WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
JULY 28, 2009
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, and Eichelberg present. Commissioner Thelen was absent.
On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Russek, all voted to approve the 7-21-09 County Board minutes.
Eichelberg moved to approve the Agenda, seconded by Mattson, carried unanimously.
On a motion by Russek, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: J. Stevens, Admin.; W. Peterson, C. Philippi, L. Thingvold, Assr.; T. Vaith, Aud./Treas.; C. Marx, Hwy.; R. Borell, R. Vaa, Parks; K. Guinn, D. Johnson, Sher./Corr.
2. O/T Report, Period Ending 7-10-09.
A Labor Management/Health Insurance Committee Meeting was held on 7-22-09. The following correction was made to the minutes: Page 1, 2nd paragraph, line 8, should read, “Pawelk stated that preventative visits are high, however, it is offset by the low Inpatient/Outpatient visits, which could mean that preventative care is being utilized.” Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes as corrected and the recommendation, seconded by Russek. Russek stated that the County currently offers a three-tier insurance plan, but the thought is to move toward a more flexible three-tier plan. The motion carried 4-0:
REVIEW HEALTH INSURANCE CLAIMS HISTORY
Jeff Berg and Becky Niederluecke of B & C Consulting provided an update on Wright County’s health insurance plans in comparison to other counties. Niederluecke referred to the most recent claims data (see attached) and reported the Claims Analysis for the most recent 12 months was good. Berg commented that running at 80% would indicate that the County is paying too much for claims. The County’s Medical Loss Ratio is at 90.33% and the Total Loss Ratio is at 102.33%. The most recent year-to-date percent of ongoing claims is 13.75%, which is within the normal range of 1015%. Professional Services and Prescriptions are above average and Inpatient/Outpatient Services show below average utilization. Looking at trends for health care, Niederluecke stated that pooled claims show nothing significant. There are currently two pooled claims that are ongoing which is expected due to the number of Wright County employees. The Summary of Utilization by Diagnostic Category shows what changes in plans could be made to benefit Wright County. Total Profession Services was high at 40.44%, the normal range is between 35-40%. Berg recommended raising office visit co-pays or going to a three tier benefit plan. Raising the co-pays would hopefully encourage employees to utilize the Nurse Help Line, before going to the doctor. This would decrease the number of office visits. The percent of total drugs was high at 21.40%, the normal range is 1015%. Pawelk stated that preventative visits are high, however, it is offset by the low Inpatient/Outpatient visits, which could mean that preventative care is being utilized. She continued that currently many pharmacies offer programs for generic drugs at $4 a prescription or $10 dollars for a three month supply. This service is available to all employees as long as their medications qualify. A Competitive County Benefit Plan Analysis was completed by Brown, Petersen, Pawelk, and Lee Kelley. Information was gathered from Anoka, Benton, Carver, Chisago, Isanti, Scott, Sherburne, and Stearns County for comparison. It was determined, the average number of Plans offered was 3.2, the number of County’s with richer plan design offerings was 0, and the number of County’s with less rich plan design offerings was 9. The National Average, as stated by Kaiser Family Foundation, was used for comparison. The office visit comparison showed that co-pays range from $10 - $15 dollars and the National Average is $25 dollars. Berg stated that a $5 dollar increase on co-pays would result in a 2% reduction or savings on premiums. The pharmacy co-pay comparison showed that Wright County is at $11/$26 dollars, whereas the National Average falls within the $10/$35/$60 dollar range. Berg stated that Wright County is on the high side and that most counties offer a two or three tier plan. Plan deductibles for Wright County are $300 dollars. Berg pointed out that Wright County has two plans that do not have a deductible and the County’s low plan is better than some other counties best plan. The National Average for deductibles is $500.00 with a $10/$35/$60 pharmacy benefit. Berg stated that every $100 dollars increase in a deductible, would be a 13% savings for the County. Minor changes to the out of pocket maximum would curb utilization. Lorrie Adams commented on the discussion around costs to the County and wanted clarification on how these changes would affect the employees. For example, she questioned if the cuts that benefit the County would become part of the employee’s responsibility. Niederluecke clarified that the cost shifting that occurs would be viewed on a personal level. Out of pocket expenses would depend on how many times an employee utilize the plan. Cost models are available on line, to assist employees using their own experiences.
VOLUNTARY DENTAL COVERAGE/OFFER OPTIONAL COVERAGE
Niederluecke stated that several employees have inquired about dental programs. She presented information on a voluntary preventative dental program for consideration (see attached). There are two components to the plan, the preventive portion which covers yearly exams, teeth cleaning, and x-rays. The second component is comprehensive root canals, crowns, and fillings. The cost is prorated and employees would sign up and fund the costs. The County would contribute to the preventive program and any difference would be the employee’s responsibility. Currently, the County provides about 6% of the cost. Met Life and Health Partners will match the County’s current rates. There is a minimum of participants required for Met Life, Health Partners, and Delta Dental. UCH does not have a program participant requirement, however, the price is higher. Berg stated that Health Partners is driving for memberships this year and gave the County a two year rate cap on the dental program. Norman commented that this could be offered as an alternative bid for health plans and feels there would be no problem meeting the participant requirements. In addition, if Health Partners were awarded our health plan, the County would not have to use them for comprehensive dental. Riley stated that the County’s current plan has a $1,000 dollar benefit max and clarified about meeting that deductible and cost to the employees. Brown stated that the County does offer a volunteer program, however, it is at a high cost and involves a waiting period before benefits start. Berg referenced that Health Partners does give a discount on other programs, such as orthodontics. Niederluecke included a Voluntary Dental Insurance Interest Survey (see handout) that could be utilized to survey County employees.
VOLUNTARY EYE CARE COVERAGE
Niederluecke presented a popular voluntary program offered by Eye Med. Eye Med offers competitive pricing (see handout) which includes hardware and lens pricing. Currently, eye exams are covered under medical exams. This program includes 100% coverage after the co-pay is met. The program is accepted at Lens Crafters, Sears, and JCPenny’s, which makes them available and convenient. There is a minimum participant requirement of 10 enrollees. Determan questioned if this would be available as single or family coverage. Berg clarified that it is not connected to individual health plans, so other family members can be included if an employee currently has single health coverage. Niederluecke commented that this is a very good program which pays for itself.
GROUP SENIOR GOLD
Berg presented the Senior Gold Plan which removes employees 65 or older from the County’s current plan and puts them into a separate pool. The program is a Medicare supplement plan and offers first-dollar coverage which covers most Medicare deductibles, co-payments or coinsurance. The plan includes Nationwide coverage, 100% coverage for most benefits, worldwide emergency care, no referrals’ required, no residency requirement, guaranteed renewable coverage, and protection for catastrophic expenses. Employees have to qualify for Medica Part A & B and be 65 years of age. The information would be distributed by Human Resources as employees reach 65. Pawelk stated that early retirement employees can transition into this plan. Berg commented that pharmaceuticals are separate from medical. He referred to the Sample Plan (see attached) and reviewed rates per person. Pawelk questioned if spouses are covered too. Currently, if both spouses meet the criteria they would be covered, however, if one spouse reaches age 65 prior to the other spouse, COBRA premiums would be offered for 36 months. Each case would have to be looked at individually. Berg included a sample enrollment package that is currently available to be used. The completed information is then mailed directly to BCBS for enrollment. Discussion took place around the cost of the County’s current plans and making health care available to everyone. Norman stated that choosing a health plan is an individual choice. If employees are requesting changes to the current base plan it would have to be discussed at Union meetings. He suggested reviewing each plan and that we be sure the County offers choices. Russek stated it is possible to move towards a three tier plan to accommodate more employees.
MARCH 2010 WRIGHT COUNTY BENEFIT RECOMMENDATIONS:
1. Go out to bid in October, 2009 for health and dental.
2. Request alternative plan designs in addition to the current plans.
3. Keep the current plan year to maximize bargaining power, i.e., March 1st.
4. Add Voluntary Comprehensive Dental and Voluntary Eye Care coverage to the employee benefit portfolio. This would be paid directly by the employee.
5. Offer the Group Senior Gold Plan.
(End of 7-28-09 Labor Management/Health Insurance Committee Minutes)
Russek provided an update on County Ditch 34. The City of Delano has decided to apply for a permit to clean out Ditch 34. The work will be completed as proposed by the SWCD. Russek is unsure whether they will expend the funds this year or next, but the permit is good for three years. The City has requested that Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, be asked to draft an agreement reflecting that the City’s funding of the clean out will serve as their access fee and they will not be charged an access fee in the future. The City currently is, and will remain, a benefited property owner on the Ditch and will be assessed for repairs to the Ditch. The consensus of the County Board was to proceed in this fashion. Asleson will contact the City Administrator on this matter. He anticipated that the document will be presented for approval to the City prior to it being presented for County Board approval.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented the claims listing for approval. He referenced a claim on Page 8, North Suburban Towing, Inc., $171.00, which was pulled and will not be paid. Russek moved to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit. The motion was seconded by Mattson. Mattson referenced a claim on Page 1, Anoka County Corrections, $3,360.00. In review of the claim, it was determined that the services are for a juvenile who was incarcerated. The rate charged per day is $210 which is more than the rate charge of $100/day for a juvenile bed. It was felt that the $210 rate applies to a juvenile in a different type of program, possibly sex offender. The motion carried 4-0.
Don Mashak, Monticello Township resident, spoke at the 7-14-09 County Board Meeting regarding a data request. At today’s County Board Meeting, Mashak submitted a written request outlining various topics he wanted to discuss. He asked the Board to consider an open forum at the beginning of each meeting. He did not see the purpose of having to meet an Agenda deadline and provide copies for the Agenda packet. Sawatzke said Mashak was being provided the opportunity to speak today.
Mashak said he does not have the data that he requested from the County a month ago and explained his frustration with the process. After the last meeting, he tried to obtain the information from Asleson but did not. He said Asleson did not return his phone calls. He understood the data will cost him $20 and will only reflect employee names and salaries, not titles. Mashak said Asleson indicated he could provide a list of all employees with titles. Mashak felt he would only want a listing that reflects elected officials, department heads, and those making over $60,000 in salary and benefits. Sawatzke responded to Mashak’s comment that there were no return phone calls from Asleson. He referenced an email where Mashak indicated that Asleson did contact him. Mashak said there was only one time that his phone call was returned. Sawatzke said it appears the information requested is available for pickup. Mashak stated that he attempted to pick up the information from Asleson the last time he spoke to the Board. He was informed that Asleson would not be available for 20 minutes and he was not going to wait that long. Sawatzke said that Mashak cannot expect a person to always be available. Mashak said that since that time, he has not received a call from Asleson. He has stopped back to the Attorney’s Office but no one has the documents. Sawatzke referenced an email that Mashak sent indicating that Asleson did contact Mashak after the Board meeting on 7-14-09.
Asleson said there is a list available for Mashak. It is not as comprehensive as Mashak requested but it is what is readily available. The list includes every County employee for the past five years, their hire date, wages and benefits, as well as a list of current employees with job titles. The job descriptions are generic (not an employee name attached to them) but can be copied. It will take quite a bit of time to compile this information. Most job descriptions are not in electronic form. Asleson said there has been some confusion as to whether Mashak wants paper copies, electronic copies, or whether he wants to come in to view the data. Asleson decided to compromise and only charge Mashak the copy cost for the 101 copies. The County has the ability to charge for employee time to research and compile the data. Asleson explained that when Mashak stopped to see him, he had just finished with a condemnation hearing and was working on a document related to the hearing. He received a phone call from Sawatzke indicating that Mashak wanted to meet with him. When Mashak came to the Attorney’s Office, Asleson indicated it would be 15 minutes before he could meet with him. When Asleson finished, he did look for Mashak and was unable to find him. He then followed up with another email to Mashak asking how he wanted to proceed and received no response. Asleson said Mashak has requested a lot more information in addition to the data that is ready. The County has asked for a deposit in addition to the $25 copy cost for what has been copied thus far. This is the way the County handles all similar requests. Even though it is public data, the County charges for compiling data and providing copies. All governmental units are subject to the same State law. Asleson said the information is available today for Mashak to either pick up or arrangements can be made for viewing. Sawatzke said it appeared this topic was resolved.
Mashak did not agree. He said he wants the data that any private citizen is entitled to receive. If the County was exercising due diligence and following common business practices, he felt the data would be readily available. He questioned how the Auditor could audit County records without it or how the County is in compliance with State law and human resource policies if the job descriptions are not updated. He felt the information should be part of the budget process and that if it were, someone could just provide the data to him. He said the County has spent millions of dollars on computers and yet there is not a report already available that reflects payroll and benefits for all employees for five years. Sawatzke asked whether Mashak thought everything he requested should be available at the push of a button. Mashak felt computer programs should be able to do this. Sawatzke said there is not the desire to have a report that lists every employee, job description, salary, and benefits and how each employee’s salary and benefits affects every property in the County. Sawatzke was unsure what value there would be in having that information. Mashak wanted to know how much payroll and benefits have gone up in the past five years as his taxes have doubled in that period. Mashak said he figured out how many taxable acres there are in the County because he felt it may be too difficult for the County to provide that information. Sawatzke stated that information could be obtained from the Assessor’s Office, probably in a matter of minutes. Mashak questioned why Sawatzke did not do this for him as his elected official.
Mashak said there should be no more travel and expense for bureaucrat training, if this is the attitude that they are training for at bureaucrat seminars. He did not feel taxpayers should be paying for this as he felt that the Board was aligned with bureaucrats and not the taxpayers. He said the County’s policy makes it difficult to address the Board. He referenced what he felt was poor treatment when trying to obtain information on vacation and sick time for employees. Mashak did not feel the County should be spending money on training if those are the types of things learned. He felt employees are supposed to be public servants, not aristocrats. He did not understand why there is not one place where all payroll is printed so an individual can scrutinize where money is going. He questioned why the top 5-10 salaries in the County are not posted on the Internet as per State law. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, said the County is required to post the top 3 salaries for 90 days. Wright County has posted this data for longer than that so the County is meeting State Statute. Mashak said someone could have mentioned this along the way instead of preventing him from getting the data. It has been more than a month. Mashak felt all payroll issues should be posted on the Internet.
Mashak thinks the County or the State should develop private sector equivalents. He understood there are positions that aren’t private sector equivalents such as police, but there are other positions such as computer input and reception that are. With citizen complaints about taxes and the economy, he questioned why the County should pay top dollar for employees when there are good people that are out of work. He said people could be hired from the private sector at a price that reflects the current market value. Sawatzke asked whether Mashak was familiar with comparable worth laws in Minnesota. Comparable worth involves the assignment of points to a position and the rate of pay is adjusted accordingly. Counties have unique challenges such as this to face that the private sector does not have to meet. Mashak said that Sawatzke, as his elected official, should fight this. As a member of AMC, Sawatzke said he tried this a few years ago but did not get very far. Mashak said if information were communicated to him, he could place the information on the Internet and maybe things like this would change.
Mashak asked whether he is the only one that is complaining about taxes. Sawatzke responded that he did not feel Mashak was the only person who ever felt their taxes were too high. Mashak said doubling his taxes in the last five years is ridiculous. Sawatzke said Mashak’s property may have specific issues relating to the ag classification that make it different than a standard property. Mashak said that at this time, his intent was to have 200 colonies of bees. However, a disease affecting honeybees is causing a crisis across the country and so he is not at that level. Mashak said because his bee population dropped, the ag exemption status was revoked even though he still raises bees and has developed a strain that is resistant to the disease. He said his taxes were increased because he was subject to a natural disaster. Sawatzke said the issue of how his property is classified is provided through notice each spring. If he is in disagreement, he can address the Board of Equalization and challenge the classification. Mashak said the Board should change his classification back to what it was now that they know what happened. He questioned whether they have the ability to do this. Sawatzke did not feel they could because Mashak did not come to the Board of Equalization hearing. The County has requirements and statutes that must be followed and there are narrow guidelines on operation.
Mashak asked if the Board is more loyal to the Wright County citizens and taxpayers or the Wright County bureaucrats. The Board’s response was that they support the Wright County taxpayers. Mashak said the country is in a mess and questioned whether everyone will follow as the country collapses. He felt it is time to stand up and be counted as American citizens and patriots and said the Board should try to fix what problems they can. Sawatzke asked if Mashak agrees that some governmental agencies run better than others. Mashak replied that he did. Sawatzke said that a couple of weeks ago, the Board suggested that Mashak view the County statistics on the Department of Revenue and State Auditor websites. Mashak said he did look at this and Wright County did okay. He added that even though Wright County did better than others, it is still the lesser of two evils. Sawatzke appreciated that Mashak acknowledged that Wright County, from a taxing standpoint, did better than other counties. Mashak said that does not mean the other counties are not just wildly out of control. Sawatzke stated that Wright County cut $3.5 million from the budget in January and decided not to fill 20 positions. The County took action like it has never done before, so he felt the County has responded. Mashak said he would not be present if the data requested had been made available. He did not feel the Board was doing due diligence if they are not asking for the same data for review. He referenced the cuts made by Governor Pawlenty. Sawatzke said cuts were made from local government agencies to balance the State budget, not from the State’s budget. Russek said everyone pays taxes and realizes the same increases. Russek said the State balanced their budget on the backs of local government so what doesn’t come out of income tax will come from property taxes.
Mashak asked what process the Board members have implemented to make sure the data and advice bureaucrats provide them is true and factual. Sawatzke said that when Board members receive information, very often they question and verify the data. They challenge staff to assure that they are providing good information. He felt staff is doing the best they can on the data request by Mashak. The County is asking to receive reasonable compensation for staff time and costs associated with providing the data. He asked Mashak to imagine if the County had 110,000 people asking for reams of information and what effect that would have on his taxes. The County is required to provide the information but with that comes a reasonable expectation for compensation if the request is as substantial as Mashak is asking for. Mashak suggested the information be posted on the Internet rather than having each citizen come in and ask for it. Sawatzke said that most things Mashak wants from the County is not readily available in the format to post it. He felt that 99% of the people wouldn’t even want the information and it would be an effort that would be wasted. Sawatzke said the County is willing to provide the information. Mashak said the information comes at a cost, which he feels is just another way to add a layer of bureaucracy to prevent a taxpayer from getting information. He felt computer programs should be written to automatically post the information to the Internet. Sawatzke suggested Mashak check the Wright County website and compare it to other counties. He felt Mashak would see that Wright County provides more information.
Mashak asked for an apology from Norman. Mashak felt he was treated disrespectfully when he recently met with Norman on a question on employee benefits as outlined in a union contract. Sawatzke referenced past emails Mashak has sent referring to Norman in several derogatory ways. Mashak asked whether it was the Board’s position that he would not get the data if he did not pay $1,000. Sawatzke felt it was more like a $19 cost. The County Board directed Mashak to consult with Asleson on obtaining the information. They noted it is being provided to him just as it would be to any other member of the public that requested data.
Mashak said that anyone who has heard this discussion today knows what the real attitudes are of the Board. He said they do not want him to have the data. He felt the Board should want the data gathered so they can review it and that it should be posted on the Internet. He was unsure how the Auditor can do his job without keeping the data in one spot. He felt there should be a master document reflecting the employee name, a short description of what they do, and what they have been paid over the last five years.
The meeting recessed at 9:55 A.M. and reconvened at 10:05 A.M.
Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator, reviewed the July Parks Commission Minutes. The following is a brief summary of the minutes and discussion at today’s Board meeting (reflected in italics):
1. Review Consensus On Partnership With Pheasants Forever, USFW, MN DNR Wildlife.
The partnership could help accomplish the acquisition of a parcel adjacent to an existing regional park. This would assist with a 63-acre wetland restoration. Mattice met with proposed partners and consulted legal and insurance resources regarding public hunting issues. The funds from the Lessard Outdoor Heritage Council would require that the County allow all-season open hunting. If the County decides not to do this, the funding is not available and the main contributor, Pheasants Forever, would not be interested in continuing the project. The USFW is willing to work with the Parks Department on construction of a water control structure that would allow for some reclamation of the drained wetland; however, historical water levels could not be met without impacting the adjacent landowner. The Parks Commission discussed the possibility of working with the landowner to gain a possible flowage easement but wants to know feasibility, costs, and associated benefits. The consensus of the Parks Commission is to not continue with the partnership for any such land acquisition that would be open to all-season public hunting; however, they would like to see the water control structure built and research done on the possibility of obtaining a flowage easement over the area that may be impacted on the neighboring property.
2. Review Recommendation To Enter Into An Adopt A Park Agreement With Cross Roads Animal Shelter.
The Parks Commission recommends that the Wright County Board of Commissioners approve the Parks Department’s entering into an agreement with Crossroads Animal Shelter allowing the shelter to adopt “H” Eagle Roost Park, which would require the Shelter to mow and maintain a small trail in the grass area of “H” Eagle Roost, an area which would also be open to the public.
3. Review Interest On Possible Purchase Of 160 Acres In Franklin Township.
The land is adjacent to the newly constructed trail between Delano and the Luce Line. It has approximately 40 acres of woods that were included in the biological survey, frontage on Pioneer Creek, and the south fork of the Crow River. The Parks Commission discussed the lack of park areas in the southeast corner of the County and the importance of protecting areas of biological diversity. Possible funding sources include the Regional Park Grant Program, the Natural and Scenic Area Grants Program, and the upcoming Legacy Grant Program. Members expressed concern on how any such land acquisition would hinder funding for the Bertram Chain of Lakes Project. The Park Dedication Account balance for Franklin Township is $152,091.00. It was the consensus of the Parks Commission members that they would like Mattice to discuss timelines, funding options, values, and phasing options with the landowner on this 160-acre parcel.
The Parks Commission also discussed a parcel in Maple Lake Township. The parcel has a variety of purchase options. The Parks Commission discussed these options and voiced concern that pursuance of funds for the purchase may negatively impact future funding opportunities for Bertram Chain of Lakes. It was the consensus of the Parks Commission to not pursue any options with this parcel(s) at this time.
At today’s County Board Meeting, Mattice distributed information reflecting sales comparison data (2007-2009) for the surrounding properties of the 160-acre parcel in Franklin Township. Mattice explained that this is not a fee title appraisal, which is completed when applying for grants. The information is not all encompassing but includes a range of what properties are being sold for. Mattice said the Parks Commission would like to redevelop the guidelines and criteria for future acquisitions and donations. Eichelberg said the same grant funding applies to both the Bertram Chain of Lakes project and the proposed purchase in Franklin Township. The grant funding could be applied for and the County could then decide which project has a higher priority. Mattice said the Natural and Scenic Area Grants Program would only apply to the 160-acre parcel in Franklin Township. The 160-acre parcel is part of the CSAH 17 project and has been involved in condemnation hearings. There is an appraisal process involved with that. Asleson said during the CSAH 17 project, the County took 5.5 of permanent easement and trees were removed. There was a condemnation award last week for this parcel for around $90,000. The County’s appraisal for the condemnation process was a little lower than that; whereas, the family’s appraisal came in around $250,000. Asleson expects the family to appeal this to District Court, but the process may take a year. A process has been started to obtain a new appraisal based upon the date the County took possession of the permanent road easement (December, 2007). That appraisal may not help to determine today’s price. Asleson said the firm that did the original appraisal is moving to Florida and a new firm may need to be hired for the jury trial. Sawatzke asked whether the appraised value of the 5.5 acres applies to the other 154.5 acres. Asleson stated that it does. Mattson voiced concern on the purchase of additional parks properties because of the economy. Sawatzke said the County can continue to look at the purchase without any cost. As it has been stated previously, the County does not have sizeable park land in that area of the County. Russek said the family does not want any homes on the property at this time. The property is zoned 1 per 10 in the Land Use Plan and is eligible for A/R zoning as it is east of the River. It is near the Luce Line Trail. Eichelberg moved to approve the June Parks Commission minutes and recommendations, seconded by Russek, carried 4-0.
Craig Hayes, Purchasing Agent, and Al Buskey, Building Maintenance Supervisor, presented a proposal from Buildings Consulting Group, Inc. for engineering services related to various concrete repairs. Hayes estimated the repairs to run between $150,000-$200,000. The majority of the cost is involved in replacing the concrete plaza in the parking area south of the former Sheriff Department. The Building Maintenance Department would like to include an alternate bid for an ice melt system for the plaza. Norman said that the plaza was discussed by the Building Committee recently when parking was addressed. At that time, it was indicated that the concrete has deteriorated. Staff has since determined there are other areas around the facility that need repair as well. If the ice melt system is bid, it will need to include the stairs that extend down from the plaza to the lower entrance. Discussion followed on whether other engineering firms were given a chance to bid. Hayes explained that Buildings Consulting Group, Inc. has been used on 7-8 other projects. The County has established a relationship with them and they are familiar with the facility. Sawatzke stated he would like others to bid. He noted that the mileage rate quoted is high compared to the Federal Government rate. Currently, the exit onto the plaza is not used often but it is a fire exit and must be kept open. The area may be used more when the assigned parking spots are completed. Assigned parking will occur once the concrete repairs are done. Sawatzke questioned whether there would be any way of resurfacing the concrete since it is currently a low use area. Hayes explained that this was done a few years ago and the concrete either needs to be removed or replaced. The cost of removal may be more than tuckpointing. This repair was considered when the entrance of the Lobby was redone. The repairs at that time were scaled back from the original proposal. The estimate from Buildings Consulting Group, Inc. is $16,500 for engineering services and there could be additional costs associated with the construction phase. Hayes thought savings could be realized in the long run by having good specifications to work from and a competent engineer. Sawatzke said he was not against having project specifications. However, he felt competition was good and did not think concrete was the most complicated product to work with. Mattson suggested contacting local cement contractors. Mattson moved to send this issue to the Building Committee. The motion was seconded by Russek. Hayes is to verify whether an engineer is needed and if so, to obtain another quote. Local contractors should be contacted. An inspection of the area should be completed to see if any repairs can be left for a few years. The motion carried 4-0.
A Ways & Means Committee Meeting was held on 7-22-09. At today’s County Board Meeting, Mattson moved to approve the minutes and recommendations. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 4-0:
I. Fees For Service Charges.
II. Administrative Memo #04-04, Fee Policies and Procedures (Human Services Board Item).
Items I and II of the Agenda were combined into one discussion as they both relate to the process used for Fees For Service. Norman distributed information:
• A memorandum sent in 2006 to Departments explaining the process for setting or changing fees.
• An example of a public hearing notice reflecting the format in which changes should be presented.
• A comparison of the Court Services Fee Schedule from 2007 to 2009 (changes highlighted in yellow). These changes are authorized per Statute.
• Revisions to the Human Services Fee Policies & Procedures.
The Court Services and Human Services information were provided as an example of the type of changes that are occurring statutorily that may or may not be presented to the County Board for review.
Norman recommended that any change to the Fees For Service Schedule (language or fee) be presented to the County Board or Human Services Board as part of the regular Agenda. This would include any change made to the Schedule, whether by Board action, whether it requires a public hearing, or whether it is set by statutory authority, rule or court order. The department will be instructed to present the fee changes in a format similar to the provided example. This process will allow public record through the minutes and provide documentation supporting the change. The Administration Department is required to keep a master copy of all County Fees For Service and documentation on when fees were changed and by what authority. This information is required in case a member of the public challenges a fee charged by a department. Sawatzke questioned whether the County Board has authority to override a fee proposed by departments that can set fees per statute. Norman said that departments may be given the statutory authority to set fees but the actual statute may not reflect the amount. Presenting these fees to the Board will provide an opportunity for review prior to the fees being set. Mleziva was supportive of the recommendation. All increases in Public Health fees have been presented to the Human Services Board for approval. He did not have a problem with bringing other fee changes, such as those set by statute, to the Board for review. Recommendation: Authorize the Administration Department to draft a general policy statement relating to the process used for changes to the Fees For Service schedule. This will include the requested change in procedures as discussed. The statement will be presented for County Board approval and will be effective the date of Board action.
III. Contract City Rates, 2010-2011.
Since the last Committee meeting, members of the Administration and Sheriff Departments met to try to come to an agreement on a recommended rate for contracts. Norman distributed a packet of information (attached) compiled by the Administration Department on the methodology used to calculate the proposed figure of $63.52/hour. This figure is based on the actual contract hours of 82,384 (the analysis in the attachments reflect a proposed figure of $64.06 which is based on contract hours of 81,690). The contract rate for 2009 is $56.00/hour. The Sheriff Department provided a handout on their recommendation to set the contract rate at $57.00/hour. D. Miller felt the difference in recommended rates was attributed to the wage of a deputy position. He stated the Sheriff Department analysis is based on a deputy that has been employed for 4 years; the Administration Department analysis is based on a Deputy employed for 7 years. G. Miller stated that most senior deputies are not utilized for city contract services. The Administration Department calculations are based on the average wage of a deputy sheriff. Davis stated that the $22.00 wage reflected is based on a 2010 wage, Grade 2 Deputy. Norman clarified that 12 deputies are at Grade 2 now but will move to Grade 3 in 2010. G. Miller stated that since he has been Sheriff, the contract rates have covered costs. Part of the situation may relate to the Department not hiring entry level deputies because of positions that are not filled due to budget constraints. The Department receives additional revenue because of aid or reimbursement funding. D. Miller said that in 2009, the contract rate increased from $54 to $56. In 2010, the only real significant budget increase will be personnel related which he feels equates to $.92/hr. Sawatzke noted that on top of the $56.00 contract, costs associated with the step increases and 2.5% COLA must be figured in. Norman said that the most recent collective bargaining agreement reflects step increases (not grades). Previously, all new deputies were hired at a minimum of Step 2 so they will move to Steps 3 or 4 next year. Others may be moving to Steps 4 or 5. G. Miller said that if the County has been charging a rate that covers costs in 2006-2009, then the 2010 figures should be justified. If Administration feels the rate is not enough, he requested to be provided with that information. Since 1990, he said the city contract rates have increased an average of 5.65% per year. The Sheriff Department turns back dollars each year ($350,000/year) from their budget into the General Fund. He felt cities are hard pressed this year. The Sheriff Department has done a lot in the past two years to reduce costs and he felt the cities should share in those savings. The Sheriff budget has been the lowest in the past two years, and he estimated they will turn back $800,000-$1,000,000 in two years. That is with a budget that is flat lined. G. Miller said they are careful in analyzing costs as they want the information to be accurate. They are contacted by other Minnesota Sheriff Departments for information on how city contracts are managed. Hagerty said they are contacted by other departments in the U.S. and Canada as well. The Sheriff Department is reviewing these figures frequently. Sawatzke questioned whether there are expenses related to the contracts that are not reflected in the calculations. D. Miller said the figures include an allocation for 5 Sergeant positions. Norman pointed out that the data does not include any time for the Lieutenants, Chief Deputy, or Sheriff. Norman stated that a resolution was passed when Darrel Wolff served as Sheriff. The resolution stated that city contracts would be allowed if charged at full cost. Norman did not feel what is being charged is full cost. He offered the suggestion of bringing in a 3rd party to analyze the data and make a recommendation. Sawatzke said personnel increases are more than 2.6% when the 2.5% COLA and step increases are figured in. Norman said the costs do not include the increase in the police and fire pension plan next year and services provided by the Attorney Department. Sawatzke estimated the increase to be more like 5-6%. Norman said if the increase is $2/hour, such as has been done in the past two years, the percent increase to the cities does not cover the percent increase in labor costs for the contract settlement. A Uniform Settlement Form is completed which calculates out the cost for the life of the contract. Norman said this is more than 3.57% each year and includes total cost and benefit data. G. Miller said another consideration would be to form a work group to determine the cost of the contracts. The group would include representatives from Administration, County Board, and Sheriff. He stated that the Sheriff Department ranks 82 out of 87 counties on operational costs related to peer groups. The Department operates on a cost of $104,000/deputy/year. Other departments run $30,000 more. The Wright County Sheriff Department is able to do this because they do not have layers of supervision. One Sergeant position (6 days/week) is assigned to the cities of Monticello, Otsego, St. Michael, and Albertville. That would equate to an area the size of St. Cloud. Sawatzke said that about 17 years ago, the City of Annandale challenged the city contract rates. They felt the County was not charging enough and that the City was subsidizing these costs. A study was completed by the County’s Special Projects Administrator reflecting the costs were higher than what the Committee was willing to recommend. Some things in the study were subjective. Sawatzke felt that the study was impartial. G. Miller feels that some of the figures used in the study were incorrect. Sawatzke felt another study could be completed. Norman said a firm such as Maximus could be hired to perform a full cost analysis. He has been contacted by a couple of cities inquiring as to what the contract rates will be for the next two years. His response was that the County Board would make that decision based upon Committee recommendation. The City of Otsego indicated they would pay the rate implemented and not change their hours. G. Miller said some cities may not be able to do this and they might not be able to continue contracting for service. Norman added that some cities may be at the margin where the County decides it may not be worthwhile to provide the service. Petersen said the calculations by the Administration Department were based on average salary of patrol deputies. Norman stated the wage and benefit data is correct. G. Miller said most of the senior patrol deputies do not work with contract cities. Sawatzke asked whether investigators are figured into the calculations as some cities have their own investigators. G. Miller said only Buffalo has an investigator. Otherwise, the Sheriff Department provides gross misdemeanor and felony investigation services. Sawatzke said the union contract settlements were completed during the past year and provide a 2.5% increase each year for a three-year period. In hindsight, he did not feel this may have been the wisest decision. Many organizations are not seeing this due to the tough economic times. D. Miller said the calculations cover the collective bargaining agreements for 2010 and 2011. Sawatzke did not feel this was correct. In review of a salary schedule for a deputy, it was noted that the requested $1 increase would not cover the step increase alone from 2009 to 2010. Sawatzke said the step increase is closer to $2, not including other benefits such as PERA and insurance. Norman suggested a compromise of a $2/year increase in the contract rate. Miller wanted the record to reflect that the contract fee should be increased by $2 if the County is not covering wages with $1.50. Miller felt the Sheriff Department has done due diligence to show they have covered the costs for 19 years. If the County feels they should hire an outside firm to complete a study, then he felt that is how they should proceed. Otherwise, he asked that the Sheriff Department be advised of any errors in their calculations. G. Miller said the city contracts are held with the County Board. The County Board must make the decision on what the rate should be set at. D. Miller proposed $1.25 in 2010 (to cover the increase in personnel costs) and $1.75 in 2011. Hagerty has been contacted by representatives of four cities. Some are considering a budget proposal of 3% for the increase in city contract rates. RECOMMENDATION: Set City Law Enforcement Contract rates at $57.50 for 2010 and $59.00 for 2011 (reflecting a $1.50 increase in the rate each year for two years).
(End of 7-22-09 Ways & Means Minutes)
Norman presented a draft Fees For Service Policy. The Policy will formalize the process when making a change to the County Fees For Service Schedule. This issue was discussed at the 7-22-09 Ways & Means Committee Meeting. Eichelberg moved to approve the Fees For Service Policy, seconded by Russek, carried 4-0.
Ameripride Linen and Apparel. $378.63
City Annandale 915.60
Anoka Co. Corrections 3,360.00
Anoka Co. Sheriff 5,934.86
AP Technology 860.00
Arnolds of Kimball Inc. 512.81
Assn. of Metropolitan Cty Offic 105.00
Assn. of MN Emergency Mngrs 250.00
Auto Glass Center Inc. 269.91
Gary Bonk Masonry Inc. 1,835.00
Rick Bonk 111.00
Boyer Truck Parts 2,971.27
Bryan Rock Products 465.25
Buff N Glo Inc. 130.00
Center Point Energy 486.15
Centra Sota Coop, Cokato 704.99
Centra Sota Lake Region LLC 20,294.26
Construction Services Diversif 195.05
Corinna Township 973.80
Cub Foods 135.40
Del Zotto Products of MN LLC 2,800.00
City Delano 4,034.80
Dell Marketing LP 8,108.80
Dominos Pizza 119.47
Dynamic Recycling 3,610.51
Farm Plan 298.88
Dennis Fehn Gravel & Excava 126,393.20
Globalstar USA 113.59
Gopher State One Call 115.15
Greenview Inc. 14,891.16
Hance Utility Services Inc. 212.47
Highway Technologies Inc. 22,675.50
Hildi Inc. 4,400.00
Hillyard Inc. Minneapolis 1,437.36
Hoglund Bus Co. Inc. 108.78
Interstate All Battery Center 302.77
Interstate Battery Systems 538.33
Klatt True Value Electric 113.31
Knife River 1,495,103.89
Knife River Corporation - N 974.44
Greg Kramber 102.00
Lake Region Coop Oil 127.60
Lakedale Communications 192.01
LaPlant Demo Inc. 864.79
M & M Express Sales 103.54
Marco Inc. 3,549.68
Martin Marietta Aggregates 193.20
Marysville Township 982.60
Mathiowetz Construction 215,779.93
Menards - Buffalo 539.65
The Metro Group Inc. 2,291.94
Middleville Township 546.40
MN Counties Computer Coop 648.94
MN County Engineers Assoc. 150.00
MN Department of Health 100.00
MN Resort and Campground Assn. 762.00
Morries Parts & Service Group 3,609.91
MTI Distributing Inc. 615.58
National Assn. of School Resour 495.00
Nepost Inc. 542.04
Nextel Communications 1,509.74
Office Depot 3,410.83
Olson & Sons Electric 1,608.20
Frank Ramacciotti 200.00
Anthony Rasmuson 102.00
Royal Tire Inc. 2,929.45
RS Eden 1,413.00
Ryan Chevrolet 426.32
Silver Creek Township 2,015.65
Sirchie Finger Print Laborat 360.85
Software House International 397.25
City South Haven 1,149.70
Specialty Turf & Ag 242.61
Spray Control Systems Inc. 484.09
St. Cloud Stamp & Sign Inc. 124.77
State of MN-Office Enterprise 172.83
Tension Envelope Corporation 4,026.19
Traffic Marking Service Inc. 529.29
Trophies Plus LLC 154.43
Verizon Wireless 1,216.02
Voss Lighting 209.48
Walmart Community Brc 101.25
Walmart Store 01-1577 758.17
Western Waterproofing Co. Inc. 988.00
Wright Co. Highway Dept. 230.30
Wright Henn. Coop Elec Assn 4,069.63
Wright Henn. Electric 1,589.68
Xcel Energy 562.44
3 D Specialties Inc. 5,307.03
11 Payments less than $100 604.70
Final total $2,016,825.19
The meeting adjourned at 10:48 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Aug. 17, 2009.