Wright County Board Minutes

NOVEMBER 13, 2007
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Heeter, Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek and Eichelberg present.
Eichelberg moved to approve the 11-08-07 County Board Minutes, seconded by Mattson. Mattson inquired whether Heeter or Sawatzke had any concerns with the Owner’s Committee Minutes as they were not present at the last Board Meeting when these were reviewed. Heeter and Sawatzke were comfortable with the Owner’s Committee Minutes as presented. The motion to approve the 11-08-07 County Board Minutes carried 4-0-1 (Heeter abstained as she was not at the last meeting).
Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows: Aud./Treas. Item #2, “Ditch 8 Update” (Mattson); Aud./Treas. Item #3, “Update RE: Results Of Phone Conversation With Moody’s” (Norman); Item For Consid. #3, “Excel Energy/EOC Drill Report” (Sawatzke). Heeter moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Eichelberg, carried unanimously.
On a motion by Mattson, second by Heeter, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: K. Horsch, Aud./Treas.; T. Halberg, Sher./Corr.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, brought forth discussion on County Ditch 8. Mattson reported the Swanson Brothers trapped two large beavers on Ditch 8. They will now proceed to County Ditch 10 as there may be beavers in that area. Hiivala will have the culvert inspected to make sure it is not plugged. This was provided as an informational item.
Hiivala and Norman had a phone conversation last week with Moody’s Investor Services and Bruce Kimmel, Springsted Financial Advisors. Hiivala announced the County’s bond rating will move from the A1 to Aa3. The County will receive an Aa2 rating for the Jail/LEC bonds. Sawatzke asked what impact the improved rating will have on the County. Hiivala stated it is an advantage to have an increased rating but he could not quantify it for him. He felt that Kimmel would be able to answer the question. This was provided as an informational item.
The claims listing was reviewed. Mattson referenced error messages reflected in the listing. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, stated that Auditor’s staff explained these messages will occur when account number codes are entered into the invoice number fields. On a motion by Mattson, second by Sawatzke, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.
Bill Stephens, Environmental Health Supervisor, said the MPCA has reviewed and conditionally approved the Wright County Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) 2007 Update. The process of updating the Plan began last year after the State informed the County that the previous Plan was only a five-year Plan. The County thought it was a ten-year Plan. Staff from the Planning & Zoning Office worked with the State to find the quickest method of update. This was done so that SCORE funding would not be withheld. The process involved a longer review period by the State so two SCORE payments will be retroactive. After the County resolution approving the Plan is forwarded to the State, the State will complete a Findings of Fact with notification of approval being returned to the County and Legislature. Stephens said the bulk of the changes relate to the budget and the goal volume timeline (because of the reduction in the Plan from ten years to five years). There were some text changes which occurred but no goal changes were made. The Plan is now a ten-year Plan starting in 2007.
Mattson has heard many compliments on how people are handled at the Facility. Stephens said one of the goals of the Facility was that it would be a people oriented program. Craig Mueller is the Compost & Recycling Facility Manager. Stephens reiterated the desire to potentially add additional staff and expand the hours of the Facility. Safety is the largest concern. The goal of expanded hours would be to make the Facility comparable to other facilities, resulting in it being more convenient for the working public.
Sawatzke referenced the Plan, specifically Page IV-10, Item 5, which states in part, “As stated earlier, Wright County is searching for a waste stream in hopes of restarting the facility in a composting endeavor. We would hope to duplicate the effort we had with the City of Hutchinson” and Page III-I, Item B, which states in part, “Wright County will continue to look for meaningful ways to utilize the compost facility by finding a compostable waste stream that doesn’t require the large input of capital the MSW has demanded.” Sawatzke felt the statement on Page IV-10 was not a correct statement.
Stephens said the State wanted the text of the Plan to be broad enough to leave options open for the County. That would not mean the County would have to entertain those options. Sawatzke made reference to a past lawsuit with the landfill where the landfill claimed that the County wanted the garbage to go to the Compost Facility. Sawatzke said this could not be farther from the truth. The State does not allow Wright County’s garbage in the landfill but does allow garbage from other areas. Sawatzke felt that statements in a document which are not exactly accurate could pin the County into something that they never believed in the first place. Stephens responded that they could fall back on the position that the Plan is a guidance document and does not legally bind the County. It is a goal of what is hoped to be accomplished. Sawatzke felt that the County was not “searching for a waste stream” and felt the statement should be removed. He did not feel it was true. Stephens said that would be true for municipal solid waste, that the County is not looking for that at all. Sawatzke asked whether funding will be affected by pulling out the language. Stephens responded that he was unsure whether the State would require the County to go through a comment period or not. He feels the language would not be a lock-in statement that would require the County to do something with a proposal brought in for municipal solid waste. Sawatzke said the Plan reflects the County is “searching” and that is untrue. Stephens said the County is keeping an open mind. Sawatzke felt such statements could adversely affect the County. He thought the language in Section IV-10 would be more problematic than that in III-I as Section IV-10 says the County is “searching.” Sawatzke’s concern was that someone may say that the Solid Waste Plan reflects that the County has been looking for a way to get the Facility started again. Sawatzke said this is not the case and he did not feel the Board had any desire to operate the Facility again. Stephens agreed with that statement. The reference to the agreement with the City of Hutchinson did not include a municipal solid waste project. The language in general talks about using the Facility as a processing place. That is what it is geared to reinforce rather than specifically municipal solid waste, even though Stephens did acknowledge the heading says municipal solid waste. Stephens said the document was reviewed by the MPCA for content and intent. They are fully aware of the situation with the Compost Facility. He appreciated Sawatzke’s comments on the language being misconstrued. However, Stephens said as the individual administering the Plan that would not be his interpretation. Sawatzke voiced concern that some situation could occur in the future, possibly during a lawsuit, that may use the language in a manner contrary to the intent. He felt the language should be kept simple. Stephens said his interpretation was that the intent of the document was not that way. It is a broad-based Plan. After discussion, Sawatzke moved to adopt Resolution #07-63 adopting the Wright County Solid Waste Management Plan 2007 Update with the removal of the following two sentences from Section IV-10, “As stated earlier, Wright County is searching for a waste stream in hopes of restarting the facility in a composting endeavor. We would hope to duplicate the effort we had with the City of Hutchinson.” The motion was seconded by Heeter and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
The Board addressed the application for a placement of a mobile home as requested by Neale & Laure Doering (Southside Township) pursuant to Wright County Ordinance 85-2, “Supportive Care to the Frail, Elderly or Disabled.” Tom Salkowski, Planning & Zoning Administrator, referenced a memorandum dated 11-07-07 to Richard Norman outlining the steps taken to notify neighbors of the request and the results of the Planning & Zoning inspection. A screening was also completed by the Human Services Agency. Salkowski said a letter was received from a neighbor concerned with an old mobile home located on the property and a new mobile home being put in its place. A photograph of the area was provided. Based on the inspection, there is not a problem hooking up to the existing sewer on site. If the County Board received a request for a public hearing from one of the neighbors, another date would be selected for that hearing. If a public hearing was not requested, the County Board can approve the request today. Salkowski said when the mobile home is no longer used as a hardship structure, it must be removed.
The Board reviewed the photograph and asked whether the property had been cleaned up. Laure Doering said when they purchased the property, there was a lot of abandoned material. Doering and her husband have been working to clean up the property and have put a new roof on the shed. She stated that all items to the west of the shed are mostly gone. There are piles of various materials that they plan to have removed. The previous mobile home has been removed. Salkowski said the previous mobile home was abandoned and was pre-Ordinance. Norman read into the record a letter from Roger & Michelle Zakrajshek of Ramsey, MN. They own 35 acres directly adjacent to the Doerings and requested that if the request is approved, that there will be direct access to the Doering’s property from the Township road rather than crossing the Zakrajshek’s property. If direct access is provided to the mobile home, they did not have an issue with the mobile home placement. Doering stated they would be utilizing the current driveway and will not cross the Zakrajshek’s property. Mattson moved to approve the request for a mobile home placement as requested by the Doering’s, seconded by Heeter, carried 5-0.
Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, brought forth several changes to the Wright County Tobacco Ordinance. The first would amend Sections 3 and 4 relating to location of the business where tobacco products are sold. There have been situations where retailers have a main location and a convenience store on the same parcel of land, claiming they need only one tobacco license. By State Law, the County must perform tobacco compliance checks at each location. This results in two compliance checks for one license location. As proposed, the Ordinance would be amended to clarify that each particular location on a parcel must be licensed for sale of tobacco products. The second change relates to Section 5, Fees. Some retailers start a new business without having a license or they may not renew on a timely basis. The amendment would allow a 30-day grace period. If the license is not renewed within 30 days of the expiration date or the business operates without a license, the fees would be doubled. Section 14, Penalties, would be amended with regard to the administrative fines. The language, “not less than” would be inserted prior to the various fines imposed, allowing for stiffer penalties if desired. Asleson said all licenses are on a calendar year basis and notice is provided to retailers. If the proposed changes are made to the Ordinance, that information would be passed along as well. Tobacco License fees are currently $150 and are not prorated. Sawatzke said the County Board did elect to prorate one license as the business was only operating for five days of the current year. He felt the current penalties for retailers were adequate. There have been a few situations where retailers acknowledged what happened but petitioned to have the fines removed. He felt retailers were trying to follow the rules set forth in the Ordinance. Asleson said adding the wording “not less than” to Section 14, Penalties would allow for flexibility if needed. Sawatzke said he would support these changes as they could apply to someone intentionally breaking the law as opposed to a sales person making a mistake. Heeter moved to adopt Ordinance Amendment #07-04 amending the Wright County Tobacco Ordinance, Sections 3, 4 & 5. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0. A summary of the Ordinance Amendments follows:
The Wright County Tobacco Ordinance imposes regulations on the sale, possession and use of tobacco products in Wright County and is designed to reduce the illegal sale, possession and use of tobacco by minors. The amendments adopted are designed to accomplish several things: 1) To clarify that a separate license for the retail sale of tobacco is needed at each sales location, as defined in the Ordinance; 2) To provide for a doubling of the retail sales license fee in instances where a retailer commences sales of tobacco without a license or fails to renew its license within 30 days of the expiration of the previous license; and 3) To provide for increased administrative fines for certain violations of the Ordinance. (End of Ordinance Amendments)
Notice was received from the Great River Regional Library (GRRL) that two appointments from Wright County to the GRRL Board of Directors will expire at the end of the year. These include the terms of Bernie Burke and Earl Dierks. Sawatzke serves on the GRRL Board of Directors and both Burke and Dierks are active members. He was unsure of the statutory limitations for the organization. The correspondence did not indicate that either had met these limits. Sawatzke moved to reappoint Bernie Burke and Earl Dierks to the GRRL Board of Directors. The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried 5-0.
Sawatzke and Heeter participated in a Civil Defense Drill Exercise held on 11-06-07. The Exercise simulated an accident at the Nuclear Power Plant. The Exercise is held every two years and we must pass in order to be certified. Officials from Federal Emergency Management were on site, in Sherburne County, in St. Paul, and in several other locations. Wright County was given 15-17 criteria to meet and passed. In Rockford, at a simulated decontamination site (radioactive material), there was an issue where a retest and corrective action were required. Sawatzke attended the followup meeting on the Drill and the evaluator gave Wright County two very high scores. The written report is forthcoming. Sawatzke extended thanks to Deb Ernst and Genell Reese of the Civil Defense Office for their work.
Sawatzke and Heeter will not be present when the County Board reconvenes this afternoon at 2:30 P.M.
The meeting recessed at 9:54 A.M. and reconvened at 2:45 P.M.
Bruce Kimmel, Springsted, brought forth the results of the Jail/LEC bond sale for $53,000,000 in General Obligation Bonds, Series 2007A. The bond markets were closed on 11-12-07 in observance of Veterans Day so the sale occurred this morning.
Bidder; True Interest Rate
Piper Jaffray & Co. 4.4721%
Merrill Lynch & Co. 4.4733%
Prager, Sealy & Co., LLC 4.4809%
Citigroup Global Markets, Inc.
Hutchinson, Shockey, Erley & Company 4.5203%
Griffin, Kubik, Stephens, & Thompson, Inc. 4.5652%
The winning bid was Piper Jaffray & Co. with a 4.4721% true interest rate. The rate is .1% or 10 basis points higher than the interest rate of 4.37% projected by Kimmel in discussions with the Board about one month ago. Long-term interest rates are increasing and as a result, the overall interest rate increased due to maturities. Historically, 4.47% is an exceptionally low rate for bonds going out 22 years. The interest rates of the first four bids vary by less than a basis point. This represents that they did capture the market for the bonds, which were rated through Moody’s at Aa2.
Kimmel pointed out that the Piper Jaffray interest rates vary as follows: 4.00% for 2011-2017; 4.50% for 2018-2020; 5.00% for 2021-2023; and 4.75% for 2024-2029. Piper Jaffray bid a $1 million premium for the bonds or $54 million up front to obtain the interest rates. The calculated benefit of the premium against the long-term interest rate is 4.47%. The majority of the premium was used to reduce the amount of the bond issue. The County previously indicated a not-to-exceed figure of $49.5 million in project costs. The bonds were restructured down by $770,000 to get to the new amount. A graph was distributed reflecting the Bond Buyer Index for the period of November, 1987 to November, 2007. The Index reflects the average yield on a week-to-week basis. Currently, 4.54% is the average yield. The graph reflects the current trend (blue line) and the interest rate on the bond issue (black line). The expectation is that interest rates will rise. In the future, Kimmel felt the 4.5% interest rate will speak well for the County.
With regard to the County’s credit rating, Moody’s Investor Services awarded Wright County a rating upgrade from A1 to Aa3. This is testimony of the strength of the financial management of the County, along with the growth of the tax base and other things occurring in the County as a whole. Kimmel commended Hiivala and Norman for their outstanding work in the preparation for the interview with Moody’s. The analyst presented many good questions on finances and how the bond issue will affect the levy, and Hiivala and Norman were able to field these questions. The State rating of Aa2 took precedence with regard to the Jail/LEC bonds. The upgrade of the County from A1 to Aa3 was featured in the Bond Buyer, a nationwide public newspaper that those in the investment industry read. This was viewed by Kimmel as great publicity, which helped to generate interest in the bond sale. The levy requirements will be as discussed in the past two meetings. The debt service on the existing bonds was factored in on the existing levy supported bonds. The new debt service will be factored in over a period of three years up to the new level.
The draft resolution will be revised to reflect the new bond amount. The resolution describes the next steps to be taken (awards the bonds to Piper Jaffray based on their bid, it fixes the form and specifications of the bond issue, it directs the execution and delivery, and it provides for payment). Kimmel said the action required is for the Board to adopt the Resolution to award the bonds for the bids taken. The closing date will be 12-04-07. This leaves a three-week period during which time all paperwork will be completed between the County, Springsted, and Piper Jaffray. Around that time, the funds will be wired. The County can then be repaid for costs incurred on the project. Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #07-64 awarding the sale of 53,235,000 General Obligation Jail Bonds, Series 2007A. The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried 3-0 on a roll call vote.
Hiivala said the County Board previously authorized Springsted to solicit guaranteed investment contract rates. Based on those, the yield on the guaranteed investment contract would be less than what the bond would yield. Based on that, Hiivala solicited quotes from local banks to accept the funds and meet certain draw down requests. Through the local banks, the County will yield more than what the bonds were issued for. It also meets the requirements of the investment policy. Hiivala declined on the guaranteed investment contract. Kimmel felt it was an anomaly that local banks beat the national environment. He commended Hiivala for exploring all options.
Bills Approved
Advanced Graphix Inc.. $315.00
Advantage Water Cond. 235.00
City Albertville 2,432.00
Albion Township 1,060.00
American Messaging 647.16
Ameripride Linen and Apparel 508.57
Ancom Technical Center 998.00
Olga Anderson Estate 8,375.00
Daniel Anderson 9,305.00
Annandale Rock Products 888.19
Aramark Correc. Services 5,394.94
Association of MN Counties 2,315.00
Auto Glass Center Inc. 443.41
Barnes Distribution 778.52
Jean Bresin 145.00
Brock White Co. Inc. 3,940.50
Buffalo Floral & Landscap. 5,944.83
Buffalo Hospital 106.60
Buffalo Quality Feed Mill 1,102.91
City Buffalo 43,616.72
C & H Distributors LLC 128.67
Catco Parts Service 1,107.76
Center Point Energy 4,255.52
Centra Sota Lake Region 186.38
Central McGowan Inc. 104.01
Chamberlain Oil Co. 3,965.86
Chatham Township 492.00
Climate Air 4,781.65
Cokato Township 419.98
Comm. of Transportation 1,396.71
Construction Bulletin 199.00
Corinna Township 1,556.20
Cottens’ Inc. 1,265.67
Crow River Tools 174.43
Dash Medical Gloves 113.80
Deatons Mailing Systems Inc. 1,087.00
Delano Rental Inc. 768.64
Delta Hospital Supply Inc. 597.70
Franklin Denn 547.90
Karen Determan 196.11
Carter Diers 481.61
Dingmann Marine & More LLC 322.04
Elk River Ford 20,642.00
Dale Engel 1,000.00
Ernst Gen. Const. Inc. 12,550.00
Excel Systems LLC 1,378.45
Fastenal Company 482.23
Tom Feddema 181.20
D. Fehn Gravel & Exc. 632,988.89
Wayne Fingalson 108.41
Freestyle Photographic Sup 403.92
Gateway Companies Inc. 3,632.61
Todd Gau 372.48
H & R Const. Co. 14,476.70
Hardings Towing Inc. 159.75
Hedlund Plumbing 470.00
Hewlett Packard 3,708.33
Hillyard Floor Care Supply 2,323.41
Intereum Inc. 148.95
Interstate All Battery Center 159.59
Interstate Battery Systems of 224.56
Junction Towing & Auto Repair 171.20
Kaplan Professional Schools 1,590.00
Keefe Supply Co. 190.80
Knife River Corp.-Nort 14,198.74
Lakedale Communications 467.00
LaPlant Demo Inc 546.11
Law Enforcement Tech. Gro 142.24
Lawson Products Inc. 163.70
Loberg Electric 2,338.34
L3 Communications Inc. 3,045.90
M & M Express 212.41
Marco Inc. 461.16
Martin Marietta Aggregates 2,996.03
Martin-McAllisters Cons. 350.00
Richard Mattson 273.54
The Metro Group Inc. 2,462.01
Mid-Minn. Hot Mix Inc. 9,142.55
Nathan Miller 233.25
Mission Metal Detector Sales 769.38
MN Assn. of Assessing Offcrs. 100.00
MN Copy Systems 195.32
MN Counties Comp. Co-op. 2,761.77
MN Safety Council 123.95
MN State Bar Association 295.00
Monticello Auto Body Inc. 133.13
Morries Parts & Service 3,729.23
Northstar Coverall LLC 13,576.00
Office Depot 3,542.69
Omann Brothers Inc. 1,048.92
Tom Praska 233.77
Reed Business Info. 285.44
Rowekamp Associates Inc. 2,151.30
Russells Security Resource 118.73
Ryan Chevrolet 426.03
Sand Creek Group LTD 600.00
Setina Mfg. Co. Inc. 334.84
Seven Corners Ace Hardware 156.36
Software House Int’l 2,010.73
Tammi Solarz 224.86
City South Haven 300.40
Spectrum Solutions 3,176.25
St. Cloud Times 236.60
City St. Michael 4,518.80
Star Tribune 1,568.80
Sun Newspapers 696.00
Tech Depot 135.23
Total Printing 752.05
Truck Bodies & Equip. Int’l 607.88
Uniforms Unlimited 3,253.35
Unlimited Electric Inc. 738.13
Waste Management TC W 1,713.92
West Central Industries 690.12
West Payment Center 479.25
Wright Co. Journal Press 131.00
Wright County Surveyor 13,445.10
Wright Hennepin Electric 192.38
32 Payments less than $100 1,458.20
Final total $914,008.36
The meeting adjourned at 3:08 P.M.
Published in the Herald Journal Dec. 17, 2007.