Wright County Board Minutes

DECEMBER 18, 2007
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Heeter, Mattson, Russek and Eichelberg present.
On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Mattson, all voted to approve the minutes of 12-11-07 as presented.
The following items were petitioned onto the Agenda: Aud./Treas. Item # 9, “Approve A $50 Change Fund For The Surveyor’s Office” (Hiivala). On a motion by Heeter, seconded by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the Agenda as amended.
The Consent Agenda was discussed. Mattson inquired whether the claims under Auditor/Treasurer were reviewed at the 12-11-07 Owner’s Committee. Sawatzke stated that the claims were reviewed and recommended for payment. On a motion by Sawatzke, second by Heeter, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda as presented.
1. Performance Appraisals: A. Pitzl, S. Waddell, Atty.; G. Stoppelman, Bldg. Care & Maint.; B. Jans, Hwy.; J. Putnam, Parks; M. Gardner, L. Westphal, Rec.; S. Albrecht, D. Anselment, M. Barthel, R. Bastien, J. Carpenter, D. Clemence, C. Elness, M. Erickson, J. Kramber, D. Lange, A. Lutgens, K. Perkins, A. Pribyl, R. Smith, M. Steffer, G. Torfin, S. Tyznik, P. Walker, Sher./Corr.
2. Approve 2008 Non-Union Salary Schedule, 2.75% Increase, Eff. 1-01-08.
3. Increase Employer’s Contribution Toward Insurances By $60/Month, Eff. 3-01-08.
4. Refer Administration Department Remodeling To The Building Committee Meeting Of 1-09-08.
5. Set Mileage Reimbursement Rate At $.505/Mile, Eff. 1-01-08.
6. Approve/Authorize Signatures On Agreement With Ag Enterprises, LLC, For 2008; $12,957 (Ag Inspector Services).
7. Acknowledge HAY Consultants Job Description Evaluation Results, Highway Accountant Position And Recommendation.
1. Claim, AP Midwest LLC, $2,321.41 (Jail/LEC).
2. Claim, Cornerstone Detention Products Inc, $1,900.00 (Jail/LEC).
3. Claim, Old Castle Precast, $187,625.00 (Jail/LEC).
4. Claim, Saathoff, Inc., $290,918.50 (Jail/LEC).
5. Claim, Stellar Concrete, $153,325.25 (Jail/LEC).
6. Claim, Julian M. Johnson Construction Corp., $36,290.00 (Jail/LEC).
7. Claim, Standard Iron, $2,565.00 (Jail/LEC).
8. Claim, Standard Iron, $10,355.00 (Jail/LEC).
9. Claim, Thelen Heating, $460,750.00 (Jail/LEC).
10. 2008 Tobacco License Renewals: Hack’s Liquor, Westside Liquor, Major’s Sports Café, Casey’s General Store #2412 (Albertville City); Kirk’s Travel Plaza, Casey’s General Store #1647 (Cokato City); Lantto’s Store (French Lake Twp.); The Original Tom Thumb (Hanover City); Roger’s BP-Amoco (Maple Lake City); (Monticello) Liquors (Monticello City); Ugly Bar, Casey’s General Store #1881 (Montrose City); Casey’s General Store #2156 (Rockford City); St. Michael Liquors, Hi 101 Liquor (St. Michael City).
1. Approve Memorandum Of Agreement (MOA) Between Wright County & University Of MN Extension For Providing Extension Programs Locally & Employing County Extension Staff.
1. Refer Cropland Rental Contract To Ways & Means Committee Meeting.
1. Reappoint Mario DeMatteis, District 4, & Janice Bergstrom, District 5, To Parks Commission, For One Term (Three Years).
1. Approve Professional Services Agreement With Beck Disaster Recovery, Inc. To Complete The Hazard Mitigation Plan, To Include Three Phases Over A Two-Year Period, $31,000.00.
2. Authorize Signatures On Grant Contract Between Wright County & The State Of MN For Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan, $24,750.00. Grant Period 9-10-07 Through 8-31-10.
3. Change Deputy Bruce Doney From Part-Time To Full-Time Deputy, Eff. 12-19-07. This will not create a new position but will fill a vacant position.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, stated that the County issued $54,500,000 in jail bonds. Due to the County being able to invest the bonds at a rate higher than the amount of interest being paid out, arbitrage needs to be tracked. If the County does not meet the spend down amount, the positive arbitrage will need to be rebated. With the complexity of the reporting requirements, Hiivala recommended that the Board approve the amendment to Addendum B of the Agreement with Springsted Incorporated for Arbitrage and Rebate Monitoring. After speaking with Bruce Kimmel, Springsted Inc., it was determined that a one time financial report after five years will be adequate. The contract will hire Springsted to perform the arbitrage and rebate calculations. On a motion by Eichelberg, seconded by Sawatzke, all voted to approve the Springsted Agreement for Arbitrage & Rebate Monitoring.
Hiivala stated that Springsted has provided a quote for preparing the continuing disclosure statements that are required for each bond issue. Currently, Springsted is under contract to prepare these statements for the other bonds outstanding for the County. The annual cost of the additional continuing disclosure would be $200. Hiivala recommended that the Board approve the amendment to Addendum A of the Agreement with Springsted Incorporated for Continuing Disclosure Services. Eichelberg made a motion to approve the Springsted Agreement for Continuing Disclosure Services. The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried unanimously.
Hiivala stated that the Board approved repairs to County Ditch 34 on 9-18-07. At that meeting, the Board approved the bid price up to $5,225.00. Fyle’s Excavating & Honey Wagon has invoiced the County for $5,380.00 plus an additional $612.00 for two additional blowout repairs. Russek confirmed that there were two additional blowouts and he gave verbal approval to proceed with the additional work. Russek commented that Fyle’s did a good job and the work has been completed. On a motion by Sawatzke, seconded by Mattson, all voted to approve payment of the claim from Fyle’s Excavating & Honey Wagon for $5,992.00.
Hiivala stated that the DNR has provided a request to purchase two tax forfeited land parcels in Rockford Township. Their offer price for both lots is $12,500. Hiivala stated that he believes this is comparable to the assessed values. If the County is satisfied with their offer, the Board can instruct Hiivala to sign the “Waiver of Right to Appraisal.” Once the State receives that form, they will proceed with the acquisition and pay all recording fees. Sawatzke asked if they are intending to keep the property for public use. Hiivala stated that they are planning to use the property for a trail. Sawatzke moved to approve MN DNR Appraisal for Purchase of Tax Forfeit Land, PID #215-032-002060 & 002070, seconded by Heeter. Russek stated that he has viewed the property and noted that it appears that they will be using the property as a trail. Mattson asked if the DNR had the right to waive the County’s right to an auction. Hiivala stated that Asleson advised him that the State has the final say on what can be done with the property. The County can appeal to the State to request that they take it out of forfeiture and conservation. Russek stated that it was his understanding that they have the first right of refusal on all tax forfeiture property. Hiivala stated that they have the right to stop the County from selling property that is in conservation. The County sent the State a list of approximately sixty tax forfeited parcels. Russek stated that this parcel is of interest to them as it is located close to a lake. The motion carried 5-0.
Hiivala stated that he solicited the local newspapers to bid on being the official County newspaper. The deadline for bids was Monday, 12-17-08 at 4:30 p.m. He stated that Gloria Gooler, Administrative Confidential Secretary, had indicated to him that there was a third newspaper that had made a solicitation, however he was only able to locate two quotes as Gooler is absent today. Hiivala opened two bids from the Herald Journal and the Delano Herald Journal. The Herald Journal provided a bid of one cent per legal column, whereas, the Delano Herald Journal provided a bid of $1.99 per legal column. Hiivala requested that the Board lay this item over to the 1-15-08 Board Meeting so that he can calculate the quotes and make his recommendation. On a motion by Sawatzke, seconded by Heeter, all voted to lay over the award of the bid to the 1-15-08 Board Meeting.
Hiivala presented a claim from the State of Minnesota, Office of Administrative Hearings, for $832.00. He stated that someone filed a complaint relating to the election process for the school levy. The case was dismissed by the Administrative Law Judge. Hiivala noted that he is bringing it to the Board’s attention because pursuant to Minnesota Statute, costs of considering complaints relating to non-statewide elections are to be assessed against the County in which the election is held. Mattson moved to authorize payment of the claim to the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings for $832.00, RE: Ebnet v. ISD 877. Eichelberg seconded the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
Hiivala stated that certain departments have a fund for the purpose of making change. The Surveyor’s Office disclosed during the Larson Allen departmental survey that they have a $35 change fund. Through discussions, it was determined that a $50 change fund would be more sufficient. Mattson moved to adopt Resolution #07-71 approving a change fund to provide start up cash in the amount of $50.00 to the Surveyor’s Department. Sawatzke seconded the motion. Russek questioned whether $50.00 was enough and proposed changing the amount to $100.00. The resolution passed on a roll call vote of 5-0.
Hiivala presented the October and November Revenue/Expenditure Budget Reports. Mattson expressed that his main concern is in the number of departments that exceed their budgeted overtime amounts. Hiivala stated that in some departments this is due to turnover. These departments rely on existing staff to work extra hours until the new employees came aboard. Mattson commented that in his work experience, an employee had to go to the supervisor and receive authorization to work overtime. He commented that this is taxpayers’ money, and didn’t agree with the amount of overtime being used. Eichelberg made a motion to approve the October and November Revenue/Expenditure Budget Reports. The motion was seconded by Heeter and carried unanimously.
Hiivala submitted the claims listing for approval. On a motion by Heeter, second by Mattson, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.
Diane Sander, C.R.O.W. Watershed Coordinator, stated that the purpose of her visit is to provide an update on the Crow River Organization of Water (C.R.O.W.) activities for 2007. Using a power point presentation, she described the history of the organization, its goals, projects, partners, funding origins, volunteer programs, and outreach/education efforts. She stated that the group is a non-regulatory organization whose main objective is the Crow River Watershed. Their largest volunteer program is the annual Crow River Clean Up Day each September. She described how in 2007, volunteers removed 11 tons of garbage from the banks of the Crow River and its tributaries. Mattson stated that efforts to create canoe routes along the river have created log jams. He expressed that he was frustrated that there wasn’t more control with the tree clearing. Sanders responded that the river and tributaries have frequent log jams due to falling and cleared trees. She stated that the C.R.O.W. does receive a lot of calls related to the log jams. She stated that the Crow River Watershed requires continual management to keep it open for canoes. Grants are difficult to come by for the purpose of clearing a passage for a canoe. There are very few man hours available to create/maintain canoe routes. Russek noted that the South Fork has recently been approved as a canoe route.
Greg Kramber, Assessor, stated that Cedar Crest Apartments LLP has filed tax court petitions for the 2005 and 2006 assessments. This property consists of a 38-unit apartment that is located in the City of Monticello. The trial date is scheduled for 6-03-08. Kramber stated that to properly prepare for the trial, he is recommending that the Board hire the professional real estate appraisal services of Paul Bakken, The Valuation Group, Inc.
The fees for Bakken’s services would be taken from Budget 100, Professional Services. Russek asked if the County has used Bakken’s services in the past. Kramber responded that the County used him during the landfill trial. Sawatzke stated that in an effort to defend the integrity of the system, he would offer a motion to approve the appraisal work of Cedar Crest Apartments LLP by Paul Bakken, The Valuation Group, Inc. Heeter seconded the motion. Mattson asked if Kramber was able to secure a not-to-exceed amount for Bakken’s services. Kramber stated that he would feel comfortable with a not-to-exceed amount of $10,000 for appraisal fees, trial preparation, and court testimony. The motion was amended to include a not-to-exceed amount of $10,000. The motion carries 5-0.
Salkowski stated that he would like to set a Planning Committee of the Whole Meeting to discuss forming advisory committees regarding issues on the Northwest Quadrant (NWQ) planning process. The four advisory committees would be: Aggregate Mining, Annandale Transition Area, Maple Lake Transition Area, and Water Quality-Natural Resources. Staff would like to meet with the Board to review the nominations and select appropriate committee members. Salkowski provided a summary list of NWQ Committee volunteers and stated that he will provide copies at the Planning Committee of the Whole Meeting of the letters that were received by the affiliations/persons that made nominations. Heeter asked how many seats are available on each committee. Salkowski stated that the size of the committees is dependent on the discussions. The Aggregate Mining Committee will meet the most often, and consequently will be the largest of the committees. The two city Transition Committees will have specific topics and will not meet as often as the Aggregate Mining or Water Quality-Natural Resources Committees. Salkowski estimated that the committees might have 5-9 members. Salkowski stated that there would also be an open house in January or February, 2008. Heeter moved to schedule a Planning Committee of the Whole Meeting for 1-04-08 at 1:30 p.m., seconded by Sawatzke. Mattson asked if the meeting on 1-04-08 would be an open meeting so that the nominated volunteers could speak about their backgrounds. Salkowski stated that it would be up to the Board to decide that. He stated that it is a public meeting and he would be willing to mail out notices, if instructed. Mattson noted that some volunteers were nominated to represent all four committees. Salkowski stated that Staff made it clear that not everybody will receive a seat on a committee. The motion carries 5-0.
Salkowski stated that members of the Planning Commission and Board of Adjustment serve three year terms. The County Board usually fills expired terms at the first meeting in January. However, the Board of Adjustment is scheduled to meet on 1-04-08, prior to the first County Board Meeting. Therefore, the Board of Adjustment appointment should be made in December, 2007. Salkowski stated that the critical appointment would be Lawrence Bauman (3rd District) on the Board of Adjustments. Gordon Weber (4th District) and George Bakeberg (5th District) are up on the Planning Commission. Their Commissioners have spoken with Weber and Bakeberg. Russek stated that he has spoken with Bauman. Mattson made a motion to re-appoint Bauman to the Board of Adjustment and Weber and Bakeberg to the Planning Commission. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0.
Swing thanked the Board for asking him to discuss Geo-Comm’s proposal for ARMER Radio System Planning and Consulting, which was deferred from the 12-11-07 Board Meeting. Swing explained that the work to complete the Technical Plan for Participation has been to get the County in line to seek grant funding. The County is now entering into the final design and system procurement phase. Soon, Motorola will be submitting a high level, detail specific, design plan to the County. Grant funds are not available for the detail design procurement and implementation phase. Jay Hruby, EDI, informed the project team that Blue Earth County expended $125,000 during this phase of their project. Mattson stated that Saint Cloud has gone through this same process. He added that he feels Motorola is going to make a lot of money on the Statewide ARMER project and does not understand why they cannot provide the design as part of their overall services. He questioned why the County has to pay $84,400 in consulting fees. He noted that Motorola has been through this process numerous times and cannot understand why they have to charge so much for their services. Swing stated that the intent of the ARMER project is to meet the State’s needs. Local branches of government are to bear their portion of the infrastructure costs. The County will be receiving local enhancements. The funds made available through grant funding are not available for the local portion of the project. Swing explained that Motorola essentially is reinventing the process as this is a regional specific project. The technology is being extended into this region which in turn will provide for tight communications service throughout the State. Eichelberg stated that he appreciates Swing’s explanation and now understands that there will not be grant monies available for the local portion of the ARMER project. Eichelberg moved to approve GeoComm’s Proposal for ARMER Radio System Planning & Consulting, cost of services not-to-exceed $84,400, seconded by Heeter. Swing repeated that Motorola will be providing a detailed plan of the project costs. Up until this point, the team has been working with estimated costs. The team is looking to have this project at least 50% grant funded. Russek stated that he agrees with Mattson’s concerns. Motorola does not have any competitors in this project. Swing stated that Motorola is the only manufacturer that can meet the standards the State has specified to make the system State-wide. Swing explained that the County does have a sole source vendor agreement with Motorola, a document that justifies its relationship with Motorola. The motion carried 5-0.
The meeting was recessed at 10:04 a.m. and reconvened at 10:13 a.m.
Steve Jobe, Surveyor, stated that he is requesting authorization for Request for Proposals (RFPs) for professional services for the 2008 Aerial Photography, and LiDAR Project. He presented his timeline as follows: RFP Solicitation (posted on website) on 1-02-08, deadline for questions from respondents on 1-16-08, proposals due on 1-30-08, proposal review and selection on 2-07-08, and County Board Action on 2-12-08. The project is in the Surveyor’s budget for 2008 using the Recorder Compliance Fund. It is anticipated that the aerial photography will be acquired during spring, 2008 and the completion of the project by the end of 2008. Jobe stated that the Attorney’s Office will review the RFP language. Eichelberg asked if Jobe knew how many proposals he is expecting. Jobe stated that he has heard from three companies that have expressed interest in the project. He is expecting to hear from more. Mattson made a motion to authorize the RFP for the 2008 Aerial Photography and LiDAR Project. Sawatzke seconded the motion. Norman stated that there should be a time specific listed in correlation with the proposal due date. Jobe stated that they recommend a 2:00 p.m. deadline. The motion carried 5-0.
Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, stated that Crossroads Animal Shelter has indicated that they are willing to extend the current contract for another year at the same pay rate. The Sheriff’s Office has indicated that they are very satisfied with the contract language and the services that they provide. Asleson presented a copy of the 2008 contract. Eichelberg moved to authorize signatures on the 2008 Contract for Dangerous Dog Services with Crossroads Animal Shelter, seconded by Sawatzke. Motion carried 5-0.
Asleson provided an update regarding the Harrison Property, 1262 County Road 5 NW in Albion Township. The property was one of three Albion Township properties in need of cleanup which was discussed at the 5-08-07 County Board Meeting. On 12-07-07, Wight County Public Health issued an Order for Abatement of a public health nuisance to this property. Asleson presented a copy of the Order. The family was living in vehicles and used campers rather than living in the house. There were a good number of junked vehicles, tires and other debris on the property. The building sits on approximately a half acre. A lot of the tires and vehicles were cleaned up this fall and the County Prosecutor is processing the husband and wife for various junk ordinances. In December, a fire broke out in the building which is believed to have been caused by electric space heaters. The Red Cross has put the family in a hotel. Human Services is trying to coordinate assistance for the family. Staff has received one call from Mrs. Harrison; however, no plans have been received on their attempt to clean up the property. The County may have to expend dollars which would be assessed back to the property. Staff does not have an estimate of what the costs will be. The costs will be to tear down the building and hauling out debris. Mattson stated that there are organizations that take junked vehicles for free. He proposed that this could defray some of the clean up costs. Asleson stated that the Annandale Fire Department has reported that the structure is unsalvageable and proposed discussing with the FD whether they would be able to use the building as a practice burn exercise. The Harrison’s purchased the property under contract for deed and was purchased in full ten years ago. Heeter asked if the Harrison’s have paid their property taxes. Asleson stated that during initial investigation, the second quarter taxes from 2006 were not paid. He is unaware if this year’s first quarter taxes have been paid. He is also unaware whether the Harrison’s have any other judgments against them. Russek expressed concern that the land may be contaminated due to the amount of debris. Asleson stated that through the cooperation of Wright County’s Environmental Health Services, they have concerns about what may have seeped into the ground. There is not a functioning septic at the site. Asleson stated that he expects an update will be brought to the Board, depending on the winter weather. He stated that it is the hope of staff that the public health nuisance can be taken care of. Heeter asked if there is a concern that the Harrison’s may move back onto the property. Asleson commented that staff could not keep the owners off of their property. Enforcement is difficult.
Mattson presented the 12-12-07 Building Committee minutes and recommendations. At today’s County Board Meeting, Mattson moved to approve the minutes and recommendations made by the Building Committee. The motion carried 5-0 on a second by Eichelberg. Norman stated that as part of the first recommendation, a Committee of the Whole Meeting is to be scheduled for January, 2008. Norman asked the Board if they would like to set a specific date, or if they would prefer he put it on the next Board Agenda to schedule a meeting. Sawatzke stated that according to the minutes, there does not appear to be an urgency to schedule the meeting. He stated that he would be in favor of having Norman put it on a future agenda.
12-12-07 Building Committee Minutes:
I. Remodel of Courtrooms 1 & 5. Nordeen provided history of the request for remodeling. In January, the request was presented to the Building Committee primarily to accommodate the request for clerk space in the courtrooms. The area is not designed for the way court is conducted today. At that time, the Building Committee recommended the hire of a consultant at a not-to-exceed cost of $2,500. This recommendation was not supported by the County Board. Nordeen was instructed to instead obtain the consensus of the Judges on what they would like remodeled. Over the months that followed, Nordeen surveyed the courtroom designs of other counties. A draft proposal was presented to the Judges. The Bench suggested that assistance was required from someone with expertise in this area. In June, Nordeen attended a vendor show at a State Conference. In consulting with Wold Architects, they agreed to put together some designs at no cost or obligation. The designs were then presented to the Bench and all Judges agreed to the suggestions. Nordeen distributed material reflecting the request for remodel of Courtrooms 1 and 5, and existing and proposed layouts of the area (attached). Courtroom 1 remodel has a cost estimate of $230,000-$310,000 and Courtroom 5 remodel has a cost estimate of $275,000-$325,000. The costs do not include architect’s fees. The remodel is contemplated to accommodate them for 8-10 years. Nordeen explained that the remodel project is being driven by needs of the clerk stations in the courtrooms. Schubert said current space for the clerks in Courtroom 1 is 4’ x 4’ and in Courtroom 5 is 4.5’ x 2.5’. Larger space is required to accommodate the computer, large amounts of files required for court, and possibly 1-3 clerks attending court at the same time. At times, files are placed on the floor. Schubert voiced concern for ergonomics and safety. Courtroom 6 is the only one designed to adequately accommodate two clerks. With regard to Courtroom 5, Norman questioned whether Wold Architects felt the design met code with expansion into the back corridor. Nordeen said this was not raised as an issue. The security door that was previously installed would be closed and locked with the new layout. Traffic patterns associated with the new Jail will not affect courts. Norman referenced a Committee Of The Whole Meeting held previously to discuss the Space Study. At that meeting, he understood the Board had made a decision to move Courts to the same location as the new Jail/LEC. If that is the case, he did not feel it would be wise to expend dollars on remodel of the courtrooms. He suggested instead that an architect be hired to design a Court facility. Each year that passes increases the construction cost by 10%. Waiting ten years will nearly double the cost of the facility. Discussion led to the space being vacated by the Sheriff Department when they move to the new Jail/LEC. A more comprehensive study would result if the County Board proceeded with the decision to move Courts, Court Services, and Attorneys to a new facility. The space vacated could then be reconfigured to accommodate growth in other departments, the majority of which do not have any additional room for expansion. He suggested expending funds on an architect to work on a schematic design for a Courts facility. Nordeen said that even if the decision was made today, there are issues that need to be addressed now. Norman said his office has voiced concern on security for five years and it is still an issue. Eichelberg inquired what other large dollar requests may be pending for the Courts. Nordeen explained that she is working with Pat Melvin, Administration, on the Space Study. At a minimum, the County should plan for a 7th Judge. A more conservative approach would be to construct a 7th Judges chambers and forego a courtroom. This would be contingent on the County Board’s commitment to utilize the Board Room far more frequently for court. Hayes asked whether remodel of Courtroom 5 took priority over Courtroom 1. Nordeen explained that the most important aspect of the project would be to accommodate the clerks in both courtrooms. Eichelberg felt it would be helpful to have available at the Committee Of The Whole Meeting a cost estimate on what Courts may request in the future for the vacated Sheriff space. Mattson said things have run smoothly with the Jail/LEC project. However, he was not looking forward to informing taxpayers that the County may spend another $50 million on a Courts Facility. Norman reiterated the current space constraints at the Government Center. Even with the future move of the Sheriff Department, the needs of other County departments will not be met and space will still be an issue. He suggested that if the Board decides to move Courts to the site of the Jail/LEC, it should be done within a five year time frame. He reminded the Committee that costs will continue to escalate as the project is moved into the future. The Jail/LEC project has a $50 million bond issue but the actual cost is $99 million with principal and interest. Even if the process were started immediately, it would take an architect one year to plan. Bids would be taken thereafter and construction would have a 1.5 to 2 year time frame. Realistically, it would be 3-5 years before the Courts could relocate. Norman recommended the request today be referred to a Building Committee Of The Whole Meeting to be part of an overall discussion on the strategic plan for departments and functional locations. The County needs to look at the wisest use of funding, with additional staff being added annually and subsequent remodels that are required. Norman said the County does not have funding in the 2008 Budget to cover the request for remodel of Courtrooms 1 and 5. The Site Improvement Line item was budgeted at $300,000 to fund unforeseen costs that cannot be covered in the Building Care & Maintenance Budget. The 3Floor should be vacated for a period of time so systems can be upgraded. That is the only floor in the Annex Building that has not been upgraded. Nordeen felt it made sense to roll the request into the larger picture if the project kept on track and happened within a reasonable time frame. She referenced the Space Study that Melvin is working on with departments. If the Board does not move forward on a new Courts facility, then her request would be presented back to Committee for consideration. Norman said the earliest the Building Committee Of The Whole could meet would be 1-08-08. By the time an architect completes a study of space usage at the proposed site, it would be well into 2008. Within one year, the Sheriff Department will move to their new Facility. He did not feel it was too early to plan to address space needs. Recommendation: Refer the Courtroom 1 and 5 Remodel Request to the Building Committee Of The Whole. The meeting should be scheduled in January, 2008 to address this request, the space being vacated by the Sheriff Department, and the long-term strategy for meeting space needs.
II. Request To Enhance Components Of PA System In Courtrooms 2, 3, 4 & 6. Nordeen previously discussed the upgrade of the PA Systems informally with Heeter and Mattson. A possible joint powers agreement was a consideration. The State’s budget runs from July 1st through June 30th. At the end of the last fiscal year, it appeared the money would not be available. In the very last days of the fiscal year, the funds freed up. There was not time for a joint powers agreement with the County. The Judicial District approved upgrade in the four courtrooms. The upgrade included better microphones and a computerized, programmable system. The system is not digital as it had to be compatible with other systems for recording, which were not part of the upgrade. The cost of the project was $50,000 and was completed by EPA Audio Visual. A quote for $5,987.00 was received from EPA Audio Visual to finish up the public address enhancements. Nordeen stated this could be funded from the Court Administration Professional Services line item. There are other pending payments that will funded from this line item so a slight overage may occur. Norman stated the EPA claim must be submitted to the Auditor’s Office by 12-20-07 to be paid from the 2007 budget. Hayes noted that the request does not include enhancements to Courtrooms 1 and 5. Nordeen confirmed this and said those enhancements will be addressed as part of the remodel request being presented to the Building Committee Of The Whole. Hayes said Courtroom 6 was remodeled about two years ago and questioned the need to upgrade the sound system. Nordeen said all Courtrooms need to have the same systems. The upgrade will provide better quality and options. Recommendation: Approve expenditure of $5,987.00 from the Court Administration Professional Services line item for enhancement to the PA Systems in Courtrooms 2, 3, 4, and 6. (End of 12-12-07 Building Committee Minutes and discussion.)
Eichelberg presented the 12-12-07 Labor/Management Health Insurance Committee minutes. At today’s County Board Meeting, Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes of the Labor/Management Health Insurance Committee Meeting. The motion carried 5-0 on a second by Mattson.
Labor/Management Health Insurance Committee Minutes:
I. SHARE RESULTS OF BENEFITS BID PROCESS. Norman stated that it has been a substantial amount of time since the County has put out for bid the life insurance, long term and short term disability insurance plans. The County worked with MCIT who developed the bid requirements and compiled the bid results. The results were presented to the Board on 12-11-07 (see attached).
Basic Life and AD&D
The current carrier is Minnesota Life. Their current rates are $0.19/$1,000 for Life and $0.03/$1,000 for AD&D for a total of $0.22/$1,000. Minnesota Life provided two proposals. Option 1 has a rate of $.09/$1,000 for Life and $.025/$1,000 for AD&D for a total of $0.115/$1,000. Option 2 has a rate of $0.15/$1,000 for Life and $0.025/$1,000 for AD&D for a total of $0.175/$1,000. The first option is a substantial decrease from the current plan. Standard Life and USAble Life also provided bids with their total rates equaling $0.20 and $0.21/$1,000. Option 1 will allow the employer a savings of $7,894. Option 2 will pass on a savings to both the employee and the employer. The employer will realize a savings of $3,382. The Board accepted Minnesota’s Life Option 2 proposal.
Long Term Disability
The County’s current plan is with Assurant through the Ochs Agency. They provided two proposals, one of which did not meet bid specifications. Bids also came in from Standard and USAble Life which did not meet bid specifications. Assurant’s current benefit is $1.00/$100. Option 1 with Assurant has a benefit of $0.92/$100 providing an 8% savings. The Board accepted that proposal yesterday.
Voluntary Long Term Disability
The current carrier of the County’s voluntary long term disability plan is Assurant. Proposals were received from Assurant, USAble Life and Standard. A second option from Assurant and the proposals from USAble Life and Standard did not meet bid specifications. Assurant’s qualifying proposal lists rates that are lower than what the County is currently offering its employees.
Short Term Disability
The County received proposals from Assurant, Standard Insurance, Trustmark, and USAble Life. The last three companies did not present proposals that met bid specifications. Assurant gave a 25% savings to the employer and a 32% savings to the employee over the current rates. The current rates for the employer are $2.17/$100 per month and the employee $2.39/$100 per month. The proposed rates for the employer are $1.63/$100 and $1.63/$100 for the employee per month.
REVIEW UTILIZATION DATA. Jeff Berg and Paul Coglitore of B&C Consulting, Inc. introduced themselves and stated that they are the County’s insurance broker for medical and dental insurance. They reviewed the “Wright County Medical and Dental Renewal Analysis, Effective March 1, 2008” (see attached).
The current carrier is Delta Dental. There are 408 single employee and 225 family coverage enrollees. Delta Dental bases their rates on administrative fees and number of claims. Delta Dental’s target loss ratio is 78.78% for claims only. A target loss ratio is determined based on group size and administrative costs. The County had a 79.59% experience loss ratio. This has come down from 86.62% in 2006. This year, with a loss ratio exceeding their target amount, Delta Dental felt they needed a premium rate increase of 9.97%. Negotiations brought the increase to 6.91% realizing an approximate savings of $5,200 from the initial rate increase. Berg and Coglitore stated that based on the County’s loss ratio, the renewal increase was on target with what they expected. Berg discussed the recent legislative changes that occurred regarding the dependent child/student age. In the past at the age of 19, the dependent could only be on the parent’s insurance plan if they were disabled or were a full time college student until the age of 25. Legislative changes have altered the definition, allowing children to stay on until age 25 no matter what their status. The dependent cannot be married and the parents must claim them on their taxes. He added that during open enrollment, the employees would be able to add dependents, between the ages of 18 to 25, to their family plan. The coverage is good until the end of the month they turn 25, allowing them the option to go to COBRA. Determan inquired on the status of the Buy Up Plan (supplement) that was presented at the Labor/Management Health Insurance Committee Meeting on 1-10-07. Pawelk stated that this would have been a voluntary, employee paid plan. The problem lies in that the County does not have a cafeteria plan making it very difficult to administer the plan. Berg stated that it came down to the mechanics of how it would be paid for. Petersen stated that the plan would be subject to union negotiation. Norman requested that B&C Consulting research the plan and present their information in an effort to answer questions from the Committee.
The County’s medical insurance carrier is Blue Cross Blue Shield. Coglitore explained how the medical loss ratio and total loss ratio is calculated and how it affects the 2008 premiums. He also discussed other underwriting renewal components such as the percentage of ongoing claims, the County’s large number of employees, duration of the County’s relationship with BCBS, as well as the average number of incurred claims. The County experienced a 114.50% total loss ratio during the plan year. The claims increased by 11.6%. Because of the 114.50% total loss ratio, BCBS would like to increase their rates to 28.50%. On behalf of the County, B&C Consulting negotiated a cap rate of 18% in 2006, and were able to negotiate this year’s rate down to 14.10%. Berg stated that for every point they were able to negotiate, the County saved approximately $55,000. Essentially, the premiums are not covering the claims. The County is running at a loss with BCBS. BCBS takes into account their administrative fees and negotiated discounts with physicians. BCBS also tries to make 3% in profit. Coglitore explained to the Committee that getting a 14.10% increase on an 114.50% loss ratio is awesome. BCBS wants to keep the County as a partner long term. Coglitore stated that the final annual premium will be $6,491,671.58, an increase of $746,431.44. There is a projection of $323,000 (5.6% of premium) in ongoing claims into 2008. Berg cautioned the Committee that when the ongoing claims become 10-15% of the premium, the carrier is not typically open to negotiation. Berg and Coglitore stated that according to the Keiser Family Foundation, who surveys the benefits provided by companies, including government, the Wright County plans are better than the national average. On a national average, office co-pays are $25. All three plans that the County offers its employees are better than the national average plan. Berg and Coglitore provided examples of minor plan changes that could promote cost savings: increasing office co-pays by $5 can reduce the premium up to 2%, increasing the pharmacy co-pay to a three tier structure can also reduce the premiums up to 2%. Berg stated that most of the nation is trending to the three tier co-pay. Melvin asked Berg and Coglitore if they represent other counties and asked how the County’s incurred costs compare to other counties. Berg stated that B&C Consulting does not represent other counties, however as a former underwriter, he has noted that Wright County’s rates are consistently and substantially lower than other counties. He stated that B&C Consulting are seeing other counties going to high deducible plans in an effort to save premium dollars. Baltich stated that it is her experience in Human Services, that they have a high turnover due to employees leaving for better plans and lower premiums in other government offices. Coglitore stated that they could provide information on what other counties are offering for the medical/dental plans. He reiterated that in comparison to other counties, Wright County contributes more for its employee plans that provide 100% hospitalization and a $10 co-pay. Russek stated that he noted at the AMC Conference that other counties were experiencing 30% increases. He stated that he believes Wright County does offer a good policy for its employees.
III.PRESENT RENEWAL RATES. A handout was provided on the dental and medical renewal rates, effective March 1, 2008. Delta Dental’s rates increased 9.98% for 2008. Delta Dental’s current rates are $12.50 for single employee coverage and $40.15 for family coverage. The increase will bring those rates to $13.35 for single and $42.95 for family. BCBS’s current rates are as follows: $10 COPAY AWARE, Single: $577.00, Family: $1,166.00; $15 COPAY AWARE, Single: $541.50, Family: $1,094.00; $300 DED AWARE, Single: $496.00, Family: $1,002.50. The rates would increase to the following: $10 COPAY AWARE, Single: $656.50, Family: $1,327.00; $15 COPAY AWARE, Single: $617.00, Family: $1246.50; $300 DED AWARE, Single: $571.00, Family: $1154.50. (End of 12-12-07 Labor/Management Health Insurance Minutes.)
Sawatzke presented the 12-11-07 Owner’s Committee minutes and recommendations. At today’s County Board Meeting, Russek noted that the fourth line of the third paragraph under I.A. Project Update: A&P should reflect that “There are fifteen geo-wells that remain for drilling.” Sawatzke added that the remaining geo-wells are not holding up the progress of the project. Sawatzke invited the Board Members to attend the walk-through of the precast cell mock up which is projected to take place on 1-11-08. Norman stated that KKE is performing some design modifications and is anticipating bringing those costs as a change order to the 1-08-08 Owner’s Committee Meeting. Mattson questioned why KKE did not identify the design issue regarding the precast cells’ landings. Sawatzke explained that it was KKE’s impression that the precast cell manufacturer would design their cells to bear the weight of the dayroom stairs. Sawatzke stated that in a project of this magnitude, it is unlikely that there will not be an oversight. Mattson expressed his concern in seeing another change order. Both Sawatzke and Norman stated that there have only been seven change orders, including one deduct and one that did not have a cost change. They both remarked that there have been relatively few change orders considering the size of the project. At Today’s County Board Meeting, on a motion by Sawatzke, second by Mattson, all voted to approve the minutes and recommendations made by the Owner’s Committee.
12-11-07 Owner’s Committee Minutes:
I.A. PROJECT UPDATE: A&P. Streich stated that the exterior foundation walls were poured yesterday. Precast bearing interior foundations will be poured over the next couple of weeks. The holding cells will be completed the week of 1-14-08. The rest of the cells will begin shipping the week of 4-07-08. A&P may experience conflicts with the delivery of the cells due to road restrictions. Sawatzke asked how this conflict could be resolved now. Streich responded that A&P has been working with the State. A&P is looking for trailers that meet axle weight restrictions. Approximately four trailers have been located within the upper Midwest. Streich stated that all of the underground utilities are stubbed into the building. The underground plumbing has been completed in areas A, B, C & F. The masonry at area A, east stairway, is complete. The masonry work continues in area B elevator and will move to area A elevator after the precast is complete. The precast walls at the LEC garage will be completed today. After the roof panels are set, the LEC office wall panels will be installed. The structural steel columns, decking, and bar joist for areas A and B are onsite and are scheduled for installation during the final week of December. The building transformer was delayed one week, resulting in no power until the week of 12-21-07. The temporary heaters for the garage will be started at that time. The underground plumbing, electrical, in-floor heat, and slab on grade will begin once the heaters are started. There are fifteen geo-wells that remain for drilling. Once those are drilled, the contractor will be back to do the tie-ins during the spring, 2008.
I.B. PROPOSED CHANGE ORDER #007. Blotske stated that the proposed change order (PCO) is in reference to PR 3-01. The PCO is for intercom cabling that was incorrectly drawn. The drawings call for 2/C#18 shielded (West-Penn Cat. No. 293). The cabling will need to be corrected to 2/C#20 shielded and 2/C#20 unshielded (West-Penn Cat. No. 356). The change is to replace a 2 connector cable to a 4 connector cable which will correctly operate the intercom system. The proposed amount is $15,178.00 to cover the difference in cost due to the change. The cost for the material at 70,000’ is $9,060. The $15,178.00 includes installation, tax, and markup. Russek questioned the additional cost for installation when it was included in the previous bid for the 2/C#18 shielded. Streich stated that he believes that there would be additional hangers due to it being a heavier cable. Lindemann stated that their engineer omitted the design to send the wiring back to the controller. The electrician will have twice as many terminations to make at every endpoint which was not accounted for in the drawings. Sawatzke stated that this appears to be a reasonable increase. Recommendation: Approve and authorize proceeding with C/O #007.
I.C. PAY APPLICATION #6. Blotske stated that since there are 15 more geo-wells to be drilled, she would be withholding payment to Saathoff, Inc. for category 23A-Geothermal Well Fields. She explained that she has contacted Saathoff so they are aware of the hold. The Committee can approve the payment, however, the payment would not be released until Spring, 2008 when the remainder of the geo-wells have been drilled. Norman stated that it was his understanding that one contractor was not included on the Textura payment system. Blotske stated that she believes all of the project contractors are on the Textura System. Sawatzke questioned Timothy Clark’s rate for his fill-in work for Blotske as project manager. His rate charged to the County was $74.00 versus Blotske’s rate of $66.50. Blotske stated that Clark miscoded his hours. She further explained that A&P can only bill the hours as set up in the contract, as a not-to-exceed. She stated that Clark cannot overbill his hours to the County due to the contract specifications. Sawatzke questioned when the costs for the temporary water, heat, toilets, and dumpsters would start accumulating. Blotske and Streich both explained that usage of the above listed items will take effect immediately due to the weather and the progress of the project. Recommendation: Authorize payment of Pay Application #6.
I.A. PROJECT UPDATE: KKE ARCHITECTS. Lindemann stated that KKE has shop drawings for doors and frames, hardware, acoustic ceilings, precast wall panels, precast structure of the housing units, glass and glazing, curtain walls, and stairs and railings. He stated that KKE is aware of an upcoming issue. KKE has been informed by the precast cell manufacturer that they did not design their balconies to bear the dayroom stairs. KKE’s engineer is now redesigning the landings to bear the weight of the dayroom stairs. Lindemann stated that there were two columns designed originally, and believes that a third column will be added at the line where the landing meets the precast balcony. KKE had anticipated that the balcony would be able to hold the edge of the stairlanding. Blotske stated that Old Castle is supposed to provide A&P with a mock up of the precast cell. They are looking to have the mock up ready by 1-11-08. She stated that she would be sending out an invitation to the contractors and Committee members to walk through the cell at their Ramsey location. The viewing is anticipated to take place on Friday morning, 1-11-08. Russek thanked Lindeman for his participation at the AMC Conference, giving a presentation of the geothermal technology the County will be using at its new Jail/LEC. Lindemann stated that the County has shown to be leaders in innovative energy savings. Blue Earth County is attempting to have their construction project green certified. Lindemann stated that 90% of what the County is doing in the Jail/LEC project is on the green list. He congratulated the County and stated that we will be receiving the real benefit: the energy savings. The Committee decided that they would meet again on 12-18-07 if Norman determines that a proposed change order would need discussion prior to sending it forward for Board approval. Norman informed the Committee that if they recommend approval of a change order at the 12-18-07 Owner’s Committee, it would be placed on the claims listing for Board approval on 12-24-07. A two week recess will occur due to the holidays, bringing the Committee together again on 1-08-08. (End of Owner’s Committee Minutes and discussion.)
Norman presented the 12-06-07 Truth in Local Taxation Public Hearing minutes. At today’s County Board Meeting, Norman stated that he placed the Resolution setting the Budget and Certified Levy on the 12-11-07 Board Agenda under Items for Consideration. The forthcoming minutes reflect the major impacts on the 2008 Budget: labor costs, the Road & Bridge Construction Program, allocation increase to the GRRL, bond debt service and staff additions. Norman added that there were a large number of people in attendance at the start of the meeting who had questions pertaining to their property tax statements. Those concerned citizens followed Kramber to the Assessor’s Office to have their questions answered. There were two members of the public that had questions, and one that proposed an idea to improve future budget presentations. Russek stated that the questions posed at the Meeting were civilized and directly related to the subject. Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes of the Truth in Local Taxation Public Hearing. The motion carried 5-0 on a second by Eichelberg.
12-06-07 Truth In Local Taxation Minutes:
The Public Hearing was called to order at 7:00 P.M. The purpose of the hearing was to discuss and take public comment on the proposed Budget and Taxable Certified Levy for 2008. The Assessor’s Office was open to assist with questions regarding individual property tax statements. A Truth In Local Taxation handout was provided to those in attendance. Kramber said taxes payable for 2007 are based on the property value established 1-02-06. Taxes payable 2008 are based on the property value established 1-02-07. Property valuations are always one year behind. The Assessor Department is cognizant of the downturn in the economy and this will be reflected in the taxes payable 2009. State statute requires the assessed value to be 100% of the market value. Valuations have been conservative to allow property owners the benefit of the doubt. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, explained that the Budget process commenced in June/July, 2007 with the Budgets submitted by departments in late July. The draft Budget was then compiled. The Budget Committee Of The Whole, comprised of County Board members, met in open sessions starting August 6th. The original Budget requests reflected a 20% increase over the 2007 Budget. Meetings were held with departments to review individual line items in an effort to reduce the Budget. The draft Budget and Certified Levy was set in September (required to be completed by September 15th). As part of the Truth In Local Taxation Hearing process, a resolution establishing the 2008 Budget and Certified Taxable Levy will be presented to the County Board at their 12-11-07 meeting. Page 1 of the handout compares the proposed 2008 Budget figures to 2007 figures for the three major Budget areas including Human Services, General Revenue and Road & Bridge. The Debt Service line item reflects principal and interest payments the County makes on bond issues. The two Lake Improvement Districts must be carried in the Budget per State Audit requirements. These are not part of the overall levy for tax purposes unless a person resides in one of these Districts.
Norman presented the 2008 draft Budget of $89,233,440 which reflects a 10.3% increase from 2007.
General Revenue; $42,782,748; 9.1%
Road and Bridge; $22,730,495; 14.9%
Human Services; $21,107,100; 5.9%
Debt Service; $2,566,177; 31.1%
Lake Pulaski LID; $33,500; -9.2%
Mike-Somers LID; $13,420; NA
TOTAL PROPOSED BUDGET: $89,233,440; 10.3%
Norman highlighted some of the major impacts on the 2008 Budget, listed on page 2 of the handout:
-Labor Costs. Counties are labor intensive organizations and employees are needed to deliver services and programs to citizens. There are about 675 full-time employees in Wright County, as well as volunteers, part-time employees, and temporary employees. The associated increase in labor costs for 2008 is $2,480,000 and includes such things as salary adjustments and fringe benefits. This figure is exclusive of any new positions authorized for hire in 2008.
-The Road & Bridge Construction Program will realize a $1,847,814 increase in 2008. The seal coat contract cost is $458,000. The budget for diesel fuel is $280,000 and unleaded gasoline is $325,000. The equipment line item is $500,000 and salt is $395,000.
-Wright County is a member of the Great River Regional Library System. An allocation increase of $167,765 is being realized.
-The debt service on bonds will realize a net increase of $608,976. This relates to the bond issuance for the Jail/Law Enforcement Center currently being constructed north of the Public Works building.
-There are 24 staff additions for 2008 and several of these positions are associated with the opening of the new Jail/Law Enforcement Center.
On page 3 of the handout, the 2008 General Revenue Budget is detailed by department showing a total Budget of $42,782,748. This amount is reduced by rentals and leases charged to each department and revenues, for a net total of $27,458,511. The County receives Federal reimbursement for the Human Services Department on rent. Income received by departments totals $13,400,680 which is slightly higher than projected for the 2007 Budget at $12,929,549. The housing market situation is impacting some revenue areas. The Criminal Justice System (Court Administration, Attorney, Sheriff, Corrections and Court Services) makes up the majority (60%) of the total Budget. Page 4 of the handout outlines Budget 100, Non-Departmental costs totaling $5,851,693. Line Item 6100, Personal Services, is budgeted at $1.7 million which is the projected costs of labor union contracts and non-union wage and fringe benefit increases. After union contracts are settled and medical insurance costs are known, this amount will be transferred to the affected departments in the General Revenue Budget. Line Item 6261, Professional Services, is budgeted at $450,000 and covers costs related to the consultants utilized for labor negotiations, Land Use Plan upgrade, etc. Line item 6353, Liability Insurance, $660,000 covers general liability and workers compensation. Most of the increase for 2007-2008 is related to workers compensation coverage.Page 5 lists projected revenues for the General Revenue Budget. Under Auditor/Treasurer, the revenues for Mortgage Registry Tax and County Deed Tax are down from 2006 and 2007 and directly relate to the housing market situation. On page 6, the Sheriff Contracts reflect a total of $4,542,422. Norman explained that law enforcement services are provided for all cities except Buffalo, Howard Lake and Annandale who have their own police departments. Page 7, Non-Departmental, $1,992,650 consists of various items related to property taxes, penalties and interest, and interest income. Also included is a projected insurance dividend for 2008 totaling $225,000 from MCIT. MCIT has declared a dividend for several years in a row but the dividend cannot be guaranteed. In 2007, Wright County received a dividend of just over $300,000. The total estimated income for the General Revenue Budget is $13,400,680. Page 8 reflects the 2008 Total Personnel Requests in the General Revenue Budget totaling $908,628.58. Some staff additions are a result of the construction of the new Jail/Law Enforcement Center. The Sheriff and Corrections line items are up significantly. Page 11 reflects the Sheriff increase for personnel related items totaling $322,317.32. Three areas have staff starting in 2007. and two deputies will start 1-01-08. On page 12, the Corrections Budget increase is $34,753.97 and includes staff for the new Jail/Law Enforcement Center which will open in the spring of 2009. Staff is hired ahead of time to facilitate training in operations of the facility. Three correction officers will be hired 1-01-08. This will help set up a transition team of staff between the current facility and the new Law Enforcement Center. Six correction officers are authorized for 10-01-08 to start training for the new facility. The Road & Bridge Budget information begins on page 13 of the handout. Norman highlighted the Budgeted Revenues at $15,039,223 with Budgeted Expenses at $22,730,495. The local levy is used to fund the difference, at $7.9 million for 2008. Page 14 outlines the equipment purchases planned for 2008 totaling $500,017.50. The Department attempts to rotate equipment annually (2 trucks/year for tandem trucks and snow equipment). There are currently 22 trucks in the fleet. On page 15, activities planned as part of the 2008 Construction Program are listed, as well as funding sources. The Local column itemizes the projects whichwill be funded with local tax dollars. One project ($875,000) was removed from the schedule due to a shortage of funding for highways. A summary of the Human Services Budget is found on page 16. The levy increase for 2008 is $8,189,000 or $484,900 over 2007 (6.3% increase). Intergovernmental revenues are projected to increase slightly in 2008 (up 8.5%). Expenditures in 2008 total $21,107,000. Norman drew attention to the amounts reflected in Reserve Change. In 2006, the County used $1,186,401 in Reserves to balance the Human Services Budget. In 2007, it is projected that $300,000 in Reserves will be required to balance the Human Services Budget. In 2008, the County does not anticipate having to use Reserves to balance the Human Services Budget. Norman presented the Local Levy for 2008 which is up 12.3% from 2007. The local levy supports the three major Budgets (General Revenue, Road & Bridge, and Human Services). The total expenditures less revenues result in the amount needed in local levy in order to balance the Budget. Norman explained that County Program Aid is received from the State to help in holding down property taxes. In 2006, the County received $3,652,000. Over a three-year period, the State has not increased the amount of aid to assist in the process of keeping taxes down. The Corrections line item under Special Levies relates to costs associated with operating the Jail. The Lake Improvement tax is assessed only to property owners in those Districts.
General Revenue $21,664,223
Road and Bridge $ 7,907,290
Human Services $ 8,189,000
TOTAL $37,760,513
Less: County Aid Program $ 3,629,640
NET TAXABLE LEVY $34,130,873
Corrections $5,794,288
Debt Service $2,566,177
Lake Pulaski LID $33,500
Mink-Somers LID $13,420
TOTAL $42,538,258
Page 18 reflects a 5-year trend on tax rates. The rate is calculated by taking the levy and dividing it by tax capacity for the entire County. The tax rate for 2008 is 31.686% which is up over the 2007 rate of 30.714%. Previous years showed a steady decline in this rate. This is a result of the growth in the County, which adds tax capacity. The tax rate for 2008 is up with the construction of the Jail/Law Enforcement Center. Norman said AMC has indicated counties that are not experiencing growth are having a harder time. Allen Mallery, resident of Buffalo, expressed thanks to the County Board, Norman, and department heads for their efforts on the Budget. However, he felt the proposed 10+% increase was well above the rate of inflation. Personally, he will realize a tax increase of 20.5% this year. Last year, his taxes increased 16.98%. That equates to a 39% increase in two years. He referenced the housing situation and various newspaper articles reflecting the number of foreclosures. A Journal Press article reflects that the number of foreclosures have doubled in the past year. The Journal Press recently published the City of Buffalo’s utility delinquencies, suggesting that people are having a hard time paying their bills. The economy is being impacted through the number of businesses closing and those who are losing their homes. A recession has been the topic of the media nationally. Mallery strongly encouraged the Board to reduce the Budget further. Mallery has experience working with corporate budgets and knows the difficulty in budget reductions. Russek stated that the requests from department heads started out higher that the figures being reviewed today. A good portion of the Budget relates to the preparation for the new Jail, bonding, and Highway funding. He said State Aid is not increasing for highways. The Highway Budget increased almost $2 million this year and the County needs to maintain roadways. One highway project worth $875,000 was removed from the Budget that should have been left in. Rob Kramer, Franklin Township resident, referenced the CSAH 14 project completed previously and recent repairs which were required. He inquired why repairs were needed. Kramer asked whether repairs were planned for CSAH 30. Fingalson stated that CSAH 30 will not be redone other than routine seal coating. On CSAH 14, there were two areas that experienced underlying soil problems. Prior to the CSAH 14 project, soil borings were taken to identify weak areas. However since the time of the project, underlying peat was discovered and settling occurred. The weather this past summer was dry. Rain followed and caused problems. Two sections of the road were removed and reinforced with steel grid. The work was completed by County employees and was not a contractor problem. Kramer referenced staff additions related to the Jail/Law Enforcement Center project. He questioned why they would be hired prior to 2009 if that is when the facility will open. Sawatzke stated the opening is slated for March, 2009. The schedule of hires was reviewed with the explanation that staff needs to be hired preceding the opening for training purposes. Corrections staff are trained and then work with existing staff for a period of time because of security. With additional staff hired in Corrections, this will allow three current employees to work on policies and procedures for the new Jail. The “transition team” approach has been selected instead of hiring consultants. The original request was for more staff to be on the transition team but this was pared down to what the Board felt was reasonable. The new Jail will have a different layout and operation. With the current Jail, corrections officers monitor inmates through cameras (1 correction officer per 40 inmates). The new Jail will have pods for inmates (1 correction officer for every 60 inmates). It is a more efficient method but staff must be trained and policies must be in place. Sawatzke said one mistake could be far more costly than adding three employees for three months. Kramer felt there must be a standard with jails for operating procedures and questioned time expended to write policies and procedures. Sawatzke said other jail plans will be reviewed and portions that apply will be utilized. However, all jail facilities differ so policies vary. Eichelberg stated the County must also follow staffing regulations from the Department of Corrections. Sawatzke said a building maintenance superintendent will be hired on 7-01-08 for the Jail/Law Enforcement Facility. This will allow the superintendent to work with installers on mechanical and electrical equipment operation and maintenance. Kramer felt staff hired for this position should be licensed and understand guidelines relating to equipment. Sawatzke said Kramer brought forth valid concerns. The County Board listened to what was presented by departments and reached a compromise on the requests. Charlotte Quiggle, Corinna Township, questioned whether a history of County budgets are available on the County’s website. Kramer responded that this information is available for the period of 1996 to 2005. Quiggle mentioned that the Truth In Local Taxation Meeting Notice was not available on the website. Sawatzke said all property owners in the County received mailed notice of the meeting through their proposed property tax notifications. Norman said that except for a handful of counties in the State, every county holds their Truth In Local Taxation Meeting this evening. Kramer requested that at future meetings, a 10-year history of the major budget areas be provided for comparison purposes. Norman said a resolution setting the Budget and Certified Levy will be presented at the 12-11-07 County Board Meeting for consideration. The meeting adjourned at 7:49 P.M. (End of the 12-06-07 Truth in Local Taxation Public Hearing Minutes.)
Norman announced that there would not be an Owner’s Committee Meeting today and they will meet again on 1-08-08.
Norman presented a Resolution setting the elected department head salaries for 2008: “Be it resolved that the 2008 salaries for elected department heads shall be as follows: County Attorney $110,918, Sheriff $104,803, Auditor/Treasurer $101,259.” Sawatzke moved to adopt Resolution #07-72 setting the Elected Department Salaries for 2008. Eichelberg seconded the motion. Mattson stated that he would be voting against the resolution as he felt that the County Sheriff and Attorney should have received a higher increase. The motion carried on a roll call vote of 4-1 (Mattson).
Norman presented the Resolution setting the Wright County Board Salary for 2008: “Whereas, Minnesota Statutes, Section 375.055, provides the procedures for fixing the County Board compensation for the next year; Now therefore, be it resolved, that as of January 1, 2008 members of the Wright County Board of Commissioners shall have an annual salary, exclusive of per diem payments, of $35,636. Said salary shall continue in effect until such time this Resolution is amended or otherwise modified. On a motion by Eichelberg, seconded by Mattson, roll call vote carried 5-0 to adopt Resolution #07-73 setting the Wright County Board Salary for 2008.
Norman presented a resolution setting the County Board per diem rate at $40.00 for 2008. The resolution lists the committees that the Board is involved in. The $40 rate is unchanged from years past. Mattson made a motion to adopt Resolution #07-74 approving a per diem payment of $40.00 to the members of the Wright County Board of Commissioners when acting on a committee requested and approved by the County Board. Sawatzke seconded the motion. Sawatzke requested that prior to next year’s budget, Norman provide a per diem comparison of the counties used in our market data. Norman stated that staff would provide comparisons of the Commissioner salaries and per diems at the 2009 budget discussions. On a roll call vote, the Resolution passes 5-0.
Russek questioned whether a resolution appointing Dr. Janis Amatuzio as the Wright County Medical Examiner for 2008 was required since the County contracts with Anoka County to provide medical examiner services. Norman stated that the resolution is required as Amatuzio is individually contracted as the Medical Examiner. On a motion by Mattson, seconded by Heeter, roll call vote carried 5-0 to adopt Resolution #07-75 appointing Dr. Janis Amatuzio as the Wright County Medical Examiner for 2008.
Norman stated that the County received a Certificate of Excellence at the 2007 AMC Conference from MCIT. The Certificate is in recognition of a loss ratio under 50% for plan years 2002 – 2006. He stated that he will find a suitable frame for the certificate and will place it in the showcase in the lobby area of the Government Center. Sawatzke asked if there is a certificate for those achieving a loss ratio under 25%. Norman stated that the County received the highest honor a County can receive. Russek stated that this certificate is the result of the work that Pat Melvin, Special Projects Administrator, and Mark Nolan, Safety Director, have been doing.
Norman stated that he has forwarded information to Salkowski about the AMC sponsored conference entitled Minnesota State Aggregate & Mining Conference. Russek stated that if the Board is looking to reappoint him to the Planning Commission for 2008, he would be interested in attending the conference. Sawatzke stated that some of the members from the Aggregate Mining Committee may also be interested in attending this conference. Sawatzke moved to authorize attendance of any interested Board Members to the Minnesota State Aggregate & Mining Conference, February 7-8, 2008 in St. Cloud. The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried unanimously.
Asleson stated that he received a phone message indicating that Sherburne County would like to meet to discuss the Joint Powers Agreement for the Regional Crime Laboratory (discussed at the 11-28-07 Ways & Means Committee Meeting). Their suggestion is to meet this Thursday at 9:00 a.m. in Elk River at their Sheriff’s Office. This is not a public notice meeting. Sawatzke and Asleson both stated they would attend the meeting. On a motion by Sawatzke, seconded by Mattson, all voted to authorize Sawatzke and Eichelberg’s attendance at the Regional Crime Lab meeting in Elk River on 12-20-07 at 9:00 a.m.
Eichelberg and Russek expressed their wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Bills Approved
Advanced Graphix Inc. $451.32
Albertville Body Shop Inc. 1,837.91
Allina OCC Med 150.00
American Institutional Supply 529.52
American Solutions for Business 8,106.25
AMI Imaging Systems, Inc. 2,538.73
Earl Andersen Inc. 16,807.57
Annandale Rock Products 172.53
Aramark Correctional Services 9,589.27
Arrow Terminal LLC 212.98
Aspen Equipment Company 9,661.07
Astleford International 146.55
B & B Products - Rigs and Squa 1,445.90
Lawrence Bauman 359.66
Bear Graphics Inc. 6,995.51
Darnell Brethorst 127.56
Brown Traffic Products Inc. 1,082.04
Buffalo Auto Alignment 334.58
Buffalo Bituminous 102,760.94
Buffalo Clinic 145.57
Buffalo Hospital 232.54
Burdas Towing 149.10
Cardiac Science 706.10
Cargill Inc.-Salt Division 24,534.98
Catco Parts Service 565.56
Center Point Energy 12,141.88
Centra Sota Lake Region LLC 1,273.93
Central Fire Protection 724.04
Culligan of Buffalo 200.00
Derson Manufacturing Inc. 3,120.45
Design Electrical Contractors 92,518.32
ECM Publishers Inc. 384.00
Election Systems & Software 12,354.00
EPA Audio Visual Inc. 9,336.42
Ernst Gen. Construction Inc. 700.00
Joyce Farrell 1,350.00
Wayne Fingalson 212.72
First State Tire Recycling 595.10
Freestyle Photographic Supplie 226.92
Fyles Exc. & Honey Wagon 5,992.00
Gale-Tec Engineering Inc. 8,829.71
Gateway Companies Inc. 5,225.00
Todd Gau 331.25
Gilson Company Inc. 110.64
Grainger 2,407.75
Brad Haynes 109.95
Hennepin Co. Medical Center 407.56
Hillyard Floor Care Supply 631.56
Hometown Plumbing & Heating 3,483.34
Integrated Fire & Security 304.78
International Assn. of Assessin 175.00
Interstate Battery Systems of 205.42
Bernard Kirscht 358.20
Klatt True Value Electric 373.05
Knife River 16,002.57
Knife River Corporation-Nort 105.44
Kris Engineering Inc. 7,112.07
Lab Safety Supply Inc. 501.10
Lake Region Co-op Oil 1,034.64
Lakedale Communications 146.56
LaPlant Demo Inc. 868.41
Larson Allen LLP 9,250.00
Michael Laurent 190.63
LexisNexis 110.00
William Lieb 372.75
Little Falls Machine 2,143.88
Loberg Electric 2,894.33
M-R Sign Company Inc. 1,472.36
Major Appliance Repair 120.36
Midland Corporate Benefits Svc 997.75
Midwest Community Planning 100.00
Mille Lacs Cty. Sheriff 4,800.00
Gary Miller 165.00
MN Society of Prof. Surveyors 100.00
Moodys Investors Service 17,550.00
Michael Morcomb 577.00
Motorola Inc. 18,192.02
Mountain Stream Sports & App 275.00
MPELRA 150.00
Nagell Appraisal & Consulting 1,300.00
Nature Watch 560.93
Nextel Communications 718.44
Richard Norman 212.72
Northern Power Products 478.21
Office Depot 2,419.85
Olson & Sons Electric 1,338.04
Performance Kennels Inc. 154.02
PMI Computer Supplies 198.11
Positron Public Safety Systems 2,628.87
Postmaster-Buffalo 680.00
Qwest 3,725.30
Rockford Township 950.25
Royal Tire Inc. 1,190.23
John Russek 301.47
Ryan Chevrolet 1,986.39
Robert Schermann 433.86
Donald Schmidt 328.13
Linda Schwenzfeier 573.75
Sherburne Co. Sheriff 44,967.25
St. Cloud Stamp & Sign Inc. 136.43
State of MN-Adminstrative Hea 832.00
State of MN-Office Enterprise 370.00
Stearns Co. Treasurer 552.00
Streichers 3,301.50
Tallen & Baertschi 115.00
Tech Depot 389.91
Thomas Mfg. Co. Inc. 2,005.00
Trafficware 2,868.00
Tri State Surplus Co. 1,088.44
Uniforms Unlimited 1,314.97
University of Minnesota 39,493.74
Janelle Webb 132.37
West Central Industries 241.67
West Payment Center 1,065.47
Westside Wholesale Tire 1,137.28
Wright Co. Highway Dept. 47,487.49
Zack’s Inc. 118.61
Zep Manufacturing Company 135.52
Ziegler Inc. 206.88
31 Payments less than $100 1,758.14
Final total $608,854.84
The meeting adjourned at 11:07 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Jan. 21, 2008.