WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
JULY 20, 2010
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 a.m. with Sawatzke, Thelen, Mattson, Russek, and Eichelberg present.
On a motion by Russek, second by Thelen, all voted to approve the minutes of 7-13-10 (as presented).
The following items were petitioned onto the Agenda: Consent Agenda A.6. “Refer To The Personnel Committee Discussion RE: Establishment Of The Salary Range For The Chief Of Criminal Division In The Attorney’s Department” (Norman), Items for Consid. #5 “Cancel And Reschedule The 7-21-10 Negotiations Committee” (Norman)”; Items for Consid. #6 “Update Report From Mid-Minnesota Mississippi RC&D Council” (Russek), Items for Consid #3 to be revised as “AMC PILT Meeting/AMC Summer Policy Meeting (7-29-10)” (Sawatzke). On a motion by Eichelberg, seconded by Russek, all voted to approve the Agenda as amended.
The County Board noted the addition of Consent Agenda Item A.6. On a motion by Thelen, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda as amended.
1. Performance Appraisals: C. Goodrich, S. Lindenfelser, Aud./Treas.; A. Riebel, Parks; M. Hoberg, P. Mackie, Sher.
2. Refer Upgrades To The Community Room To The Building Committee.
3. Auction Results.
4. Claim, The County Store, $16,200 (Pens For Goat Barn).
5. Claim, BV Construction, $800 (Installation Of Pens In The Goat Barn).
6. Refer to The Personnel Committee Discussion RE: Establishment Of The Salary Range For The Chief Of Criminal Division In The Attorney’s Department.
1. Approval & Signature On Annual Satellite Agreement For MN Secretary Of State.
Greg Kramber, County Assessor, stated that with great privilege and honor he would like to recognize the achievements of Lori Thingvold, Wally Peterson, and Tom Praska who received the Accredited Minnesota Assessor designation from the Minnesota State Board of Assessors. Conrad Anderson received the Senior Accredited Minnesota Assessor designation from the Minnesota State Board of Assessors. Kramber stated that he wanted to show the Wright County Board and citizens that the Assessors Department is doing the best job it can while taking the opportunity to earn the best education and qualifications. He stated that he is proud to work with these individuals and wishes to congratulate them in their achievement.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, stated that he has tested a product from Tracker for the past year. The product is an investment tool allowing him to monitor and maintain the County’s investment schedule. He is able to utilize due diligence in monitoring the County’s diverse investments. The first year’s subscription fee of $2,340 includes a set-up fee and training. The service fee would be $195/month thereafter. He is asking the County Board to approve the annual contract with Tracker. Russek asked whether this tool will guarantee better returns on the County’s investments. Hiivala stated that this program will make him more comfortable in ensuring that the County is getting the appropriate amount of investment income. Sawatzke asked whether this would be included as part of the expenditure line item of the 2011 budget. Hiivala stated that he would propose incorporating it into the investment income budget line item, which is a revenue. Norman stated that this should be coded as an expense under the Auditor/Treasurer’s professional services line item. Eichelberg asked what the County’s obligation is in this. Hiivala stated that the service can be cancelled at anytime with a 60-day notice. Hiivala noted that the County has been conservative on its investment income estimates, however, this year looks as if the County faired well in its investments. Russek moved to authorize signatures on the Tracker contract. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg. The motion carried unanimously.
Hiivala stated that he is officially releasing the State Demographer’s 2009 Population Estimate. The 2009 population was 120,684. This is broken into the various cities and townships. Eichelberg stated that this is a slight increase in comparison to 2008’s population of 119,335. Eichelberg noted that the population numbers are not broken down by precinct. Hiivala confirmed Eichelberg’s statement by stating these are grouped by municipality and township, not by election precincts. Sawatzke asked when this information would become available. Hiivala responded that he did not know.
Hiivala submitted the claims listing for approval. On a motion by Thelen, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.
Bill Stephens, Environmental Health Supervisor, stated that Planning & Zoning would like to provide another free collection day this year for major household appliances. He stated that it would be a County-wide cleanup effort. The hope is to target the older appliances that have been stored behind or in garages, sheds, barns, woods, streams, and roadways. The request is to waive the $20 collection fee for major household appliances at the Wright County Compost and Recycling Facility on Wednesday, August 18, 2010. SCORE funds would cover the costs for recycling any appliances brought into the collection event. He clarified that this would not be an open-ended, no-limit, collection. The hours of collection would be limited from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Sentence-To-Service (STS) and the vendor would be able to assist in the collection efforts. Sawatzke stated that he is concerned that the mid-week collection would prohibit the average working citizen from participating. He stated that it appears the program is focused toward senior citizens and the unemployed. Stephens stated that they will assess the collection needs, and if it appears that another date is needed, they would consider having another collection day on a Saturday. Stephens also stated that he could speak with Jerome Kleis, STS Crew Leader, to see if STS could extend their hours to facilitate the collection process. He also noted that they would not turn anyone away if they are in line at closing time. Thelen moved to authorize waiving the $20 collection fee for major household appliances at the Wright County Compost and Recycling Facility on Wednesday, August 18, 2010. The motion was seconded by Russek. The motion carried 5-0.
Thelen announced that there will be a public meeting on 7-27-10 at 7:00 p.m., in the Government Center’s Conference Room 120A to discuss the Rolling Hills Landfill Permit Renewal. The renewal period is for five years, however the understanding is that the Landfill will reach full capacity in 2 1/2 years. Russek noted that the County received a notice from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) regarding the application. He commented that there is nothing that the County Board can do. This is not a permit for re-zoning. The Landfill is operating within their footprint. Stephens stated that the public meeting is an update, not a public hearing. The MPCA is looking for input regarding the permit renewal. Veolia Environmental Services, owner of Rolling Hills Landfill, is not required to hold a public meeting. They realize that the surrounding neighbors have questions and they are using this public format as a way to gauge a reaction from neighboring residents. This meeting is not to discuss the expansion rumors; however, they realize that there may be talk at the meeting regarding the rumors. Mattson asked why the MPCA was allowing the company to operate without a permit. Stephens statedthere are conditions within MPCA’s guidelines that state that when their permit was technically up in 2007, as long as the company is still meeting the conditions of the original permit, the MPCA will allow them to operate. It was considered a valid permit. They are required to have their permit reviewed every five years. It took the MPCA two years to get through the review process. Jean Bryant, Maple Lake Township resident, asked why Rolling Hills needs another five-year renewal period when it will reach full capacity in 2 1/2 years. Her concern is that since it already took 2 years from the 2007 expiration, they would technically get seven years of operation with the five-year permit renewal. Russek stated that pertaining to the MPCA permitting process, the County Board does not have much input. Bryant recalled a recent incident where she was concerned for her health and safety as a result of the operations of Rolling Hills Landfill. Russek commented that he no longer reads the inspection reports by Lucas Consulting. Sawatzke stated that the inspector is paid by the Landfill owner. The Landfill knows when they will be inspected. Thelen stated that she spoke with Lucas Consulting regarding institutionalizing the complaints they receive. Lucas Consulting stated that they will recommend to the Landfill manager that they should keep a complaint log. The log should show how Veolia responded to the complaints. Thelen stated that she is waiting to hear back from the Landfill’s manager regarding complaints about uncovered trucks leaving the site after dumping contaminated soil. Thelen stated that she did perform a “sniff test” while at the Bryant residence. She stated that it is her opinion that it is not fair to live in a home where you cannot open your windows during the summer months. Bryant stated that it is her hope that the County Commissioners will attend the public meeting to lend support. She stated that Senator Amy Koch is planning to attend the meeting.
Dr. Quinn Strobl, Medical Examiner for Wright County, stated that she is here today to present the 2009 Annual Report. The purpose of the Report is to identify and present a summary of the Medical Examiner’s involvement for deaths occurring in Wright County during the year 2009. The report also notes any statistically significant trends. In 2009, there were 377 deaths that were investigated by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office. This is a small increase from 2008. Of those 377 deaths, 81 deaths fell under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiners Office, meaning that they had to investigate and sign the death certificates due to circumstances. Page 2 of the Report indicates that 111 deaths required a scene visit by one of nine Wright County Death Investigators. The Office performed 57 autopsies which is slightly higher than 2008. Of the 57 autopsies, 16 were classified as death by natural causes. The vast majority died of heart disease. The youngest was 41 years of age. Twelve people died in motor vehicle related deaths. Of those, four were intoxicated with alcohol, two were on motorcycles, and two were driving an automobile. Four pedestrians were killed, and two of those were affected by alcohol. Strobl explained that one elderly gentleman was crossing the road to collect his mail and was killed by a hit and run driver who has never been found. Twenty people died by accidental death which were non-motor vehicle related. One-half of those deaths were in the elderly population and due to complications from a major bone fracture following a fall. Strobl noted that the falls were from standing height. With age, bones can become very brittle. She stated that another large category of deaths were due to drug toxicity. The majority of these are due to the misuse or abuse of prescribed medications. The three main culprits are: oxycodone, methadone, and fentanyl. These medications are typically prescribed to the person or are shared by a family member. She cited a heroin death of a 44 year old. She stated that historically, their office sees one heroin death a year. In the past 18 months, there have been 13 deaths related to heroin abuse. This is a significant increase. Sixteen deaths were attributed to suicide. The most common method was with a gun. The percentage of deaths has essentially been 4% since 2005. Three deaths were classified as undetermined. The “undetermined” classification is used when the evidence does not clearly indicate the manner of death. Two of these deaths were infant deaths: undernourished and an unsafe sleeping arrangement. The third death was a 22-year old woman with a gunshot to the face. It was not clear whether this was a suicide or homicide. One death was deemed non-classifiable and attributed to an underlying medical condition due to a result of the stress of a surgery or medical procedure. One set of bones was brought into the Office that were determined not to be human; and a fisherman found a set of teeth on the shore of the Mississippi River. Russek stated that the report was very interesting.
Darrin Lahr, Routing Lead for CapX2020, stated that he is here today to provide a project update on the Monticello-St. Cloud electric transmission line project. He referred to two fact sheets (distributed to County Board Members) and information that every landowner has received regarding right-of-way (ROW) easements, acquisition, and the construction process. Lahr explained that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MN PUC) selected the final route and granted a Route Permit for the construction of the CapX2020 Monticello-St. Cloud 345 kV transmission line. On 4-8-09, CapX2020 submitted a Route Permit application beginning the State routing process to determine where the needed facilitates would eventually be located. The final decision of the location of the transmission line was determined by the MN PUC after a thorough review that included public hearings heard by an administrative law judge, an environmental impact statement, hosting an advisory task force, agency consultation and landowner input. On 7-8-10, the route was determined. The route shares ROW with County Road 75 and Interstate 94. The route can be seen with route width, ROW width, and construction notes on www.capx2020.com. The easement itself will be located on a 150’ wide ROW. Notably, this is one of the few projects where public opinion was in favor of this route. They are now in the process of contacting the affected land owners. This route is 28 miles long and impacting 130 landowners. They look forward to construction starting this fall. Lahr described the overall construction process and equipment. The entire process will require a lot of coordination with the townships for local access. The targeted in-service date is 1-1-2012. Thelen asked Lahr if the route will be shared with the Interstate 94 ROW and asked how this agreement came out with MnDOT. Lahr stated that this process came out fairly well. MnDOT has agreed to permit intermittent occupancy at an average of 20 feet off the freeway fence with the pole base. This is better than the original proposed 75 feet.
Thelen asked Lahr how landowners who are in an orderly annexation area for Clearwater will be compensated. The landowners are concerned whether they will receive compensation for what they could have gotten since they are a part of the future orderly annexation area, or whether the current market value is what will be considered. Lahr stated that with an orderly annexation area, all key factors are reviewed. There is some sort of a reality check in the determination since there are various stages of development: from the early stages of thinking that “someday” the landowner may develop their land to the later stage of actually having a plat ready for city review. Lahr stated that the objective behind the easement payment is to compensate the landowner fully for any diminution of value that takes place. Thelen explained that the utility company had selected three routes and a preferred route. The affected landowners within those route options were all notified and had a chance to attend public meetings to voice their opinion. Thelen noted that an Advisory Task Force, of which she was a part of, was created and given the opportunity to create an alternate “D” plan. It was understood that when the Task Force was created, the affected persons would be notified of the newly chosen route. However, none of the governments, cities, or affected landowners were made aware of the alternate route. It pitted communities against each other. She stated that the Administrative Law Judge made a comment that many more people were opposed to the alternate “D” route. Thelen stated that she thinks this is because nobody was given a significant opportunity to review the alternate “D” route. She asked if there would be any effort in the future from the Office of Energy & Security to improve upon the notification process. Lahr stated that he cannot speak for them. Lahr stated that everybody is held to the State of Minnesota’s process. The Advisory Task Force was created by the State of Minnesota Office of Energy & Security. This entire process has to be done very carefully. He stated that he thinks it was rather unfortunate that Sherburne County felt blindsided. The State did notify the additional affected landowners; however, it was rather late in the process. There is a lot of discussion that takes place early on prior to the application for the route permit. Then the State of Minnesota becomes involved in the process. By the time the State of Minnesota becomes involved in the process, landowners and affected persons feel that they have already said their peace and consequently withdraw from the process. He proposed that perhaps the process is something that could be clarified better by the utility companies. Mattson asked whether today’s presentation was presented to Sherburne County. Lahr stated that they have spoken with the Sherburne County Board several times to inform them of their involvement in the process.
Eichelberg presented the 7-14-2010 Personnel Committee minutes and recommendations. Discussion and action at today’s County Board Meeting is reflected in italics:
I. POSITION OPENINGS.
A. Corrections (2). O’Malley stated that there are two vacancies due to retirement. Today’s request is to backfill the current authorized positions. Eichelberg asked whether these positions would have to be advertised. O’Malley stated that they are still working off of an eligibility list that is open through September/October of 2010. Norman stated that these positions are essential in order to follow the Jail staffing plan. RECOMMENDATION: Authorize request to hire two (2) Corrections Officers.
B. Deputy Sheriff. Miller stated that there is a vacancy due to a current Deputy Sheriff who is going to work for the Wisconsin DNR. He stated that the Sheriffs Department still has five other open positions. Miller stated that the Department is still operating on an existing eligibility list and background checks will have to be performed. RECOMMENDATION: Authorize request to hire one Deputy Sheriff.
C. Assistant Jail Administrator, Corrections. RECOMMENDATION: Lay over agenda topic.
D. Legal Secretary. Kelly stated that Krystal Tilbury will be leaving the Attorney’s office on 8-20-10. He reminded the Committee that a current Legal Secretary vacancy has not yet been backfilled. During budget discussions, it was agreed that the Attorney’s Department would keep that position vacant. He stated that Tilbury’s vacancy will require a backfill because one secretary cannot keep up with the misdemeanor division. He stated that another secretary will take a maternity leave at the end of the summer, leaving his Department with three vacancies. He stated that his Department will be feeling the stress of these vacancies for a minimum of two months. His request is to advertise for one Legal Secretary position. Eichelberg asked whether this position would have to be advertised externally. Brown stated yes. Thelen commented that without looking at the budget, this seems to be an essential position. RECOMMENDATION: Authorize request to hire one Legal Secretary.
E. Information Systems Specialist. Antl stated that this position became vacant due to a recent promotion. Norman stated that this position was redlined and thus moves from Senior Information Systems Specialist down to Information Systems Specialist. Eichelberg asked whether the new position would be susceptible to a lower pay scale. Norman stated yes. RECOMMENDATION: Authorize request to hire one Information Systems Specialist.
F. Senior Office Support Specialist (OSS). Antl stated that there has been a recent vacancy in Financial Services. A Senior OSS took a position as a Financial Worker within Wright County which now leads to a vacancy. There are typically two OSS positions at the front desk and serve as the first point of contact for the Agency. They handle approximately 200 incoming phone calls and 75 walk-in clients per day. This essential position is responsible for all incoming/outgoing mail, utilizing multiple computer systems and the maintenance of the copiers/printers on the floor. They take minutes at meetings, issue Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, and complete projects as assigned. They are utilized by all four units on the floor. Antl explained that the Agency works with Central MN Jobs & Training for temporary assistance during vacancies, as well as utilizes other staff on the floor for back-up. Thelen stated that she understands that Human Services is inundated with calls and drop-in clientele. The need for public assistance has grown. Eichelberg asked whether this position would have to be advertised externally. Brown stated yes. RECOMMENDATION: Authorize request to hire one Senior Office Support Specialist.
G. Financial Workers (2), Human Services. Antl stated that there are two Financial Worker vacancies they wish to fill. She stated that she had three employees take other positions (two internal and one external) within the last six weeks. Prior to that, a Financial Worker position hasn’t been vacated since 2008. Since January, 2009, public assistance applications have increased by 40%. The number of programs and rules are very complex. She stated that this position is reimbursed at nearly 70%. Eichelberg asked whether this position would be advertised externally. Antl stated no. She stated that it would be posted in-house as the previous list of applicants had some great candidates. Antl stated that the hope is by mid-August, these positions will be filled. RECOMMENDATION: Authorize request to fill two Financial Worker positions.
H. Temporary Mechanic, Highway. Fingalson stated that his Department has three (3) full-time heavy equipment mechanics. He stated that one of the mechanics will be out for 4-6 months on medical leave. He stated that with the current workload and the upcoming ice and snow season, a temporary mechanic is needed. Fingalson stated that they do have money available within the budget to cover this position. Eichelberg asked Fingalson if it would be difficult to find a temporary and qualified mechanic. Fingalson stated that they will put out some feelers. They understand that a qualified mechanic can make more in private industry than in government. However, with the current economic climate, there may be some qualified mechanics willing to take the work and assigned pay scale. Norman stated that the temporary mechanic may fall under the 67-day rule. This would speak to the language within the Local 49r’s contract regarding seasonal and temporary staffing. The temporary employee would be held to a 67-day employment period otherwise the worker would become a member of the union and fall under the collective bargaining agreement. Fingalson asked whether there is a variance to this process. Norman stated that a discussion with Kent Korman may be beneficial to get his take on the issue. Norman cautioned Fingalson to put the temporary employee to work for a full day. One hour of work counts as one entire day of the 67-day period. RECOMMENDATION: Authorize request to seek a temporary Mechanic.
II. FLEX-TIME REQUESTS (HUMAN SERVICES BOARD ITEM).
III. JAIL ADMINISTRATOR STARTING WAGE.
O’Malley stated that he was offered the position of Jail Administrator. He stated that the Personnel Department informed him that he would be starting at Step 3 on the pay scale. He stated that he is requesting Step 7. He stated that the Personnel Department told him that it is their practice to start employees at the lowest step. If an outside person would have been hired, that person would have started at Step 1. O’Malley stated that this has not been the County’s past practice. Brown stated that in the current economic environment, the County Board is expecting that all new hires start at Step 1. Norman stated that he gave a list of recommendations at the 1-13-09 Budget Committee of the Whole Meeting. As part of the recommendations, he asked that the County Board consider starting new hires at Step 1 of the Salary Schedule. Thelen stated that she read the minutes from that meeting and also read the comments that Miller had made in regard to the recommendations. She stated that she didn’t see a specific or official policy that came as a result of the recommendations that were made at that meeting. Norman noted that the Policy & Procedure Manual states that “New employees shall normally be hired at the minimum range of the appropriate classification.” Anything over Step 3, must come before the County Board. Thelen stated that she understood this to be effective for outside new hires. O’Malley stated that according to the Wright County Personnel Policy #205 Probationary Period, it states that in a promotion situation, the employee is moved to the next highest salary of the new classification. He stated that it also states that a new hire or rehire into a position not previously held that the initial salary is established. O’Malley stated that from his experience, “established” means that experience, previous salary, and the individual’s opinion are taken into consideration. According to the policy, he would be able to negotiate his salary and would have his career and experience taken into consideration if he was an outside hire. Because he is an internal hire, he is not allowed to negotiate his salary, according to the Policy. He stated that it is his opinion that the Policy is not fair. O’Malley cited examples of external hires that were hired at steps higher than Step 1 because of their qualifications and experience. Brown stated that there is a provision within the union contract, that time as a Deputy is recognized in determining salary and promotion. O’Malley stated that there are two different contracts: Deputies and Supervisors. Norman asked what the collective bargaining agreement states. O’Malley responded that Brown’s argument is that there is a provision within the union contract. He stated that there are two different contracts. The one contract doesn’t govern the other. Miller stated that traditionally, a Deputy goes from top to the top step on the Lieutenant pay scale. The Deputy contract reads that years of experience is the determining factor in granting a step on the pay scale. This only applies to Deputies being promoted to Sergeant as they are both covered under the FOP contract. When a Sergeant accepts a promotion to Lieutenant, they leave the FOP contract and fall under the Teamsters 320 Supervisory Unit contract. Norman stated that there is nothing in the collective bargaining agreement referring to how a person is promoted. The Personnel Policy Manual states that a promoted employee goes to the next highest salary of the new classification. Miller stated that past practice does speak highly to what is the norm. The contract says one thing; however past practices becomes the new contract. Past practice has shown that employees that have been promoted have started at top step. O’Malley stated that his experience far exceeded the minimum qualifications for the position of Jail Administrator. Because of his experience, the Jail and the Sheriffs Office is not going to see a big change in how the Facility operates. This position is a management administrative position. He is not learning an entirely new job. With the new job title, he will be taking on a few extra work functions that weren’t part of his previous duties. In Torfin’s absence, he did the work of the Jail Administrator and was paid out-of-class pay. The Jail Administrator posting advertised a salary range of “$62,740 83,597”. There was no mention of a starting wage or step in the ad or in the interview. Brown confirmed that there was no discussion of salary during the interview. Norman stated that the County has been very consistent. O’Malley stated that he is not asking for top step. He is asking for Step 7 of the Captain pay scale. He stated that he feels he deserves Step 7 because of his experience, time with the County, and past practice of promotion within his bargaining unit. He stated that his request to start at Step 7 would not cost the County any more money. The Sheriffs budget already includes this position at Step 9. The County would realize a budget savings for the remainder of this year and three more years. He has been at the top step for four years in his job class. He reminded the Committee that the Jail Administrator position is a budget level management supervisory position. He stated that supervision is a very small aspect of this position. The core function of the job is largely administrative. Eichelberg asked Brown what Steps 3 and 7 are. Brown stated that Step 3 is $69,712. In January, 2011, a COLA increase would bring Step 3 to $71,455. At his review, Step 4 would be $74,674. Step 7 would be $78,038. Captain Torfin’s salary was $83,597. O’Malley’s current salary is $67,078 at Step 9. Brown asked O’Malley why he felt he deserved Step 7. O’Malley stated that he has been with the County for seven years as the Assistant Jail Administrator. Thelen stated that it is her opinion that O’Malley is at a disadvantage. It sounds as if somebody coming from the outside has the advantage. Norman stated that it is somewhat speculative to determine what somebody from the outside would get. Norman stated that the current labor market makes a huge impact on hiring practices. Miller stated that he considers the Jail Administrator position to be either the second or third top position within the Sheriffs Department. There are over 200 positions in the Sheriffs Department. The person in this position must be extremely knowledgeable because the Jail can be a potential liability to the County. The Jail is a large and complex facility. He stated that he doubts that any external candidate would come to work for the County at a Step 3 wage. He stated that he feels the internal policy is bias. It is designed to pay someone the lowest wage possible. Miller stated that he does not feel that the County’s Personnel Policy can work for every situation and employee. The Policy doesn’t speak to past practices and the operational needs of the Sheriffs Department. He stated that if the County were to run its operations like a private business, our competitors would put us out of business. Miller stated that it is important to promote and compensate employees accordingly. Saving money cannot be the sole factor. Miller stated that he feels it is his job to argue for the sake of his Office. He stated that he is passionate about sticking up for his staff. He stated that operationally, he has to leave his Office in a good place. Norman stated that he is not questioning O’Malley’s qualifications. He stated that his position is that the County has been treating people consistently in terms of movement. Brown stated that she could not do her job if there were inconsistencies in the interpretation of the Personnel Policy. Miller stated that there have been some inconsistencies in the hiring and promotion of Department Heads. Steps have been skipped. Miller stated that this is something that the whole County Board has to look at. Eichelberg stated that his recommendation would be to call for a Personnel Committee of the Whole Meeting. He stated that O’Malley and Miller both have good arguments, and yet Administration has to be consistent. Thelen stated that she does not believe in “one size fits all” either. She stated that the County Board should reexamine the Policy. Thelen stated that she agrees with Eichelberg that this should be brought to a Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting. Miller stated that there is a viable argument for promotional steps. However, he asked the Committee to recognize that he cannot compare the Sheriffs Department to other departments. The State recognizes that the Jail operation is a total separate budget. The Jail Administrator is a very important position in the Office. Norman stated that in the 27 years he has worked with Wright County, he could not recall hiring somebody from the outside to fill Lieutenant or Captain positions. O’Malley stated that the County hired him as an outsider. Norman stated that the County doesn’t normally hire from the outside for these positions but does for internal promotions. Thelen asked what the comparables are for this position. Miller stated that in the Sheriffs Department, once an employee has vested their career here, the pay and the structure cannot be duplicated elsewhere. Because of this, there are no external comparables. The promotional process shouldn’t penalize the current employee. He stated that in his opinion, the County’s current process does. Norman stated that the County has to consider pay equity in relation to female dominated jobs. Miller confirmed that the County would realize a savings by starting O’Malley at Step 7. Eichelberg stated that the County has other guidelines to adhere to. If the County doesn’t adhere to its guidelines, it opens the floodgates to other issues. Brown stated that a lot of people are watching what will happen at today’s Committee Meeting. Miller stated that a lot of people in his Department are also watching. Brown stated that if the County hadn’t been consistent, this Committee would not be here today discussing this topic. Brown asked Miller if he thinks other Departments could make the same arguments. Miller stated that he cannot speak for other departments. Norman stated that whatever the Personnel Committee decides to do, there will be repercussions. Thelen agreed with Norman’s statement. Norman stated that the meeting date for a Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting will be determined at the County Board Meeting. The meetings require a three day posting period. Recommendation: Forward this discussion to a Personnel Committee of the Whole Meeting.
(End of 7-14-2010 Personnel Committee Minutes and discussion.)
At Today’s County Board Meeting, Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes and recommendations made by the Personnel Committee. Mattson stated that the private sector is cutting wages and laying off positions. He asked when the County will seriously consider not hiring any additional staff persons. He stated that he is frustrated because he feels government is giving the appearance that it is flush with money. He asked how the County expects to collect taxes from its unemployed citizens. He reminded the County Board that taxes are the County’s revenue from the outside. Thelen seconded the motion. Eichelberg stated that most of the vacated positions are in Human Services. He told Mattson that due to the concerns Mattson expressed, citizens need assistance from Human Services. Refilling the Sheriff’s vacated positions offers protection to County citizens. Mattson stated that during the good economic times, he was in support of every position and salary increase request. Thelen stated that she is aware that there is a strong anti-government sentiment out there. However, in times like this, government needs to be effective. She stated that it doesn’t behoove us to cripple our agencies so we aren’t able to meet the public’s needs. She stated that she and Eichelberg were at the Personnel Committee and felt that these vacated positions are necessary positions. She stated that when the Budget Committee hearings occur in August, the County Board will have to grapple with how to solve the budget shortfall. Sawatzke stated that this is a good discussion. He stated that essentially, every member is present today that would ordinarily be on the Personnel Committee Of The Whole. Therefore, he is in favor of having the discussion today. He commended Eichelberg and Thelen for getting all the facts. The discussion at hand is about the Jail Administrator’s starting salary. He stated that the County Board has the greatest respect for the work that the Jail Administrator does. There is no question that Pat O’Malley has an outstanding resume. Every person that gets promoted within the County should have an outstanding resume. The County takes care to only promote its star employees. He stated that the policy states that the promoted employee gets to move one step higher than their current salary amount. Sawatzke stated that O’Malley was at Step 9 as the Assistant Jail Administrator, and would start at Step 3 as the new Jail Administrator. Sawatzke stated that this same argument was made for a recent Lead Clerk Supervisor promotion in the Sheriffs Department and the Board followed the Policy. Sawatzke reasoned that O’Malley would receive a $2,650 raise effective immediately, with a cost of living increase of $1,743 on 1-1-11, and then another $3,219 raise on his 12 month anniversary. This is a raise of $7,616, or an 11.5% increase. He stated that he did not think these types of raises were occurring in the private sector. He stated that O’Malley is asking for Step 7. He stated that with Step 7, O’Malley would be receiving a 26% raise, or approximately $16,000. He stated that he thinks an 11.5% increase is reasonable. He stated that the County has a Policy in place. He stated that it is his opinion that there is no need for another meeting and noted that it would be a waste of time and money to engage in further discussion. Sawatzke moved to amend the motion to not accept the recommendation to lay this topic over to the Personnel Committee Of The Whole. Russek seconded the amended motion.
Miller stated that he did not come to today’s County Board Meeting prepared to make these arguments. He stated that it has been the past practice of the County Board to take the recommendation of the Committee. He stated that he thought the Sheriffs Department would have a chance to discuss some of these issues in more detail. There is a policy in place and this is a union position. He stated that there are many issues that the County Board should be willing to discuss with the Sheriffs Department. However, he doesn’t feel this is the time or the place to continue this discussion. He’d like to discuss the history, the policy, how it has been applied, and the union ramifications. He stated that he does not think that the policy has been consistently laid out and feels he can successfully lay out the facts. He stated that by giving O’Malley an 11.5% increase would be a cut to what the position is actually worth. Thelen asked for clarification on Sawatzke’s motion. She asked if she voted in favor of his amended motion whether a meeting with the Personnel Committee Of The Whole is off the table. Sawatzke clarified that one of the Commissioners would have to make another motion for additional action. Russek stated that the people at this meeting would be the same as at the Personnel Committee Of The Whole. While he understands that Miller wants to present a longer argument, Russek thought the vote could be the same regardless of whether it went to Committee or not. Thelen stated that she would hope that the County Board would be open to the arguments and not come to the table with a predisposed decision. Thelen clarified that this isn’t a request for a simple salary increase. This is a change in job title and duties that warrants a salary increase. She stated that she thinks the County Board must do due diligence on these concerns to discuss this further. The Sheriff has stated that they aren’t prepared to make their argument today. She stated that she would like to hear their argument about the inconsistencies, protocol, and comparables. She referenced that she recently attended a township hall meeting and there was overwhelming support for maintaining good law enforcement. Sawatzke stated that the Personnel Committee Meeting was posted and called for. Eichelberg and Thelen were present at the meeting and received all of the facts. Sawatzke noted that he read the minutes very closely and understands the arguments. He stated that O’Malley is an outstanding employee and O’Malley feels he should get more money. He stated that unless there is some new secret information that hasn’t already come forward, there isn’t a need for a Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting. Miller stated that in meeting with the Personnel Committee, he was partially though presenting the facts when Eichelberg suggested a Personnel Committee of the Whole Meeting. He stated that he feels that they weren’t able to present their entire argument. He stated that it was his understanding that the discussion would continue at the Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting. He stated that committee recommendations are routinely rubberstamped. Now it is his understanding that Sawatzke stated that everything was covered and unless there is new secret information, the discussion is closed. Sawatzke stated that it was obvious that there were divergent viewpoints at the Personnel Committee Meeting and therefore, Eichelberg thought it should be forwarded to the Personnel Committee Of The Whole. Miller stated that he would like the opportunity to present additional information. The amended motion failed 2-3 (Eichelberg, Thelen, and Mattson casting the nay vote). Mattson stated that he is voting against all recommendations including the authorization to backfill all vacancies. The initial motion to approve the minutes and all recommendations failed 2-3 (Mattson, Sawatzke, and Russek casting the nay vote). Thelen motioned to schedule a Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting. She then amended her motion to refer all topics from the 7-14-10 Personnel Committee Meeting to the Personnel Committee Of The Whole. Eichelberg seconded the motion. The motion passed 5-0.
Norman stated that he presented the NACo Sponsored “County Showcase Program” at the 7-13-10 County Board Meeting. He still has questions about the program that haven’t been answered. He stated that he would like to refer this discussion to the Ways & Means Committee. Russek moved to refer the issue to the Ways & Means Committee Meeting, seconded by Sawatzke. The motion carried 5-0.
Sawatzke stated that the County Board is aware that the AMC Summer Policy Meetings will be held on 7-29-10 at the MCIT Building. Sawatzke stated that there is also a PILT Meeting this year. AMC has asked that a representative from each county attend this workgroup. He stated that although Wright County doesn’t have as much Federal and State land as the other northern counties, Wright County does have some land under acquisition: Pelican Lakes, the State Park at Silver Creek, and DNR land in Clearwater Township. Sawatzke stated that the PILT information is complicated but very informational. He would like the County Board to authorize attendance at the PILT meeting. He noted that if it fits his schedule, he’d like to attend. Russek moved to authorize attendance at the AMC sponsored PILT Meeting. Thelen seconded the motion. Motion carried 5-0.
Sawatzke moved to authorize attendance at the AMC Summer Policy Committee Meetings held on 7-29-10 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the MCIT Building in St. Paul. The motion was seconded by Thelen and passed unanimously.
Thelen moved to approve the Budget Committee Of The Whole Schedule for the 2011 Budget Process. Sawatzke stated that he and Mattson have a conflict on 8-17-10. Norman stated that when drafting the agenda, he had not been aware that the Commissioners had conflicts. Eichelberg stated that he too has a conflict on 8-11-10. Norman stated that he will go back and revise the schedule and bring to the 7-27-10 County Board Meeting for approval. Thelen withdrew her motion. Thelen then moved to lay over approval of the Budget Committee Of The Whole Schedule for the 2011 Budget Process to the 7-27-10 County Board Meeting. Eichelberg seconded the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
Norman stated that he would like to cancel and reschedule the 7-21-10 Negotiations Committee Meeting. Frank Madden’s Office has suggested 8-30-10 at 1:30 p.m. Sawatzke made a motion to reschedule the 7-21-10 Negotiations Committee Meeting for 8-30-10 at 1:30 p.m. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0.
Russek stated that the Mid-Minnesota Mississippi RC&D Council met last week. Tim Wilson, NRCS, stated that the Federal Government is running out of funding. It is likely there will no longer be a sanctioned Mid-Minnesota Mississippi RC&D. The group will meet in November; however, the four counties (Benton, Stearns, Sherburne, and Wright) have decided that if there is no funding, there is no purpose for meeting. If the group dissolves, Wright County won’t pay the $150 annual dues.
ADVON Incorporated. $440.11
Allina Medical 155.94
American Planning Assoc 265.00
Ameripride Linen and Apparel 181.42
Annandale/City of 829.60
Apex Software 1,368.63
Arctic Glacier Inc. 551.92
Barker Co./Bob 1,757.85
Bee Line Service, Inc. 951.21
Boyer Truck Parts 183.58
Buff N Glo Inc. 206.14
Catco Parts Service 493.59
Clearwater/City of 591.80
Climate Air 1,327.88
Corporate Payment System 241.30
Cub Pharmacy 4,427.43
Culligan of Buffalo 400.00
Deatons Mailing Systems Inc. 329.12
Delano Sports Center Inc. 10,665.85
Dell Marketing LP 6,125.99
Employers Association Inc. 2,590.00
Farm-Rite Equipment Inc. 4,916.25
Fastenal Company 178.00
Fehn Gravel & Excavating 381,016.08
Gopher State One Call 136.30
H & H Fabrication LLC 468.20
Hardings Towing Inc. 160.31
Hillyard Inc.-Minneapolis 1,911.80
Johnston Fargo Culvert Inc. 9,845.34
Junction Towing & Auto Rep 200.93
Kenning PHD/Mary 1,250.00
Knife River Corporation 1,097.72
Lakedale Telephone Co. 359.35
LaPlant Demo Inc. 509.16
Maple Lake/City of 659.80
Marietta Aggregates/Martin 106.02
Menards - Buffalo 251.52
Metro Group Inc./The 1,984.93
Mid-Minnesota Hot Mix Inc. 94,286.84
MJ Dunn Company 1,376.05
MN Assn. of Assessment Pers 275.00
MN BWSR 1,629.05
MN Counties Intergovernment 465.00
Morries Parts & Service Group 1,139.22
Neopost Inc. 550.10
Norment Security Group Inc 4,200.00
O’Reilly Auto Parts 322.54
Office Depot 691.64
Peavey Company/Lynn 714.00
Positron Public Safety Sys 4,051.00
Postmaster - Buffalo 1,000.00
Richards/Thomas W. 400.00
Servin Plumbing LLC 471.15
Solar Winds Inc. 1,732.50
State of MN-Office Enterp 370.00
State Supply Co. 121.00
Timekeeping Systems Inc. 1,025.00
Tools Unlimited 239.41
Total Printing 684.01
US Postal Service 506.60
Unlimited Electric Inc. 1,447.80
Watchguard Electric 110.50
West Payment Center 965.52
Wright County Collision 7,383.07
Wright Hennepin Coop Elec 4,055.03
Wright Hennepin Electric 1,278.01
Wright Lumber & Millwork 141.93
30 Payments less than $100 1,162.14
Final total $579,099.27
The meeting adjourned at 10:40 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Aug. 30, 2010.