not provide any fee title). A quit claim deed to the developer can be completed. Timeline for the quiet title action is dependent upon the Court schedule. He said the developer had ample time during the months of November and December to start those proceedings. Rohlin said the request to meet with the County was to discuss their position that the County should not have liability if the plat is recorded and a quiet title action occurs at a later date. The land in question has been a road for 70 years. Sawatzke said it would make more sense to follow the correct legal processes as there is a chance someone could make a claim to the land. McCoy said filing of the plat does not take away anyone’s right to claim the land as there is no change in ownership. Jobe said once the plat is recorded, no one would ever see they may have ownership. Jobe was in contact with the Monticello City Attorney last week and suggested the title opinion option. Jobe did not want to act in a manner that may set precedence. Zins restated that if he receives a title opinion from an attorney licensed in the State of MN reflecting it is a marketable title, he would recommend to the Surveyor to sign the plat. Recommendation: The Committee recommends that the developer proceed with a quiet title action on this property. If they are able to provide a title opinion from an attorney licensed in the State of MN reflecting it is a marketable title, the Surveyor will sign the plat. (End of Ways & Means Minutes)
On a motion by Sawatzke, second by Eichelberg, all voted to make the following appointments to the Extension Committee: Julie Berning, District 2; Leander Wetter, District 3; and Ruth Kramer, District 4.
On a motion by Heeter, second by Mattson, all voted to schedule a Committee Of The Whole Meeting for the State Audit Exit Conference on 2-13-07 @ 10:30 A.M., Commissioners’ Conference Room.
Mattson moved to appoint Richard Lammers to the Region 7W Transportation Policy Board replacing Shelly Reddemann. Lammers is the Mayor of Howard Lake. The motion was seconded by Heeter and carried 5-0.
Laid over from the last meeting, Asleson presented a revised draft resolution relating to the County takeover of 0.62 miles of Braddock Avenue NE. The main change relates to Item #3 reflecting the County’s acceptance of the road will be effective once the annexation of the land has been approved as required by Item #2. Heeter moved to adopt Resolution #07-07, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote. The official address at the site of the new Jail/LEC is 3800 Braddock Avenue NE. Asleson will forward a copy of the Resolution to the Township. The Township is required to adopt a similar resolution.
A Quad County Meeting will be held at the Stearns County Public Works Building on 1-30-07 @ 10:00 A.M. Russek will not be attending but the remainder of the County Board and Norman plan to attend.
Bills Approved
Brian Abrahamson. $164.65
American Messaging 629.11
Ameripride Linen & Apparel 427.41
AMI Imaging Systems Inc. 16,216.00
Ancom Communications Inc. 456.35
Ancom Technical Center 1,157.54
Beaudry Propane Inc. 5,748.75
Brothers Fire Protection Co. 490.00
Buff ‘N’ Glo Inc. 117.00
Buffalo Bituminous 5,204.83
Buffalo Hospital 225.00
Cardiac Science 1,089.50
Center Point Energy 2,321.49
Climate Air 19,260.00
Cokato Motor Sales Inc. 25,800.00
Decorative Designs Inc. 184.57
Nicholas Eastman 125.00
Embarq 188.36
Eng. Design Initiative 1,320.00
EPA Audio Visual Inc. 124.61
Excel Systems LLC 1,012.43
Todd Gau 128.16
Gov. Training Services 895.00
Grainger 275.87
Robert Hiivala 147.44
Interstate All Battery Center 424.35
Interstate Automotive 143.77
JR’s Appliance Disposal Inc. 1,280.25
George Karvel PHD 5,687.50
Lakedale Telephone Co. 238.02
LaPlant Demo Inc. 1,261.32
Gary Lebovsky 137.74
LexisNexis 110.00
Magnaplan Corporation 199.00
Malcolite Corporation 132.00
Marco Business Products 1,044.77
Marties Farm Service 125.24
MASYS Corporation 2,628.87
Menards - Buffalo 164.70
Midway Iron & Metal Co. Inc. 1,106.73
MN Assn. of Assessing Ofcrs. 690.00
MN Counties Computer Coop. 307.68
MNJ Technologies Direct 5,639.68
Morrell Towing Inc. 133.13
Office Depot 1,357.21
Psychology Services/South 2,500.00
Qwest 7,289.99
Retrofit Recycling Inc. 2,775.95
Ryan Motors Inc. 2,521.76
SEH 2,815.46
Shell Fleet Plus 4,267.70
Software House Int’l 482.45
Special Operations Train 1,375.00
State of MN-Office Enter. 1,838.80
Stratus Tech. Ireland 8,254.80
Super Express 232.17
Total Printing 901.47
U of M Extension Service 734.48
Larry Unger 757.68
Uniforms Unlimited 1,463.27
University of MN 233.33
Veolia ES Sol. Waste Mngt. 11,093.19
Verizon Wireless 569.66
Gordon Weber 235.60
W Metro Buick-Pont.-GMC 13,000.00
West Payment Center 621.58
Wright Co. Hwy. Dept. 296.66
Wright Hennepin Elec 721.92
26 Payments less than $100 1,187.95
Final total $172,691.90
The meeting adjourned at 11:13 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Feb. 26, 2007.