Wright County Board Minutes

APRIL 7, 2009
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, Eichelberg and Thelen present.
Russek moved to approve the minutes of 3-31-09, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0.
Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows: Item For Consid. #1, “Award, Wright County Sheriff Department” (Thelen). Eichelberg moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Russek, carried unanimously.
The Consent Agenda was discussed. Sawatzke referenced Item C2, “Refer To 4-22-09 Personnel Committee Discussion RE: Consideration To Run All Off-Duty Law Enforcement Employment Through Wright County Payroll.” He asked whether the issue had been addressed in the past. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, said this was the case but he was unsure as to when it had been discussed. Sawatzke estimated the time frame to be the early to mid 1990’s. The Administration Department was directed to research past minutes and, if possible, provide copies where this was discussed. Russek added that if there is a policy, there should be a copy available. Russek moved to approve the Consent Agenda, seconded by Thelen. Sawatzke referenced Consent Item C1, “Refer To 4-22-09 Personnel Committee Discussion RE: Justification To Backfill Vacant Deputy Sheriff Positions.” He asked Norman whether this item relates to the new process put into place on referring position openings to the Personnel Committee. Norman responded that the request relates to positions that have been vacant for some time. The motion carried 5-0:
1. Performance Appraisals: C. Barthel, R. Hagel, D. Pace, B. Vogel, Bldg. Maint.; C. Mueller, D. Pobuda, R. Thompson, P&Z; M. Williamson, Sher.
2. Overtime Report, Period Ending 3-20-09.
3. First Quarter Report, Voluntary Leave Without Pay Program.
1. Transfer Of Sheriff’s Squad Car That Is Up For Auction To Court Services Department.
1. Refer To 4-22-09 Personnel Committee Discussion RE: Justification To Backfill Vacant Deputy Sheriff Positions.
2. Refer To 4-22-09 Personnel Committee Discussion RE: Consideration To Run All Off-Duty Law Enforcement Employment Through Wright County Payroll.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented the claims listing for approval. Sawatzke referenced a claim on Page 15, Ernst General Construction ($1,100) and asked whether this claim relates to the Jail located at the Government Center. Norman responded that this was correct. Mattson referenced a claim on Page 15, Sears Commercial One ($1,379.03) for a microwave, refrigerator, and coffee brewer. Sawatzke said the purchase was reviewed and recommended by the Owner’s Committee and approved by the County Board. Norman stated the claim is coded to Site Improvements but should be corrected to the Jail Furniture & Equipment line item. Mattson referenced Page 15, Motorola Inc. ($12,573.60) for the purchase of mobile radios and asked whether the purchase relates to the 800 Mhz Radio System. Hiivala felt the radios were purchased for use in the Jail. On a motion by Russek, second by Thelen, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.
Kerry Saxton, SWCD, said the SWCD was asked by the County Board to look at a 5% budget reduction, which was asked of County Departments as well. The SWCD had looked at hiring an intern for water management and water testing. Instead, they secured time from a C.R.O.W. Technician. This provided efficiencies that will allow the SWCD to cut the budget by 5%. Saxton distributed information reflecting the 2008 Budget to 2008 Actual Revenue figures. Miscellaneous Revenues were highlighted. The line item was budgeted at $16,500.00 and came in at $88,489.98. This figure includes $10,000 the County provided to the SWCD to implement the program to eradicate wild parsnip and $48,000 shifted from other investments. It includes monies from grants (local, Initiative Foundation, lake monitoring, MET Council, MN Water monies) totaling $28,800. There is about $30,000 in this line item or double what was budgeted. Saxton referenced the State Project line item which was budgeted at $99,000 and came in at $242,591. State money was brought in from various programs (Wetland Conservation Act Enforcement, money from BWSR for Anne Lake Testing, $20,000 in weed eradication money, and State funding for work on Pelican Lake). Saxton did not anticipate State funding to continue because of the State’s budget situation. Saxton clarified that the handouts reflect a cash budget. They also looked at an accrual budget and some of the money will have to be shifted to the corresponding programs that have to be completed in 2009. Saxton expects an approximate $70,000 positive variance that is basically comprised of State dollars. The SWCD Board reviewed the information and their recommendation is as follows:
• Approximately $30,000 should be used to improve infiltration practice use in the County by putting in demonstration sites. Approximately eight (8) rainwater gardens on visible areas in all areas of the County and placed with landowners or users that will take care of them. Other practices such as rain barrels may also be promoted and offered at a reduced cost.
• Approximately $30,000 should be used to upgrade our ability to test water quality and to improve survey capability by placing stations at key sites and/or to purchase survey equipment and software that will enable us to survey and plot surveys in our office, with our move to metro JPA this could be very important.
• $10,000 used to cover the County’s commitment to Wild Parsnip Control in 2009 as possible matching money with State grants if available.
Saxton said with regard to control of wild parsnip, the SWCD will take care of the costs in 2009 but the 2010 amount will have to be discussed at budget time. Saxton said the passage of the Green Acres law set their conservation efforts back one year, as far as their set aside programs. They had difficulty selling anything even though there were attractive State and State/Federal combination programs available. Sawatzke asked whether CRP is now allowed under Green Acres and Saxton confirmed it is, as well as the Rim/WRP Program. The Program pays 140% of value in targeted areas. Sawatzke asked whether Saxton felt they would be successful with CRP in the Pelican Lake area. Saxton responded that he felt this would happen. The SWCD and DNR have set $100,000 aside for the landowners within the Pelican Lake Watershed to try to do some things beyond what the State and Federal government are doing with purchasing property. They are working with farmers to try to implement some conservation practices. Thelen referenced the recommendations which total $70,000 and asked for a total remaining balance. Saxton did not have the information available at today’s meeting but said he could provide this during budget sessions. He said basically the result is a balanced budget. Thelen asked if State funding has to be tied to a specific project. Saxton explained that State funding is always tied to a project. If projects are completed in house and outside staff is not hired, monies become available for other uses. Russek extended appreciation to the SWCD and Saxton for their efforts in reducing their budget by 5%. Norman said the information provided today relates to revenues and questioned the 2008 year-end expenditures. Saxton said because of the State monies received, an accrual based budget would total about $70,000 to the positive. If the money is spent as recommended, the 2008 budget would be about balanced. Saxton said they recently received a request from the USGS for Wright County to complete a geologic atlas on the County. Saxton has not discussed this with the SWCD Board. The atlas could be another consideration for expenditures. The USGS previously offered to complete the atlas at a cost of $110,000, with the potential to cut some of the cost with staff time at the local level. The offer now includes staff time only at the local level. The County does have some geological work done, but the atlas would provide a better look at current and potential problems. Sawatzke asked how the geologic survey would differ from the soil survey. Saxton explained that the soil survey looks at 6’ of the soil profile. The geologic survey is the area below 6’ including the aquifers and pumping rights within those aquifers. This will provide insight into how much can be pumped in the future. Saxton said the eastern portion of Wright County has more water available. More information is needed on the western portion of the County. Information will also be available on the potential of polluting those areas. The geologic atlas would require staff time from the SWCD and the Planning and Zoning Department, depending on how it is set up. Saxton needs to discuss the atlas with Planning and Zoning. Russek referenced the water gardens which will be completed and said that one is planned for Buffalo Lake. Monies from RC&D will assist. Saxton said there are about five sites planned. They will advertise and pick sites that are visible and that will be maintained.
Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, requested approval of a Grant Agreement with Mn/DOT. This Agreement is necessary in order to access funds awarded for the CSAH 37/CR 119 Bypass Lane Project (SAP 86-637-31). Fingalson said new policies have been required by the Legislative Auditor and the Agreement is required when General Obligation Bonds are involved. Eichelberg moved to approve the Agreement, seconded by Thelen. Sawatzke said the last time this was discussed, there were two impacted property owners. One property owner supported the project and the other was not supportive. Fingalson responded that he still needs to contact the property owners. There have been problems with legal descriptions but changes have resulted. Mattson asked how this will affect the property owners if the Agreement is approved today. Fingalson explained that approval allows the County to obtain the funding to complete the project. The motion carried 5-0.
At 9:30 A.M., Sawatzke closed the bid process for 2009 Overlay Contract 0901 (SAP 86-617-11, SAP 86-630-20, CP 86-8-092, CP 86-32-092, and CP 86-139-092). The Engineer’s estimate is $3,400,000 for the base bid (not including Alternates 1 and 2). Alternate 1 is the East Maple Lake Access with an Engineer’s estimate of $16,988.00. Alternate 2 is the Waverly Truck Station Lot with an Engineer’s estimate of $45,240. Fingalson recommended that bids be laid over for one week for review and recommendation at the next meeting. Russek moved to approve laying the bids over for one week, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0:
Bid Bond; Acknowledge Addendum; Alternate 1; Alternate 2; Base Bid
Knife River, Sauk Rapids; Yes; Yes; $14,061.22; $36,952.47; $2,831,333.69
Duininck Bros., Inc., Prinsburg; Yes; Yes; $14,028.00; $43,356.50; $3,062,481.01
Hardrives, Inc., Rogers; Yes; Yes; $12,733.40; $43,727.70; $2,839,162.75
Central Specialties, Alexandria; Yes; Yes; $16,982.00; $58,961.50; $3,352,410.01
Wm. Mueller & Sons, Hamburg; Yes; Yes; $15,178.00; $50,358.50; $3,088,112.89
Fred Bengtson, DNR Wildlife Manager, recognized the successful partnership between the DNR and Wright County on the acquisition of the Pelican Lake WMA on the east shores of Pelican Lake. The parcel of land was auctioned just over a year ago. Wright County and the DNR worked together to bid and hold the property until the acquisition was complete. The County’s earnest money has been returned. The property will be posted and opened for public use. The habitat features will be restored. Bengtson extended appreciation to the County. He cited the efforts of Greg Kramber, Assessor, who completed work at the auction. He felt Kramber deserved praise and consideration for his work. Bengtson said Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, worked to resolve a title issue and provided great assistance. That action has helped open doors for possible future acquisition of a neighboring property. They also preserved the County’s payment in lieu of tax revenue on that parcel. Bengtson said the DNR is working with the County and the US Fish & Wildlife Service on Ney Park. An area within the current ownership of Ney Park has been identified where an approximate 60-acre drain basin could be restored. They are working to acquire one more parcel. Bengtson said this will be a beautiful addition to an area shared between the County and the DNR. Bengtson applauded the County’s efforts in the Bertram Chain of Lakes project. He did a lot of review on the whole process of debate on Green Acres. He felt Wright County was instrumental in turning heads and pointing out potential pitfalls, not just economic, but conservation as well. He felt Kramber and other Wright County staff deserve a lot of credit in this regard. Bengtson referenced Saxton’s comments with regard to working together on Pelican Lake in addition to land acquisition. One of 14 areas in the State, the DNR has approved the Pelican Lake Watershed as a working lands initiative area. That partnership will look to leverage outside money with private land owners. Bengtson introduced Bob Peterson, Wright County Pheasants Forever. Peterson extended thanks to the DNR, SWCD and the County for conservation efforts. He said the Bertram Chain of Lakes Project has been amazing. Peterson presented a $2,500 check from Pheasants Forever toward the Project. He encouraged the County to consider offering a one-day youth hunt or handicap hunt to be held on either the Bertram or Ney Park land. This would be a day when the Park could be closed for this purpose.
Bengtson said that they are working to purchase additional parcels on Pelican Lake. As a consequence of the County’s assistance with the DNR purchasing land, the Fish & Wildlife Services has jumpstarted their program with Duck Stamp dollars and the use of Outdoor Amendment funds to purchase land around Pelican Lake. There seems to be a renewed or continued interest with landowners to negotiate on land. Bengtson extended thanks to the Board for their involvement. Thelen referenced a discussion last year on the Visner property on Nixon Lake. Bengtson said that during the interim period between the Outdoor Amendment and funding, he submitted the project for funding. Unfortunately the funding was not there. He made recent inquiries with St. Paul staff and was told this project would have to wait 1.5 years. The landowners have been informed. He understood they decided to pursue a private sale. Bengtson has contacted the property owners several times to reiterate that the DNR would be in a position to work on this in the near future. The funding was not available when the parcel became open. The property has been on the market for a couple of years. Bengtson was unsure as to the current status of the property, but he was not going to give up on it. The property has outstanding remnant prairie areas that he felt should probably show up on the County’s biological survey. Sawatzke said the $2,500 check from Pheasants Forever says, “Land Acquisition, Monticello Camp Purchase.” He questioned whether a fund should be set up by the Auditor. He felt that over time, more groups or individuals may want to contribute. Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, said that when the DNR closed on the purchase of the Pelican Lake property, Bengtson felt that Pheasants Forever may make a donation to cover the $100,000 the County had in earnest costs sitting out there for over a year. Asleson said the Auditor/Treasurer indicated the $2,500 is what the County would have earned had the funds been deposited in the bank. The check is making the County whole and acknowledging what the County did to take part in this acquisition.
Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, brought forth discussion on the TH 55 Official Map Ordinance and Official Map. In early 2007, the County adopted the Official Map Ordinance. A Public Hearing was held in the later part of 2007 and all landowners within 1/4 mile of the proposed corridor were notified. The TH 55 Official Map was discussed at the 1-13-09 County Board Meeting. The Map has since been revised and the Surveyor’s Office provided the County Board with overlays with aerial photos. These overlays provide a good picture of how existing structures will be affected by the adoption of the Official Map.
Sawatzke said that in past discussions, he has brought up the issue of variances that will be required for adding onto existing structures within the proposed corridor and the associated fees. He did not feel a property owner should have to pay the variance fees to add something as simple as a deck onto an existing home. He thought that this differed from someone who wants to build a new home within the proposed corridor. In that situation, the property owner could ask for a variance but he did not know if it should be granted as they have the ability to build outside the corridor. Sawatzke asked whether staff had resolved this issue.
Tom Salkowski, Planning & Zoning Administrator, said he wanted to clarify a possible misstatement made at a previous meeting held at the Highway Department. At that meeting, he was under the impression that the Ordinance would only apply to buildings within the proposed right-of-way. Salkowski said this is incorrect. Upon reading the new Ordinance, the new setback will be measured from the current centerline and also from the proposed centerline. Therefore, the new setback will go beyond the new right-of-way. Although there will not be a lot more impact, he wanted to make that clear.
In response to Sawatzke’s question regarding fees, the Ordinance is clear that the same process will be followed (hearings, staff time, notices, etc.). There is a dual fee system for the Board of Adjustment. Simpler issues (i.e., temporary mobile homes and lot line adjustments) incur a $150 fee. Most other variances are charged a $250 fee. Salkowski said upon review of the maps, it appears that in many of the cases where an existing structure would be added onto a variance will be required whether or not the new Ordinance is adopted. In cases where a variance is required, only because of the new Ordinance and an existing building is involved, he suggested the $150 fee. He recommended charging a fee in all cases as they will hold a Board of Adjustment Meeting and there will be staff time and reports involved. Salkowski extended thanks to the Surveyor’s Office for the maps they created. The maps will make it easier for staff to interpret the Ordinance and for people to understand. The maps are available on the Beacon System.
Mattson asked whether a person has the right to appeal the fees in cases where the centerline moved and therefore a variance is required where it was not required before. Salkowski said in most cases, the right-of-way is getting wider. Railroad tracks run along the south side of TH 55. The only way to expand to four lanes is to proceed north. In the case where a person has 40 acres and there are no buildings, all that will occur is the setback will be longer. In most cases, he did not believe people will want to build that close to the Highway. There are situations where existing buildings close to the highway will be impacted. There are a couple of instances, primarily in Rockford Township, where the proposal is to straighten curves resulting in an entirely new right-of-way. In those cases, there will be a larger impact. If someone wants to build in an area where the highway will be built, the property owner will have the choice of moving their structure back or appealing as is the case in any other variance. The process is the same but the setbacks are wider. The idea behind the Ordinance is to save the public money in the long run by avoiding tearing down buildings when TH 55 becomes a 4-lane highway.
Asleson said if the Ordinance is adopted, the eventual process will be to record the maps. The maps are different than the aerial photo overlays in that they reflect the property lines and the existing right-of-ways. Eichelberg said the County has spent a lot of time on this project and the Official Map is necessary as the County moves forward. Eichelberg made a motion to adopt Ordinance #09-01, adopting the TH 55 Official Map Ordinance. The motion was seconded by Russek. Russek serves both on the TH 55 Coalition and the Planning Commission. He said this Ordinance is needed and will save taxpayers money down the road. Asleson said the Map that is being adopted only affects areas outside of cities. Cities have the option of adopting an Official Map covering their areas but in some of the cases, the needed right-of-way has already been acquired. Statute requires the County to notify townships affected by the Ordinance. Maps will be sent to the townships involved. Townships have been notified of the County’s intent to adopt the Official Map Ordinance. Discussion led to fees. Salkowski said the Ordinance itself does not establish a fee. The County’s Fee Schedule is adopted by the County Board and currently includes a dual fee. The next time the Fee Schedule is amended, Salkowski suggested that the fees could be clarified. With regard to township involvement, Salkowski said they have a good working relationship with townships. The maps that the Surveyor’s Office produced can be provided to the townships to hang in their township halls. This will offer another means for public review. The motion carried 5-0. The Trunk Highway 55 Official Map Ordinance establishes a corridor for the future expansion of Highway 55 in Wright County. The issuance of all land use or zoning approvals for lands so designated by this official map is now subject to the provisions of the Wright County Official Map Ordinance, adopted February 27, 2007. A certified copy of the Trunk Highway 55 Official Map Ordinance will be filed for record with the Wright County Recorder.
Thelen said the Humphrey Institute’s Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center will honor the City of St. Michael and the Wright County Sheriff’s Department with a 2008-2009 Local Government Innovation Award at 3:00 P.M. on 4-15-09 at the Humphrey Center in Minneapolis. The Local Government Innovation Awards are presented in partnership with the Association of Minnesota Counties, League of Minnesota Cities, and Minnesota School Boards Association. The Award honors the collaboration to keep schools safe. “In Wright County, the school districts, Court Services, County Attorney’s Office, Sheriff, other police departments, and Human Services joined forces to develop a more proactive strategy. Under their leadership, the Safe Schools program was formed. It has successfully taken on complex issues such as meth and other substance abuse issues, school lock-down, and many other school safety issues. Due to recent racial incidents, ‘Safe Schools’ was called to action and ‘Community UKnighted’ was formed, creating a new face of a community-banded together, committed to understanding and dismantling racism, and ultimately creating safer schools.”
Sheriff Gary Miller said the award recognizes the group of people that worked toward the Safe Schools effort. Meetings have also been held to deal with the diversity issue. Many groups have been involved in that effort including County Attorney, Court Services, Human Services, Sheriff Department, Cities of St. Michael and Albertville, religious and business leaders, schools, students, and concerned residents. Miller described it as an ongoing project. Miller said the award is important because it recognizes the fact that in Wright County, stakeholders are brought together to deal with issues before they become crisis situations. The group regularly meets so when an issue arises they have the forum to address it. Miller said the Safe Schools Program was initiated by Mike MacMillan, Court Services Director. Miller cited the nine Safe Schools projects and said there is no other group that has helped him more substantially in his position as Sheriff. The Safe Schools Program is unique to Wright County and has been instrumental in the formation of other initiatives. The MEADA group came out of the Safe Schools Program as did the Community UKnighted Program. Miller said MacMillan should be recognized for his efforts to establish the Program which keeps our schools and community safe. MacMillan reiterated that Safe Schools is unique and specific to Wright County. The Program allows departments to do a better job and it costs nothing other than the time spent. Each Safe Schools group brings together key players in their Community, but each group may have issues unique to their area. He thanked the Board for allowing the Safe Schools Program to continue in Wright County. Russek encouraged Board members to attend Safe Schools meetings in their District if they have not already done so. It provides insight to what is occurring in schools. Mattson echoed this and stated that each school can have its own unique problems. The Board extended congratulations to those who are involved with the Program for receiving the award.
Bills Approved
Abrams & Schmidt LLC. $150.00
Advanced Systems Technology 145.00
Advantage Emblem Inc. 288.04
American Planning Association 500.00
Ameripride Linen and Apparel 116.49
Anoka County Corrections 630.00
Aramark Correctional Services 5,894.68
BP Amoco 798.48
City Buffalo 78,193.21
Cenex Fleetcard 648.19
Connections Etc. 572.47
CPS Technology Solutions 1,800.00
Cub Foods 230.29
Cub Pharmacy 3,549.32
Dell Marketing LP 160.19
Dynamic Imaging Systems Inc. 2,918.49
Embarq 179.49
Dale Engel 200.00
Ernst General Construction Inc. 2,851.00
Farm-Rite Equipment Inc. 12,285.83
Glock Professional Inc 900.00
Handmade Holidays 131.76
Herc-U-Lift 2,416.31
Hillyard Inc.-Minneapolis 2,483.70
Jolanta Howard 100.00
International Code Council 180.00
Loberg Electric 485.34
M-R Sign Company Inc. 410.60
Maple Lake Lumber Company 161.05
Marco Inc. 1,862.71
Midland Corporate Benefits Svc 975.00
MN County Attorneys Assoc. 100.00
MN Hwy. Safety and Research 1,830.00
Monticello Auto Body Inc. 133.13
Morton Salt 1,145.98
Motorola Inc. 12,573.60
Office Depot 2,428.99
Performance Kennels Inc. 171.19
Frank Ramacciotti 300.00
Sears Commercial One 1,379.03
Software House International 157.63
Springsted Inc. 1,550.00
Trans Languages LLC 629.50
US Bank 750.00
Verizon Wireless 221.98
Wright Co. Highway Dept. 325.28
Wright Hennepin Electric 214.16
22 Payments less than $100 1,204.53
Final total $147,332.64
The meeting adjourned at 10:19 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal April 27, 2009.

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