WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
OCTOBER 20, 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 10-13-09 County Board Minutes, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0.
Thelen moved to approve the Agenda as presented, seconded by Russek, carried unanimously.
On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Thelen, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: K. Labo, Aud./Treas.; D. Demarais, D. Kotila, J. Wilson, Hwy.
1. Approve Funding Participation & Construction Agreement With Stearns County For CSAH 40 Bridge.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented the claims listing for approval. He referenced a claim on page 18, Positron Public Safety System ($560,989.28), and stated this is the final payment for the Positron project. On a motion by Mattson, second by Russek, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.
A Personnel Committee Meeting was held on 10-14-09. At today’s County Board Meeting, Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes and recommendations. The motion was seconded by Thelen. Mattson questioned how the Office Support Specialist position compares to the Social Worker position. Sawatzke explained that the Office Support Specialist position supports the clerical needs of the Social Workers. They are in different classifications. The motion carried 5-0:
I. POSITION OPENINGS.
A. Social Worker, Child Protection Unit.
Nelson distributed a memo dated 9-22-09 regarding authorization to fill a vacant position (see attached). She stated that she is requesting to fill the vacant Child Protection Intake Position. She stated that she feels it is the most important position in her Unit. The intake person takes all incoming calls and walk-ins. She stated that on a daily basis, they receive 12-15 reports. Entering the reports into SSIS is a lengthy process. The amount of data entry, client contact, and screening is intensive. Statute requires them to review child protection cases within 24 hours. She stated that from January through September 21, 2009, they have received 1,109 reports. She stated that since the vacancy, she and others have been filling in as the intake position. Eichelberg asked Nelson if the intake position requires certain qualifications. Nelson stated that a bachelor degree is required because this is a social worker position. They work with child protection issues. Eichelberg asked if the position would be advertised internally. Nelson stated yes. Sawatzke asked if an OSS could fill the position. Schwartz stated no, and commented that a case aide with a four-year degree could be qualified. RECOMMENDATION: Authorize filling the vacant Social Worker intake position in Child Protection.
II. REQUEST TO CONTRACT FOR A TEMPORARY EMPLOYEE IN FINANCIAL SERVICES (HUMAN SERVICES BOARD ITEM).
III. REQUEST RECLASSIFICATION, CASE AIDE II POSITION IN FINANCIAL SERVICES, TO FINANCIAL WORKER POSITION (HUMAN SERVICES BOARD ITEM).
(End of 10-14-09 Personnel Committee Minutes & discussion)
A Technology Committee Meeting was held on 10-14-09. At today’s County Board Meeting, Mattson referenced the Qwest and long distance contracts and asked if the County has the option to cancel contracts. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, explained that there is a cancellation clause within the Qwest contract which will allow the County to cancel within 30 days of the effective date of the agreement. Cancellation beyond that point is subject to a fee. Mattson referenced the disposal of obsolete radio and computer equipment and questioned whether this is the best method. Norman stated that due to the age of the equipment, it has little or no value. Benton County is willing to take five pieces of equipment that Wright County is willing to donate. The County will seek the advice of the Attorney’s Office. Other than donations, it is felt the equipment will be disposed of to places that salvage this type of equipment. Sawatzke said the Committee supports giving the equipment to other governmental units. Sawatzke felt that he would be opposed to giving the equipment to the private sector to sell and make a profit. Russek suggested mentioning the availability of the equipment at the AMC District V Meeting on 10-22-09. There may be smaller counties who are interested in the equipment. Thelen moved to approve the Technology Committee Minutes and recommendations, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0:
I. QWEST LOCAL AND LONG DISTANCE CONTRACTS.
Swing introduced Jonny Wright and Laurel Dallmann of Renodis to the Committee. Wright is the Account Manager for Renodis and Dallmann worked with Anoka County on the assessment of their phone system. Swing stated that the County pays over $100,000 annually to Qwest for local and long distance service. The County does not have a telecommunications person to comb through the inventory of circuits to determine whether the County is billed accurately. Renodis will provide this assessment as well as provide assistance in negotiating contract pricing for our phone services. At the 9-23-09 Technology Committee Meeting, the Committee recommended expending $2,700 for their services. Wright explained that a three year service contract with Qwest was signed for the LEC/Jail Building. However, the current three-year agreement for the Government Center will expire at the end of this month. Qwest has agreed to continue the current pricing month-to-month to allow the County time to review other options or renew its contract. Swing stated that the County wants to ensure competitive pricing prior to renewing its agreement with Qwest. Swing and Wright explained how the County has the option to pursue other carriers; however, it can prove to be more of a hassle than a gain. Wright stated that Renodis has multiple relationships with telephone service carriers to obtain competitive bids. However, Qwest owns all of the copper and local services in the County. If the County chose to pursue a different carrier, they essentially would be reselling Qwest’s services. Wright stated that Renodis partners with AT&T, Telecom, Envoy, XO, etc. Thelen asked if Renodis partners with Vonage. Wright explained that Vonage provides voice-over IP service only. Swing stated that it is too early for the County to pursue IP. IP was built into the infrastructure of the Jail/LEC, however, most of the County has digital and analog phones. Eichelberg asked how long Qwest would be willing to extend its contract pricing on a month-to-month status. Wright stated that they would probably be willing to go six months. Norman asked if a normal contract period is three-years. Wright responded that contract length is a determinant of pricing. Contracts are normally 36 months or 60 months in length. He stated that current pricing is $650/circuit per month for a three-year contract. For a one-year contract, it would cost $850/circuit per month. Swing asked Wright how the County could be assured that it is receiving competitive pricing. Wright referred to the attached handout entitled “Wright County Renewal Options with Renodis/Qwest”. He stated that the County would realize a 5% reduction in its long distance renewal pricing. The rate would be less than 2 cents per minute. Swing stated that the trend indicates that cost and usage per unit decreases over time due to email and the internet. Swing stated that the County would renew three contracts with Qwest in the near future: PRI, local and long distance. The goal is to have all three contracts terminate in November, 2012. Swing stated that they are looking for the Committee’s recommendation to move forward with the long distance contract and pursue the local contract when its contract expiration comes due. Eichelberg stated that he would be in favor of renewing the long distance contract and combining all three contracts to terminate at the same time. Swing stated that he feels it is important that the Committee is aware that the County is managing its phone system. RECOMMENDATION: Authorize renewal of the long distance contract with Qwest to expire in November, 2012.
II. DISPOSAL OF OBSOLETE RADIO & COMPUTER EQUIPMENT.
Howell stated that the Sheriff Department has a lot of obsolete radio & computer equipment. The old radio systems and radio modems are now considered extinct since a lot of the technology has to be narrow banded by 2013. Howell stated that he spoke with the Chief Deputy at Benton who stated they would like five modems/radios for parts. He stated that they would like permission to donate five units to Benton County. He noted that they are part of the Quad Counties Group. Norman asked that Howell pursue Brian Asleson’s opinion on how to properly dispose of obsolete equipment. Swing noted that the old equipment from the Dispatch Center and the County’s stratus computer should also be considered for disposal. Eichelberg stated that he did not see any point in keeping the old equipment and stated he would be in favor of disposing of the equipment per the opinion of the County Attorney. Norman asked that Howell and/or Swing obtain a written opinion from Asleson for the official record. RECOMMENDATION: Authorize disposal of obsolete radio and computer equipment following an opinion from Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney.
(End of 10-14-09 Technology Committee Minutes and discussion)
Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, introduced discussion on the Drive Wright Program. The Program is a partnership between Safe Communities, MEADA, and the County offices of Sheriff and Attorney. At the discretion of the Attorney’s Office and Wright County deputies, traffic offenders may be offered the option of attending Drive Wright in lieu of a ticket and the accompanying fines or court costs. At the request of the Wright County judges, Teen Drive Wright was created and is a special class created for drivers under 18. Asleson said the main reason this is being brought forth is that some communities have been criticized by the State Auditor’s Office for setting up administrative fines under city ordinances, where the fine money is used to fund the police department or other city activities. Asleson said the Drive Wright Program is not like that and there is statutory authority to have a diversion program under the supervision of the County Attorney. This is one of the reasons why they felt an Agreement was needed. A brochure was distributed on the Drive Wright Program. Tom Kelly, County Attorney, said the Program started in 2005 and it was a model Program in the State. The Program was never used to supplement budgets but was used for its purpose, to give individuals who are first time offenders the chance to not have to appear in Court, to provide education, and to not negatively affect insurance. Kelly said the Program has been very well received in the community and wished that everyone could go through it prior to gaining their drivers license. He introduced Terry Willis as the County Attorney’s Office liaison for the Program and Pat Hackman of Safe Communities. Hackman said the intent of the Program is to have safer drivers and to change driving behaviors. Nine of ten participants indicated they will change the way they drive because of the information presented. The goal is safer roads, and fewer fatalities and injuries. The Program comes at no cost to the County or State. Russek moved to authorize the proper signatures on the “Agreement Regarding Diversion Program For Traffic Offenses,” seconded by Eichelberg. Asleson said the Agreement will be signed by the Sheriff and County Attorney, who are elected officials that have the statutory authority to carry out the program. The motion carried 5-0.
The County Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, and Crossroad’s Animal Shelter met previously to discuss a possible ordinance to deal with dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs in the County. The goal is to have an ordinance in place for 2010. State law reflects how to deal with dangerous dogs and their owners. However, there have been several court cases over the past few years that have basically said that people who own dangerous dogs need to have a right of hearing and a right to an appeal hearing if they disagree with the designation of their dog. The statute sets up the appeal process and clarifies things that are gaps in the State law. The draft ordinance is based on one that Sherburne County adopted a couple of years ago. It has not been reviewed by Crossroads Animal Shelter. The ordinance will make it easier for the County Attorney’s office to prosecute people for violations relating to dangerous dogs. Russek moved to refer the draft ordinance to the Ways & Means Committee. The motion was seconded by Thelen. Asleson will invite Crossroads Animal Shelter to the meeting. The Sheriff’s Department will also be represented. The motion carried 5-0.
A Ways & Means Committee Meeting was held on 10-14-09. At today’s County Board Meeting, Mattson moved to approve the minutes. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0:
I. CHIPS Contract
Norman stated that the current CHIPS contract is up for review as the current contract expires December 31, 2009. Norman commented that there are parties interested in submitting bids and questioned if the contract should be open to bidding for 2010 (see attached letter from Tom Richards). Kelly commented that opening contracts for bid is not always the best route. He stated that the County will remain responsible to provide representation for CHIPs cases and there are options that have to be considered. One would be to accept quotes for this service which would be reviewed by Asleson, Karvel, and Kelly. He continued that Gabriel has offered her services at seventy dollars an hour, where as some of the fees for service that they have seen reach one hundred dollars or more an hour. Norman agreed that the lowest quote may not be the best route and that certain criteria would have to be established in order to evaluate proposals. Kelly commented that criteria would require interested parties to include prior experience with representing parents in CHIPs matters and references from prosecutors, judges, guardians, and co-council regarding work product. Sawatzke commented that Gabriel’s current contract is at $72,800 for 20 hours a week and questioned if she documents her time. Gabriel stated that she does not keep track by billing hours, however, she keeps track of hearings and court appearances. She is confident that she puts in more then 20 hours a week. He questioned if clients are requesting additional representation on the cases that Gabriel is involved with and if the County is paying for these fees. Karvel stated eight panel attorneys’ have been appointed to cases based on the nature and intensity of the case. In these cases the Court Administrator reviews and sets the fees. Kelly stated that Gabriel has established a good working relationship with the courts. He added that Gabriel also attends every EPC (Emergency Protective Case) hearing. Karvel stated that these meetings can take place on any day at 3:00 pm. Gabriel is not required to attend these hearings; however, she appears at each EPC as a friend of the court to make the process much smoother for the County and the parent’s involved. Norman stated that under any contract the County should look at the outcome. He questioned if the County wants to go through the effort to put together RFQ’s if we are satisfied with the current contract. Mattson commented that interested parties would have to be contacted in regard to the County’s decision. Asleson commented that the current process has been working smoothly over the last year. Placements are expensive and the current cases have been moving along, which is an added value to the County. It was discussed that many times council has to decline, due to their current case loads. Discussion took place in regards to Richards being assigned as a second in Gabriel’s absence. Karvel stated that the Wright County bench developed a list of eligible panel attorney’s to be used as a second. There are currently six names on the list. Sawatzke stated that this year’s contract with Gabriel has been working and Gabriel is not raising her rates for 2010. It would be in the County’s best interest to carry the proposal over into 2010, eliminating conflict with judges and avoiding unnecessary work. Norman will write a letter to interested parties which states that the County Board has approved to extend the contract with Gabriel. Norman stated that it would be up to Richards to talk to the courts in regard to adding his name on the list of panel attorney’s. RECOMMENDATION: Renew contract for CHIPS/TPR cases for 2010 with Cathleen Gabriel in the amount of seventy dollars per hour at twenty hours per week.
II. Agricultural Inspector Contract
Norman stated that the contract is up at the end of 2009, which allows the County Board to look at reassignment. He continued that modifications have been made to the Noxious Weed Law. Under the old noxious weed law, all county boards were required to appoint a noxious weed inspector who was required to carry out a long list of education, outreach, and enforcement duties related to noxious weeds. The new noxious weed law will instead provide more flexibility to counties by providing them with an option of appointing either a county designated employee or a county agricultural inspector. The county designated employee may also request technical guidance and/or enforcement assistance from the MN Department of Agriculture. In addition, county boards can appoint a county agricultural inspector; however they must specify the enforcement and outreach duties on the public record during a county board meeting. Sawatzke stated that Ken Johnson has the 2009 contract. He suggested offering the same contract to Johnson for 2010. Johnson does a great job and his office expenses and mileage costs are covered in the $12,957 contract. RECOMMENDATION: Renew contract for 2010 with Johnson for the same price, duties, and responsibilities.
(End of 10-14-09 Ways & Means Committee Minutes)
Correspondence was received from M.P. O’Loughlin, Mayor of Maple Lake, requesting that the County Board consider future funding options for the Maple Lake Library. In 2006, a group of citizens raised an interest in bringing a library to their community. The group and the City of Maple Lake approached the GRRL (Great River Regional Library) for inclusion in their system but were denied. The Library was opened in March, 2009, by the Friends of the Maple Lake Library. The Library operates 20 hours/week on a volunteer basis with a collection of over 9,000 books. Since the Library opened, over 3,780 patrons have been served. At today’s County Board Meeting, Linda Hruby, City Clerk/Treasurer, asked the County to consider using some of the tax collected for the GRRL System for the Maple Lake Library. Because the budgets have been set for 2010, the request is for consideration in 2011. The Library has an established budget of $20,000/year and is run based upon the GRRL system. Hruby said the Library fills the needs of the community, and cited the older and younger population that it serves. She announced the Maple Lake Library Benefit “Hollywood Nights” will be held on 10-24-09 at the Maple Lake American Legion. The event includes a Social Hour at 5:00 PM followed by dinner, games/live auction, live band, and a Bucks for Books Raffle. Discussion followed on the potential of the City becoming their own taxing authority and withdrawing from the GRRL. Asleson stated he can review this but recalled that statutes address this action in terms of counties as opposed to cities. Sawatzke said that the GRRL’s decision to deny the Library’s request in 2006 was not for lack of effort but the politics of the 10-mile radius. There are a number of towns in the County that don’t have libraries (i.e., Albertville, Otsego, South Haven, Hanover, Montrose, Waverly, Maple Lake). Mattson felt none had pushed for a library like Maple Lake has. Sawatzke responded that Wright County is unique in the number of cities versus Sherburne County which has about five cities. Eichelberg commended Maple Lake for their hard work to provide services. He said the last time they approached the County, it was for one-time funding. Hruby said the funding request would be ongoing. Eichelberg had concern with contributing as it could precipitate requests from other cities in the future to start libraries in their communities. This would result in more taxpayer dollars to start libraries outside of the GRRL. He favored continuing to work with the GRRL Board in an effort to convince them of this important issue in Maple Lake. Mattson said a decision can be made based upon the research Asleson completes.
Norman said information was received from AMC relating to the Voting Delegates for the upcoming AMC Annual Conference. Russek moved to approve the following list of delegates for Wright County: Dick Mattson, Elmer Eichelberg, Jack Russek, Pat Sawatzke, Rose Thelen, Bob Hiivala, Richard Norman, and Wayne Fingalson. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0.
The AMC District 5 Meeting will be held on 10-22-09 at the Wright County Law Enforcement Center, 8:00 A.M.-12:00 P.M.
Norman received information from the Local Government Liaison for the 2010 Census. Norman read a portion of the information which states, “Minnesota is one of a handful of states in jeopardy of losing a Congressional seat through the reapportionment that will follow the Census.” It further states, “Over the coming weeks and months, many Minnesotans will be temporarily leaving our state for warmer climates to the south. While a large number of these individuals consider themselves still to be Minnesotan, many will experience difficulty in answering their 2010 Census Form in another state as a Minnesotan. This is because the forms will be delivered on March 13, 2010 [before many return home] and because the forms are addressed to household rather than the individual and thus, will not be forwarded by the U.S. Post Office.” The information further states that it is projected that Minnesota is less than 3,000 people away from keeping all of its Congressional seats, and this is the opportunity to contact snowbirds throughout the State before they leave. Norman said the important thing to note is that people wintering away from Minnesota should not answer the questionnaires they receive at their temporary residences. They should wait to answer the questionnaires in Minnesota so they are recognized as a Minnesotan in the Census. The information will be sent in March with a return date sometime in April. Norman said those residents who return in May should still fill out the questionnaire upon their return and mail it in. Norman said the State Demographer has indicated that each questionnaire is bar coded so it is important that they fill out the form mailed to their Minnesota address. That way, they will be recognized as a citizen of Minnesota. The media was encouraged to use the information provided by the Census for a press release. This was provided as an informational item.
Norman distributed a Report to the County Board on the Library parking lot. A meeting was held with Buffalo City officials on 10-13-09 to discuss a proposal from the City to possibly acquire a portion of the County-owned parking lot adjacent to the Library. After discussion, it was the consensus to recommend to the City Council and County Board:
1. There shall be no sale of property to the City of Buffalo.
2. There shall be designated parking at the following locations:
• The parking slots on the west side of the parking lot located to the east of the Library shall be designated for Library patrons only.
• The parking slots on the north side of the parking lot located to the west of the Library shall be designated for County employees only.
3. Each jurisdiction is responsible for making sure the proper signage is installed in these areas.
4. The City of Buffalo agrees to continue to snowplow these two lots.
5. The Agreement shall remain enforce unless either party submits a 90-day notice of termination.
Effective Date: November 1, 2009.
Norman received a voice mail from the City today that indicated the City Council passed this proposal at their meeting last evening. Sawatzke clarified that the proposal basically trades approximately 12-13 County parking spots east of the Library for approximately 12 spots west of the Library. The County will park on City property and vice versa. Sawatzke felt this was a reasonable solution to help the City with parking for their Library patrons. Russek moved to approve the proposal, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0.
Norman announced that the County was awarded $471,200 from the Department of Energy under the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG). A meeting will be scheduled with Climate Air to set up a schedule to complete the work.
A-1 Stripes, Inc.. $385.00
Brian Abrahamson 158.65
American Messaging 828.99
American Planning Association 130.00
Amer. Tower & ATC Tower Inc 3,480.00
Ameripride Linen and Apparel 211.95
Annandale Advocate Inc. 993.20
Annandale Rock Products 5,364.03
Aramark Correctional Services 186.77
Arctic Glacier, Inc. 164.72
Kirk Asplin Travel Plaza 103.87
B & B Products - Rigs and Squ 1,350.00
Breezy Point Resort Inc. 540.00
Buff N Glo Inc. 177.00
Center Point Energy 188.44
Comm. of Transportation 10,000.00
Contech Construction Product. 6,618.72
Corporate Payment Systems 3,325.43
Dell Marketing LP 1,036.75
Franklin Denn 419.40
Department of Public Safety 8,430.00
E. Central Regional Juvenile 5,460.00
Dale Engel 750.00
Dennis Fehn Gravel & Exc.. 266,258.88
Granite Electronics 607.63
Greenview Inc. 20,896.08
Brad Haynes 125.00
Hedlund Plumbing 1,125.00
Hillyard Inc. - Minneapolis 1,129.11
Todd Hoffman 258.98
Jolanta Howard 100.00
Gregory Howell 138.73
Integrated Fire & Security 711.42
Interstate All Battery Center 266.50
Interstate Battery Systems 196.54
Lee Kelly 431.44
Lake Region Coop Oil 188.69
Lakedale Communications 190.89
Larson Allen LLP 2,375.00
Carol Lostetter 300.00
Martin Marietta Aggregates 4,764.90
Menards - Buffalo 761.78
The Metro Group Inc. 10,220.06
Mid-Minnesota Hot Mix Inc. 966.68
MN Elevator Inc. 284.00
Morries Parts & Service Group 2,178.01
Office Depot 2,194.72
Olson & Sons Electric 511.63
Omann Brothers Inc. 1,474.00
Lynn Peavey Company 654.75
Photo 1 245.72
Positron Public Safety Sys. 560,989.28
Fred Pryor Seminars 237.00
Frank Ramacciotti 700.00
Regents of the U of MN 26,454.16
Rockford Township 959.50
Roof Spec Inc. 550.00
Royal Tire Inc. 3,182.25
RS Eden 1,205.10
RW Farms Inc. 11,875.00
City South Haven 277.00
State of MN-Office Enterprise 1,335.00
State Supply Co. 697.22
Super Express 179.55
Toms Towing Service 144.28
Total Printing 211.83
Traffic Marking Service Inc. 61,210.37
City Waverly 280.02
Josh Wilson 125.00
Wright Henn. Coop Elec. Assn. 2,816.72
Wright Hennepin Electric 955.41
Zee Service Company 361.86
22 Payments less than $100 1,042.06
Final total $1,048,205.10
The meeting adjourned at 10:00 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Nov. 23, 2009.