WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
AUGUST 3, 2010
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, Thelen, and Eichelberg present.
On a motion by Russek, second by Thelen, all voted to approve the 7-27-10 County Board Minutes as presented.
Eichelberg moved to approve the Agenda as presented, seconded by Russek, carried unanimously.
On a motion by Thelen, second by Russek, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda as presented. Russek made mention of the MCIT 2010 Dividend in the amount of $434,539.
1. Performance Appraisals: K. Tilbury, L. Winterhalter, Atty.; J. Wright, Hwy.; S. Bonnick, S. Hoover, A. Minea, J. O’Dowd, Sher./Corr.
2. O/T Report, Period Ending 7-09-10.
3. O/T Report, Period Ending 7-23-10. 3. Claim, BV Construction, $1,855 (Final Payment, Goat Barn).
4. Claim, Frank Madden & Assoc., $2,718.05 (June, 2010 Service).
5. Refer Applications For Personnel Board Of Appeals To The Personnel Committee.
6. MCIT 2010 Dividend Notice, $434,539.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented the claims listing for approval. On a motion by Russek, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.
A Building Committee Meeting was held on 7-28-10. At today’s County Board Meeting, Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes and recommendations. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0:
UPGRADES TO THE COMMUNITY ROOM.
The Committee reviewed a proposal from EPA Audio Visual Inc. (attached) to upgrade the technology in the Community Room. The estimated cost is between $11,000 and $15,000 to install a basic room system (ceiling mounted projector, ceiling speakers, laptop, and dedicated PC, DVD, and document camera). The equipment would be housed in a custom credenza and use an automated control system. The Committee toured the Community Room and discussed the functionality of the room, whether the space is used as an entire room combined or split into two meeting rooms. It was the consensus that additional information should be obtained from EPA on whether the ceiling mounted projector can be mounted on a swivel to provide flexibility with room setups, whether the podium can be tied into the speaker system, and whether the existing speakers can be utilized. Recommendation: Obtain additional information from EPA for discussion at the 8-25-10 Building Committee Meeting
PUBLIC SIGNAGE SYSTEM.
Norman said that Bill Swing, Information Technology Director, has requested the County look at a public signage system for the Lobby area, similar to the system used outside of the Courtrooms. The Committee felt that information on meeting and office location, etc. can be obtained from the Lobby Receptionist or the Bailiffs. Recommendation: It was the consensus that the County will take no action at this time.
(End of 7-28-10 Building Committee Minutes)
A Personnel Committee Meeting was held on 7-28-10. At today’s County Board Meeting, Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes and recommendations, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0:
ESTABLISH SALARY RANGE FOR CHIEF OF CRIMINAL DIVISION, ATTORNEY’S OFFICE.
Tom Kelly, County Attorney, stated that the position of Chief Of Criminal Division was authorized for July 1, 2009. A salary range needs to be established and approval given to move forward with the hiring process. Dick Norman, County Coordinator, referenced the 2010 Non-Union Salary Schedule (see handout) and stated that the top salary for the Chief Deputy Attorney is at $100,683.00 and the top salary for Attorney III is $91,256.00. He stated, that by splitting the difference, the Chief Of Criminal Division top salary would be $95,969.00. Sawatzke questioned if the Chief Of Criminal Division would be a substitute in the absence of the County Attorney. Kelly stated that Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, would oversee the Office in the County Attorneys absence. Eichelberg questioned if there are qualified internal candidates. Kelly replied that it is his hope there will be internal candidates. He feels once the position and salary range are posted, current employees will review and evaluate if it is a good move. Kelly added that Wright County is a big operation and he needs to have someone available to work directly with the Chief of Criminal Division on a full-time basis. Sawatzke questioned what steps will be followed if there are no internal candidates. Kelly stated the he would meet with the Personnel Committee at that time and discuss other options. Norman recommended the top salary for the Chief Of Criminal Division position be set at $95,969.00 and stated that a salary range would need to be established based on the Class A1 and B salaries. Sawatzke suggested splitting the difference on each step of the salary schedule. RECOMMENDATION: Recommend filling the Chief Of Criminal Division by posting internally, no backfilling of promoted employee will be allowed, and approve the attached Salary Range.
(End of 7-28-10 Personnel Committee Minutes)
Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, presented for approval a Mutual Aid Agreement requested by the City of Elk River. The City is interested in developing a public works mutual aid group for emergency assistance in the event of a storm or other disaster. The proposed Agreement was provided to Elk River by an attorney for the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust. It has been reviewed by Steve Berg, Emergency Management Director, Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, and Mark Nolan, Safety Director. Fire, EMS, and Law Enforcement already have mutual aid agreements. Fingalson said it was Berg’s opinion that the Agreement fits into the Emergency Operations Plan. If a department, agency, or community needs help with an event, it’s nice to have this in place. Fingalson felt the Agreement should list the responding officer as Berg, as he handles the other disasters in the County. Discussion followed on Page 4 of the Agreement, Charges to the Requesting Party. Subd. 1 reads, in part, that “No charges will be levied by a Responding Party to this agreement for assistance rendered to a Requesting Party under the terms of this agreement unless that assistance continues for a period of more than 48 hours.” Sawatzke asked whether the 48 hours refers to two consecutive days or 48 hours of work. Fingalson felt this would be continuous hours but said it could be clarified in the Agreement. Berg assumed it would be continuous hours. He said that normally when there is a disaster, they run shifts (i.e., 8-hr, 12-hr.). The work is completed for 48 hours straight. It was the consensus that the document should reflect or clarify that it is 48 hours (2 consecutive days). Discussion then followed on the duration of the Agreement. Based on his conversation with Berg, Fingalson recommended a two-year contract. Berg felt that length of time would possibly warrant updates to the Agreement (contact names, etc.) and new staff could be made aware of the Plan. Sawatzke said this request comes from a City in another County. He inquired what type of assistance is provided to a city within the County. Fingalson said it would be nice to have this type of agreement with all the cities and townships within the County. This may be completed during the upcoming year. Sawatzke felt that would involve too much paperwork to update annually. The County Board could always meet in emergency session the day following a disaster. Fingalson suggested that instead of an agreement with each city or township, the Board could instead adopt a policy that identifies what assistance the County will supply. Berg said the County Board has adopted a resolution indicating that the County Coordinator has the ability to dispense County resources during an emergency. This may simplify the process. Russek moved to approve the Mutual Aid Agreement with the City of Elk River. The motion includes the change in the document to reflect 48 continuous hours and setting the duration of the Agreement as two years. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried unanimously. At the next County Board Meeting, Fingalson will present a request for the Board to authorize signatures on the amended Agreement.
Fingalson said construction on CSAH 6 between TH 55 and TH 24 has been completed. The final right-of-way process can begin for vacating an unneeded fragment of old right-of-way. There is one parcel totaling 11,147 sq. ft. that is in this category. Monetary consideration for this parcel was addressed during the acquisition process and included in the final award. Following MN Statute 163.11 procedures for vacating, the property owner would be notified and the notice posted for 10 days at the Auditor’s Office. During a 30-day comment period, all utilities will be notified and allowed to comment on their facilities in relation to this action. The revocation process with the Township still needs to be completed. That will be done at a later date. Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #10-29, which will vacate a portion of CSAH 6. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Ed Nelson, Marketing Communications Manager for MN Home Ownership Center, presented information on the Look Before You Leap Campaign. The purpose of the Campaign is to provide information to homeowners on stopping foreclosure rescue scams in Minnesota and to make sure homeowners are connected with the correct services. There are more than 70 different organizations involved in the Program. In Wright County, the Wright County Community Action Agency is not only a partner, but the local service provider for residents to obtain free help if they are struggling with their mortgage. The Minnesota Home Ownership Center, a non-profit organization, was founded in 1993 and is committed to encouraging and preserving home ownership. The two facets of their work include resources for homebuyers and sustaining home ownership. Nelson asked that the Board consider adopting a resolution reflecting that the County will assist in sharing information on the Campaign with Wright County residents. The message they want to get out is that there is assistance for residents that does not cost anything. Services are available for foreclosure prevention. Nelson stated that early action will provide more options with regard to preventing foreclosure. The Look Before You Leap Campaign is asking homeowners to look twice before they work with someone that has a financial interest in what is being done to prevent foreclosure. Scam artists are targeting distressed borrowers. They may use federal or official-sounding names. In Minnesota, there are steps that must be followed in order to foreclose on a property. There is a point in that process where this becomes public knowledge. There are people who look through that information and target homeowners (door-to-door, mailings, etc.). Homeowners faced with foreclosure have a difficult time knowing where to find assistance and that is the purpose of the Campaign. The request of the Minnesota Home Ownership Center is for help in spreading the word that no one should have to pay for services. The number one thing to be cautious of is if someone is charging a fee for foreclosure help. This should not happen. This assistance is offered for free through Wright County Community Action Agency. Nelson stressed that homeowners should be on the lookout for the following things: 1) A fee is charged for services; 2) A homeowner is asked to sign over the title to their home or power of attorney; 3) A homeowner is told they should stop paying their mortgage during the loan modification process; 4) A homeowner is told that payment should be made to the person providing assistance rather than to the bank during the modification process; and 5) There is a promise or guaranteed outcome or claim that they can help people in any situation. By law, companies offering modifications must register with the MN Department of Commerce (only 10 registered to date) and up-front fees are illegal. Homeowners can report scams in their community by contacting the Attorney General’s Office. Nelson introduced Troy Olson from Wright County Community Action. Olson said he works directly with homeowners in Wright County. The Agency has three full-time counselors who work with foreclosure prevention. Olson stated that once the record of foreclosure becomes public, these scam companies move in and homeowners are contacted. Sheriff Gary Miller stated that they have seen some scams in the County, more with the rent to own units. Sheriff Miller offered to have his staff provide information to homeowners when the civil process begins.
Nelson reiterated that the purpose of the Look Before You Leap Program is to educate homeowners on looking twice before moving ahead with foreclosure assistance. The Minnesota Home Ownership Center is working with the Attorney General’s Office and Commerce Department on reported scams. A few years ago, the scams included focusing on obtaining titles to homes. The property would then be sold and those involved would leave. Many of the scams now involve obtaining money from those in the foreclosure process for providing help. Unless a homeowner has owned for a long time (established equity), they could lose their home to a scam. Nelson said foreclosure is very expensive to banks. Banks are working more with homeowners who are struggling with payments. In 2009, there were just under 27,000 foreclosures in Minnesota. Nelson said that for those people who came in for counseling, they were able to prevent foreclosure in about 50% of the cases. That does not necessarily mean the homeowner kept the home; some of the homes returned to the banks. Nelson said the counselors that work at Wright County Community Action Agency are very good at what they do. If there is any way to prevent foreclosure, he said they will know how to do that. The goal of housing counseling is successful, long-term housing stability. Sometimes it is not in the best interest of the property owner to hang onto the property. Russek said this fall may be especially hard on homeowners as many of the Adjustable Rate Mortgages are coming due and many will not re-qualify for loans. Nelson said many residents in Wright and Carver counties are facing adjustments on ARM’s or are at the end of the introductory rate period. He said now is the time to speak with the Wright County Community Action Agency to see what can be done so they don’t fall behind on payments. Contact information was provided:
Minnesota Home Ownership Center; www.hocmn.org; 651-659-9336
Look Before You Leap (connecting homeowners to resources); www.LookBeforeYouLeap.org; 866-462-6466
Thelen made a motion to adopt Resolution #10-30, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote:
Look Before You Leap: Stop Foreclosure Prevention Scams
Whereas the County of Wright takes great pride in fostering and preserving home ownership within our community by supporting home owner education and foreclosure prevention support; and
Whereas, each foreclosure costs local governments, home owners, neighborhoods and local businesses up to $78,000, causing a detriment to our community; and
Whereas, foreclosure prevention scams are emerging to prey on struggling home owners in Wright County, growing from only one reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2008 to nearly 8,000 in 2009; and
Whereas foreclosure prevention scams strip home owners of their savings, their home or both and do not provide real help in preventing foreclosures; and
Whereas, foreclosure prevention scams include common forms of “help” such as: the “Phantom Help,” where a fraudulent company collects an up-front fee from home owners and then disappears, the “Bankruptcy Foreclosure,” where companies promise to negotiate with the lender on behalf of home owners for a fee and then instead files for bankruptcy on behalf of the home owner, sometimes without their mortgage, the “Lease Buy-Back” where the home owner is encouraged to sign over the deed to their home with promises of the opportunity to lease until the home owner can re-purchase the home only to be evicted once papers are signed; and
Whereas, preventing foreclosures in Wright County begins with ending these predatory scams by calling attention to their terrible practices; and
Whereas, home owners should instead be encouraged to access trustworthy, free and local foreclosure prevention resources for help avoiding foreclosure; and
Whereas, the Minnesota Home Ownership Center and more than 50 nonprofit partners across Minnesota offer these services for free to home owners at a high quality and can serve as a resource to area home owners looking for alternates to scamming companies.
Therefore be it resolved by the undersigned elected officers that Wright County is in full support of the Look Before You Leap public education aimed at ending foreclosure prevention scams in our community and across Minnesota.
Be it further resolved that the undersigned elected officers that Wright County is in full support of the statewide network of nonprofit organizations, led by the Minnesota Home Ownership Center, that offers local, trustworthy and free foreclosure prevention help to struggling home owners.
And be it further resolved that this statement of support shall be communicated to fellow cities, counties and organizations working to stop foreclosure prevention scams and members of the public.
(End of Resolution #10-30)
A Ways & Means Committee Meeting was held on 7-28-10. At today’s County Board Meeting, Russek moved to approve the minutes and recommendations. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0:
NACo SPONSORED “COUNTY SHOWCASE PROGRAM”.
Norman distributed some information regarding NACo’s “County Showcase Program” (see attached). Norman stated that he participated in a teleconference and saw a demonstration of the program over the internet. The County would receive up to five one-minute video productions for the County website. The vignettes would promote or highlight certain services, departments, or aspects of the County. The company, CGI Communications, would write the scripts and tape/produce the videos. Norman stated that although it was impressive, he has concerns regarding sponsorships. The project is free of charge to the County. CGI would seek “sponsors” from local area businesses and their logo would appear in the video. Norman stated that he is concerned how the sponsors are selected. The CGI representative told Norman that the County could determine the criteria for selecting potential sponsors. Norman stated that six other counties in Minnesota have been contacted regarding this program. He has not contacted any of those counties for their feedback. Norman stated that he is aware that Bill Swing has also looked at this. Sawatzke stated that it is his opinion that an I.T. intern could easily create videos for the County, eliminating the need for local sponsors. He stated that his concern is that the County would give the illusion that it endorses certain local businesses. Russek commented that he too is concerned how this type of project would look in the eyes of the citizens. Sawatzke stated that he would recommend bringing this to the Leadership Team Meeting scheduled for next Tuesday to discuss if there is any interest in having an intern in I.T. create some marketing videos. RECOMMENDATION: Refer discussion of NACo Sponsored “County Showcase Program” and related topic regarding creation of marketing videos by an I.T. intern for the County Website to the 8-3-10 Leadership Team Meeting.
(End of 7-28-10 Ways & Means Committee Minutes)
Richard Norman, County Coordinator, said at the 7-20-10 County Board Meeting, the County Board reviewed the 7-14-10 Personnel Committee Minutes. The consensus was that the positions listed in the minutes were to be referred to a Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting. However, the meeting did not get scheduled. Today, Norman requested the Board schedule a Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting for this purpose. Norman asked the Board to indicate whether they want Department Heads present at that meeting to supply the rationale for all replacements or only for discussion on the Jail Administrator position. Thelen does not feel the process should be delayed and did not know if any of the other Board members had opposition to the position replacements. Sawatzke said if the Board has a problem with any of the position replacements, they will have to have the Department Heads back in for discussion. Mattson said he was the one that brought this issue forward. He said there were position replacement approvals from the first of the year to April. Now another list has been presented. He was concerned because the private sector is laying people off. Mattson did not feel that people should be added. Thelen said the request is not to add additional staff outside what is already in the budget, but to fill these essential positions. She felt the County Board needs to be careful about solving budget problems by cutting positions. Mattson said the County was not very careful adding people from the beginning of the year but will need to be careful in the future, especially with the expected foreclosures. Sawatzke moved to schedule a Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting for 8-09-10 at 9:00 A.M. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0.
Norman requested the Board schedule a Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting to interview candidates for the Recorder’s position. There were 65 applicants. The recommendation is to call in the top three candidates for interviews. If the Committee does not make a selection from that group, interviews could then be scheduled with candidates further down the list. Eichelberg moved to schedule a Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting for 8-24-10 at 1:00 P.M. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0.
Norman said 8-11-10 is a regular Committee Meeting date. The Board has Budget sessions scheduled that morning. At this point, the only items referred to the 8-11-10 date are position openings that have occurred since the last Personnel Committee Meeting, and the review of applications for the Personnel Board of Appeals opening. Sawatzke moved to not hold Committee Meetings on 8-11-10 and to refer any items that come up to the Committee Meeting date of 8-25-10. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0.
A-1 Concrete Leveling. $1,075.00
AAA Striping Service Inc. 148,280.00
Albertville Body Shop Inc. 807.84
Allina Hospitals & Clinic 16,893.00
Allina Hospitals & Clinics 13,466.99
Allina Hospitals & Clinics SP 1,008.73
Allina Medical 271.86
Allina Medical Transportation 1,500.00
Ameripride Services 211.96
ANCOM Communications Inc. 725.00
AP Technology 860.00
Appraisal Institute 440.00
Aramark Services Inc. 6,924.54
Best Western Trail Lodge 136.18
Boyer Truck Parts 2,430.63
BP Amoco 243.10
Brothers Fire Protection 248.00
Burdas Towing 211.33
Bureau of Criminal Appreh 100.00
Cenex Fleetcard 593.36
Centra Sota Lake Region LLC 42,233.61
Climate Air 353.60
Collins Brothers Towing 154.97
Commissioner of Transporta 7,387.57
Consulting Radiologists 105.00
CPS Technology Solutions 3,548.11
Crop Productions Services 1,322.56
Dell Marketing LP 16,157.05
Denn/Franklin E. 549.00
Diamond Mowers Inc. 351.73
Dynamic Recycling 3,551.03
Elk River Municipal Utilities 128.19
Farm-Rite Equipment Inc. 225.51
Franklin Township 1,096.20
Geyer Signal of St. Cloud 720.00
Granite City Iron Works 363.06
Granite Electronics 1,644.60
Hardings Towing Inc. 213.75
Hardrives Inc. 894,977.07
Hillyard Inc. - Minneapolis 1,428.02
Impact Proven Solutions 1,245.10
Interstate Battery Systems 121.36
Intoximeters Inc. 141.48
Kenexa Technology Inc. 655.18
Kimberlys Brokerage Inc. 2,162.16
LaPlant Demo Inc. 1,206.62
Maple Lake Lumber Company 398.88
Marco Inc. 5,587.45
Menards - Buffalo 316.13
Metro Group Inc./The 3,397.77
Midwave Corporation 1,083.86
Minnesota Department of Hi 962.96
MN Counties Computer Coop 175.00
Morrell Towing Inc. 127.18
Multi Health Systems Inc. 242.00
Novacare Outpatient Rehab 296.35
Office Depot 1,493.12
Precision Prints of Wright Co. 213.75
Rigid Hitch Incorporated 274.02
Royal Tire Inc. 261.92
RS Eden 16,875.24
Safelite Fulfillment Inc. 701.80
Shell Fleet Plus 244.57
SHI International Corp 418.99
Source One Supply Inc. 514.21
Spectrum Solutions 29,161.00
State of MN-Office Enterprise 174.02
Trimin Government Solution 3,132.48
Trueman Welters Inc. 168.89
Verizon Wireless 919.87
Walmart Store 01-1577 537.37
Wright County Highway Dep 1,576.10
Wright Hennepin Coop Elec 176.87
Xcel Energy 2,906.37
Xplore Technologies Corp 683.00
22 Payments less than $100 1,065.51
Final total $1,266,402.09
The meeting adjourned at 10:02 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Sept. 6, 2010.