WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
JULY 13, 2010
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Mattson, Russek, Thelen, and Eichelberg present. Commissioner Sawatzke was absent.
The minutes of 6-06-10 were corrected as follows: Page 9, last paragraph, change from “Delano Herald” to “Howard Lake Herald” (Russek). Russek moved to approve the minutes as corrected, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 4-0.
Thelen moved to approve the Agenda, seconded by Russek, carried unanimously.
On a motion by Russek, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: T. Praska, Assr.; J. Paripovich, Atty.; B. Williamson, K. Yauk, Sher/Corr.
2. O/T Report, Period Ending 6-25-10.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, provided an update on a claim to BV Construction ($35,245) discussed at the last Board Meeting. At that meeting, the Board voted to approve payment of the claim to BV Construction and to authorize Hiivala to hold the release of the funds until the lien waiver is in hand. Hiivala said the funds were released to BV Construction on 7-09-10 as the lien was released. This was provided as an informational update.
On a motion by Russek, second by Thelen, all voted to acknowledge receipt of the June Revenue/Expenditures Guidelines.
The claims listing was discussed. Eichelberg noted that payment of Jail medical claims is high. On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Thelen, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.
A Budget Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 7-06-10. At today’s County Board Meeting, Russek made the following change to the minutes: Page 3, 2nd paragraph, line 3, sentence should read, “Russek felt that it is a problem since the off ramp is not a County Road but a MnDOT road and he questioned why Wright County would be contributing to this project.” Russek moved to approve the minutes. Thelen then requested the following change to the minutes: Page 5, 1st paragraph, line 5th line, sentence should read, “Thelen feels that the value of the I-94/CSAH 19 interchange projects is being overshadowed by other unforeseen projects.” Russek amended his motion to include the change recommended by Thelen. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 4-0:
I. 2010 BUDGET SETTING REVIEW
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, stated that in 2010 the levy components biggest increase was due to Debt Service. The County no longer has use of capitalized interest, resulting in an increased Debt Service from $2,657,930 in 2009 to $8,049,032 in 2010. To help offset the 2010 Levy, Wright County used the one time Sales Tax Rebate in the amount of $969,291; the 800 MHz Grant in the amount of $718,000; the Excess Debt Service Funds in the amount of $500,000; and the use of Unspent Construction Funds for the Law Enforcement Center in the amount of $926,385. This resulted in an 85.68% increase in Debt Service from 2009 to 2010 (See Handout).
Hiivala referenced the Debt Service Levy Calculations for 2011 (See Handout). He stated that the 1998 Bonds were refinanced under the 2009 Bonds and the Jail Refunding 2002A and Courthouse Refunding 2002B were paid off. He stated that Wright County’s Debt Services for 2011 is going to be $7,377,656. Hiivala added that there is a balance remaining of $2 million from the Unspent Construction Fund that can be utilized to lower the taxable levy needed for Debt Service.
II. COUNTY PROGRAM AID
A. 2010 Unallotments.
Hiivala explained that adopted levies included County Program Aid (CPA). He continued that in 2008, Wright County’s CPA was $3,772,219. The State did an unallotment of $775,624 which was spread between the General Fund, Road & Bridge, and Human Services. In 2009, the State CPA unallotment was $593,177 which was spread between the major funds. In 2010, the proposed CPA unallotment is increased to $1,204,329. Hiivala added that the Legislature decreased monies from the Market Value Credit (MV Credit). In 2010, $977,663 are unallotted for MV Credits for Wright County and an additional unallotment of $1,528,882 was added to help balance the State budget. The proposed unallotment total is $3,704,874 (-51%), leaving Wright County with net aid of $3,489,212.
B. 2011 Estimate.
In 2011, Hiivala estimates that CPA is going up to $5,473,081 and that the CPA unallotment will be $987,713. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, requested clarification to the Board on how the MV Credit is incorporated into the budget process. Hiivala stated that when budgets are presented they show levy need and to reduce that amount, CPA is budgeted. MV Credits are not included as part of the levy; therefore, they are not presented as part of the budget process.
II. FUND BALANCES.
Hiivala referenced the Combined Funds Year End Fund Balances and OSA Balance Guideline (See Handout). He presented the State Auditors’ recommended fund balance which combines General Fund, Road & Bridge, and Human Services together. He stated that the State Auditor recommends a fund balance of 42% operating budget or 5/12 of the operating expenses. Hiivala added that the Fund Balance will go up after miscellaneous funds are included.
IV. LEVY STABILIZATION FUND.
Hiivala stated that the Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) includes Levy Stabilization, Equipment Note, Jail Bond, and Recorder’s Compliance funds. He added that some of the projects Wright County has committed to have revenue coming back (See Handout). For example, Wright County will receive grant monies from the CSAH 12 Trail project, State Metro Green Ways, and the third payment from the City of Monticello Bertram Chain of Lakes (BCOL). Wright County has committed to a list of projects that will leave a balance of $1,749,590.11 in the Levy Stabilization fund. The three year Capital Equipment Note has a $4,264,729 cash balance. After accounting for the list of committed projects the Equipment Note will have a balance of $385,066.22. In addition, the Jail came in under budget resulting in a balance of $2,082,458.85. Hiivala added that the Recorder’s Compliance Fund has a cash balance of $1,020,238.70. It is anticipated that an additional $120,000 will be collected in fees this year. In the 2010 budget there is an initiative under General Fund and Human Services which will leave $787,238.70 going into the 2011 budget process.
Hiivala stated that there may be additional commitments that are not presented. He stated that if all initiatives are funded, Wright County will be in the negative $2,822,643.14 in the Levy Stabilization Fund account. Hiivala mentioned several items that could be used to off set Debt Service which includes the Equipment Note Surplus, the 800 MHz Surplus, and the Jail Bond Proceeds Surplus. In addition, there are several future initiatives against the Recorder’s Compliance Fund such as Records Management Infrastructure, Aerial Photography, and Pictometry for 2011 and On Base Infrastructure, New Tax System, and New CAMA System for 2012.
V. GUIDELINES FOR 2011 BUDGET PROCESS.
Norman stated that he has informed department heads that their department budget figures should be similar to their 2010 budget figures. Sawatzke agrees; however, he questioned how much Human Services will be losing and if the figure of $3.7 million is appropriate. Larry DeMars stated that at this point numbers are much higher than last year. He added that he has not received any projected numbers from the State. Norman added that all labor contracts are settled through 2011 which will add labor costs to the 2011 budget. In addition, there are levy limits and he feels the base levy increase will be very minimal.
VI. FUNDING REQUEST FROM CITY OF ALBERTVILLE,
Larry Kruse, City Administrator for the City of Albertville, presented a request for funding assistance for the I-94/CSAH 19 Interchange, CSAH 19 Upgrade. He stated that there is a $3.7 million gap and the City of Albertville is requesting a $2 million contribution from Wright County. He feels that this is a great opportunity with the recent grant of $5.44 million for the project from the Greater Minnesota Interchange Fund (one of only 3 grants). This money has to be used or encumbered by 2012. Kruse stated that the City of Albertville is also feeling the many restraints of the recent market value credit cuts. A good out come for the City of Albertville today, would be for the County Board to commit to 50% of the funding gap. The City of Albertville will work with the County to obtain funding either by County Board financing; the County Board using the $1.4 million of reserves in the Highway Department for special projects; or the City of Albertville will finance the project and get reimbursed out of future County State Aid for roads. The annual amount will be about $150,000 a year. Today, Kruse is looking for a consensus or commitment from the Board and he will be able to come back with solid numbers.
Mattson stated that in the future, money will come back to the tax payers with the I-94/CSAH 19 Interchange project; whereas, the Bertram Chain of Lakes project has no money return. Russek felt that it is a problem since the off ramp is not a County Road but a MnDOT road and he questioned why Wright County would be contributing to this project. He added that if Wright County starts contributing to non-County projects, more requests will come in. Russek stated that there is a maximum to what Wright County can tax the people. Sawatzke commented that the Highway Reserve money is not a viable option for payment. He agrees that the project will benefit the City of Albertville, the City of Otsego, and the NE portion of Wright County. He feels that if development proceeds it will result in an upgrade to CSAH 19, which is a County Road. Sawatzke questioned the cost of an upgrade to CSAH 19 and how much the County would need to contribute. He feels that the costs would be increased if the projects were done separately.
Kruse stated that the I-94/CSAH 19 Interchange project is more beneficial than widening CSAH 37. CSAH 37 is estimated at $2 million excluding right-of-way and with right-of-way the costs would be over $3 million. The best long term solution has been reviewed and it is felt that if the City of Albertville does not accept the $5.44 million in grant monies it will postpone the I-94/CSAH 19 Interchange project resulting in the need for major improvements to CSAH 37.
Russek stated that the I-94/CSAH 19 Interchange project will not fix all of the traffic problems. He stated that East Bound traffic leaving Albertville Mall will still have to utilize CSAH 37. Sawatzke commented that he would like to know the total costs associated with the I-94/CSAH 19 Interchange project and any additional projects that may occur in the future which would result in additional funding.
Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, stated that the funding formula is a guideline and variations to projects do occur. The I-94/CSAH 19 Interchange project will improve traffic on CSAH 37 and reduce the number of accidents in the area. Fingalson added that the City and County reviewed work on CSAH 19 and felt it was too large of a project to consider at this time. Sawatzke feels that the analysis provided by Darkenwald Inc. was fair and that the big picture needs to be reviewed in regard to development and growth.
Eichelberg stated that the current $5.44 million grant opportunity is not going to happen again if the changes are not made now. He supports review of projects that are associated with available grant monies. He added that if current grant money is not accepted, it will increase the pressure on taxpayers later. In addition, each project needs to be reviewed on its individual merit. Sawatzke feels that the projects can not be separated out physically or in timeliness. He would agree if the request for $2 million includes the entire project versus just a portion of the big picture. Fingalson stated that the opportunity of receiving $5.44 million is the first step to making the I-94/CSAH 19 Interchange project happen. Fingalson stated that if all the projects were combined, it would be a project bigger than the City of Albertville and Wright County can handle at this time.
Mattson stated that in the past Wright County has tied a developer into an upgrade of a road because of their development. Fingalson referenced the Monticello project and stated that it was mostly development that were paid. Sawatzke commented that it would be helpful if there was a solid figure on what the assessments would be. Kruse replied that for the I-94/CSAH 19 Interchange project, the assessments are estimated at $800,000 to $900,000. Casey Darkenwald, Darkenwald, Inc., stated that there is over 2000 acres of commercial and industrial land north of Albertville available for development, making the land more valuable. He stated that the average tax base over the acreage is $7,000 an acre; 22 acres is the break even point for this project which is only 11% of the whole area. As development and growth occurs it will bring forth traffic problems on the north side of CSAH 19; however, there will be businesses and the tax base to pay for additional projects going forward.
Kruse stated that he feels the Monticello project and the I-94/ CSAH 19 Interchange project are not comparable. Once the land is developed we are not able to negotiate and enforce an assessment on a business. It is anticipated that the Albertville Mall will contest the assessments. In comparison to the Monticello project, the prime real estate is currently being filled by the Albertville Mall. The appraiser looked at an area of influence which is viewable from the exit ramp. Once you get outside the Albertville Mall, it is not considered prime real estate. The additional 400 acres for future development in the City of Albertville and the City of Otsego will increase the tax revenue that the County can receive as the area is enhanced and developed.
Kruse stated that without Wright County’s involvement the I-94/CSAH 19 Interchange project will not be completed. He feels it is a good investment for the County and feels that it will provide cash flow for future projects. He added that improvements to CSAH 37 and CSAH 19 will need to be completed even if the I-94/CSAH 19 Interchange project does not happen.
Sawatzke referenced the appraisal process and clarified that people who own commercial property/land are not interested in selling for a loss and individuals that are buying are not willing to pay what properties are listed for. In addition, this creates a problem at appraising and assessing properties properly. He feels the timing of the project is not good and if the economy is better in the future it would be fair to save substantial assessments. Sawatzke questioned if there could be an extension on the $5.44 million. Kruse stated that the State wanted the money used immediately to stimulate the economy and promote economic development, so an extension is not likely. He stated that currently there is a purchase agreement on a major parcel of land on CSAH 19 that the bank is selling due to foreclosure. It is likely that this sale would support the appraisers’ assumptions and give him solid information regarding the current market in the area.
Thelen stated that she understands the value of the I-94/CSAH 19 Interchange project. She requested clarification regarding this project being completed resulting in additional projects on CSAH 19 and CSAH 37. Sawatzke stated that if the $2 million is approved, Wright County will be looking at an additional request in the future to accommodate the increased traffic on CSAH 19. At this time, it is unknown what the cost of future projects would be. Kruse feels that development in the future will be well covered. He stated that currently the Albertville Mall pays over a million in property taxes to Wright County. Thelen feels that the value of the I-94/CSAH 19 Interchange project is being overshadowed by other unforeseen projects. She would hate to see this project end without having an overview of the money involved. She feels we have to do something to improve the area and there are all kinds of reasons to move forward. She questioned if there is a way to continue this request and look at all the options in order to look at different ways of be successful during the budget process. She feels it is a valuable project and would like to have others involved to make it successful.
Greg Kramber, Assessor, stated that with the current state of the economy, it will take some time for development pressure to occur in Wright County. He supports the project due to safety reasons stated by Fingalson. He stated that he reviewed the special assessments and is currently in litigation with several businesses located along the I-94 corridor. He feels that the I-94/CSAH 19 Interchange project will be beneficial to the property and the surrounding area. Receiving $5.44 million from the State is an added value to the project; however, he does not feel that it will be a great revenue maker.
Mattson questioned if the State would consider delaying their decision on distribution of the $5.44 million. Kruse stated that the City of Albertville was 1 of 13 cities that applied. He added that 3 awards were given and that there are 10 other cities and/or counties who are willing to move forward. Kruse added that there are a lot of creative solutions to handle the funding for this project; however, the City of Albertville can not afford to fund this project without Wright County’s support. Sawatzke questioned if there would be an interest in referring this issue back to the Task Force to review the entire project and discuss options more in depth. Kruse replied that the City of Albertville would agree to meet and discuss solutions. Fingalson suggested that Hiivala be included in discussions when the Task Force meets.
RECOMMENDATION: Refer this issue back to the Task Force to meet and discuss options regarding the I-94/CSAH 19 Interchange project. Findings are to be reported at a future meeting. (End of 7-06-10 Budget Committee Of The Whole Minutes)
Steve Berg, Emergency Management Director, said in 2007, the County was mandated by the State to come up with a Service Continuity Plan or COOP Plan (Continuity of Operations Plan). Wright County formed the COOP Committee and members include Michelle Sandquist (Attorney’s Office), Mark Nolan (Safety Director), Lee Kelly (Special Projects Administrator), Larry DeMars (Human Services Fiscal Manager), Christine Austin-Roehler (Public Health Coordinator), Bill Swing (Information Technology Director), and Steve Berg (Emergency Management Coordinator). The Committee was formed to facilitate the collection of department information to create a County-wide plan to address planning for county government continuity. The Plan identifies the essential functions, key personnel, alternate facilities, communications, and technical support required to provide essential services to residents of Wright County during an emergency or disaster. Berg reviewed a summary of the Plan and its objectives. He extended appreciation to the Board for moving forward with the 800 MHz system as it will assist a great deal during this type of emergency. Once the COOP Plan is approved by the County Board, a table top exercise will be performed. Exercising of the Plan will occur once every two years, or as needed. Prior to exercising the Plan, training will be provided to ensure that all personnel required to respond are aware of their individual responsibilities. Christine Austin-Roehler said Department Heads will receive a paper copy of the Plan for reference. The Plan will be on the Intranet so it is available to Department Heads and key Supervisors. The Personnel Section of the Plan was reviewed by the Administration Department to assure the Plan was in line with all of the union and County policies. The Plan will only be put into place if there is a declared emergency, either by the Governor at the State level or by the County Board at the County level. She referenced the Essential Functions Section and said this information came from the Department Heads. Once exercised, this will be a useful tool for Department Heads reference. The document can be referred to as a guide even in non-emergencies (retirements, etc.). The Alternate Facilities Section addresses the four major County buildings and rates them. If an incident occurs at any of the facilities, the Plan outlines where people could be moved on a temporary basis. Bill Swing referenced the recent Department Head Retreat where cooperation among departments and protection of the operations in the County was discussed. Swing thanked Berg for spearheading this project. Swing said in the 1980’s, he attempted to put together a disaster plan but it did not go very far. This type of effort requires a coordinated effort between all departments. Swing said technology supports most operations and there are two components of technology. One is mitigation. Operations are becoming improved with redundancies built into the network. This is being done through the Information Technology budget over the years. An example of this is the fiber ring. This is an important component as it relates to the COOP Plan. If the technology connection to a building is lost, this redundancy allows access from another building. There are additional technological improvements that will be needed and they continue to improve on those from year to year. The second component is disaster planning. Information Technology needs to know the priority of bringing up systems during an event. Swing said remote access is critical. Berg thanked the Committee for the work on the Plan and asked for approval of the document so it can be put into effect. The Plan will continue to be improved through exercises. In the future as funds and technologies become available, they plan to include in the Plan other facilities such as the Compost Facility, Fairgrounds, etc. Eichelberg moved to authorize signatures on the COOP Plan, seconded by Russek, carried 4-0.
Bill Swing, Information Technology Director, requested approval of the 2011 Regional Radio Board Operating Budget and Wright County’s portion of $5,363.49 to be funded from Fund 100 (01-100-000-000-6261). Invoicing will occur the first quarter of 2011. Expenses are up from the 2010 budgeted amount of $2,089.54 primarily due to an increase in professional services supporting administration services that the City of St. Cloud has provided at no cost to this point. Eichelberg serves on the Regional Radio Board. They would like to approve their 2011 budget as part of their 7-28-10 meeting. Eichelberg said each county’s portion of the budget is based on population and number of radios. The largest portion of the increase relates to the professional services which have been provided in the past by the City of St. Cloud. Eichelberg moved to approve the 2011 Regional Radio Board Operating Budget and Wright County’s portion of $5,363.49 (Fund 100 01-100-000-000-6261). The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 4-0.
Genell Reese, Veteran’s Service/Civil Defense Director, introduced Harral Logaras, of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and Scott Thomas, NRC Senior Resident Inspector at the Monticello Nuclear Plant. Logaras said they both work out of the NRC Region 3 office near Chicago. They were present to brief the County on the NRC and what they do. Their program includes a visit every three years (or as needed) to counties that have nuclear power plants in their jurisdictions. Logaras has been working with nuclear power since 1977, where he worked with a company that owned nuclear power plants in Illinois for 25 years. He was licensed by the NRC to operate controls or supervise those who operate controls. He then moved to the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA. He has experience working with the local school board in his community and the economic development commission. He is a licensed electrical contractor and licensed real estate broker, although he does not do either of these at this time. Logaras said Thomas is a management level employee of the NRC and works at the Monticello Nuclear Power Plant every day as the Senior Resident Inspector. Thomas implements the oversight program with assistance from his staff and both the regional and headquarters offices.
Logaras said the NRC is responsible for inspection and oversight in Minnesota east to Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan. This includes material users including those that produce and handle medical materials and industrial nuclear materials. The NRC has a program to delegate responsibility for inspection and oversight of nuclear materials only (non-reactor type users), and Minnesota is part of that program. In Minnesota, that program is implemented under the Department of Health. The NRC periodically inspects the program that Minnesota implements for those nuclear material users. Logaras said since the Monticello Nuclear Plant is in Wright County, they will focus their discussion on how they regulate those operations and provide additional information on other programs the NRC has. Thomas will address the inspections program and what their regulatory framework is for those inspections.
Congress created the NRC in 1974 by splitting its predecessor agency, the Atomic Energy Commission, into two parts. That was seen as an important action because prior to that time, the Atomic Energy Commission had dual responsibility for regulation and promotion of civilian use of nuclear energy. After the split, the Department of Energy became responsible for promoting civilian use of nuclear power. The NRC focused on regulation and oversight, and nuclear safety for the public and environment. The NRC takes no position on the desirability of the nuclear power uses. The NRC is a relatively small agency of 4000 technical and scientific people and about 75% work in the headquarters located in Rockville, Maryland. The others are distributed amongst regional offices in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas and Illinois. As stated, Logaras and Thomas work out of the Region 3 Office in Illinois. NRC’s regulations include issuing licenses to those who use nuclear materials. This includes issuing licenses to nuclear power plants in Minnesota, including Monticello and Prairie Island. They inspect those who have licenses and take enforcement action against licensees who fail to comply with NRC safety and security requirements.
Logaras said the County frequently receives reports from the NRC. The reports carry information about the results of inspections. The regulatory framework is organized under three key strategic areas including Reactor Safety, Radiation Safety, and Security. Under those three key strategic areas are seven Cornerstones including Initiating Events, Mitigating Systems, Barrier Integrity, Emergency Preparedness, Public Radiation Safety, Occupational Radiation Safety, and Security. These cornerstones help focus inspection and enforcement. Logaras said emergency preparedness is another area they focus inspection on. The nuclear plant has responsibilities for emergency preparedness. They also focus on public radiation safety, occupational radiation safety for the workers, and physical security.
Thomas said each power reactor sight has two full-time inspectors. Some have more depending on the number of reactor units on site. Thomas has 24 years of nuclear experience (both Navy and commercial). His resume includes that he was Navy nuclear trained, he holds a BS Degree in Marine Engineering Systems from the US Marine Academy, he holds a Coast Guard 3rd Engineers License for top rate and repair marine, steam, diesel and gas turbine plants with unlimited horse power, he holds a Masters Degree in Environmental Engineering, he qualified as a nuclear test engineer on three different naval reactor plant types, and he has qualified (while at the NRC) on three different technologies (Westinghouse, GE, and BMW reactor technologies) as an inspector. He has been a resident inspector at the Prairie Island Plant and a Senior Resident at a Plant in Ohio. He has been the Senior Resident at the Monticello Nuclear Plant for 4.5 years.
Thomas said the Reactor Oversight Program includes a baseline inspection that is common to all nuclear power plants. The baseline inspection program includes three parts: 1) Direct inspection of areas not covered by performance indicators; 2) Inspections to verify the accuracy of the licensee’s reporting of performance indicator data; and 3) A thorough review of the licensee’s ability to identify and correct problems at their facility. The inspection program focuses on activities and systems that are risk significant. This includes activities and systems that have the potential to trigger an accident, can mitigate the effects of an accident, or increase the consequences of possible accidents. When findings or violations are identified, the reactor oversight program further evaluates each issue for cross cutting aspects in the area of human performance, problem identification and resolution, and safety conscious work environments. Inspections beyond the baseline will be performed at plants with performance below established thresholds. Additional inspections may also be done for specific events or problems which may occur. A plant that is subject to the baseline inspection process gets approximately 2000 hours of direct inspection from inspectors. As far as the documentation of the inspections, the oversight inspection activities are continuous, but each quarter the results are reported and integrated into the inspection report. The Agency developed a procedure called the Significance Determination Process that is used to categorize inspection issues into five categories. The first is minor and relates to performance deficiencies deemed to be of such low significance that documentation in the NRC inspection report is not normally warranted. The second is the finding of very low safety significance. Thomas said that by far, this is the category that most issues identified at the plant fall into. The third is the finding of a low to moderate safety significance. Throughout the industry, there is a few of these occurrences. The fourth category is the finding of substantial safety significance, which there are very few throughout the industry. The fifth is a finding of high safety significance. They hope for very few of those. In the first calendar quarter of the year, the NRC looks back at the prior year and produces an end of cycle assessment for each facility. This assessment is reported in writing to the licensee and to the public during a public meeting. Monticello’s public meeting will be held today at the Monticello Community Center at 2:00 P.M. Monticello is a Column 1 plant, which is the licensing response category (reflected on the Action matrix). Additional information on the current level of performance in Monticello and other sights can be found at the NRC website, www.nrc.gov.
Thelen said naturally there is trepidation these days relative to federal oversight agencies. She referred to the Atomic Energy Commission being divided into the NRC and the Department of Energy. She asked whether the NRC scrutinizes what has happened with the Gulf Disaster (i.e., what did they do wrong and how they operate differently.) She asked who oversees their actions. Thelen said she is nervous with Federal oversight agencies. Thomas said a lot of these agencies are coming to the NRC as a model. They are looked at as a benchmark on how to do regulatory oversight. They have been very successful since the NRC was established at providing effective oversight. Logaras had a similar question posed at a meeting with Goodhue County, which is where the Prairie Island Plant is located. He said that a lot of agencies are looking at the NRC as a model for inspection and oversight. The NRC is unique as there are not any other agencies that have the framework and structure that involves an inspector at the facility every day (independent inspector). The inspectors are not employees of the utility, but are employees of the NRC. The NRC is an independent agency of the US Government. It was created by Congress but it is not subject to direction from the Executive Branch or Congress. It is unique and different. Logaras said they are being looked at for the improvements or the methods that are being used in how they conduct their oversight and licensing activities. He said in the Monticello Nuclear Plant, for example, inspections of their safety systems are required. They have to maintain those safety systems in accordance with the commitments made when they initially granted a license to allow them to operate. There are conditions under which they can operate the plant. If those conditions are not met, the NRC has the responsibility and authority to order a shut down. They look at how they operate the plant, how they test those safety systems, and how they maintain those safety systems directly. Thomas said the NRC is not for or against nuclear power; they just regulate the operation of the facility. It would be under the Department of Energy to promote different energy sources. The NRC’s job is a regulatory function.
Eichelberg said it appears the inspections and Federal functions seem to be present. When something doesn’t go right at the Monticello power plant, the NRC shuts it down. That may not be the case with other Federal agencies. Logaras said the plant is designed to operate safely. They inspect to verify that those operations and the ongoing maintenance/activities are in accordance with the initial commitments. These may be modified over the years, but there are basic safety requirements that have to be met. Logaras has heard discussions in the region about looking at the lessons learned from the BP Event. He has not heard of a task force being formed.
Thelen asked who provides oversight to the NRC. Logaras said there are five Commissioners who are appointed by the President for five-year terms (staggered terms). There is a Chairman of the NRC who is appointed by the President. All of these individuals are approved by Congress. The oversight comes from the Commission itself. Because of the independent nature of the Agency, they are not part of the Cabinet or the President’s direct reports. That is how the Commission maintains oversight of the Agency.
Logaras said he would speak to enforcement, emergency response, and a current initiative. The enforcement program is designed to encourage compliance. It comes out of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. It was amended in 1974 to create two agencies. These include the Department of Energy and the NRC. There is a basis in US Law for enforcement activities. When there are cases of suspected wrong doing or willfulness in terms of non-compliance with regulations, the NRC has sworn Federal officers that work out of the Office of Investigations Branch of the NRC that will investigate those instances. Violations are identified through inspections and investigations. The NRC has three primary enforcement sanctions. The first is a Notice of Violation, which is a written notice that describes the event or situation that is not in compliance with the requirements. The second is Civil Penalties which are monetary fines issued under the authority of the Atomic Energy Act. They can reach 130,000 per violation per day. The third sanction is an Order which modifies, suspends, or revokes a license or requires specific actions by a licensee or an individual. Logaras then spoke to emergency response. The NRC has a response organization program. In an event, the Agency is notified by inspectors and the licensee. There is a detailed list of events that must be reported to the Agency. They respond according to the safety significance of those. This is a 24/7 program and involves their regional and headquarters offices. Depending on the nature and severity of the response, some of them may be deployed to the site or to the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Logaras has a role to respond to the State’s EOC to support and help coordinate with Federal resources. There are also exercises every two years that FEMA observes and evaluates for the County and State responses. The NRC focuses their inspections and enforcements on the emergency response for the licensee. The licensee maintains their own control area and protected area. The NRC’s responsibility stops there with the licensee to observe and inspect those response actions. Logaras said they coordinate with FEMA for the periodic exercises. There is also a very large exercise that looks at a potential 50-mile area of impact. Other Federal agencies also participate in that exercise. The NRC has a larger role in coordinating that role for the exercise. Logaras said the last area he would address is one of their current initiatives, a Ground Water Task Force. Other plants (not in Minnesota) have experienced leakage of some components, tanks, and pipes that allow fluids to leak into the ground on site (inside their protected or controlled area). No plants in Minnesota have been the subject of this response. The Task Force looks at how these leaks could affect the groundwater on site at the facility and possibly off site. The Task Force has just completed a report and they are reviewing their rules, regulations, and programs. The industry has taken some lessons from these experiences and created their own response. They have started to drill test wells and monitor groundwater on and off site. There is a web link to the reports in the handouts. Thomas clarified that there are two types of licenses issued by the NRC. These include a general operating license (allowing the plant to operate) and a license issued to any operator that has access to control reactivity.
Thomas said that overall for calendar year 2009, the Monticello Nuclear Power Plant operated in a manner that preserved public health and safety and fully met all cornerstone objectives. Plant performance during the assessment cycle was within the licensee response column (reflected in the handouts). The Agency plans on conducting baseline inspections for the Monticello facility for 2010, based on all inspection findings being classified as having very low safety significance and all performance indicators indicating performance at a level requiring no additional oversight.
Mattson said the Monticello Nuclear Power Plant is a very secure facility. Russek agreed and noted the safety measures that are in place. He said once in a while a plant is shut down. It is good to know that the plants are inspected. Logaras thanked the Board for the opportunity to provide the report. The NRC will send out information to the Commissioners requesting input on potential future topics for this report.
Richard Norman, County Coordinator, said correspondence was received from the City of Maple Lake requesting $7,500 for the Maple Lake Library. Russek moved to send the request to the Budget Committee Of The Whole to be reviewed as part of the 2011 budget process. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 4-0.
The Planning & Zoning Administrator submitted documentation requesting that the Board set a Closed Meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss litigation with the Department of Labor and Industry and Corinna Township. Russek moved to set a Closed Session for 7-27-10 at 10:30 A.M. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 4-0.
Norman provided information received from the National Association of Counties (NACo) introducing CGI Communications. Norman was part of a teleconference through NACo last week that highlighted this program. CGI Communications offers to work with the County to develop five or six 1-minute videos highlighting Wright County. Subjects may include the quality of life in Wright County, economic development, and parks and recreation. CGI Communications writes the script and shoots the video. There is no cost to the County. These segments would be available on the County’s website. CGI receives funding through sponsorships of businesses within Wright County. The logo of these businesses would be included on the website. Norman said he was introducing this concept to the Board to determine their interest. Handout material was provided. Norman said he has additional information for review on his computer. Russek moved to refer this issue to the next County Board Meeting, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 4-0.
Russek and Thelen attended the Water Management Summit held on 7-12-10. The Summit provided information on drainage laws. An informational handout was available for review. Russek said a speaker at the Summit, who is an Economist with the University, said it does not appear the value of homes will turn around until 2014 and that there will be more foreclosures. One of the reasons is the State forecast of a $9.9 billion budget deficit in 2012-2013. Russek listed some other possible future economic impacts brought forth at the meeting:
• The State’s population will become older and more diverse
• Fewer wage earners, greater income disparity & more unemployment
• Less well-educated people & higher college costs
• Less affordable health care & health care re-thinking
• Less affordable housing
• More congestion
• State finances
• Less revenues and more expenses
• Property tax relief changes
• Changes in funding for local governments and different programs
There has been a law proposed that the State cannot spend more than its income. This has not gone anywhere. Russek said the State has been spending more than its income for quite some time, and he felt it was time to realize that this cannot continue. AMC broke out into their own sessions to discuss organizations working together. Russek said Wright County has a good working relationship with the SWCD. He felt Wright County is well ahead of the curve on getting along and cooperating with the SWCD as compared to other districts. Thelen also stated that Wright County was ahead of the curve in terms of the cooperative arrangement with the SWCD. She felt the speaker in the morning brought forth an interesting piece, indicating that the State cannot continue to cut their way out of the budget problem and that there has to be some way of looking at raising revenues. Russek said a suggestion at the Summit was made to tax the rich. The problem he saw was that those people would move to another State. Thelen said another suggestion made at the Summit was to restore the taxes and spending to the 1998 levels.
Allina Hospitals & Clinics 2,781.75
American Messaging 566.17
American Tower Corporation 3,480.00
Amerpride Linen and Apparel 108.67
Anderson/Donald L. 624.00
Aramark Services Inc. 20,011.08
Assn. of Minnesota Counties 125.00
Barnes Distribution 924.79
Black Box Resale Services 3,540.00
Boyer Truck Parts 196.79
Bryan Rock Products 269.98
Buffalo Auto Value 168.86
Buffalo/City of 70,158.80
C & C Embroidery 633.00
Catco Parts Service 865.64
Center Point Energy 142.31
Centra Sota Lake Region LLC 20,978.00
Chamberlain Oil Co. 1,071.82
Computer Professionals 1,126.50
Constellation Justice System 14,490.00
Consulting Radiologists 267.00
Cottens Inc. 3,084.36
Dell Marketing LP 1,694.46
Department of Public Safety 8,550.00
Eagle Point 2,311.35
Election Systems & Software 4,007.81
Emergency Physicians Prof 452.25
Erickson Engineering Co 6,047.50
Fair Hills Inc. 189.99
First State Tire Recycling 879.95
Frontier Precision Inc. 6,982.00
Globalstar USA 115.96
Granite City Iron Works 368.98
Granite Pest Control Service 255.43
Greenview Inc. 15,117.07
Hillyard Inc. - Minneapolis 3,311.12
Identix Incorporated 462.06
Interstate Battery Systems 196.54
Kaplan Professional Sch 850.00
LaPlant Demo Inc 482.87
Law Enforcement Targets 274.87
Lawson Products Inc 410.54
Loberg Electric 262.64
Lund Industries Inc. 193.10
Marco Inc 911.86
Marietta Aggregates/Martin 198.05
Mathiowetz Construction 204,754.01
Mattila Electric/Roger 156.57
Medical Arts Press 240.47
Menards - Buffalo 244.90
Midland Corporate Benefits 997.75
Midwest Protection Agency 6,240.78
Midwest Safety Counselors 1,143.67
Mini Biff LLC 520.54
MN Chemical Company 761.48
MN Counties Computer Coop 15,836.67
MN Counties Ins Trust 327.00
Morries Parts & Service Group 275.00
Mumford Sanitation 129.87
Office Depot 2,437.19
Peavey Company/Lynn 458.50
Powerplan OIB 2,196.13
Richards/Thomas W. 800.00
Rockford Township 1,078.00
Royal Tire Inc. 390.76
Sand Creek Group LTD 5,115.00
Scenic Signs 226.40
SHI International Corp 15,983.15
Sirchie Finger Print Lab 173.14
St. Cloud Hospital 1,183.58
Star West 13,070.00
State of MN-Office Enterpri 965.00
Steeles Collision 1,876.01
Sundman/John L. 6,666.67
Telvent DTN 2,148.00
Total Printing 838.22
Uniforms Unlimited 241.24
Veolia ES Solid Waste Midw 669.51
Waste Management -TC West 149.06
Weber/Gordon S. 6,946.66
West Payment Center 353.00
Word Systems Inc. 1,800.00
Wright County Court Adm 320.00
Zee Service Company 162.50
Zumbusch/David E. 6,666.67
30 Payments less than $100 1,323.49
Final total $763,842.26
The meeting adjourned at 10:23 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Aug. 30, 2010.