Wright County Board Minutes

(Revised 12-28-10)
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, Thelen, and Eichelberg present.
Russek moved to approve the 11-16-10 minutes, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0.
Eichelberg moved to approve the Agenda, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.
The Consent Agenda was discussed. Sawatzke requested that the following Consent Agenda Items be removed for discussion: A5, “Approve/Authorize Signatures On Memorandum Of Agreement With Teamsters Local 320, Implementation of a 2080 Work Schedule Plan”; A6, “Authorize Signature On Letter To The National Labor Relations Board RE: 2080 Plan For Civilian Communication Officers” and C1, “Refer License Bureau Issue To Building Committee.” Sawatzke moved to approve the balance of the Consent Agenda (not including Items A5, A6, and C1). The motion was seconded by Russek and carried unanimously:
1. Performance Appraisals: C. Anderson, Assr.; B. Schlimme, Atty; L. Paumen, M. Ruzicka, Aud./Treas.; P. Czech, Bldg. Care; B. Peterson, Ct. Svcs.; R. Casey, Hwy.; M. Gardner, L. Westphal, Recorder; N. Eldred, T. Endreson, J. Fox, M. Koscianski, E. Leander, J. Lewandoski, B. Olson, T. Olson, J. Oltmanns, K. Perkins, P. Standafer, J. Tester, Sher./Corr.
2. O/T Report, Period Ending 11-12-10.
3. Allow Non-Union Employees To Donate Vacation Time To An Employee On Medical Leave.
4. Claim, Frank Madden & Associates, $1,297.60 (Service For October, 2010).
7. Approve/Authorize Signatures On Memorandum Of Agreement With Local No. 49 To Allow Donation Of Vacation Time For An Employee.
1. Approve Abatement, PID #211-000-023304, Daniel & Kim Mero (Marysville Twp.).
1. Approve Signatures On Updates To The Wright County Emergency Response Plan For The Monticello Nuclear Power Plant.
Sawatzke referenced Consent Item C1, “Refer License Bureau Issue To Building Committee.” He said the County Board packet material did not describe what the issue relates to. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, stated this relates to a safety/security issue on Thursday evenings when the License Bureau is open. Sawatzke moved to approve referring Consent Item C1 to the Building Committee, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0. The Board discussed Consent Items A5, “Approve/Authorize Signatures On Memorandum Of Agreement With Teamsters Local 320, Implementation of a 2080 Work Schedule Plan” and A6, “Authorize Signature On Letter To The National Labor Relations Board RE: 2080 Plan For Civilian Communication Officers”. Sawatzke said he spoke with Richard Norman, County Coordinator, today about a possible language issue in the documents. It is being suggested that these Consent Items be laid over. Sawatzke moved to lay Consent Items A5 and A6 over to the next County Board Meeting. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, noted that the County will observe holidays on Friday, 12-24-10 and Friday, 12-31-10. Hiivala requested to close the License Bureau on 12-23-10 and 12-30-10 at 4:30 PM instead of the scheduled 6:00 PM scheduled closing. Russek moved to approve the request, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0. Hiivala will post notice in the Courthouse and notify the State agencies.
Hiivala presented the Tax Forfeit Committee minutes of 10-13-10 and 11-17-10. Russek moved to accept the minutes, seconded by Eichelberg. Norman requested that Hiivala provide the parcel listings for the permanent record. The motion carried 5-0. The minutes for both meetings follow:
10-13-10 Wright County Tax Forfeit Committee Minutes
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and assign classification of conservation or non-conservation status for the next batch of tax forfeit parcels. After determining individual classifications, the meeting was adjourned. The committee will need to be reconvened in the future to set minimum bid amounts prior to forwarding the listing of parcels to the State.
(End of 10-13-10 Wright County Tax Forfeit Committee Minutes)
11-17-10 Wright County Tax Forfeit Committee Minutes
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and set minimum bids for the list of tax forfeit parcels being sent to the State. Minimum bids were set for all but one parcel. Additional research needed to be done before setting the minimum bid for a parcel in the City of Rockford. Once that minimum bid is set, an updated list will be distributed to all committee members.
(End of 11-17-10 Wright County Tax Forfeit Committee Minutes)
Hiivala presented the October Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines. Eichelberg moved to accept the Guidelines, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0.
The claims listing was reviewed. Russek referenced a claim on Page 9, Anoka County Sheriff ($11,057.24) for the October crime lab expenses. Russek thought that when the Joint Powers Agreement was entered into, it was the intent that a committee would be formed to annually set the budget for the crime lab. He felt there should be some justification as to the $11,000 expenditure. Sawatzke said he attended the first Joint Powers Meeting. At that meeting, it was indicated that the budget was set. Russek attended a subsequent meeting but the budget was never discussed. Sawatzke understood that the Joint Powers Board would have some budgeting authority on billing. Russek concurred. Russek serves on the CROW Joint Powers Board where the budget is set and approved. Norman said the Agreement with Anoka County reflects that the committee is supposed to review and make recommendation on the budget for the crime lab. The crime lab completes work for jurisdictions outside of those involved in the Joint Powers Agreement. He was unsure how this may impact the crime lab’s budget. He agreed there should be accountability for the claims the County is receiving. Russek recalled that the County’s share was supposed to decrease based on work completed for other jurisdictions. He thought there may be 17-18 counties involved. Sawatzke said the fee structure is based upon a per capita figure for each County. Norman was directed to check the Joint Powers Agreement and update the Board. Mattson referenced a claim on Page 31, Annandale Rock Products ($10,866.03) for gravel for shouldering, paid out of the Highway Department’s Rock & Riprap line item. Mattson said the Highway Department has some of the finest gravel stockpiled and he questioned paying $10,000-$11,000 for it elsewhere. Sawatzke said some projects are quite a distance from Buffalo. Mattson said a lot of gas can be purchased using the $10,000 to transport the stockpiled gravel within the County. The question arose as to why the claim was being paid from the Rock & Riprap line item. Hiivala stated the invoice was received 11-15-10 and is due upon receipt. It was the consensus that the claim could be pulled to discuss with the Highway Engineer later in today’s meeting. Sawatzke made a motion to approve the balance of the claims (not including the claim to Annandale Rock Products), as listed in the abstract, subject to audit. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg. Russek noted the amount of claims being paid from Jail Medical. Mattson questioned who signs claims when they are submitted to the Auditor’s Office. Hiivala explained that the Auditor’s Office has an approved listing of signatures for each department. Mattson suggested the County Board meet with those who approve claims to express the concern he has with wants and needs each department may have. Hiivala said that claims are presented each week for Board review. Mattson said as much as the County expends each week, he would like to know that it is due to need (not want) by departments. Mattson felt this meeting could be held in 2011. The motion carried 5-0.
At 9:20 A.M., Russek moved to close the regular Board Meeting for the Public Hearing on the 2011 Solid Waste Management Service Charge. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0. Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, referenced the Analysis of the Solid Waste Fund for Payable Year 2011. This handout reflects the number of parcels that the Service Charge would apply to in 2011. Asleson stated there are two years remaining on this debt service (2011 & 2012). The recommended Service Charge is $25 which is what has been charged in the past few years. The Board Chair asked for public input but no comment was received. Thelen moved to close the Public Hearing at 9:22 A.M. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0. The regular Board Meeting was reconvened. It was noted that the Analysis handout reflects the total per parcel is $25.27. Asleson clarified that in past years, there has been this slight discrepancy between what is reflected on the Analysis and what is charged. Generally, the number is rounded down to the even dollar value. Norman said that the figure has been rounded to $25 in the past. This is based on the requirement that for principal and interest payments, the figure used for calculations is 105% (providing a 5% leeway from what is required for the payment). Sawatzke moved to adopt Resolution #10-40, setting the 2011 Solid Waste Management Debt Service Charge at $25/parcel. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote:
WHEREAS, Wright County has solid waste management authority under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 400; and
WHEREAS, The Wright County Board of Commissioners has adopted a Solid Waste Management Service Charge Ordinance pursuant to the provisions of Minnesota Statutes Section 400.08; and
WHEREAS, This Solid Waste Management Service Charge will be imposed against all parcels of real property as well as against certain personal property located within Wright County, unless said property is otherwise exempted by action of the County Board; and
WHEREAS, The Wright County Solid Waste Management Service Charge Ordinance specifies that the County Board shall establish the amount of the service charge by Resolution;
1. That the Wright County Board of Commissioners hereby imposes a Solid Waste Management Service Charge for 2011 upon real and personal property located in Wright County as follows:
(A) All real property parcels containing structures,except those containing apartment buildings with four or more units;
(B) Real property parcels containing apartment buildings with four or more units;
$25.00 (per unit)
(C) Manufactured homes and other structures taxed as personal property parcels; and $25.00
(D) Bare land and any other type of property not listed above. $0.00
2. That, insofar as the Solid Waste Management Service Charge produces revenue used to pay off the cost of the bonds for the Wright County Compost Facility, this service charge shall be designated on the tax statements as the “Solid Waste Debt Service Charge”.
3. That the Wright County Board of Commissioners intends this Resolution to be effective immediately with the “Solid Waste Debt Service Charge” to be collected through the 2011 property tax statements issued by the County.
(End of Resolution #10-40)
Greg Kramber, Assessor, requested approval of the 2012 and 2013 Assessment Contracts. The assessment rates would be $10.50/parcel for all of the districts that Wright County services. The Contract includes a new construction fee of $25 for each new home, a $25 fee for each new commercial/industrial/apartment with an estimated market value of <$500,000, and a $100.00 fee for each new commercial/industrial/apartment with an estimated market value of >$500,000. The new construction fees are only applied in the districts that issue their own permits. Kramber worked with numerous Assessors throughout the State and surveyed 34 counties. The fees range from $0 to $20. The metro cities and counties charge more than Wright County. The proposed fees for Wright County are the same as in 2010. Russek moved to approve the 2012 and 2013 Assessment Contracts. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0.
Chief Deputy Joe Hagerty and Capt. Pat O’Malley, Jail Administrator, presented the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) Facility Inspection Report for the Wright County Jail. O’Malley said the last of three initial inspections associated with the occupation of the Jail have been completed. The Jail received a rating of 99% compliance with all mandatory standards and 100% compliance with all essential standards. Inspection comments included: “The facility is very well maintained, clean and well organized and continues to operate at a high level of compliance. Inmate programs and staff training are also extensive and contribute to the professionalism this facility shows. Due to the continued high level of compliance, the Wright County Jail will be placed on a bi-annual inspection status.” The Report includes reference to a non-compliance issue related to the performance of an evacuation drill. O’Malley said the Jail has an emergency plan including the emergency evacuation of the Jail. They hold letters of understanding with the City and bus company. A table top drill will be performed in the spring. The other non-compliance issue was dealing with a juvenile. They started the booking process on a 13 year old. State Statute reflects a child cannot be held in secure detention under the age of 14. Russek moved to accept the Minnesota DOC Facility Inspection Report for the Wright County Jail. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0.
Hagerty requested approval of two traffic safety enforcement grants for fiscal years 2010-2011 through the Minnesota Department of Public Safety/Office of Traffic Safety. The Sheriff’s Office has participated in the grants for the past few years. The “Operation Nightcap” Grant is used toward DWI and enforcement patrol. This grant is for $29,040 or roughly 528 hours over and above the enforcement schedule. The “Heat” Grant will be used toward patrol of aggressive driving. The Sheriff’s Office patrols I-94 and some of the other high-speed roads in Wright County. The Grant will provide $14,645 or about 266 hours of enforcement. It was noted that the draft resolution should be corrected to reflect the dates of October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2011 to be consistent with the Grant documents. Russek moved to adopt Resolution #10-41, authorizing execution of the Grant Agreements for the “Operation Nightcap” and “Heat” Grants. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Earlier in today’s meeting, the claim to Annandale Rock Products ($10,866.03) was laid over for discussion with Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer. The claim is for gravel for shouldering, paid out of the Highway Department’s Rock & Riprap line item. Fingalson explained that the County uses its own gravel. This year, the amount required exceeded the amount crushed for the year. Fingalson said even if there was enough gravel stockpiled, it would not be feasible to haul the gravel to the western portion of the County. The Highway Department purchases gravel in the western portion of the County for projects. Sawatzke referenced the payment coming out of the Rock & Riprap line item. Fingalson said this line item was used as gravel is considered rock. Fingalson will review the Highway Department’s budget and provide information on the basis for the purchase. Eichelberg moved to pay the claim to Annandale Rock Products, seconded by Russek, and carried 5-0.
Fingalson said a Transportation Committee Of The Whole (TCOTW) Meeting is generally held the first week of January to discuss and prioritize enhancement projects for Federal funding. Since the time the Agenda request was submitted, he learned that HSIP (Safety) Projects must be submitted by 1-04-11. He suggested that two TCOTW meetings be scheduled, one in December and one in January. The following meetings were then scheduled:
Sawatzke moved to schedule a TCOTW Meeting for 12-14-10 at 2:00 P.M., Public Works Building. The 12-14-10 Meeting will include the following Agenda Items: 1) Wright County Safety Plan adoption; 2) Solicitation for HSIP funding (Safety); and 3) Construction Project Update. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0.
Sawatzke moved to schedule a TCOTW Meeting for 1-04-11 at 1:00 P.M., Public Works Building. The 1-04-11 Meeting will include the following Agenda items: 1) Approve/Prioritize Enhancement Projects For Federal Funding (2015); 2) Approve County Projects for 2015 Federal Funding; and 3) Update on Former Chouinard property in St. Michael. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0.
Fingalson requested approval of a resolution to advance State Aid Highway Funds for the 2011 construction season. A resolution is adopted annually to advance encumber funding from the State Aid account in order to complete projects as identified in the resolution. The total requested to advance encumber is $1,860,000. Russek moved to adopt Resolution #10-42, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Lee Kelly, Special Projects Administrator, said in September the County signed a matching grant with the Minnesota State Energy Office. The County has a contract with Loberg to complete the work ($26,330) and Federal funds match half of the cost. The County will realize approximately $8,000 in rebates from the City of Buffalo. The request is to utilize the rebate dollars toward further projects for additional energy savings:
1. Change the 300W wall sconces in Courtroom #1 to 65W at a cost of $342.
2. Change the lower garage fixtures (49) from 150W to 42W. The lights remain on at all times. The cost would be $1,535.
3. Update the fixtures in Courtroom #1 to the same as those in Courtrooms #3, #4, and #5 (Parabolic type). The cost would be $2,690.
4. Update approximately 40 exit lights to the LED type at a cost of $3,000.
The total cost of the additional updates is $7,567.00. The return on investment has not been calculated. Kelly explained that they expect a quick payback on Item #1 because of wattage reduction. Sawatzke questioned whether the bulbs would be installed right away or when the current bulbs need replacement. Kelly said the intent is to replace bulbs right away to realize the savings. Sawatzke referenced the parking garage lights which remain on at all times and suggested the potential of motion sensor lights as a savings. Sawatzke questioned whether the County will realize rebates from the $8,000 invested in additional efficiency. Kelly said they do anticipate rebates but was unsure of the amount at this time. Thelen moved to approve the request to utilize the rebate money for additional lighting as requested. The motion includes directing staff to research motion sensors in the garage area. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0.
A Building Committee Meeting was held on 11-17-10. At today’s County Board Meeting, Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Thelen, and carried 5-0:
I. Request By Buffalo Schools To Lease Space In Government Center.
Representatives of the Buffalo High School and the Court Services Department were present to discuss a Pilot Program, “wRight Choice, An Alternative To Suspension”. Handout materials were presented. MacMillan said the Safe Schools Group supports moving forward with the Program. The Program would provide academic and behavioral support for students who display inappropriate behavior at school. The focus is on academic work, restorative measures, intervention, diversion and reinstatement back to school.
The request is to allow Buffalo Schools to lease space in the Government Center for the Pilot Program. A handout was distributed outlining the request and includes space for two offices, an instructional area, and a computer working area. Two phone lines and connectivity to computers would be required. The hours would be 7:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. Students would be responsible for daily operations as part of restitution. The County custodial staff would be required for anything beyond general housekeeping. The Pilot Program would run from 2-01-11 to 6-09-11. The students will be supervised at all times and will eat lunch within the specified area (brown bag lunch). It is estimated there would be no more than 10 students at the Courthouse at a time (all schools combined). They anticipate 5-6/day initially with numbers being dependent upon buy-in from other schools.
The intent of using Courthouse space for the Program is a diversionary piece. The out-of-school suspension received is punishment (negative reaction to negative behavior). It is felt that the Courthouse location will provide a positive connection with Court Services staff. Mischke stated the School District does have space that can be utilized. However, that would negate the entire premise of removing the student from school for their behavior. If students receive suspension, they are many times at home and unsupervised because many come from families where parents work outside of the home. Mischke felt this is a recipe for disaster as they could easily end up in the Court system. He viewed the benefits of the Program to be numerous in this regard. Thompson stated that out-of-school suspensions are not changing behaviors and she supports partnering with probation and truancy programs. Mischke stated that there are a couple of other schools (St. Michael/Albertville and Monticello) interested in participating in the Program. Travel to the Courthouse would be provided either by the School District involved or the parents.
Norman distributed the 10-13-10 Building Committee Minutes reflecting discussion that took place when the 10th Judicial District requested space in the Government Center for the Guardian Ad Litem Program.
The Committee toured the vacated Sheriff Department and the former Sheriff Detective area. It was felt the former Sheriff Detective area would be more conducive to the School’s needs. Norman stated that the request would be billed on gross square footage occupied as no other group can utilize the space (estimated at 2000 sq. ft. @ $16.50/sq. ft. for a total of $33,000/year). The main entrance of this area would be used to access the space, and the rear door could not be utilized except for emergencies. The two Nursing Mother Rooms would remain. The suggestion was that it may be more cost effective for the School District and the 10th Judicial District to share the space. There may also be a cross over in services between the two areas. Mattson indicated that if the space is shared, it should be separated by cubicles (not permanent walls). The County’s modular furniture could be utilized for the Pilot Program since it is on a short-term basis.
Recommendation: Lay this issue over for discussion at a future meeting. The County will contact the 10th Judicial District to see if they are interested in utilizing the former Sheriff Detective space collaboratively with the School Districts.
II. Door Card Key System.
Swing distributed information outlining problems associated with the Door Card Key System. The System was acquired in 1997 for the Human Services Center and was designed for a business with fewer than 10 doors. The system is not networked. The employee badge ID function was added in 2001. The system currently supports over 106 doors in four County buildings. With expansion of the system, the required communications with the 53 door controllers has become problematic. The IT Department has worked with the system over the years to allow it to expand and to function.
Swing’s recommendation is to authorize the Administration and IT Departments to issue a Request For Proposal (RFP) for a new or upgraded door security access and employee ID system in the second quarter of 2011. The RFP would emphasize scalability, ease of maintenance, a mainstream solution, quality system support, and the potential for future integration with other building security systems such as fire, camera surveillance, and state-of-the art employee recognition. Swing stated that the RFP would not solicit quotes for the other building security systems listed at this time (i.e., fire, camera surveillance, etc.) but the systems would allow this future integration.
Swing said it would be very difficult to see the current system moving into 2012 without a major facelift. He felt the County has gotten its money out of the system. He estimated a replacement system would not exceed $100,000. If this goes to a competitive bid process, we may see figures significantly lower than that. The RFP will request re-use of as much equipment as possible (card readers). The RFP will request three references on systems the vendor has installed (in similar sized facilities). The references will be contacted to obtain information first hand on the pros/cons of the particular system. Responses to the RFP will be presented to the County Board.
Mattson said the Monticello Nuclear Power Plant previously used the same system and felt they should be contacted to see what type of upgrade they may have installed. Swing said that Kelly has contacted several counties for information on what type of system they may have.
Recommendation: Authorize the Administration and IT Departments to issue a Request For Proposal for a new or upgraded door security access and employee ID system in the 2nd quarter of 2011.
(End of 11-17-10 Building Committee Minutes)
A Personnel Committee Meeting was held on 11-17-10. At today’s County Board Meeting, Sawatzke referenced Item 1A, the Corrections Sergeant position replacement. He said the Committee was not aware at the time of the meeting that a grievance was filed by the new Assistant Jail Administrator. A similar grievance situation occurred in the past 1-2 months with the Jail Administrator. Sawatzke voiced frustration in that this has caused a lot of work for staff and funds have been expended to meet with Frank Madden, Labor Law Attorney, on these issues. He referenced the potential of a similar grievance which could be filed by the person accepting the Corrections Sergeant position. He asked Norman whether the County should put this matter on hold based on what was known before versus after the meeting, whether there will be an Assistant Jail Administrator in the end (will it change someone’s decision based on whether a grievance is won or lost), and whether a third grievance will be filed by the Corrections Sergeant. Norman said this has a domino effect. The County did not expect the first or second grievances to be filed. He was unsure whether a grievance would be filed for the Corrections Sergeant position. Norman could not predict how an arbitrator would rule if they go to arbitration on these issues. It is strictly a Board decision on whether they recommend filling the position or not. He referenced the minutes which include discussion with the Jail Administrator on this issue. The minutes reflect that the Jail Administrator felt the employee hired for the Corrections Sergeant position will move to the next highest step on the salary schedule. Today, Sawatzke asked O’Malley for his position on whether he anticipated the same type of grievance situation with the filling of the Corrections Sergeant position. O’Malley said as stated at the Committee Meeting, their intent is to promote a Corrections Officer to Sergeant. The past practice has involved the promotion of a Corrections Officer to a Corrections Sergeant at the next step on the Salary Schedule. He said this has been past practice and has been done with the last three Sergeants in the Jail since O’Malley has been employed. Norman referenced O’Malley’s comment regarding past practice. He said the County has a policy on how people move when they are promoted. The Corrections Sergeant position would follow the County’s Policy. Sawatzke said this would also be the case with the two positions grieved. Norman agreed. Thelen moved to approve the minutes and recommendations, seconded by Eichelberg. Mattson stated he has concern with past meetings where a 2.5% across the board salary increase has been discussed. He was unsure where the County is getting all of this money and felt it was getting out of control. The motion carried 5-0:
A. Corrections Sergeant.
O’Malley stated the vacancy relates to the promotion of Tim Pippo to the position of Assistant Jail Administrator. He anticipated that the Corrections Sergeant position will be filled by a Corrections Officer and that would create a vacancy for that position as well. Sawatzke asked if the procedure for promoting a Corrections Officer to Sergeant is outlined in the Contract. Brown stated the position will be posted internally and the application process will be open to all Wright County employees.
Discussion led to pay for the Corrections Sergeant position. O’Malley said in the past, the employee promoted has moved to the next higher step on the Salary Schedule. Sawatzke asked O’Malley if the employee thinks they will move, for example, from Step 8 on their current Salary Schedule to Step 8 of the new Schedule. O’Malley said he was not aware that this is the case. Norman said if an employee is promoted into the Corrections Sergeant position, the request to fill that position will need to come back to the Personnel Committee.
Recommendation: Authorize request to hire a Corrections Sergeant.
B. Mechanic.
Fingalson said a mechanic resigned and the position will be vacant the end of this week. The person that resigned was one of three heavy equipment mechanics. A third person is needed to keep up with the program of maintaining County equipment. The Department has one employee on leave and that position is being filled with a temporary employee. The position opening will be advertised externally. Sawatzke said the Committee previously discussed this position and it was decided that the three positions need to be filled. The positions maintain 250 Highway vehicles and equipment, at least 100 vehicles for the Sheriff’s Department, and vehicles for other Departments.
Recommendation: Authorize request to hire a Mechanic.
C. Automated Mapping Specialist I.
Jobe said the position supports GIS functions and is mainly responsible for the transfers of property, which is information needed by the Offices of Auditor and Assessor. Sawatzke asked for the full staffing levels in the Surveyor’s Department. Jobe explained there are eight positions budgeted and one is vacant. This vacancy brings that to two vacant positions. Sawatzke asked whether the Automated Mapping Specialist position is more critical than the vacant position. Jobe explained they are both critical but he would request the Automated Mapping Specialist I at this time. Brown said the position will be advertised externally.
Recommendation: Authorize request to hire an Automated Mapping Specialist I.
D. Temporary Positions & Interns.
Norman and the Personnel Representatives are seeking clarification on whether the filling of temporary positions and interns should come to the Personnel Committee for approval. Norman said they feel that any position, whether FT, PT, temporary, or intern, should be reviewed with the same scrutiny used for other positions. Sawatzke said that in light of the restraint on some positions last summer, it would be indicative that they come before the Committee and he would agree with their position.
A list of current temporary employees was distributed. One of the concerns with temporary employees is who is tracking their employment (i.e., when employment begins, not exceeding 67 days employment/calendar year for temporary status). Norman stated that temporary employees should work full days. One hour of work counts as a full day toward the 67 days/year. A temporary employee cannot backfill a position that was previously filled with a temporary employee. It is 67 days for the position. Approval was recently received from the union for Communication Officers and Jailers to work up to 120 days/calendar year. Norman clarified that temporary employees can work beyond 67 days/year. At that point, they are considered to be covered by the collective bargaining agreement with all of the terms and conditions of that agreement. If they face a layoff, the agreement is followed. It is more costly for the County if a temporary employee works beyond the 67 days/year. Some contracts have exclusions for seasonal labor. Norman said the Department of Labor indicates six standards which must be met in determining whether the person is a trainee or covered by the FLSA. Norman said the Administration Department recommends all temporary and intern positions are placed on the Personnel Committee Agenda like all other position replacements. Brown said the temporary positions for Extension and Highway were recently brought before the Committee.
G. Miller said they have historically used temporary and part-time employees in the Sheriff’s Department, saving thousands of hours and dollars for the County. They utilize a temporary line item within their budget to hire in emergencies or on short notice absences. He did not feel that a Personnel Committee Meeting should be held to approve expenditures of this type out of the budget. The alternative would be to schedule a FT employee to work overtime hours. He said the Sheriff’s Department has worked with the Personnel Representatives to make sure they are complying with labor laws and tracking of employment, including the 67 day/year requirement. Miller said the Sheriff’s Department has agreed to review replacement of FT positions with the Committee in the spirit of cooperation. He felt that the Committee should not have to review filling of temporary, PT and intern positions. Brown said that many other departments can make the same argument that employees are needed to fill positions on a short-term or immediate basis.
Norman said that over the course of the year, departments may exceed some of their line items in their budget. This has been acceptable as long as the overall budget is not exceeded. A budget is a working document and will change. Norman did not think that the Board would be happy if he decided to fill the vacant position in the Administration Department with a temporary employee without bringing it to Committee. Sawatzke agreed. He said that there is flexibility in the budget to exceed line items so long as it is made up in another line item. However, he did not feel there was as much leeway with the budget for personnel. If a department has a budgeted amount for temporary hires, just because the regular line item may be under budget does not mean they should exceed the temporary line item. Brown said some departments have known temporary positions (i.e., Parks and Extension). Sawatzke said there are other departments that utilize temporary employees on an as-needed basis and it is hard to know when they will be needed. He felt that a position that is vacant due to an employee on leave is different than when someone has called in an absence on the same day or on short notice.
Norman said that if the County reaches a point in the future where regular positions are not filled and/or layoffs are contemplated, unions may come in and demand that these temporary or intern positions not be filled before the regular FT or PT positions. Grievances could be filed.
D. Miller said the Sheriff’s Temporary Line Item is budgeted annually at $60,000 but they have spent as much as $123,000 on temporary positions. This year, they have spent about $38,000. Sawatzke felt that the Sheriff’s Office was no different than when a substitute custodian is called in to work because of illness, vacation, etc. This is the expectation within the budgeted amount. Brown asked whether the recommendation is that any time there is money in the temporary budget, they would not have to come to the Personnel Committee with their request. Sawatzke felt this was correct and supported the way things have been handled in the past. He felt the Committee was being presented with requests they should see and he did not feel temporary fills, such as with custodians, should be brought before the Committee. Brown referenced an intern position recently hired through the Sheriff Department for IT functions. Funding for the position was through the temporary line item. Sawatzke said that position could have come before the Personnel Committee for approval as the timetable of filling the position did not prohibit it. Howell added that the Sheriff Department requested an Information Systems Specialist position in 2011 and it was approved. The temporary employee is assisting the IT Department employee with tasks. Sawatzke said that type of hire should probably be presented to the Committee. He was unsure the Committee would have the ability to deny the request as the Sheriff is an elected Department Head. Hagerty said they do not utilize seasonal people as much since the construction of the LEC. If a need arises they call an intern, but it is a budgeted expenditure. He did not want to see a delay in hire just because of the need to send the request to the Personnel Committee for approval. He understands the Personnel Representatives must address issues with PERA, which employees are considered exempt, etc. D. Miller said the intern recently hired to assist with IT needs is project specific and was hired as they needed assistance. Brown stated that Human Services has social worker interns that they do not pay.
Norman said the County can administratively make the determination on whether the positions meet the criteria of paid or unpaid per the US Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division regulations. Norman said they do not want a Department of Labor audit. He said it relates to the work the person performs, how much they work, and the amount of supervision. Brown said with a true internship, the County works with the student/school to make sure that they are meeting the curriculum in order to receive credit for the course. She stated there are interns working for the County that do not meet that criteria. Many companies are trying to get the most they can by paying the least and they accomplish this through internships. She stated they should be classified as employees because of how they are being utilized. Brown said the Department of Labor is becoming more strict on this requirement. Sawatzke said he was okay with doing things as they have been done. He felt the appropriate positions were being brought to the Committee for approval. G. Miller said if they utilize an intern, they will run it by Norman. Eichelberg felt Administration should be notified of interns because of the liability potential with working in County offices.
Recommendation: The Committee recommends continuing to bring requests for position replacements to Committee as in the past. If there is an internship, the Department should report this to the Administration Office.
A handout was distributed reflecting PT employees and number of hours worked compared to their status. Norman said there are four employees who were hired at a half-time status and are working significantly beyond half-time. The unions are contacting the County on this. Brown was contacted by payroll for clarification on timesheet entries by both FT and PT employees. The four employees have been working far beyond the normal budgeted hours for a number of years. The typical expectation for a half-time employee is 1040 hours/year. Administration informed payroll that half-time employees should work 20 hours/week and not over 40 hours in a two-week period. The time sheets were reflecting 40 hours plus vacation and sick time. In the case of the four employees, they are working extra hours based on expectations of supervisors and department heads. Norman said the Board heard from AFSCME Human Services on this issue during negotiations. It was discussed that an employee’s status is based on hours hired at, not what is scheduled or worked. Norman said he has received one grievance relating to this issue. The grievance is requesting the status be based on hours worked, not what they were hired at. Norman said there are obvious budget ramifications as the employees are hired in a half-time capacity.
Two of the half-time positions that are significantly exceeding their number of hours are the Juvenile Holdover Attendants. The Sheriff’s Office has four PT employees, two of them being Holdover Attendants. The other two are Bailiff positions and work about 20 hours/week. Hagerty explained that the Holdover positions may change as part of the Classification Study. They do transports and frequently work as clerks. Hagerty said they have plenty of work for them. There was an opening for a FT Holdover Attendant but the decision was made not to fill it. Both half-time Attendants are willing to work more hours. Most recently, the Attendants’ hours have been scaled back. Hagerty said the PT employees have not filed a grievance. The Sheriff’s budget includes two FT and one PT Juvenile Holdover Attendant, but the position is currently being filled by two PT and one FT employee (.5 below budget). The two PT employees work opposite of one another. Hagerty said the issue that has come up relates to the Auditor’s Office not allowing a half-time employee to receive sick/vacation leave because they had already put in their 20 hours in the work week.
Brown restated that the Personnel Representatives talk with many departments on this type of issue and there needs to be continuity across the organization. In an effort to avoid overtime for FT employees, some departments have gone to some flex scheduling. There are employees in Human Services who are doing this on a regular basis so they don’t exceed their established hours. D. Miller said a half-time employee can work 1040 hours in a year. He questioned whether those employees must stay within their designated hours in a pay period or whether the 1040 hours can be worked within the first 7 months of the year. Norman preferred this be addressed by the County’s Labor Law Attorney.
Hagerty said this was the first they were aware of that employees were denied their paid benefits because their hours exceeded 20 hours/week. If this occurs going forward, it will take away the ability to have flexibility within the bailiff’s schedules. Brown said once they learned this was happening, the Personnel Representatives directed the Auditor/Treasurer’s Office to stop allowing use of vacation/sick benefits if a part-time employee has reached 20 hours. Brown said she doesn’t disagree with the needs of the Sheriff’s Department to have flexibility or overtime hours. However, she has been contacted by the union for clarification. She asked how she can provide different answers to supervisors if the employees are in the same bargaining unit.
Norman said within the bargaining unit, the employee receives the benefits they were hired at. Sawatzke suggested that it may be easier to go back to the way things were before the Personnel Representatives directed the Auditor/Treasurer’s staff on not paying vacation/sick benefits when 20 hours have been worked. Brown said that is a question that must be answered by the Board. It was her understanding that a half-time employee was expected to work just that. Sawatzke said that is his expectation but he also agrees there may be scenarios where they do work more than half-time because of the economics.
Brown stated that there used to be many employees who worked over and above budgeted hours, such as in Public Health. Those hours have been reigned in. Sawatzke did not feel a half-time employee should work over those hours week after week. If employees are not routinely scheduled that way, then the old scenario could be used. Norman recommended laying the issue over to obtain a position from the Labor Law Attorney, as this impacts terms and conditions of employment. This could be discussed at a Negotiation Committee Meeting.
Mleziva said in Human Services, their issue is that they have virtually eliminated overtime for full-time staff. In the area of Child Protection, they are not able to keep up with the demand for services. There are two part-time employees who work additional hours as a means of keeping up. Those employees are not asking for a change in terms of having their benefits increased. He said no grievances had been filed. The only grievance he is aware of relates to the proration of time for employees to become eligible for the Senior Social Worker position. He did not feel this had anything to do with the issue of working beyond 20 hours/week. Norman said this is the same issue. Sawatzke agreed, stating the situation is similar in that an employee is using the grievance of time relative to promotion (versus relative to more benefits). One grievance will follow the other. Discussion led to the positions. Mleziva said the half-time positions in Child Protection typically work 4 hours/day. These employees originally were FT staff and for family reasons, went to PT. Since going to PT, those employees have not asked to have their hours increased. They are working extra as the County has asked them to put in more time. The hours would normally have been assigned to FT staff in an overtime capacity. Mleziva said the employees received straight pay with no adjustments in benefits (hours worked were 4, 8, 4, 6).
Recommendation: It was the consensus that the method used by the Sheriff’s Department should be followed until the Labor Law Attorney can provide an opinion. The part-time Human Services and Sheriff Department employees will receive compensation for the vacation and sick leave hours as previously indicated on their time sheets. The Sheriff’s Office is to provide Norman with a written proposal on how they want these situations handled in the future. I
(End of 11-17-10 Personnel Committee Minutes)
A Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 11-16-10. At today’s County Board Meeting, Russek moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0:
Hagerty stated that his primary focus as Sheriff is to continue the Department’s efforts to deliver its services to Wright County. Starting in January, he will be out of the office more making contact with citizens. When he is not in the office, he would like calls to be correctly answered by command staff.
Hagerty stated that in his reorganization plan, he is looking to eliminate one position and add one position. He would like to promote a Lieutenant to a Captain position, and then eliminate a Lieutenant position. He stated that the current structure within the Sheriff’s Department is likened to a vertical alignment. The current structure consists of a Sheriff, Chief Deputy, and Captain of Operations. The Captain of Operations position also oversees the Patrol Division. He stated that Sheriff Hozempa’s era wasn’t as decentralized as Sheriff Miller’s. He stated this is partly because the Patrol Division has greatly expanded. There are 87 deputies, which is nearly half of the entire Department. He stated that due to the shear volume of patrol staff, he would like to create another Captain position to oversee that Division. The other Captain position would be in charge of Operations.
Hagerty stated that with this new structure, he feels the Department can provide better service. He’d like to start this in January, 2011. He stated that the new command structure would flow better with media requests and technologies. He stated that this new structure will provide better role definition. He stated that he feels he can put more responsibilities on the persons in these roles because they have good employees under them. He clarified that he does not want redundancy. This would be an efficient model. He stated that he knows the staff’s strengths and weaknesses. He stated that he knows the staff because he has worked in this Department for 25 years.
Sawatzke asked which one of the five Lieutenant’s titles would be eliminated. Hagerty stated that he believes he would most likely eliminate the duties of the Lieutenant in charge of professional standards and incorporate those duties elsewhere. He also discussed how the community policing position may be placed under the Patrol Division. Mattson asked Hagerty if he plans to have a live person answering all incoming phone calls. Hagerty stated yes. He stated that personal service will always be the primary focus.
Sawatzke asked whether the promotion process from Lieutenant to Captain is clearly defined. Norman responded that if the County Board were to approve the reorganization plan, it would have to follow the process for promotions. Sawatzke asked whether Norman could foresee any problems in regard to the promotion process with the new reorganization plan. Norman stated that he could not foresee any problems as long as the positions were properly advertised for employment. Brown stated that the minimum requirements for these positions would also dictate the promotion process. Hagerty stated that he envisions two slightly different job descriptions for the captain positions. Sawatzke asked whether the solution would be to have Hagerty work with Personnel to change the current job description of Captain to fit both positions. Eichelberg stated that he foresees the job description being the biggest hang-up, causing a potential delay to Hagerty’s start date goal. He stated that he is otherwise in favor of Hagerty’s request.
Thelen stated that Hagerty’s plan seems like a good idea. Russek stated that if Hagerty feels this change is important, he is also in favor of it. Hagerty stated that he has put a lot of thought into the reorganization plan. Hagerty stated that he’d like to get his staff comfortable with the reorganization plan prior to his January start date as Sheriff.
Hagerty asked how the promotion to Captain, as it relates to a salary increase, would be determined. Norman recommended that Hagerty follow the procedures as outlined in the Personnel Policy & Procedure Manual. The newly promoted Captain would receive the next highest salary in the new classification.
Hagerty stated that there was a lot of discussion this past fall regarding promotion and salary of non-licensed staff. He stated that it was his understanding there was an approximate 8% salary increase between the rank of sergeant to lieutenant and from lieutenant to captain. He expressed concern regarding whether he’d be able to get a sergeant to backfill a lieutenant position at anything less than an 8% increase. Norman stated that he does not believe that an 8% salary difference for these positions was ever County policy. Sawatzke stated that the discussion from this fall was not about licensed versus non-licensed salaries. It was an overtime issue. A sergeant taking a promotion to a lieutenant position lost overtime privileges and as a result, lost too much money.
Norman stated that the top step on the salary scale for a Lieutenant is $76,754. A Lieutenant taking a promotion to a Captain position would go to the next highest step on the new pay scale which would be Step 7, $78,038. The top stop, Step 9, for a Captain position in 2010 is $83,597. Hagerty noted that the new Captain position would not start until January, 2011. The top step in 2011 for the Captain position would be $85,687. Sawatzke noted that the position would also receive a cost-of-living increase. Norman advised that the starting salary for each position should be clearly advertised in the employment posting and interview process.
Hagerty asked whether the County Board had made a determination on the starting salary of the Sheriff’s position in 2011. Norman stated that there was no resolution at today’s County Board Meeting. However, another Personnel Committee of the Whole meeting is scheduled for 11-23-10. Hagerty asked if he could come before the Committee on that day to present additional information. Norman stated yes, it is an open meeting.
Hagerty then asked what the starting salary would be for the Chief Deputy position in 2011. Norman stated that Step 8 for the Chief Deputy position in 2010 is $88,170. The top step, Step 9, is $91,256. He clarified that if a Captain was promoted to Chief Deputy, the next highest step in the new pay scale would be Step 7, $85,188. The Chief Deputy position is a non-union position. Hagerty asked whether he could start the new Chief Deputy at Step 8, just as he and his predecessor did (one step below the top). The new Chief Deputy would maintain that starting salary amount until 2012.
Hagerty stated that the new Chief Deputy position would be more of a business position with supervisory duties. He stated that the candidate for this position is good with numbers and he feels that this candidate best fits his vision for the office. He stated that public speaking is not the candidate’s forte. Hagerty stated that he will focus the position toward the candidate’s strengths.
Hagerty stated that with the blessing of the County Board, he would like to name Captain Dave Miller as his Chief Deputy. He stated that as Sheriff, it is the only position that he can select, however, he’d like the County Board’s approval. This assignment would be effective 1-03-11. He stated that he’d like the Department to have a chance to get comfortable with his decision prior to the January start date. He stated that there would hardly be a learning curve for Captain Miller.
Sawatzke asked Norman if he could foresee any problems with starting Captain Miller at Step 8 on the Chief Deputy’s pay scale. Norman stated that he is not sure whether this will impact the O’Malley case. Norman stated that it is likely that the O’Malley case will go to arbitration. A decision most likely wouldn’t be made until 2011. Norman stated that he would recommend that the appointment be made at a level that is normal. He stated that the County Board could meet after the arbitration to determine if the Sheriff has a case to justify the higher salary amount. Hagerty stated that he would appreciate the County Board’s consideration of a starting salary at one step below the highest step. This has been the base salary amount for the two previous Chief Deputies. Hagerty asked whether the employment offer would hinder on the arbitration award and whether it would be retroactive to 1-02-11. Sawatzke stated that he would recommend Hagerty appoint Miller as the policy states, with no strings attached.
Hagerty stated that he will start working on his names for the flow chart. He will discuss the employment postings with Judy Brown. He stated that he’d like all of the promotions to occur at the same time so that the Department would be ready to operate immediately in 2011. Brown stated that the promotions could not be done at once. They would have to be done sequentially. Hagerty stated that he’d like to name his Chief Deputy today, and will anticipate backfilling two Captain positions.
RECOMMENDATION: Approve Hagerty’s reorganization plan. Filling of the positions will follow normal County procedures.
(End of 11-16-10 Personnel Committee Of The Whole Minutes)
A Ways & Means Committee Meeting was held on 11-17-10. At today’s County Board Meeting, Sawatzke referenced the Statute relating to the Parenting-Through-Divorce Program. The Statute reflects that the County is not obligated to provide the service of offering a Parenting-Through-Divorce Program. It appears the Courts System is obligated to do so. The Committee felt it was unfair for the Court’s System to make a decision and tell an independent business person that they need to allow someone to take the class for free. Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes and recommendations, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0:
The Committee reviewed the current contract which will expire 12-31-10 (attached). The contract paid Peterson $4,500 in 2009 and $6,000 in 2010. Peterson is entitled to registration fees collected from participants. The fees range from $75-$100/person.
Peterson reported that there have been 41,000 participants in the 13 years she has taught the class. This has impacted about 82,000 children. Peterson stated that there has been an increase in the number of In Forma Pauperis rulings. This process involves a person submitting financial documentation to the Courts. The Judge reviews the information and makes a determination on whether the person should be allowed to take the Parenting-Through-Divorce Program for free. The Court System is not subsidizing this expense. Peterson estimated there are 9-10 people who do not pay per month because of this. With 30 people taking the class per month, about 1/3 of them are taking it for free. She does not take In Forma Pauperis rulings from other counties.
Peterson provided an example of materials she provides to those who attend the Program. The cost for each pamphlet is $25. The consensus was that the Agreement should reflect that the class fees include a materials fee. Those participants who have been granted the In Forma Pauperis status will be required to pay the $25 material fee. Norman referenced State Statute 518.157, Parent Education Program In Proceedings Involving Children. Subd. 6. Fees, states, “Except as provided in this subdivision, each person who attends a parent education program shall pay a fee to defray the cost of the program. A party who qualifies for waiver of filing fees under section 563.01 is exempt from paying the parent education program fee and the court shall waive the fee or direct its payment under section 563.01. Program providers shall implement a sliding fee scale.” Peterson stated that she does offer participants a reduced fee if they can prove the need. The Committee discussed whether the 10th Judicial District should be reimbursing Peterson for participants who take the Program for free that are granted the In Forma Pauperis status. After approval of the Committee Minutes, Norman will draft a letter to the 10th Judicial District regarding the $25 materials fee and the In Forma Pauperis fee. The letter will be signed by the County Board Chair.
The following changes are recommended to the Agreement:
Item 1. The term of Agreement shall be from 3-01-11 through 12-31-11.
Item 3. The County shall pay the sum of $5,000 in 2011 ($500/month).
Item 4. Add language reflecting that that a materials fee will be charged.
Recommendation: Approve the Agreement with the noted revisions.
(End of 11-17-10 Ways & Means Committee Minutes)
On a motion by Sawatzke, second by Russek, all voted to authorize signatures on the Contract with Mary Ann Peterson for the Parenting-Through-Divorce Program.
The Board discussed the Great River Regional Library Board Term expirations of Jim Shovelain and Earl Dierks. Mattson has not contacted Dierks to determine his interest in reappointment to the GRRL Board. Eichelberg said the same was true with Shovelain. Russek and Thelen stated they both have parties that are interested in serving. Russek moved to lay the appointments over to a future Board Meeting, seconded by Sawatzke. Sawatzke recalled that State Statute provides appointees to serve three terms, each of them being 3-year terms. The motion carried 5-0.
Bills Approved
0-360.com. $535.90
Adams/Robert W. 100.00
Afix Technologies Inc. 3,250.00
Albertville/City of 2,142.00
Allina Hospitals & Clinics 27,452.31
American Institutional Supplies 687.90
Annandale Rock Products 10,866.03
Anoka County Corrections 12,623.20
Anoka County Sheriff 11,057.24
Apec Industrial Sales & Serv 3,819.08
Aramark Services Inc. 6,611.72
Arrowwood Resort 240.48
B & B Products - Rigs and Sq 596.15
Black Moore Bumgardner 100.00
Borell/Ralph 255.20
Bottiger/Shawna 150.00
BP Amoco 1,883.13
Bryan Rock Products 279.25
Center Point Energy 2,343.82
Centra Sota Lake Region LLC 25,857.87
Central Hydraulics Inc. 568.70
Central MN Mental Health 400.00
Chamberlain Oil Co. 3,647.98
Climate Air 4,106.57
Contech Construction Prod 431.42
Corinna Township 946.60
CPS Technology Solutions 248.33
CUB Pharmacy 1,296.26
Deatons Mailing Systems Inc. 1,515.12
Deckert/Scott 144.46
Dell Marketing LP 3,263.50
Dingmann Marine & More LLC 820.27
Ecolab 555.28
Erickson/Danette 268.00
Fastenal Company 315.01
Federal Signal Corporation 8,332.00
Fleet Computing International 775.00
Gale-Tec Engineering Inc. 5,368.75
Gateway Safety Products 155.97
General Nano Systems 137.59
Globalstar USA 115.39
Gould Towing 133.60
Granite Pest Control Serv 235.35
Hardrives Inc. 483.19
Hertzog/Amy 269.30
Highway Technologies Inc. 1,298.54
Hillyard Inc. - Minneapolis 2,836.11
Howard/Jolanta 300.00
Interstate All Battery Cent 264.58
Interstate Automotive 160.31
Interstate Battery Systems 294.81
Junction Towing & Auto Rep 539.95
Justice Benefits Inc. 4,713.50
Knife River Corporation 426.52
Kustom Signals Inc. 452.64
Lab Safety Supply Inc. 336.38
LaPlant Demo Inc. 2,027.53
Law Enforcement Training 400.00
Lawson Products Inc. 706.94
Lostetter/Carol H. 500.00
Lund Industries Inc. 228.22
M-R Sign Company Inc. 1,493.21
Marco 2,085.40
Marco Inc. 2,608.82
Marties Farm Service 542.66
Mathiowetz Construction 111,867.93
Maximus 6,175.00
Menards - Buffalo 341.59
Metro Group Inc./The 1,372.25
Midway Iron & Metal Co. Inc 248.61
Midwest Safety Counselors 495.26
Morries Parts & Service Group 2,996.90
Mountain Stream Sports & A 298.71
Multi Health Systems Inc 242.00
Naaktgeboren Decorating 969.00
Neil’s Floor Covering 24,224.50
North American Salt Co. 68,875.44
Northern Green Expo 333.00
Northern Prairie Custom Le 1,051.50
Northern Tool & Equipment 733.63
Northwest Lazers and Instr 2,167.41
Office Depot 2,367.47
Office of the Secretary of 360.00
Pearson Education 402.61
Positron Public Safety Syst 13,834.00
Precision Prints of Wright Co 224.44
Qwest 1,465.72
Reds Cafe 261.85
Rhodes Lock & Glass 174.93
Richards/Thomas W 200.00
Rolyan Buoys 1,105.35
Royal Tire Inc. 4,446.00
RS Eden 8,507.50
Russell Security Resource 6,760.73
Russell/James 125.00
Ryan Chevrolet 256.52
Savance 125.00
SHI International Corp 560.74
Sprint 13,378.64
St. Cloud Stamp & Sign Inc 681.66
State Supply Co. 185.28
Stearns County Treasurer 110.00
Steve O Septic 280.00
Streichers 148.07
Stumpf Acoustics 3,000.00
Synergy Graphics 417.67
TDS Telecom 259.40
Tool Warehouse Inc 265.97
Total Printing 4,384.48
Towmaster 27,431.30
Transcend United Technolo 4,375.38
Uniforms Unlimited 217.35
Verizon Wireless 752.62
Viking Industrial Center 141.42
Walmart Store 01-1577 417.38
West Payment Center 835.80
Wright Co. Highway Dept 40,668.46
Wright Hennepin Coop Elec 807.57
Wright Hennepin Electric 678.78
Xcel Energy 1,007.22
Zack’s Inc 820.64
Zarnoth Brush Works Inc. 602.78
Zumbro Valley Forestery 1,495.00
33 Payments less than $100 1,504.87
Final total $536,039.37
The meeting adjourned at 10:11 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Jan. 10, 2011.

NOVEMBER 30, 2010
The Wright County Board met in special session at 6:00 P.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, Eichelberg, and Thelen present.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the proposed 2011 Budget and Taxable Certified Levy. The Assessor’s Office was open to assist with questions regarding individual property tax statements. Handouts were provided on the following: Major Impacts on the Budget, Total Budget, 2011 Revenue Budget, Budget 100 Non-Departmental, Road & Bridge 2011 Local Levy Request, Road & Bridge 2011 Equipment Needs, 5 Year Highway Construction Program, 2011 Human Services Budget, and the Local Levy.
Richard Norman, County Coordinator, provided a summary of the 2011 proposed Budget.
Total Budget. The 2011 Budget is proposed at $99,818,418 compared to the 2010 Budget of $100,031,326, reflecting a 0.2% decrease.
Major Impacts on Budget.
1. Labor Costs. The 2011 amount is $2,153,600 and includes Union Contract settlements through 2011. It will be the third year of a three-year contract reached with the Collective Bargaining Units. The third year calls for a 2.5% wage increase plus step increases for those on the step system. The employer’s contribution toward health insurance will increase by $50/month effective 3-01-11.
2. Building Care & Maintenance. This is budgeted at a $260,000 decrease. This includes decreases in Utility Services ($210,000) and Fuel For Buildings ($50,000). The County received grants in 2010 which allowed for the replacement of the boilers in the Government Center that are more energy efficient. Grant funding has also allowed for a lighting project. The County is realizing payback on the geo-thermal system installed at the Jail/Law Enforcement Center.
3. Corrections. The Corrections line item relates to the operations of the Jail Facility. It is projected to increase by $39,000 in 2011. This is made up of a $20,000 increase in overtime hours and $19,000 for Sentence-To-Service (STS). The State has opted not to fund the STS Program to the full 50%. The County has elected to fund the difference to keep the Program operating. The County feels this is a worthwhile program to keep inmates working on community projects.
4. Information Technology. The total increase is projected at $168,640 and includes Furniture and Equipment ($84,490), the 800 MHz Radio System ($36,150), and the Recorder Compliance Funds ($48,000). The Recorder Compliance Funds target technology projects that contribute to the development, deployment, and maintenance of land record systems. The Fund is established from fees collected pursuant to State Statute 357.18.
5. Survey. An increase of $340,000 for purchase of Pictometry and GIS equipment funded through the Recorder’s Compliance Fund.
6. Liability Insurance. This includes Property, Casualty, and Workers Compensation Insurance premiums paid to Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust. The insurance coverage is increasing by $50,000 in 2011.
7. Human Services. A Document Management System will be purchased at an estimated cost of $481,180, to be funded through the Capital Account. The purchase will not impact the local tax levy.
2011 Revenue Budget. The handout compares the 2011 Budget to the 2010 Budget for all departments within the General Revenue Budget. The total for 2011 is $51,311,192 compared to $50,108,967 in 2010. Subtracted from the total of $51,311,192 are Rentals and Leases ($3,775,191), Income ($15,249,856) and Equipment Note Transfer-In ($1,087,098). After the reductions, the total for 2011 comes to $31,199,047 which is a 2.4% increase over the 2010 Budget of $30,795.732. Norman said the departments included in the Criminal Justice System make up 69% of the expenditures in the General Revenue Budget. These departments include Court Administration, Court Services, Sheriff, Corrections and Attorney.
Budget 100, Non-Departmental. Norman explained the Personal Services line item carries a budget of $1.8 million in 2011. As union contracts are settled and health insurance costs are determined throughout the year, the funds are spread to the various departments in the General Revenue Budget. Norman referenced the Liability Insurance line item, budgeted at $900,000 in 2011 compared to $850,000 in 2010. As previously stated, the County’s premium is increasing by $50,000 in 2011.
Road & Bridge Combined Funding Summary. The expenditures are budgeted at $17,719,450 in 2011 compared to $19,775,265 in 2010. The Budget reflects a significant decrease and can fluctuate from year to year depending on the construction schedule. Revenues are projected at $9,787,175 in 2011, bringing the 2011 Local Levy request to $7,932,275.
Road & Bridge Equipment Needs. The handout reflects equipment replacement requests totaling $519,324.37. Two years ago, the County issued a three-year Equipment Note in anticipation of purchases for Highway equipment, Building Care, Information Technology, and Sheriff squad cars. All Road & Bridge equipment will be paid for out of Equipment Note proceeds.
5-Year Highway Construction Program. The 5-Year Highway Construction Program includes anticipated projects in 2011. The handout reflects the project, type of construction, and how it is funded (whether funded in part or all by State Aid). Local projects are funded from property tax dollars. The total estimated project cost is $8,261,950 in 2011 and the local share is budgeted at $3,416,700.
Human Services Budget. The total expenditures in 2011 are anticipated at $23,366,700 which is a 5.9% increase over the 2010 Budget of $22,054,600. The handout reflects revenues received compared to expenditures. Norman said the year-end reserves have stabilized and hopefully will remain that way. The reserves were declining quite rapidly, and the Board and Human Services Director worked to try to stabilize this decline.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, discussed the calculation of the Local Levy for 2011.
Local Levy. The 2011 net taxable Local Levy is $50,063,412 representing a 3% increase over 2010. The Local Levy is calculated by subtracting Revenues from the operating Budget and is the amount needed from taxpayers to balance the Budget.
In 2011, Local Levy dollars required for General Revenue ($24,199,286), Road & Bridge ($7,932,275), and Human Services ($9,197,300) total $41,328,861. From that, $4,710,428 in County Program Aid is subtracted. This brings the Net Taxable Levy to $36,618,433.
Hiivala explained the Special Levies. There is a Special Levy for Corrections (Jail) in the amount of $6,999,761. The Debt Service is at $7,377,656. Some of the initiatives the County Board is using to lessen the Levy for Debt Service include a State Grant for the upgrade to the 800 MHz Radio System ($300,000) and Transfers In ($1,082,458). To be consistent with prior years Levy limitations, $406,600 is being budgeted for matching grant requirements in Human Services. The Lake Improvement District Special Levies are pass-through dollars.
Norman stated that the Net Taxable Levy (not including Special Levies) is up 2.6%. This is the base levy limit the State has calculated for the County. The State sets this amount as it recognizes that County government administers many programs for the State. With the increased costs, they calculate a base levy limit each year. With the growth of the County and activities, this came in at 2.6%.
The meeting was opened up for public comment.
Al Malerich, resident on Lake Pulaski in Buffalo, appeared before the Board last year when the 2010 Budget was discussed. At that time, he urged the Board to consider across-the-board reductions. He felt the Board did not listen to his comments. Although the County has worked hard to hold budgets down, he felt the Board needs to be mindful that the economy is still woefully poor. He referenced recent actions by Britain to cut their national expenditures by 18% and by President Obama to freeze wages (excluding military). In addition, all Social Security recipients will go without a cost of living increase for the second year in a row. Malerich said all employees are at-will employees. He did not agree that the County has to maintain the employee level at a certain number of full-time equivalents (fte’s). He proposed an across-the-board reduction to include those covered by collective bargaining agreements. Employees could be given the choice of a wage freeze or the alternative would be to cut employees permanently. Malerich said last year the County Board took great pride in commenting on the number of position vacancies there were (positions not filled). He said that in January and February those positions were filled. Most recently, the Wright County Journal Press reported that some members of the County Board made comments that because some departments were allowed to hire, other departments were granted their requests as well. He felt this was an entitlement mentality and that property owners couldn’t afford to continue to pay more taxes. Sawatzke referenced Malerich’s comment on the open positions last year. He clarified that the County did not fill those positions after the first of the year. In fact, more positions were added to the number of vacancies. He estimated there were 20 vacancies. Malerich asked how many fte employees the County has. Norman stated 680. Malerich proposed at least a 10% reduction in that number. Russek asked what services the public would want cut. For example, the Highway Department has 570 miles of County roads to plow. Wright County is proud of the maintenance of the roadways. Malerich said the Highway Department does a fine job of maintaining roads. By reducing the Department by 10%, they could possibly delay plowing his road by an hour. Sawatzke noted that Malerich lives in the City of Buffalo so a reduction in County plowing would not affect him. Malerich said he will make the same comments to the City of Buffalo at their Hearing. He felt the Sheriff Department may have the argument that they cannot cut by 10% because they need employees for law enforcement. With statistics reflecting crime is down, he did not feel losing a few patrol officers or investigators would create a crime spree in Wright County. He felt if the Country of Britain, the Federal Government, and senior citizens can make cuts, the County can as well. Malerich said before his retirement, he closed a couple of operations including one of his own. He said if the Board members do not have the energy or enthusiasm for it, then maybe it is time for someone else to run the County. This is not to disparage what they have done. Times are tough. Russek said the Wright County Board just attended the Quad Counties Meeting. Those counties who have cut employees said they did not end up saving in the long run because of unemployment costs. Malerich said he does not accept the position that a salary component or compensation is a one way upward ratchet. Russek said the County will be entering negotiations with bargaining units this next summer and he anticipated they will propose no increase. Malerich questioned whether the bargaining units have been contacted to consider re-opening their current contracts and agree to a wage freeze. He felt the Board’s fall-back position could be that if this is not agreeable, a certain percentage of the employees that belong to that collective bargaining agreement would be cut. Although unemployment costs will occur for a period of time, there is a sunset on that as well. The savings to the County would accrue after time. Malerich said the County should be run more like a private business, keeping an eye on the bottom line.
Kevin Yonak, Buffalo, said cuts could be made in the Parks Department. He did not feel that lawns would need to be mowed. He described Bertram Chain of Lakes as a disaster waiting to happen. He said the County could not afford that kind of thing. Starting there, they could save 10-20%. Yonak said that the Human Services Budget should be cut. He asked whether it was written in law that those employees cannot be fired. Sawatzke responded that in some areas of Human Services it is. Yonak felt the County should push back to the State and indicate that the County cannot take on anymore. He said his property taxes are high but the land appreciation is down 30%. He referenced school systems and the large, bloated teacher contracts. Yonak felt someone has to do something different.
Linda Yonak, Monticello Township, asked how many of the 680 full-time employees are Human Services employees. Don Mleziva, Human Services Director, stated there are 205 Human Services employees.
Yonak said as a business owner, they had to cut expenditures line by line. She felt the County could do better with the Budget. She referenced the decrease in her valuation and the increase in taxes. She asked the County Board to do a better job with the Budget.
Pat Holthaus lives out of State but owns property in Wright County. She said Wright County did a super job during the good times. She felt that leaders should change the way they do things when times change. Instead of going to departments and asking them what is needed, she felt the County Board should indicate what is available and each department would have to make that amount work. She commended the Board for keeping the Budget under $100 million. Her tax statement reflected the County’s portion went up 10% but her income has not risen anywhere near that amount. She urged the Board to be leaders for the current times, not for the times past. As a public employee, Holthaus said across the Board cuts of 10% do work. She said technology was supposed to reduce the number of personnel required. She referenced the Budget and the increase in both technology and personnel. Holthaus asked about the License Bureau and whether there is the same number of employees in that department as in previous years. There is now the ability to purchase license tabs online. Holthaus said times are changing and the Board needs to have a backbone and cut the Budget by 10%. If employees don’t want this to happen and respond that they can get a job elsewhere, she encouraged them to do so as there are many people in the County who would readily fill their positions. Holthaus suggested the Board negotiate with the unions starting with a 10% decrease, not 0%. She commended the Board and said they had done a good job over the past two years but felt they could do better. Holthaus said the County needs leaders who can change with the times.
Joel Holthaus, Monticello Township, said his property tax increase came to about 5% but his actual taxable market value went down 5%. Holthaus has not received a raise in three years. It makes him feel like property taxes may force him to lose his property. He said this happened in the 1930’s. He also felt the County should cut Budgets by 10%.
Mattson said he agrees with all of the statements and has been preaching this for two years. He said there are over 500 people in his district that have lost jobs. He extended appreciation to those who came to the meeting. At the request of Thelen, Kramber explained the complexity of the Minnesota property tax system. Kramber commended the County Board and departments for their work on the Budget. What the public hasn’t heard is how active County staff has been in keeping their budgets down and the guidance they have received from the County Board and County Administration. If a department has a position vacancy, that position may not get filled. Kramber provided examples of saving, including waiting to purchase a piece of equipment until it goes on sale and utilizing retired squad cars instead of reimbursing employees for mileage. The Sheriff Department allows them to purchase gas at bulk rates and the Highway Department maintains their vehicles. He said they have saved about $5,000-$6,000 in travel and maintenance fees. The Assessor’s Budget for the past 3-4 years has remained the same. The Assessor’s Office has been contacted by thousands of taxpayers on their property tax statements and Kramber does his best to explain the complex property tax system that they must adhere to.
Scott Greenfield, Buffalo, asked how the State mandates the amount of value that can be raised or lowered on properties. Kramber said they are required to value property at its market value (within 90%-105%). With the declining market, they error on behalf of the taxpayer and generally aim for 90%. They also factor in bank and foreclosure sales, figuring out the true market value of those properties. Valuation notices are sent in the Spring to property owners. If a property owner disagrees with the value placed on their property, they should contact the Assessor’s Office who will make an on-site visit to make sure the value is accurate. If the property owner is still not satisfied, they can then go to the Local Board of Appeal and Equalization. The County Board of Appeal is held in June with the County Board rendering a decision. If the property owner still does not agree, they can proceed to the Minnesota Tax Court (must file by April 30th of the year the taxes are due). Years ago, there was less conflict with an increasing market. By the time the property owner received their tax statement, their property was worth more than the value on the statement. Now property values are declining and property owners are contacting the Assessor’s Office questioning the value. Russek said the Wright County Assessor’s Office has not received a State adjustment for 8 years. To stay within 90-105% of market value for 8 years is excellent.
Sawatzke asked Norman about the health insurance increase and how that affects the Budget figures. Norman explained the only thing that was calculated was the $50 contribution toward health insurance by the employer, effective 3-01-11. Sawatzke said the County received insurance quotes two weeks ago that were lower than anticipated and estimated in the Budget. There will be a $427,000 savings by changing carriers, although not that entire amount is County savings. Some of the savings goes to those employees with family health insurance coverage. When an employee carries single insurance on themselves, the County contribution currently covers the entire premium. Sawatzke said in light of the bid received, he anticipated the County is saving at least $200,000. There are about 450 employees who are on the single health plan. For those 450 employees, the County will not spend the anticipated additional $50 toward their insurance as the rates came in lower. He asked that Norman provide an analysis of this savings prior to the Board approving the levy.
Pat Holthaus said that sometimes an employee who has done a good job is rewarded by increasing their salary. Employees who don’t receive an increase may view no increase as a punishment. She said this is not the case. She described County staff as very professional. In good times, they could be rewarded. She said people in the private sector are receiving less and felt there was a real discrepancy for public employees to receive a disproportionate amount versus private employees. Holthaus said that cutting wages by 10% is not punishment; it is a sign of the times. When the economy returns, they could then receive raises.
Thelen said a Leadership Team sub-committee is looking at the Budget process to see where cost savings could be realized. Although a 10% cut appears to be good, some departments have already realized a substantial increase in the need for services. The County needs to look at where savings can be realized or procedures can be changed, possibly through technology. There is maintenance of effort and a requirement to provide service at a certain level. With no new taxes at the State level, it has had an impact on counties as they are required to provide the same level of services. She said everyone is facing property taxes. Thelen commended fellow Board members, department heads, and Norman for their efforts on the Budget. She said Wright County had a lean Budget to begin with and there is not a lot of frivolous spending. While looking at possible cuts, they have to be mindful so that infrastructure and the needs for services are not compromised.
The meeting adjourned at 7:04 P.M.
Published in the Herald Journal Jan. 10, 2011.

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