Wright County Board Minutes

MARCH 4, 2008
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Heeter, Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek and Eichelberg present.
Russek moved to approve the 2-26-08 County Board Minutes, seconded by Heeter, carried 5-0.
Heeter moved to approve the Agenda as presented, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.
On a motion by Heeter, second by Russek, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: J. Brown, Admin.; D. McCalla, Aud./Treas.; C. Paulson, Hwy.; L. Schallock, Recorder; V. Klemz, M. Williamson, Sher.
2. Claim, Willen, Inc., $4,250.00 (Jail/LEC Center, Service thru 2-22-08)
3. Schedule Capital Improvement/Finance Committee Meeting For 3-12-08.
4. Schedule Closed Meeting, 10:30 A.M., March 25th To Discuss Labor Negotiation Strategies.
5. Refer Request From City Of Monticello For Additional Law Enforcement Contract Hours To The Personnel Committee.
1. Approve 2008 Memorandum Of Intent (MOI) Between Wright County & U of MN Extension To Maintain Nutrition Education Program (NEP) In Wright County.
1. Schedule Technology Committee Meeting For 3-12-08:
A. GIS Update.
B. Schneider GIS Services Agreement.
C. Technology Planning.
Eichelberg said that Sherburne County Commissioner John Riebel’s wife, Nancy, was killed in a car accident. A moment of silence followed in her memory.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, requested approval of the January Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines. Payments have been made for the Historical Society, GRRL and SWCD. Otherwise, department expenditures are running at 1/12th of the year. On a motion by Mattson, second by Russek, all voted to approve the January Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines.
On a motion by Mattson, second by Sawatzke, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.
A Building Committee Meeting was held on 2-27-08. Heeter moved to approve the minutes and recommendation, seconded by Mattson. Sawatzke inquired on the cost of the remodel and possible reductions. Norman said Option 1 comes at a cost of approximately $120,000 but he is anticipating a cost reduction due to wallpaper and carpeting that will not be replaced in some areas. The motion to approve the minutes carried 5-0:
Update, Administration Department Remodeling. Norman distributed three proposed layouts for remodel of the office area. The goals of the update are to provide:
A. Office space for two additional staff. Norman said in the 2008 budget process, two positions were requested including an Administrative Clerk and a Personnel Representative. Approval was granted for the Administrative Clerk. The need still exists for the Personnel Representative. For the period of 2000-2007, the County has added 159.5 fte’s. Another 23 fte’s were approved in the 2008 budget. The last Personnel Representative was hired in 2000. The standard in the Human Resources industry is one Personnel Representative for every 100 employees. Norman will not advertise for the approved Administrative Clerk position until the remodel is almost completed.
B. Confidentiality. The goal is to provide a confidential space, especially for the Personnel Representatives dealing with employees. The current layout is not conducive to dealing with resolving issues in a confidential manner.
C. Security. The remodel will provide a second exit in case of emergency. With the first proposed layout, a secure entrance to the Administration Office would be provided.
D. Long-term solution. Based on discussions at the recent Building Committee Of The Whole Meeting on long and short range planning, Norman understood that it may be 10 years before Courts would be moved to the new location. Therefore, he supported Option 1 of the proposed layouts to accommodate this length of time. Once Courts move, the plan would be to expand Administration into Courtroom 6.
The proposed layouts and associated costs were provided by KKE Architects. Norman stated that the design included removal of vinyl wall coverings and carpet replacement for the entire office. Norman said the wall covering and carpet will not be replaced in areas that are not being remodeled. This will reduce the cost estimates. Norman will consult with Cliff Buikema, KKE Architects, on the cost estimates as Buikema has not seen them. Norman feels these estimates may be high. A general contractor will be consulted to obtain pricing on the work as well. A certified plan for the stairwell could be obtained from a local architect. The City’s Building Inspector was consulted and has provided confirmation that the hall can be closed as it is a sprinkled building. During remodel, Norman plans to temporarily relocate staff to Meeting Room C111 (near Extension). Norman said the first option would provide the best long-term solution. Each option thereafter reduces the space and desired options. He noted that in the past four years, he has turned back $140,500 from the Administration Budget to the General Fund. These funds are then either distributed to the Capital Account or placed into reserve. Even if the remodel were paid from the Site Improvement Line Item, he felt he had done a good job of watching what has been spent. Heeter supported the first option because of the benefit realized for the cost. It would also provide options for security which is one issue she would like to address through the remodel. Recommendation: The Committee recommends obtaining a contractor’s estimate on the remodel to include general construction, demolition, and heating/ventilation, and referring this issue to the 3-12-08 Committee Meeting. (End of Building Committee Minutes)
Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, requested approval of an invoice ($2,525) from the Animal Humane Society relating to care for two bison that were seized. In December, 2007 investigators from the Animal Humane Society and personnel from the Wright County Sheriff’s Department seized two bison calves near Delano. They were seized pursuant to a warrant issued by the Court and after a hearing held on 12-19-07, the Court ordered that the animals were not to be returned to Daniel Tapio, the owner. By Statute, the County is responsible for the cost of care for the animals in the interim. Asleson said there were potentially five bison on the property. The two calves were seized as there were malnourishment concerns. The County has dealt with this property previously on allegations of maltreatment of animals and manure problems. In this case, the Animal Humane Society contracted with a farmer in Morton, Minnesota for care and that is what the invoice relates to. Based on the Court’s ruling, the calves were not returned to the owners and probably were sold. Asleson felt Chapter 343 of State Statutes applied in this case dealing with animal cruelty. The Statute provides for the Humane Society to seize the animals without the owner’s knowledge. Asleson’s contact with the Animal Humane Society has been positive. A local veterinarian from the Buffalo area testified on the animal’s state of health. He felt everything was handled in a reputable manner. He referenced the previous time animals were seized. At that time, the animals were kept on site and a person was hired to supply hay. As part of the criminal action in that case, Tapio was ordered to be responsible for a portion of the associated costs. With the case being discussed today, there are no criminal charges involved. Through the civil court case, it was ordered that the animals were not to be returned and Tapio should reimburse Wright County for costs associated. The County has the ability to try to obtain payment for the costs incurred. Asleson said the farm where the animals are located is owned by Tapio’s mother who is in a care facility. The guardian of the estate is attempting to sell the property. The court has issued an order for Tapio to be off the property in April, 2008. Sawatzke felt the County should place a lien on the property to assure reimbursement. Asleson said that option was reviewed but the difficulty lies in that the owner of the real property is not the owner of the bison. In a case where the MPCA rules on manure issues, that affects the real property and the owner was made a party to the legal action. In the current situation, the owner of the property is not named in the legal action as they are in a care facility and unaware of the situation. This case would not involve action against the property. The other three bison remain on the property. The Sheriff Department will continue to check on the animals. The situation was that there was not adequate food for all five bison. The calves were malnourished as the food was being consumed by the older bison. Eichelberg said the invoice reflects the calves were quarantined from 12-04-07 to 12-28-07. Asleson was unsure whether they were quarantined. His recollection from the veterinarian’s testimony is that the bison calves did not have any particular disease or parasites. One did have a wound that may have required some medical care. Russek asked whether the person who cared for the animals owns a bison ranch. Asleson was unsure but was told this was the case. He understood that it took the better part of the day to decide whether the adult bison should be seized as well. Bison can be uncooperative when it comes to loading them, and it was also snowing that day. These factors may have impacted the farmer’s time. With regard to the cost, Sawatzke noted that the farmer did not charge an individual amount for mileage, rather it was included within the daily cost of $100/day. Heeter felt the cost of $100/day was high for the care of the animals. She felt that in the upcoming budget process, the County Board should consider an additional $2,500-$3,000 in that line item. Hiivala said the funding of the invoice could be from either the animal impound or professional services line items. Heeter made a motion to pay the invoice from the animal impound line item. This will allow tracking of expenditures from this line item to assist with planning for the 2009 budget. Heeter was not pleased with the cost of boarding. Russek seconded the motion and supported Heeter’s suggestion to track the line item. He said the County may see more instances where animal care is required. Sawatzke asked Asleson to inform the Animal Humane Society to involve the County earlier in the process for any future situations. Apparently, the Animal Humane Society negotiates how much is paid. If the County is responsible for payment, the County should be involved in that process. Heeter felt the $2,500 cost would have bought a lot of hay if the animals would have been fed on site (as occurred in the last situation). It was felt there may have been farmers in Wright County who would have taken care of the bison calves. The motion carried 5-0.
Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, explained the County has an opportunity to apply for a $10,000 grant for an ITS (Intelligent Transportation System) Grant. This is a program through State Aid which allows application for up to a $10,000 grant. Applications are due this week. If received, grant funding would be used on CSAH 37 just east of Albertville. The roadway involves a curve, and chevrons and speed plates are being utilized. A recent accident on this stretch of road resulted in the death of a motorcyclist. The grant funding would be used to place dynamic signing on the chevron, reflecting the speed of the vehicle (it would flash and give the indication to slow down). The cost is about $8,000 and no County match is required. The only cost involved will be time. In response to a question by Mattson, Fingalson said there are also speed indicator signs which can be purchased at a cost of $10,000. That type of sign reflects the speed limit and the speed the vehicle is traveling. Sawatzke had concern with potential vandalism. Fingalson said there is always a potential but nothing has occurred with the speed indicator unit in Rockford. It was noted that the sign in Rockford is more visible so there may be less potential for vandalism. Russek moved to authorize the ITS Grant Application, seconded by Heeter, carried 5-0.
At the last County Board Meeting, bids were opened for the 2008 Overlay Contract and laid over to today’s meeting. Fingalson said the recommendation is to award the contract to the low bid, Hardrives, Inc., $2,677,893.39 (Base Bid plus Alternate 2). The bids included Alternate 1 which was for the Pleasant Lake Park project. The Parks Administrator previously received a quote for just under $17,000 and will proceed with the quote as it is lower than bids received. Fingalson said the Base Bid will be funded from the Road & Bridge Account. He assumed that funding for the CR 148/Braddock Avenue project would come from the Capital Projects Fund. In response to Eichelberg, Fingalson explained that the Road & Bridge budget is about $73,000 short for the overlay projects, not including the CR 148/Braddock Avenue project. Two years ago, the bids came in about $600,000 over budget due to oil prices. Last year, they ended up realizing a savings of $13,000. That savings combined with the overage this year results in a shortage of about $73,000 for overlays. One of the main reasons is the decision to overlay a small portion of CR 39 (about 800’ in length) as part of the overlay project. He felt the $73,000 is not a large deviation relative to the size of the contract. It may be possible for quantities to vary enough that the net cost may end up closer to no cost increase. Deferring the overlays to next year will only increase the cost. There is also the potential for savings associated with the CR 36 flood control project. They are still waiting for the consultant’s design on that project. Mattson questioned what contractors performed work on CR 5 and CR 107. He noticed that the roadways were wavy. Fingalson said that with reclamation projects, the first year after the work is completed there may be waviness to the roadways. The problem then seems to settle down. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, said if the Board approves the overlay contracts today, Fingalson could come back with a plan reflecting how the difference of $73,000 would be made up (possibly through deferring equipment purchases until the actual costs are realized). Fingalson said the logical place would be from the overlay contract but the actual costs will not be known until the project is completed. Deferring equipment purchases is not an option as all equipment has been acquired for the year. Fingalson said the County normally completes 20 miles of overlay. This year they will complete 13 miles because of lack of financing. Russek moved to award the bid to Hardrives, at a cost of $2,677,893.39 with $130,833.45 of the funding to come from the Jail/LEC Capital Improvements Fund. The motion was seconded by Heeter and carried unanimously.
A Transportation Committee Of The Whole (TCOTW) Meeting was held on 2-20-08. The following reflects the minutes and discussion at today’s County Board Meeting (in italics):
Discuss Funding Options for TH 55/CR 134 and TH 55/CSAH 12 Projects.
Fingalson explained that federal funding for the proposed traffic signal light projects (and related road improvements) at TH 55/CR 134 and TH 55/CSAH 12 will not be available until Congress passes the Technical Corrections Bill. The House has already passed it, but it still needs to be approved by the Senate. Dumont explained that the four lanes of traffic on TH 55 need to be extended from the west side of CR 134 to the east side of CR 134 as part of the signal project. This necessitated the acquisition of right of way. The east-bound lane will taper back to a single lane before it reaches the next intersection (CR 147), but it will be graded for full width so that expansion in the future will be easier when that time comes. The intersection also needs to be better aligned with TH 55. Truman Welters donated right of way at the time that they built their new facility, which saved about $500,000 in right-of-way costs. Menards and Kwik Trip have also donated a total of $307,000 for this traffic signal. The original estimate of improving this intersection with traffic signals was about $2,250,000, plus $645,000 in to right-of-way costs. The current estimate is closer to $2.9 million, even though the right-of-way costs have actually decreased to $300,000. [See attachment A] Mn/DOT had intended to fund the bulk of this project with High Priority Project (HPP) funding (obtained from the efforts of the Hwy 55 Corridor Coalition), but now these funds are not available for construction costs because of a clerical error that altered the description in the funding bill, thereby affecting what these funds can be used for. Unless the this is corrected (Technical Corrections Bill) and “for construction” is added to its description, this money won’t be available to use for construction costs. This money is available for right-of-way purchase, and about $222,000 was used for that, with a local Mn/DOT match of about 20%. However, without these HPP funds, Mn/DOT will be short $1.49 million. The County Road costs would be $412,000, and the city will have costs related to utility costs. Without the Federal Corrections Bill, there won’t be funding to cover the costs of the construction. The House has already passed it, but the Senate did not pass it last year. It will be coming up again for a vote, and the House is expected to pass it again in 2008, but since this is a “corrections” bill, the Senate will have to pass it unanimously in order for it to become a law. However, there is speculation that there are six Senators who will not vote for it because they are opposed to “earmarks,” which is essentially what this is, and the voting record is confidential, so there is no record of who the “no” votes will come from. This technical corrections bill has been waiting for two years to be passed. Fingalson said that the main reason for meeting and discussing this today is to consider other options for funding the traffic signal projects if this bill doesn’t pass. There could also be a dilemma for future requests for appropriations if the original funding awarded to the TH 55 Corridor Coalition is not used. The federal decision makers might hesitate to award more funds if the first funds are not used, even considering the restriction (of not being available for construction) that has been applied to these funds. Though the funds are available for right-of-way acquisition for spot safety improvements, they cannot be used on any large project that is not current, or which does not have an approved environmental report. An environmental report needs approval before any work is completed. Dumont added that Mn/DOT Metro District (Hennepin County) needs to finish their environmental work before District 3 (Wright County) is allowed to begin their environmental analysis. Povich said that there have been some districts that have entered into agreements with cities and counties to reimburse funds to them if they front Mn/DOT’s share of the money for a project that needs to be done. A similar arrangement was made with the City of Little Falls when they bid an important project to them in August 2006. Mn/DOT then reimbursed the approximate 50% state share in the next fiscal year (after July 1, 2007). St. Michael did essentially the same thing for TH 241, which needed to be upgraded, but Mn/DOT didn’t have the funds. St. Michael funded half of that with no expectation of a payback, and they even agreed to do all of the snow/ice control for the next 10 years. Povich said that on the federal level, the highway trust fund is going into the red in a year or two, and there are all kinds of crises happening, including the housing crisis, the health crisis, and the war in Iraq (where $18 million/minute is being spent). Frustration is compounded when we watch our legislators spend time on researching steroid use in Major League Baseball. He said that priorities need to be rearranged and the government needs to get back to addressing the funding shortages. On the state level, the last gas tax increase was 20 years ago, and the Governor and the Legislature can’t seem to sit down together and come up with a compromise. There are more problems on the state level too. In District 3, there is a four-year construction program (STIP) where the project managers are asked annually to update construction and right-of-way costs to keep the program planning in balance. This was done a couple months ago, and the project managers found that inflation in highway construction is out of control. A $20 million deficit is anticipated for just the four-year program. In District 3 alone, they are thus faced with deferring $20 million in planned projects. Even if the Federal Corrections Bill passes, they will still be unable to fund everything. Now they have to look at deferring projects. Mn/DOT District 3 is down forty percent (40%) in employees over the last six years because of the budget squeeze. There is limited money available for projects. Even if more money becomes available, Mn/DOT still can’t make the promise to pay back their “share” if these traffic signal projects are fronted by the City and/or County. Fingalson asked if long-term funding becomes available from the Legislature this year, would Mn/DOT change its position in trying to work out a payback. Povich said that it might be a possibility, but even if the bill passing through the Legislature at this time passes (it is expected to be vetoed), it would provide only $10 million per year and not the $60 million per year that is needed to cover the planned projects. The bulk of the $10 million will be eaten up by inflation, which leaves just a few million a year. He expressed hope that something will pass, but even if it does, it will only help a little and won’t be a big breakthrough. Back in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, the Legislature kept up with inflation by increasing the gas tax a cent or two each year, and that helped keep up with the needs. But it’s been 20 years since the last increase, and the needs have been built up so great that it will be hard if not impossible to catch up by gas tax increase alone. The message to the District has been to get ready for projects in case they are approved. The staff took that to heart by preparing to work on priority projects, and now there are projects totaling $750 million waiting for funding. With the current funding, it will take 70 years to accomplish the projects that are currently waiting for funding. If the state transportation bill passes, it will still take 35-45 years to complete these same projects if they are to rely on this funding. Perhaps a 50 cent gas tax would be a solution to getting these projects done, but he said he doubted that would happen. Povich said that he sees a continuing struggle for now, but there might be a possibility of working with the City/County on payback if this funding passes at the state level. Eichelberg commented that the best option might be to contact the senators at the federal level and encourage that the corrections bill be passed. Fingalson said that he has a call in to Amy Klobuchar, but he isn’t sure of what influence she has for this. Povich said that a few people went to Washington in January to talk with Minnesota’s people, but it doesn’t appear that the people opposing this bill are from Minnesota. Apparently, the six senators who oppose earmarks are holding up the passage. Fingalson talked with Jim Oberstar’s office recently, and there are a number of other projects that are also affected by the stalling of this bill. Fingalson had heard rumors that some of these projects would be moved to other bills to get them through, but Oberstar’s staff assured him that this wasn’t happening. Naaktgeboren said that these two projects need to be done, and he said that as mayor he would like to see that the city does its part to make these happen, federal funds or not. Of all the complaints the City receives, the number two category is the intersection at TH 55/CR 134. Though the impatience of the driver is key at that intersection, the signal still needs to be installed. He would be willing to talk about the City’s participating in this project. Eichelberg asked if there would be payback from the Technical Corrections Bill if it passes, but Fingalson said that his contact at Mn/DOT (Brad Larson) wasn’t sure this could be done after the fact. Historically, this has not been done, but there might be a way to make it work. Povich suggested that they wait to see what happens in this Legislative Session and then discuss the funding and/or payback arrangements. Mattson commented that the Northstar is preventing the gas tax from going where it should go. He expressed his frustration that the rail system is continually taking money away from the areas in which it needs to be spent. He would like to see it go to roads and bridges, but as long as they are still considering funding more rail systems, the money will be short. Povich said that an audit report of Mn/DOT’s spending concluded that Mn/DOT’s top priority is not preserving roads and bridges, and this is what the data indicates. However, in 2000 the State Legislature did an inter-regional corridor study where they selected an expansion project, and in 2003 they approved a bonding program to apply to selected projects, and the Legislature told Mn/DOT to do the expansion projects rather than the preservation projects. Mattson said that through the ridership is up on the rail system, information is not made available to determine whether or not it is making money.
Auger asked about the stoplight that was recently approved for the City of St. Michael as part of the CSAH 19 reconstruction project and where this money came from. Hawkins said that when the warrants for this signal were first studied, a signal wasn’t needed. However, the new warrants show that it is needed now, and as part of the current project it will be paid for by federal funding that has been set aside and by state aid money that can be used for this. The original plan was to install the underground equipment now and then wait until warrants were met, but since they qualify now, it makes sense to include it with this project.
Dumont explained the funding split for the TH 55/CSAH 12 traffic signal. The total cost is $687,715, with the County’s share at $235,128 and Mn/DOT’s share at $452,587. In addition to the County’s costs, $222,000 was needed for the railroad expense. This caused a funding dilemma for 2008, as $80,000 of local funds were going to be used by the County for this and an additional $385,000 of state aid money was going to be used for this. But currently, there is no contract for the project so these state aid funds cannot be used. The Railroad has already replaced the crossing, but has not done the other work (signals, etc.). When the contract is let for this project, then the County can be reimbursed for those costs for the railroad work. But until then, $140,000 of local money will have to be accessed. Mattson asked if there were any projects in his district that could be deferred to free up funds (such as CSAH 12 south of Buffalo), but Fingalson said that that project had already been deferred due to lack of funding. Dumont said that additional funding might be available after July 1, 2008 for the CSAH 12 traffic signal project. If funding becomes available, then the project can be bid in order to access the state money. However, the County will still be short about $200,000 if the Technical Corrections Bill does not pass. Eichelberg said that the TH 55/CR 134 project needs to be considered since all the right of way has been acquired. Auger said that he would like to have an agreement with the State in place as they can’t bond without it. Povich suggested that they wait to see what the legislative sessions brings and then meet after results are known. Fingalson asked if Mn/DOT would consider an agreement with a payback provision, and Povich said they would. Fingalson asked if the County Board would consider acting now on the TH 55/CSAH 12 project with a similar payback agreement with Mn/DOT. Sawatzke suggested that they wait to see what happens with the Technical Corrections Bill and what happens in St. Paul. RECOMMENDATION: It was the consensus of the TCOTW that funding options for these two projects (traffic signal at TH 55/CR 134 and traffic signal at TH 55/CSAH 12) be revisited after the future of the Technical Corrections Bills has been determined and after the State Legislature has decided how they will address transportation funding in their 2008 session.
At today’s County Board Meeting, the following discussion occurred. Fingalson said at the time of the TCOTW Meeting, MnDOT indicated they would not be able to do a pay back on projects completed but this could change if the State Transportation Bill passes. Fingalson felt if the City or County would front the cost of the projects and enter into an agreement with Mn/DOT, that would place the burdon on Mn/DOT. Jim Povich, Mn/DOT representative that attended the TCOTW Meeting, indicated that District 3 has 70 years of backlog projects. With the passage of the State Transportation Bill, the 70 year backlog may become a 35 year backlog. Fingalson said the Chair of the Highway 55 Corridor Coalition is going to Washington and hopes to talk with the appropriate people about what can be done at the Federal level. Fingalson felt this outcome was bleak. He thought the best hope to get the projects completed this year would be to work through an agreement with Mn/DOT. The proposal would be for the City of Buffalo to upfront costs for the TH 55/CR 134 project and the County upfront costs for the TH 55/CSAH 12 project. The agreement would stipulate payback by Mn/DOT at some future date. Fingalson consulted with Povich who would be willing to entertain this possibility. However, it is uncertain how much funding will be directed to District 3. Fingalson said the TH 55/CSAH 12 project has about a $1 million shortfall. Russek suggested a change to the TH 55/CR 134 project. He felt that CR 147 was a dangerous road where it intersects with TH 55. The intersection at TH 55 and CR 134 could become squared (4 legs) with a new railroad crossing. Fingalson said the latest discussions have included extending the CSAH 34 intersection (near Target to connect with CR 147). This would affect the City, Township and County. The current plan only calls for a three-legged intersection at CR 134 and TH 55. The discussion needs to take place on closure of a portion of CR 147. The City of Buffalo retains the funding contributed by Kwik Trip and Menards toward the upgraded intersection. It was the consensus that a future TCOTW Meeting will be scheduled when Mn/DOT funding is known to discuss the two intersections (including CR 147).
Traffic Signal Funding Policy – City of Delano
Mayor McDonald thanked the Committee for taking the time to address their concerns about the current County Funding Policy. [Attachment B] The City of Delano is asking that the County reconsider its funding policy in regard to the traffic signal that is scheduled for installation at the intersection of TH 12/CSAH 30 as part of the TH 12 improvement project in Delano. The current policy sets the city share (the amount remaining after the federal and state participation is deducted) at no less than 50% of the remaining costs. McDonald explained that the City feels that they should not have to pay any share for an intersection on which there are no city legs. Kern commented that the County did not require the township to pay any portion of the expense for a traffic signal that was located in the township but had no township legs (TH 25/CSAH 37). Eichelberg said that the City of Hanover paid 50% of the cost of a traffic signal that was installed at the intersection of CSAHs 19/20, even though there were no city legs; and the same is true for a traffic signal in Albertville. He said that there have been complaints from various cities in the past, but the County has opted not to change its funding policy and the cities have ended up paying their share according to the policy. Fingalson explained that this agreement has been in place since 1984 and it deals with cities, and typically townships are not required to pay a share of an improvement such as a traffic signal. Wright County might be unique in District 3 in terms of the funding policy, as most other counties go strictly by legs. However, Dakota County has a split of 60/40 that favors the counties even more. Anoka County has a policy similar to Wright County’s. The County’s rationale is that the city benefits from having a good traffic flow and a reduction of high severity traffic accidents. Fingalson added that the County really doesn’t have the funds to cover this project either, as it has already had to borrow $3.5 million in funds allocated to 2009 in order to do 2008 state aid projects. Kern commented that the TH 12 project will require that two stoplights be installed in Delano, one at the TH 12/CSAH 30 intersection and one at the TH 12/CR 139 intersection. The City recognizes the importance to the city of having a traffic signal at CR 139. The real estate development and the location of the mall will help the traffic flow into and out of these areas. Kern said that the taxpayers of Delano are paying twice for the same signals, once with city taxes and once with county taxes. The Council does not agree that the city should pay for half of the cost when most of the traffic does not originate or end up in Delano. Delano’s cost on the CSAH 30 traffic signal is about $42,000, and all of it will have to come from local dollars, because municipal state aid funds cannot be used on this portion of the project. Kern said that this traffic signal is more comparable to the signal that was installed at TH 25/CSAH 37, where the township did not produce the traffic and did not have to pay for any portion of the cost. He said that the city has no problem paying their share for the CR 139 signal, but they feel that it is not equitable for Delano to have to pay for the CSAH 30 signal. Mattson asked Kern how he would reword the policy, and Kern said that they would like to see each situation looked at on a case-by-case basis. Sawatzke said that none of the present commissioners were on the Board when this policy was adopted, but they have abided by it. When it was written, it didn’t include the townships, and this might have been because no one expected that traffic signals would be erected in rural areas. Currently, there is only one, and that is the one at TH 25/CSAH 37. Cordell commented that prior to Frankfort Township becoming part of the City of St. Michael, the township paid for a portion of the traffic signal at TH 101/CSAH 36. Sawatzke said that by virtue of the county’s Planning and Zoning rules, townships are not allowed to grow and develop in the same way that cities are. However, Frankfort Township did their own planning and zoning before they became part of the City of St. Michael. The traffic is not being driven by what is going on in townships, and it might not be driven by what is going on in the cities either. But, growth and development are encouraged to take place in cities, and this drives traffic. The County’s policy has a minimum requirement of 50/50 cost split, and there are some cases where cities have paid more than a 50% share. The City of Monticello paid 100% for a signal by the hospital and school that was located on a county highway. The City was told that they were responsible for all of the costs. Farther to the east, another traffic signal was requested by Target and Home Depot, and the City was told that they would have to find their own funds to pay for it. Sawatzke said that sometimes the County doesn’t even pay 50%. When the traffic signal was put in by the Buffalo High School on CSAH 35, the school, the county, and the City of Buffalo split the cost into thirds. Kern said that he has worked hard with both Fingalson and Hawkins regarding a residential development that is planned about a half mile west of the TH 12/CSAH 30 intersection. They anticipate that this will trigger a signal requirement and plan to place 100% of that responsibility on the shoulders of the developers. Kern said that the City’s position would be different if there were someone developing at this intersection that necessitated the installation of this signal. Their willingness to cover the cost of the signal at CR 139 proves that they are willing to pay their fair share. However, the intersection of TH 12/CSAH 30 that carries a vast amount of traffic from outside the city just happens to be located in the City of Delano. This intersection does not compare with community development or to a hospital or school. Eichelberg commented that changing this policy would open the door to many more requests. Most of the traffic at the intersection of CSAHs 19/20 is not generated in Hanover, and maybe Hanover would want to be reimbursed for the expenses that they paid for this signal. Fingalson asked if the city feels that they benefit from the signal at TH 12/CSAH 30. Bartels said that it is a benefit to the city and also to the county and the township. If the city weren’t there, then the county would pay for it.
He said that it is an issue of fairness. McDonald commented that maybe it wasn’t fair for Hanover to pay what they did since the major benefit is to those who live outside the city. He said that the city is happy to help pay for the TH12/CSAH 30 signal through their county taxes and for the TH12/CR 139 through city taxes, but each case needs to be judged on its own merit. In this case, it would be more fair for the county to pay more than 50% of the cost at the TH12/CSAH 30 intersection because the county benefits more than the city does. He said that the majority of traffic comes from outside the city, and Bartels said that this could be determined by comparing current traffic counts to those from six years ago. Hawkins said that when state highways have been rebuilt, there was always a 50/50 split and cities paid their share. He didn’t think it would be fair to change to make an exception now. Kern said that he doesn’t think it is fair to have the county funding policy benefit one jurisdiction over another, such as the township over the city. He doesn’t think it is fair to city taxpayers to have to pay for part of a project like this when township people are not asked to do the same. Sawatzke said that he thinks part of the reason Frankfort Township and St. Michael consolidated is because Frankfort had its own planning and zoning and was turning into an urban township with development and industrial parks. The stop light was probably necessitated because of the growth and development. As a township, they couldn’t service the development they created. But the property in Monticello Township is largely agricultural. He doesn’t think this policy is perfect, but he still thinks it works well. Sawatzke said that drivers can’t be interviewed to find out where they drive from in order to split the costs. Fingalson said that he thinks the traffic signals that Frankfort helped pay for got caught in the transition from township to city. Kern said that when a township starts to develop like a city, much like Franklin has been doing with industrial parks, they need to contribute to the cost share of a signal such as this. A policy that addresses both townships and cities is needed, especially where there is development. Eichelberg asked if there is any interest in changing the policy at this time. Mattson commented that he would find it hard to change the policy now, but that he would be willing to revisit it sometime in the future. Heeter commented that the policy works well to address the cost share for projects like this and that it would be very difficult to address each instance separately. Eichelberg said that having a policy, even if it isn’t perfect, is better than not having one. This gives the Board the opportunity to efficiently use their time. Hawkins said that the county doesn’t have money set aside for this project and will have to come up with money for its share from local property taxes. Kern said that the city would be willing to pay for the signal at CR 139 if the county would pay for the signal at CSAH 30. He feels that the county should pay for the signal that mostly benefits traffic that comes from outside Delano. Eichelberg said that most of the traffic on TH 241 in St. Michael is not generated by St. Michael, but rather comes from outside the city. He asked again if anyone were interested in changing the policy. Heeter asked how Russek (absent due to a funeral) felt about this, and Bartels said that Russek had told him that he was sure the other four commissioners would not be in favor of changing the policy. McDonald asked the commissioners to think about changing the policy to allow for the consideration of individual cases. If they don’t consider what is fair and equitable or right and wrong, then they shouldn’t invite them to the meeting to talk about this. Sawatzke answered that the commissioners have listened and understand the request. They just don’t feel compelled at this time to change the policy. In fact, at times they may have changed it to require even more of a share from a city. Fingalson commented that the county has a pretty consistent track record using this policy. With the current funding, the county doesn’t have any money right now. This would have been easier when there were municipal state aid funds, but they aren’t available anymore for Delano, since they have their own Municipal State Aid System. Wright County could decide to do what Dakota County does and ask for even more funds, but it would be problematic to try and determine a percentage of cost share based on where the traffic is generated. Eichelberg thanked the city representatives for coming to the meeting, but said that it looks like there is a consensus to stick with the current policy. Kern said that he feels that a policy that treats cities and townships differently has the potential to create some hard feelings. He doesn’t like the additional burden that is given to the cities; and even if the commissioners do not want to change the policy at this time, he asked that they reconsider in the future. Eichelberg said that the Highway Department staff will take a look at the policy and determine if it should be adjusted, and Fingalson agreed to do this. Sawatzke added that the county is not requiring the City of Delano to install this traffic signal. They don’t have to put it in if they don’t want to pay for it. The traffic signal that is located at TH 25/CSAH 37 probably carries less than one percent of township traffic, and if the county had required Monticello Township to pay for it in order to have it installed, there probably would not be signal there. Townships typically do not have the same tax base that cities do, and they have no money to pay for this type of expense. He agreed that the policy is not perfect, but it is as good a policy that they can come up with. RECOMMENDATION: It was the consensus of the TCOTW that the County’s Traffic Signal Funding Policy not be changed at this time.
At today’s County Board Meeting, Russek said he was unable to attend the TCOTW Meeting. However, he did talk with the Mayor after the last Council Meeting and explained the County’s Funding Policy. Russek said he would abstain from voting on the approval of the TCOTW Minutes as he was not in attendance. Mattson moved to approve the TCOTW Minutes, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 4-0 (Russek abstained).
(End of TCOTW Minutes)
A Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 2-26-08. At today’s County Board Meeting, Russek moved to approve the minutes and recommendation, seconded by Heeter. Sawatzke said the security issue started a couple of years ago when an article was circulated reflecting that Stearns County was looking at putting in metal detectors and armed guards at their Government Center. Sawatzke said this was not true, that this was only at the access points of their courtroom areas. This would be no different than the personnel and metal detectors that Wright County has in their courts area. He felt the issue had been started on a false pretense. Sawatzke said a survey was completed and there is not a single county in the State that has armed guards or metal detectors at the doors of the Government Center as opposed to the Courts area of Government Centers. There was reference made at the Committee Meeting reflecting that Stearns and Anoka Counties were looking at possibly having screening at their main entrances. Sawatzke contacted the Stearns County Administrator who said they are not putting metal detectors at entrances into the Government Center. Sawatzke said whoever brought forth this idea received bad information. Sawatzke said in the end, no one else in the State has this type of security and Wright County would be the first and only county to do it. He was unsure whether others would follow. He felt there was another major gap in that employees are allowed to enter the building without being checked. Sawatzke said many times when there is a shooting in the workplace, it involves employees. He thought the secure entrances were very expensive, requiring three employees (four with relief factor) at a cost of about $250,000 to implement. Sawatzke said he would vote no as he felt there were better ways to spend the money. Russek favored being proactive rather than reactive. He felt it was sad that the country was in this state but it is a reality. Russek stated he would vote in favor of the recommendation. Mattson presented an article relating to shootings which occurred in a Missouri Council Meeting. He felt the recommendation would protect all employees in the Government Center. The motion carried 4-1 with Sawatzke casting the nay vote.
This item was referred from the Personnel Committee Meeting of 1-23-08. Miller explained that he was originally asked to project the equipment and staffing needs to screen individuals at two points of entry into the Government Building. The entrance to motor vehicle licensing would be closed. Based on the Board’s approval, additional staff was hired and two metal detectors were purchased. The 2007 budget process did not account for two judge positions granted by the State. The two additional judges required two bailiffs were not in the budget. In addition, a relief factor was not considered. Due to staffing shortages, the security screening positions for the Government Center were not filled. The Department did a test run in 2006, providing temporary security at the main entrances during a slow period for the courts. Miller described that in order to provide security for both the Government Center and the Courts area, eight posts are required (six bailiffs, and two full-time armed positions). Russek asked Miller if upon hiring the new position whether the security measures would immediately be put into place. Miller stated that his Department needs one more body/post to keep both the Courts secure and the Government Center secure. Heeter stated that she understood Miller’s request is for one full-time licensed relief position to cover six bailiffs in the Courts area and two for the Government Center. Miller clarified that eight positions were budgeted for in 2008. Sawatzke stated that the County would be paying approximately $250,000 to staff three persons at the two main entrances of the Government Center. Heeter stated that the budget already allocated funding for two positions. The request is for one additional staff person which does not equate to $250,000. Heeter stated that she feels that the Board owes it to the County’s citizens and employees to provide them with proper surveillance within the Government Center. Mattson asked how the courtrooms would be properly secured. Miller stated that a bailiff is assigned to each courtroom and judge. Miller noted that currently there are two half-time civilian positions that screen people going into Court which are supplemented by bailiffs, when available. Miller stated that he would staff the two entry posts with two licensed positions, both armed, and a half-time bailiff. Mattson asked Miller to clarify whether the two entrance points would be staffed daily for 8 hours. Miller stated that the posts would be manned for eight hours, but not always by three positions. Only during peak hours would all three positions be utilized for screening. During the off-peak hours, the third position would help transport prisoners from Jail to Court. Sawatzke stated that he requested a survey be conducted on whether other counties within the State were utilizing security measures (metal detectors) for their government building entrances. Mattson referenced a recent incident involving a gunman who killed five persons at a Missouri Council meeting. He stated that he did not want a similar incident to occur within the County Government Center. He referenced how stressful Planning & Zoning Meetings can get. Heeter referenced the stressful environments of 4th floor and Human Services. Russek questioned why the County would not want to be proactive, rather than reactive. He added that the County already purchased the metal detectors. During the testing period at the two main entrances of the Government Center, none of the citizens expressed any negativity toward the screening process. Miller confirmed that the test period went well. Miller stated that he understands it is difficult to request new positions outside of what was budgeted. However, his Department will have a considerable turn back of 2007 budgeted dollars as positions were not filled and a backfill position was not provided for a grant position. He stated that he is confident that funding will be available due to the dollars his Department will turn back. Miller stated that by forging ahead with Government Center security, his Department would be able to make a determination prior to the 2009 budget session, of how the Government Center will function after the Sheriff Department moves to the Jail/LEC. Eichelberg asked if the metal detectors would be brought down from the courts area to the main entrance areas. Miller stated yes. Eichelberg asked how soon Miller expected to implement the new security measures. Miller stated that he could foresee April 1st as the start date, using existing temporary licensed staff until the full-time position was hired. He stated that he is aware that there is a real desire amongst other Departments to see this move forward. Hagerty stated that current staffing is down 3 full-time positions and one half-time sworn position. He stated that fortunately, vacation requests are light until approximately June. He stated that he could foresee the Department staffing the posts with a current employee, a newer person who is coming off field training soon, or fill as a rotating position with a patrol deputy. Sawatzke requested to see the results from the survey. Norman stated that Melvin conducted the requested survey, examining the larger, comparable counties in the immediate surrounding area. Sawatzke stated that he thought it is only fair to look at the counties that are similar to Wright County. Melvin presented a two-page handout titled “2008 County Security Survey” (see attached). Melvin stated that he surveyed Anoka, Benton, Carver, Scott, Sherburne, Stearns, and Washington Counties. He provided a brief overview of the results. He stated that only Stearns and Anoka Counties are using two metal detectors. All other counties, except Carver, are using one metal detector for their courts. Scott and Sherburne Counties have metal detectors available, but do not use them on a daily basis. Scott County uses wands. Sherburne County indicated that they only use their metal detector during high profile cases. According to the survey, Stearns County has two separate court facilities, and Anoka County has two x-ray machines in addition to their two metal detectors. Kelly asked for clarification on Benton County’s security measures. Melvin indicated that Benton County has two separate entrances: the courts and the courthouse building each have separate entrances. The metal detectors are placed at the entrance of the courts area. Sawatzke asked Melvin if he would agree that based on the survey results, no other counties in the State are using metal detectors at their government building entrances. The survey indicates that Wright County would be the only county in the State to require metal detectors at the entrances of its Government Center. Melvin stated that based on the survey results of seven counties, Sawatzke’s statements would be correct. Nordeen stated that in speaking with the Court Administrator from Anoka County, she discovered that they are in the process of changing their security measures. Because they have multiple accesses into the courthouse from a parking ramp, their intention is to provide screening at entrances into the entire complex, not just the courts area. Melvin stated that he was given the same information. Anoka County has four or more entrances into their facility from the parking ramp. Hagerty stated that he spoke with Stearns County Chief Deputy Bruce Bechtold who spoke with Melvin regarding the survey. Bechtold asked Hagerty to pass further comments to Melvin regarding the security in the Courts and Courthouse. Stearns County is looking at putting a metal detector in the Courthouse building as well. Melvin stated that Bechtold had shared the same information with him. Sawatzke stated that for the minutes, he’d like it reflected that based on the survey results, Wright County is unaware of any single county in the State that have metal detectors solely used at the entrances of government centers. Heeter stated that Wright County would be leaders in providing security for its Government Center employees and visitors. Sawatzke stated that Wright County would be leaders in wasting money. Mattson stated that originally he was skeptical of providing security at the entrances of the Government Center. However, upon the recent shooting and deaths at a City Council Meeting in Missouri, he has changed his mind. Heeter stated that the Board had already approved taking additional security measures by purchasing the metal detection equipment. She stated that she did not understand why the Board is now debating the topic. Sawatzke stated that the Board approved the metal detection equipment and staff. Now there is a request to spend an additional $50-60,000 for an additional full-time licensed armed position. This is an additional price tag. Heeter stated that she is in favor of approving the funding for the position in order to implement security checks at the two main entrances of the Government Center. She stated that she would feel comfortable defending her decision to her constituents and the public. She stated that she thinks it is the right thing to do. Russek stated that he has felt uncomfortable within the halls of the Government Center. He stated that feeling uncomfortable within the building could be eliminated with proper security measures at the main entrances of the Government Center. He stated that he feels it is the responsibility of the Board to protect its employees. Mattson stated that he was happy with the results of the testing period in 2006. He stated that he expected to hear grief from visitors about the screening. He stated it was his perception that visitors felt comfortable with the security measures. Eichelberg stated that he believes the Committee has reached a consensus. Eichelberg asked Miller if the recommendation should include a date specific for when the screening will begin. Miller stated that if the Board approves the requested position, then the Department would aim to post temporary positions by April 1st until the full-time licensed person is hired and trained. RECOMMENDATION: Approve adding one full-time licensed position for implementation and supervision of the Courthouse Security Division (Sheriff Division).
(End of Committee Of The Whole Minutes)
A Personnel Committee Meeting was held on 2-27-08. At today’s County Board Meeting, Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes. The motion was seconded by Heeter and carried unanimously:
PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL, GREG KRAMBER, COUNTY ASSESSOR. RECOMMENDATION: Based on the five performance appraisals submitted, the Committee recommends an overall rating of “Exceptional”.
PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL, BILL SWING, IT DIRECTOR. RECOMMENDATION: Based on the five performance appraisals submitted, the Committee recommends an overall rating of “Exceptional”.
PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL, RICHARD NORMAN, COUNTY COORDINATOR. RECOMMENDATION: Based on the five performance appraisals submitted, the Committee recommends an overall rating of “Exceptional”.
(End of Personnel Committee Minutes)
An Owner’s Committee Meeting will be held today at 1:00 P.M.
Sawatzke moved to cancel the 4-08-08 County Board Meeting due to the occurrence of five Tuesdays in April. The Owner’s Committee for 4-08-08 has been cancelled as well. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0.
Bills Approved
Albertville Body Shop Inc. $1,338.26
AMI Imaging Systems,Inc. 8,374.23
Annandale Chamber of Comerce 120.00
Anoka Co. Corrections 1,352.00
Aramark Correctional Services 10,989.25
Big Time Towing 249.17
Bigbys Towing & Recovery 138.46
BP Amoco 3,641.82
Buffalo Floral & Landscaping 340.00
Buffalo Hospital 11,279.59
Buffalo Hospital-Otpt. Comm. 1,178.60
Burdas Towing 113.96
Church of St. Michael 110,000.00
City Clearwater 76,595.14
CPS Technology Solutions 262.00
E Central Regional Juvenile 11,703.76
Envirotech Services Inc. 5,662.46
Ernst Gen. Construction Inc. 900.00
Graphic & Printing Services 1,638.33
Hillyard Floor Care Supply 2,975.95
Information Systems Corp. 698.50
Integrated Fire & Security 232.50
Intereum Inc. 1,259.33
Junction Towing & Auto Repair 234.30
Thomera Karvel 258.71
Thomas Kelly 119.69
Cheryl Klingler 100.00
Lab Safety Supply Inc. 224.66
LexisNexis 110.00
Little Falls Machine 2,142.88
L3 Communications Inc. 563.93
Marco 190.79
Marco Inc. 4,118.73
MN CLE Inc. 225.00
MN County Attorneys Assoc. 100.00
MN Supreme Court 542.00
Monticello Auto Body Inc. 133.13
Monticello Ford Mercury Inc. 645.69
N Suburban Towing Inc. 191.70
Office Depot 2,670.25
Pakor Inc. 1,359.13
Performance Office Papers 452.41
Philips Medical Systems Hsg 3,435.80
RA Parts 160.00
Radisson Suite Hotel St. Cloud 282.24
Reed Business Information 182.52
Pat Sawatzke 285.66
Star Tribune 165.00
Streichers 596.40
TW Vending Inc. 132.86
Voss Lighting 367.51
Weighing Systems & Services 929.53
23 Payments less than $100 1,017.30
Final total $272,981.13
The meeting adjourned at 10:19 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal March 24, 2008.