Wright County Board Minutes

MAY 19, 2009
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 a.m. with Sawatzke, Thelen, Mattson, Russek, and Eichelberg present.
On a motion by Russek, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the minutes of 5-12-09 as presented.
The following items were petitioned onto the Agenda: Items for Consid. #6 “Fair Board” (Russek). On a motion by Eichelberg, seconded by Russek, all voted to approve the Agenda as amended.
The Consent Agenda was discussed. On a motion by Thelen, second by Eichelberg all voted to approve the Consent Agenda as presented.
1. Performance Appraisals: M. Muehring-Paulson, Atty.; S. Deckert, P&Z.
2. Claim, Frank Madden, $1,195.40.
3. Schedule Labor/Management Loss Control Committee Meeting On 5-27-09 @ 9:00 A.M.
4. Approve Pay Application No. 1, Horizon Roofing, $325,575.45 (Courthouse Re-roofing Project).
5. O/T Report, Period Ending 5-01-09.
1. Approval To Move Nutrition Education Assistant’s Office (Pat Larson) From 3rd Floor Back Into The Extension Office.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented a request to the Board to approve the contract with Ron Michaels Consulting. There is a new tax program coming in the fall of 2009. Ron Michaels has been the contact between the County and the vendor for the contract that has expired. Ron Michaels Consulting will be liaison between Wright County and the vendor to be sure that everything is implemented correctly. Russek questioned the estimated costs. Hiivala stated the work will take six days to complete and will not exceed $5,000. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, questioned the funding source and if this expense was included during budget planning. Hiivala stated payment would be made from his Department budget and then show a transfer in from the Compliance Fund. Hiivala stated that it was not included in budget planning, however, this fund has been previously used to fund the contract. Russek moved to approve the contract with funding from the Compliance Fund. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried unanimously.
Hiivala proposed to reconvene the Tax Forfeiture Committee on 5-27-09 and to include the County Assessor. Russek and Mattson serve on the Committee and agreed to an 8:00 a.m. meeting. Hiivala stated that within 60 days information will be made public. Sawatzke requested that a list be distributed to all Board Members. Russek moved to approve the 5-27-09 date and time. The motion was seconded by Thelen. Norman clarified that the location of the meeting to be held in the Auditors Conference Room. Sawatzke clarified that the meeting is open to the public. The motion carried 5-0.
Hiivala requested the Board’s approval on the April Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines. He clarified that on Page 10, Property Taxes – Delinquent, the 2009 Original Budget was for $175,000.00. The selected month’s total reflects a $192,440.06 credit. Last year, the County did not collect 100% of the property tax. This is in the County’s favor and is a result of the County receiving several large payments after the due date. Sawatzke questioned if the payments received were from mortgage companies that are paying for delinquent taxes in order to avoid forfeiture of properties. Hiivala explained that mortgage companies would only be paying the County on escrows. The banks will foreclose on the property before they forfeit. Sawatzke clarified that properties are foreclosed, and then the taxes are paid.
Hiivala stated that the County is doing well with its Earning on Investments. Currently the County is at 57% for 2009.
Hiivala referred to Page 10, Line Item 6274 – Soil and Water/Wetlands Conservation. The County received a State Grant that is passed over to Soil and Water in the amount of $28,000. The 2010 Budget will be adjusted accordingly. Sawatzke questioned if the 5% reduction has been applied to the Historical Society, Fairgrounds, and other groups. Hiivala commented that they are given an appropriation either the first quarter or the first half. He took the net amount and then divided it by the remaining payments. Mattson clarified that the budgeted amount shows $80,000 for the Wright County Fair Board but the actually amount including the 5% deduction is $76,000 and that they are aware of this reduction. Hiivala stated that the budget item has not changed. Eichelberg moved to accept the General Revenue, seconded by Russek. The motion carried 5-0.
Hiivala submitted the claims listing for approval. The claims’ listing was discussed. Mattson stated that one inmate is being held in Sherburne County. On a motion by Mattson, second by Russek, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.
A Negotiation Committee Meeting was held on 5-13-09. At today’s County Board Meeting, Russek moved to approve the minutes with the following change; change “B” to “A1”, seconded by Thelen. The motion carried 5-0.
I. Job Description Evaluation Results.
Norman presented the consultants job description evaluation results. He also provided the Administration Department’s recommendations. Based on these recommendations the Committee consensus is that the Information Technology Director, IT Manager I, and IT Manager II positions should be reclassified effective the first day of the first pay period, following County Board approval. These are non-union positions.
The Information Technology Director is to be reclassified from “A1” to “A”. The IT Manager I (formerly Systems Analyst) is to be reclassified from “E” to “D”. The IT Manager II (formerly Programmer Analyst) is to be reclassified from “F” to “E”.
The job classifications of Lead Developer and Network Analyst are union positions. Norman was asked to communicate the Committee’s position regarding placement on the Salary Schedule to the Teamsters business agent.
(End of 5-13-09 Negotiation Committee Minutes)
A Personnel Committee Meeting was held on 5-13-09. At today’s County Board Meeting, Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes with recommendations. The motion was seconded by Thelen. The motion carried 5-0.
MEMBERS PRESENT: Eichelberg, Sawatzke and Norman
OTHERS PRESENT: Mleziva, DeMars and Swing
Norman said that since the last Committee Meeting, the draft “Telecommuting Guidelines for Human Services” has been reviewed by Frank Madden, Labor Law Attorney. The following are recommended changes to the document:
• Page 5, 2nd Paragraph, Telecommuting Selection Criteria, last sentence should read, “Seniority will not be a factor in the selection of telecommuters, but any staff selected to participate in a telecommuting arrangement must have worked in their current position for a minimum of two years.”
• A stronger statement should be included in the document making it clear that the use of County hardware/software must comply with Section 711 of the County’s Personnel Policy Manual, “Use of Computer and Related Equipment.”
• Page 7, Home Office Setup, Work Schedule, 3rd paragraph, 2nd sentence should read, “Non-exempt employees cannot work more than 40 hours a week without prior approval from their Supervisor.”
Madden’s opinion is that implementing this policy would be a discretionary decision for the County Board and that it will not require negotiations with the Union to implement. It is suggested that a courtesy notice is provided in writing to the exclusive Representative of the Bargaining Unit announcing when the Pilot Program will be implemented. Madden indicated that, based on experience with other jurisdictions, he has serious concerns regarding efficiency, productivity, and potential EEOC claims that could be filed by employees requesting telecommuting as part of accommodations.
DeMars referenced Madden’s concern with guideline language, indicating it should reflect compliance with the use of County hardware and software policy. He said the draft includes language on Page 6 which cites the County’s Personnel Policy, Section 711. Norman said that Madden feels the draft should contain a more definitive statement regarding the policy.
Norman referenced a report on the NACO website which reflects that jurisdictions that currently have telecommuting policies are pleased because of the way it can tie into dealing with disaster situations. Swing concurred, stating this point had been brought up during a recent COOP (Continuation Of Operations & Planning) meeting. It was felt that telecommuting will be of benefit in a quarantine situation.
The Pilot Program, if approved, would allow 3-4 Human Services employees the opportunity to telecommute. Efficiency and productivity could be measured based upon the number of cases handled by an employee while telecommuting versus their previous workload.
Swing thought that if the Pilot Program is done correctly, there will be benefits realized. Sawatzke said the largest benefit would be the ability to save space. However, he did not feel space was an issue at this point. DeMars said telecommuting will allow employees to take advantage of technologies available. He felt that select employees should be allowed to complete work where it is the most convenient (at home, at work, or mobile). Sawatzke did not disagree. However, the proposal would move an employee’s office from the County office to their home. This would result in two offices for one employee. He viewed this as a cost, not a savings. Sawatzke said when this topic was first presented, discussion was based on the travel cost savings (an employee not traveling back and forth to the County but instead they would move from client to client). Now the discussion has transitioned to telecommuting. Swing referenced Olmstead County’s telecommuting policy and the ability for a County to benefit. It is basically giving an employee the tools to allow them to do their job more efficiently.
Mleziva felt the proposal is a win/win for the County and the employee. He said there is no question on the benefit the employee will realize because of the latitude they will have to manage their life, family, and work life. He viewed this option as one that could result in employee retention. Sawatzke did not feel family should be part of the equation. Discussion led to hours worked. Mleziva stated that the telecommuter would have the responsibility to work 8 hours per day but not necessarily during the 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. time frame. It was clarified that the Union contract does include a clause allowing the employer to schedule with more flexibility.
Discussion led to how employees who telecommute will manage dependent care. Norman said the Personnel Minutes of 4-08-09 reflect that “Mleziva stated that the guidelines provided by Olmsted County were more specific regarding this topic by stating that the telecommuter would be responsible for outside daycare.” Sawatzke felt Wright County would follow in a similar fashion and said this should be clarified with Frank Madden. In response to a question by Sawatzke, Swing said that a cell phone would be used by the telecommuter instead of a regular phone line. Making phone calls from a land line is less expensive than by cell phone. Sawatzke asked whether computers and printers will be purchased. DeMars said telecommuters will use laptops but most have desk top computers at this time. Printers will need to be purchased.
Norman said the County will have some obligation to assure the employees’ home worksite is ergonomically correct. The employee is covered by Worker’s Compensation whether work is performed at home, in the office, or in the field. Sawatzke referenced the estimated $805/year cost in annual expenses for a telecommuter and questioned where the County will realize savings. DeMars said there will be less travel time and the employee will have the ability to manage their time. Swing felt that telecommuting can provide an incremental step in the way business is done in both the private sector and government. Telecommuting has proven to be undisputed in the private sector. In 5-10 years, he envisioned things to be dramatically different in this regard. The Pilot Program will allow for evaluation after a period of time. One of the values of a Pilot Program is to determine whether this type of situation may work in a true pandemic.
Recommendation: Norman will contact Frank Madden and ask for additional information on his concerns (to include his past experience with other jurisdictions, what occurred, and the result). Other counties who have telecommuting policies will be contacted by Swing for their input on how their programs are working. The issue will be laid over to the 6-10-09 Meeting.
MEMBERS PRESENT: Eichelberg, Sawatzke and Norman
OTHERS PRESENT: Kelly, Swing and Hiivala
Hiivala distributed the draft “Wright County Cell Phone and Smart Device Stipend Policy” (attached). The draft is based on Olmsted County’s policy. Kelly explained that this issue was brought to Committee based on his request to develop a policy to allow the use of blackberries in the County Attorney’s Office. The Committee discussed the request and it was decided that an overall County policy was needed. Kelly said the timeline for implementation is no longer an issue for his office.
At the last Committee Meeting, the recommendation was to “meet again on 5-13-09 to expand the discussion to all County-funded cell phones and authorize Kelly to set up voice plans for Blackberries that are to be reimbursed by his employees if Sprint can split-bill the employees.” Kelly said split billing is not an option through Sprint but is through Nextel. He suggested a method be implemented allowing an employee to pay the County for a voice plan.
Swing distributed information reflecting which departments have cell phones and blackberries through Sprint/Nextel. The list shows what devices the County is billed for. However, the name attached to the device may not be accurate as that data may not be updated as the device moves from one person to another. The list does not include cell phones on the Verizon plan. Swing said each Department Head is responsible for regulating, monitoring, and managing cell phone use within their department. The County has never had central control of cell phones. Over the years, the County has standardized the use of blackberries to allow configuration to the County’s network.
Swing said there are two issues which need addressing: The first is the consolidation of cell phone vendor accounts resulting in an estimated savings of $14,000/year. Instead of each department receiving a bill, the Auditor would receive one invoice from Sprint/Nextel with a detailed breakdown by department. The second issue that needs attention would be for departments to provide justification as to why employees need cell phones/blackberries in their position.
Hiivala said that Olmsted County adopted a policy on cell phone use because the IRS has regulated that a county-owned cell phone cannot be used personally. An employee may use their personal cell phone for business use and receive a stipend. This is something Wright County could implement. The policy, if adopted, could require an annual review of an employee’s use of the cell phone and reauthorization. Swing said Wright County’s policy for in-house telephones and computers is minimal personal use. He thought the policy manual reflected that cell phones were not to be used personally. Wright County can now accommodate any blackberry into the network.
Recommendation: Swing will send a memorandum to department heads requesting a list of devices (cell phones, blackberries) their department has including cell phones numbers, what employee the device is issued to, provider, and justification as to why the cell phone is needed (employee categories). The information is to be forwarded to Swing by 6-05-09.
MEMBERS PRESENT: Eichelberg, Sawatzke and Norman
OTHERS PRESENT: Gary Miller, Joe Hagerty, and Dave Miller
The Committee met on this issue on 4-22-09 and recommended that the Sheriff Department draft a policy regarding off-duty employment and present it for review at today’s meeting (attached).
The amendments include adding language that a Sergeant is assigned when five or more deputies are assigned to work an event. These events are generally city celebrations and include a Sergeant on the scene. Sgt. Brian Johnson is the Coordinator of Special Events. It is recommended that fees remain at their current level and be reviewed at the time city contracts are revisited (generally every two years). Sawatzke asked whether a deputy would be assigned during normal work hours to such an event. Hagerty said it is dependent on the size of the event. Normally one traffic car is scheduled for city events. Sheriff Gary Miller said the Sheriff Department provides the same resources to each community, providing them a base level of support. Cities pay for anything above that base support. This activity is not unique to Wright County and dates back to the1800’s to keep peace in the County. These types of events will generate work for the Sheriff Department if Sheriff staff are not present. The suggestion is to make the changes to the policy and to run any billings through the Auditor/Treasurer for auditing purposes. Norman requested that MCIT and Frank Madden, Labor Law Attorney, review the draft policy.
Recommendation: Forward the draft policy to MCIT and Frank Madden for review. Refer this issue to the 6-24-09 Committee Meting.
MEMBERS PRESENT: Eichelberg, Sawatzke and Norman
OTHERS PRESENT: Bonlender and Swanson
A. Social Workers (2).
1. Request To Replace Truancy Social Worker. Bonlender distributed information outlining a request to replace a position recently vacated by Lacey Henry (attached). Henry’s resignation is effective 5-15-09. Bonlender estimated that less than 20 hours of overtime has been put in for this position since January, 2009. Norman asked about the job duties of the Truancy Social Worker during summer months. The response was that the Worker continues to follow up with students that are truant. The CHIPS petition continues through the summer.
Recommendation: Advertise to replace the Truancy Social Worker position.
2. Request To Replace Developmental Disabilities Social Worker. Swanson distributed information outlining the request to replace the position (attached). Chad Miller, SW in the DD Unit, resigned and was hired as the Chemical Dependency Social Worker in the Adult Mental Health Unit with the Wright County Human Services Agency. He is assisting both the DD and AMH units during the transition for the month of May. His actual transfer date is 5-25-09. There are nine Social Workers in the DD Unit. However, that number will decrease to seven with Miller’s transfer and one person out on leave.
Recommendation: Advertise to replace the Developmental Disabilities Social Worker position.
MEMBERS PRESENT: Eichelberg, Sawatzke and Norman
OTHERS PRESENT:Fingalson and Jans
B. Mechanic.
The request is to advertise for a mechanic. The employee that was previously in this position resigned effective 4-17-09. There are currently three mechanics on staff but one position services squads only. The mechanics repair and maintain 200 pieces of equipment for the County. During summer months, they perform maintenance on the equipment used during winter months.
Recommendation: Advertise to replace the Mechanic position.
(End of 5-13-09 Personnel Committee Minutes)
5-19-2009 Wright County Board Minutes Page 6 of 7
Russek requested the Board’s approval on Resolution and Agreement No. PW17-73-09 with Hennepin County. He stated that Hennepin County will be providing 50% of the cost for the CR 139 project. Russek made a motion to adopt Resolution #09-24, seconded by Eichelberg. The motion carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
The NACo Conference, July 24-28, 2009, Nashville, Tennessee was brought up for discussion. Sawatzke stated that he did not feel it was appropriate to send an attendee this year. On a motion by Mattson, seconded by Russek, all voted to deny attendance at the NACo Conference.
Norman requested that bids be recognized today for the Tower Shelters, 800 MHz Project and that the bids will be evaluated and a recommendation made next week. Swing stated that two bids were received for the Towers Shelter, 800 MHz Project. The first bid is from Sabre Towers and Poles, Sioux City, IA in the amount of $238,546.00. A second bid was received from Trillium Development Inc., Rice, MN in the amount $231,940.00. The estimated cost for each tower is $115,000 and an additional $5,000 for electrical. Eichelberg moved to lay the bids over for one week, seconded by Russek. Sawatzke questioned the size of the towers. Swing stated that there is a lot of work going into the towers and they cover a large area. Thelen questioned if these towers are being rented or are owned by the County. Swing stated that the County owns the shelters, but leases the towers. He continued that the towers are leased from American Tower. Sawatzke questioned that if some day the County is no longer in need of the shelters, if the shelters would be able to be leased to someone else. Swing replied that could be an option. The motion carried 5-0.
Sawatzke announced the Metropolitan Council Chair’s Meeting with neighboring County Officials will be held on 6-05-09, 9:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M., Council Chambers, St. Paul.
Sawatzke referenced the AMC District V Meeting, 5-28-09, 8:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M., Crow Wing County Land Services Building, Brainerd. Russek stated that the meeting will include filling committee positions, assigning alternates, and discussing the budget. Russek moved to approve attendance at the AMC District V Meeting, seconded by Eichelberg. The motion carried 5-0.
Russek referenced the Fair Board’s Request in regard to obtaining gravel for road construction. Russek stated that he spoke with Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, in regard to obtaining gravel. Fingalson stated that he would provide gravel based on Board approval. Russek stated that the Board will need to review and come back with a recommendation to the Highway Department. Russek stated that the Ways and Means Committee would be the appropriate meeting to discuss this topic. The Fair Board would like to start the project in mid-June or beginning of July. Russek moved to refer the Fair Board’s request to the Ways and Means Committee and to have appropriate staff in attendance, seconded by Eichelberg. The motion carried 5-0.
David Dayon, property owner on the north side of CR 35, previously met with Fingalson and MnDOT in regard to the rumble strips on CR 35 in front of his property. There is a history of complaints by residents that drivers are constantly hitting the rumble strips. He stated that over 60% of the semis and/or people with trailers drive on the rumble strips. One of the reasons that the rumble strips are being hit so often is due to an unexpected jog in the road which results in drivers hitting the white lines. The other problem is that the rumble strips were placed directly on top of the white lines versus further away from the driving lane. Dayon feels that having the strips on the white line is not appropriate and would like to see the strips filled in from the Clarence Isle residents, on the north side of CR 35, to Hamlin Avenue. Mattson stated that filling in the strips would be appropriate as the Highway Department is currently out filling pot holes. Russek questioned if there is a long history of accidents on this stretch of roadway. He continued to state that if the rumble strips are bothersome to residents, the County should fill them in completely. He stated that other counties have filled in their strips due to noise levels. MnDOT explained that the strips are being placed on the white lines which are supposed to reflect and warn traffic that they are veering off the road. Dayon feels that a good solid white line, without rumble strips would be just as effective.
Eichelberg questioned if he is requesting to have the white lines on both sides of CR 35 filled in and/or removed. Dayon stated that the north side of CR 35 is the worst. He suggested to keep costs down the County could consider filling in the rumble strips on the north side of the road to see if it makes a difference. Eichelberg agreed and stated that phone logs could be reviewed to see if the complaints were coming in from the north side only. Dayon stated that this is not an issue where the road is straight. Sawatzke recommended meeting with Fingalson and discussing whether partially filling the rumble strips would make a difference. Thelen stated that if there is not an issue with repeated accidents taking place in this area, she would be in favor of filling in the rumble strips to accommodate the residents affected by the constant noise. Sawatzke stated that this item was not on today’s agenda so it is inappropriate to make a motion. He recommended this item be placed on next Tuesday’s Board Agenda to forward to the Transportation Committee for review.
Bills Approved
Brian Abrahamson. $248.05
AECOM USA Inc. 972.25
ALCOPRO 355.00
Ameripride Linen and Apparel 283.72
Ancom Technical Center 175.00
Annandale Advocate Inc. 260.00
Aramark Correctional Services 5,962.22
Arrowwood Resort 323.58
Barnes Distribution 863.65
Blaine Lock & Safe Inc. 742.50
City Buffalo 67,192.87
Canadian Pacific Railway 8,698.20
Canon Business Solutions-Cen 1,534.00
Center Point Energy 154.58
Chamberlain Oil Co. 1,054.70
Construction Book Express 228.75
Consulting Radiologists Ltd. 354.60
Contech Construction Product 11,224.70
Craft Crete 159.75
Crop Production Services 780.91
Culligan of Buffalo 300.00
Dell Marketing LP 3,518.98
Dental Care Assoc. of Buffalo 102.00
Carter Diers 456.50
DLT Solutions Inc. 3,220.65
Egan 170.00
EMEDCO 158.88
Maria Felger Ramos LLC 114.20
Fred Pryor Seminars Inc. 597.00
Gopher State One Call 129.40
Gould Towing 315.00
Grainger 214.30
Greenview Inc. 3,002.02
Helena Chemical Company 176.30
Hillyard Inc. - Minneapolis 379.94
Hippo Evidence Bags LLC 245.00
Interstate Battery Systems 191.59
Intoximeters Inc. 201.66
Junction Towing & Auto Repair 134.19
Klatt True Value Electric 249.98
Kotilinek Excavating Inc. 1,080.00
Kustom Blinds & Draperies Inc. 4,037.76
Lakedale Communications 499.60
LaPlant Demo Inc. 1,053.60
Lawson Products Inc. 501.43
A Leonard Inc. 342.47
M-R Sign Company Inc. 219.36
Magneto Power LLC 370.41
Marco 353.85
Martin Marietta Aggregates 4,053.13
Maximus 6,500.00
McCathy Water and Waste Inc. 715.00
Menards - Buffalo 156.36
City Minneapolis 2,250.00
MN County Attorneys Assoc. 205.00
MN Hwy. Safety and Research 3,294.00
Monticello Auto Body Inc. 149.10
Moore & Moore Water Treatment 300.00
Morries Parts & Service Group 1,928.92
Municipal Software 14,194.45
National Business Sys. Inc 12,344.71
Richard Norman 626.36
Nuss Truck & Equipment 2,019.70
Office Depot 2,230.19
Pacific Bow Butts 1,429.00
Lynn Peavey Company 319.50
Qwest 8,095.92
Barry Rhineberger 246.00
Roof Spec Inc. 8,400.00
Russell Security Resource Inc. 1,051.05
Sherburne Co. Sheriff 6,980.00
Sirchie Finger Print Labora 127.53
St. Cloud Fire Equipment Inc. 2,264.65
City St. Michael 1,200.00
State of MN-Office Enterprise 370.00
Total Printing 533.73
TW Vending, Inc. 170.40
Twin City Seed Company 253.62
Uniforms Unlimited 540.82
United Rentals North America 204.23
University of Minnesota 195.00
Vance Brothers Inc. 1,871.74
City Waverly 226.20
West Payment Center 871.16
Westside Equipment 366.23
Wright County Journal Press 173.92
Wright Henn. Coop Elec Assn 2,882.83
Wright Hennepin Electric 815.99
Zack’s Inc. 1,033.19
29 Payments less than $100 1,231.25
Final total $217,338.08
The meeting adjourned at 10:00 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal June 15, 2009.

Return to Wright County Menu | Return to Government Table of Contents

Herald Journal
Stories | Columns | Obituaries | Classifieds
Guides | Sitemap | Search | Home Page