WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
JANUARY 11, 2011
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, Thelen, and Eichelberg present.
The Board observed a moment of silence in memory of the victims of the shooting in Arizona. Russek said it is sad that people are willing take the life of someone they don’t agree with.
Eichelberg moved to approve the Agenda, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0.
On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Mattson, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: L. Donabauer, L. Kelly, L. Pawelk, Admin.; A. Mohaupt, Atty.; D. McCalla, C. Nelson, Aud./Treas.; T. Fedor, Parks; T. Piram, P&Z; C. Canton, P. Loch, D. Nystuen, C. Thompson, Sher.
2. O/T Report, Period Ending 12-24-10.
3. 2010 Voluntary Leave Without Pay Report.
4. Reappoint Russek & Mattson To The Noxious Weed Appeal Committee.
1. Approve 2011 Tobacco License Renewals for: 152 Club, Hack’s Liquor, Heidi’s Market (Albertville City); Lake Region Coop, Neisen Liquors of Cokato (Cokato City); CVS Pharmacy #5311, Delano Wine & Spirits (Delano City); River Inn (Hanover City); American Legion Post #131, Lake Region Coop (Maple Lake City); Broadway Kwik Stop LLC, Hi-Way Liquors, O’Ryans Marathon (Monticello City); Up The Creek Brill & Bar (Silver Creek Twp.); Corner Bar (St. Michael City).
1. Support Attendance By County Board, County Coordinator, Department Heads & Administrative Staff At Table-Top Exercise For Continuity Of Operations Plan (COOP), 2-01-11, 1:00-4:00 P.M., Government Center (Community Room).
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, asked that the discussion relating to the bond sale be held later in today’s meeting as Bruce Kimmel from Ehlers-Inc. will be arriving late.
County Ditch 34 was discussed. Russek was in contact with Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney. Asleson said a public hearing was held on Ditch 34 in 2006. The Ditch was last discussed in 2009. At that time, the SWCD Board advised that the City could open cut the Ditch. An open house was held and there was opposition from the benefitted landowners. It was their opinion that the areas of disrepair should be fixed and the City could be assessed an access charge. Russek said no action was taken on review of the Ditch last fall. Russek said Asleson recommended that an open house for benefitted landowners should not be held until it has been determined what repairs are required. He felt the County would have to wait until spring to review the Ditch for possible repairs.
Phil Kern, Delano City Administrator, said two of the City’s major goals are to create jobs and expand the tax base. They are working on the Industrial Park project north of Delano. One of the major impediments of that project is the storm water and discharge into County Ditch 34. In 2006, the City made application to discharge into the Ditch. It was held up at that time as it was felt there were some improvements to the Ditch that were needed. Since that time, Kern said the City has been a willing participant to work with the County to try to make the Ditch better. The City is concerned with the process and how long it has taken. Kern said the City does not feel it is their responsibility to upgrade the entire Ditch. They are a willing player and would like to move the process along. In 2009, they made application to open cut a small portion of the Ditch but it was voted down by benefitted property owners. At this time, Kern said the City is requesting the ability to discuss the access permit with the County, acknowledging there may be an access fee involved. That fee could be escrowed and used by the County toward improvements to the Ditch. Kern felt the two issues of improving the Ditch and accessing the Ditch have clouded the process. The City wants to access the Ditch and move forward with that request.
Russek said that in 2009 the City was not ready to move forward with this. He felt that there will be time to review repairs needed once the snow is gone and that cost will be the access fee. He did not feel the fee would be substantial. Kern said in 2009 when the County recommended to the City to proceed with an open cut process, the amount involved was around $8,000-$10,000. Russek said that parcel has always been part of the Ditch and that is why the City has the ability to access the Ditch. It is the County’s responsibility to set an access fee because it is a change in use. Russek felt repairs may be needed in two or three areas.
Kerry Saxton, SWCD, said when they originally started reviewing Ditch 34 they knew there were a couple of repair areas. That is why the open cut was proposed. The original survey shows that the tiles are 4’-5’ underground. That presents a number of problems and that is why they came up with the open cut proposal. Any time a tile is exposed at the surface there will be continual problems due to freezing, thawing, and tiles breaking. There are a number of breaks downstream as well. Even in areas outside of the low land, there are collapses in the soil indicating the tiles are collapsing under the soil. Saxton felt the Ditch will require a number of smaller repairs. He anticipated more problems in the future due to the age of the tile (early 1900’s). Russek said most of the County ditches were completed from about 1908-1914. Saxton said a survey needs to be run across the area to see what has happened. He felt the tiles were in good alignment. Some possible theories on the tile are that the original surveys are in error on the tile depth or the ground has subsided. He said when peat has dried out for that period of time, it becomes fluffy and can blow away. It is possible that 3’-4’ of soil could have been lost in the area. Saxton suggested the County refer to Committee discussion on how to proceed on the Ditch. This would not preclude allowing the City to access the area. The County needs to determine what repairs are needed and the associated costs. Saxton said this will need to be done when the snow is gone.
Mattson questioned the process with benefitted property owners on the Ditch. Russek restated that an open house was held on the open cut proposal. He thought there were about 21 benefitted properties on the Ditch and recalled most of them were opposed to the open cut. The County can’t deny access to the City as the property is part of the Ditch. Russek felt the issue could be referred to Committee but there will not be any actual estimate for repair until spring when bids can be obtained. Saxton said it is easier to obtain estimates when the request covers one area (i.e., replace 1000’ feet of tile). It is more difficult when numerous areas are involved and it is unknown what problems may be underground. Russek said the City has engineered accessing the Ditch as part of their Industrial Park project. The runoff was not to be at a faster rate, but the water possibly will run for a longer time. Saxton said at one time, the developer indicated runoff would be at pre-settlement rates. This would help dramatically.
Saxton did not feel the City should be required to fund all of the repairs on Ditch 34. The disrepair has happened over time and all landowners will benefit. He felt an equitable amount could be determined. Russek said this is something that could be discussed at the Committee level. He thought the following should be in attendance: Saxton, City Administrator and Mayor, County Auditor, County Attorney, and himself. The group could discuss the access fee. Mattson moved to refer this to a Committee, seconded by Eichelberg. Thelen questioned whether this Committee will address the question by Kern on access to the Ditch. Russek said the Committee will discuss the access fee after the Ditch has been reviewed. Hiivala said the meeting could be held to discuss the scope and timing, and to review the Ditch. Kern said the City is asking for something other than to wait until the ground thaws for review of the Ditch. The City does not feel it is responsible for fixing all of the Ditch problems. He referred to the timeline on what has transpired thus far and that they went into the 2010 season with no resolution. They are now looking at waiting until spring for review by the County. The City would like to move ahead with their Industrial Park plans. He requested the County have discussion on an appropriate access fee. From the City’s perspective, Kern said that they are asking the County to have that conversation so they can move ahead with an agreement to access the Ditch. The County would be compensated with an access fee. Kern said that in 2009 when they filed the application to proceed with an open cut, the access fee was estimated at $8,000-$10,000. The City, in good faith, moved forward with that figure. They are again asking for a ballpark figure. He felt it was appropriate that the County discuss this at the Committee and work out an agreement. The County could then utilize those funds paid by the City toward the Ditch repairs.
Sawatzke said he disagreed with Kern’s argument. He said there are ditches all over the County that are 100 years old, and there are a number of them that are in disrepair. He said it is important to understand what a County ditch is. It is not owned by the citizens of the County but rather by the benefitted property owners. The County Board serves as a referee to create fairness in the process. There are a number of scenarios of ditch related problems and those problems must be evaluated to determine the cost of the repair. For example, Sawatzke referenced a past situation where the cost to repair Ditch 33 was estimated at about $2 million. In that instance, it was decided by the property owners that it was better to band aid the problem at a lower cost. The cost of repair must be compared to the benefit received by property owners. Sawatzke said it is not up to the County Board to decide whether to proceed on a repair. Sawatzke said his point is that the request is from the City of Delano to change something on their property. It needs to be determined what the cost is to repair the Ditch. That cost would be split between benefitted property owners. If the Ditch functions adequately for 99% of the benefitted property owners and the repair is only being made for the City’s benefit, the City may have more responsibility in the cost of the repairs. Kern responded that the City is willing to be a partner in fixing the problems associated with Ditch 34, problems which may have existed for decades. The City is proposing pre-settlement rates, which is a substantial reduction in the amount of water going into the Ditch. Kern said the City is representing two property owners on the Ditch and that the City may become a property owner on the Ditch. The City’s Industrial Park, if it comes to fruition, will contribute a lower rate of water into the Ditch than it does today. Kern said the City feels they should be able to get an access permit up front without participating in any up-front costs of repair. The City would become part of the apportionment process where the cost to repair would be spread to all benefitted property owners, including the Industrial Park. Kern said the City feels they will go above and beyond that share of improvement. They are proposing to contribute more than their share. They are not trying to flood property owners on the Ditch, they are trying to propose an alternative. They are also not trying to shed responsibility for funding improvements either. The City’s proposal would be like any other property owners in this process. Sawatzke said he was not criticizing what the City is trying to do. The discussion he is bringing forth relates to the need to have a relationship between assessments and benefits. This cannot be determined until the cost is known. He did not feel a decision could be made until they know the entire cost. Thelen questioned the timeline and if there was anything that needed to be done prior to when the Committee would meet in the spring. Kern said they have willing property owners who want to proceed with the Industrial Park development and they are simultaneously working on agreements with them. People have inquired about land and development opportunities and until all of these things are wrapped up, they cannot market available land. Eichelberg felt these issues and others will be discussed at the Committee level. A definite answer would not be made today. The motion carried 5-0.
Thelen made a motion to hold another meeting relating to the City’s accessibility issues on County Ditch 34, prior to the Committee meeting on the cost. The meeting would be held as soon as possible with the City representatives. Russek said that Sawatzke was correct in that landowners cannot be assessed until the benefit is known. Residents of the Ditch that attended the Public Hearing indicated the Ditch was working fine for their needs. He suggested that the Committee meet in two weeks to a month. Eichelberg said the City would like to meet earlier than the spring review. He felt the Committee could meet in two weeks to a month and complete the groundwork, go over questions, etc. The Committee could then meet again in the spring after the snow has melted. Thelen withdrew her motion based upon the Committee meeting prior to the spring thaw so discussions can begin.
Hiivala requested the Board authorize his signature on a Ditch Modernization Grant in the amount of $52,747. Hiivala, Saxton, IT Department representatives, and a couple of Commissioners met to discuss the Grant, which requires a 1:1 match. After discussion, it was decided that the match will be covered with in-kind labor. The County would have two years to spend the funds. Hiivala said Saxton has suggested using the funds to update the County’s ditch records. Mattson moved to authorize Hiivala to sign the Ditch Modernization Grant, seconded by Thelen. The motion carried unanimously.
Hiivala presented a request for the Board to approve a temporary on-sale liquor license application submitted by the Maple Lake-Lake Property Owners Association for the 36th Annual Maple Lake Ice Fishing Derby. The event is scheduled for 2-05-11. In the past, the application has been for a 3.2 liquor license. The application this year is to allow the group to sell hard liquor. Mattson moved to approve the application, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0.
Hiivala was contacted by Scott Kohls with a request to rent farmland that is a tax forfeit property, PID #112-500-264102. The property is in the State’s name. Kohls farms the land just to the west of this parcel and uses the tax forfeit parcel to gain access to his property. In the past several years, Kohls has rented the land for $120/acre. He recognizes the increase in value of ag land and is offering $180/acre. Hiivala contacted the Assessor’s Office who indicated this would be very competitive with current rates. Mattson moved to approve the rental of PID #112-500-264102 to Scott Kohls, seconded by Sawatzke. Hiivala stated this tax forfeit property will be in a future batch of tax forfeit properties that the Commissioners will review. The motion carried 5-0.
The claims listing was reviewed. Russek referenced a claim on Page 15, Design Electrical Contractors ($25,268.23). Russek said the County Board will approve the final payment as part of the Agenda today. He questioned whether the claim should be included in the abstract if the Board still needed to take action on approving it. Hiivala said he will pay the claim contingent on this approval. Eichelberg moved to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried unanimously.
Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, presented the 1-04-11 Transportation Committee Of The Whole (TCOTW) Minutes. At today’s County Board Meeting, discussion occurred on Item 3, Presentation by City of Otsego/CSAH 37 Route and Item 4, Update on Former Chouinard Property in St. Michael. The minutes of the TCOTW Meeting follow the discussion which occurred at today’s County Board Meeting (discussion at today’s Board Meeting reflected in italics):
Item 3, Presentation by City of Otsego/CSAH 37 Route: Fingalson said The Plan adopted by all agencies 5-6 years ago showed CSAH 37 extending westerly from TH101 to CSAH 19. For that to occur, the segment of CSAH 37 with the two right angle curves would have to be revoked back to the Cities of St. Michael, Albertville and Otsego. Eventually, with the extension of CSAH 37 to Hwy. 19 north of the Albertville Mall, that would extend westerly and tie in with the interchange at Kadler Avenue. That is the long range plan and this is a step to make that happen. CSAH 37 would be turned back to the local authorities after the new CSAH 37 is built. Part of the proposed road is gravel and another portion there is no road. What prompted this was that the City has Municipal State Aid Funds available that could be used. Fingalson referenced the minutes which reflect, “Sawatzke said that a commitment to take over the existing CSAH 37 will be needed from each of the three local units before action is taken, and he feels that the property owners of that property where the new road will cut across should be notified first for their input.” He then referenced the Committee’s original recommendation (changed later in Board discussion today) which states, “It was the consensus of the TCOTW that Wright County support the City of Otsego’s application for federal funding for the construction of a new portion of CSAH 37 between Oakwood Avenue NE and McAllister Avenue NE and that supporting documentation regarding a new functional class designation of this alignment (along 70th Street) be made available.” Fingalson said the new CSAH 37 alignment can’t happen until all three Cities agree to take over old CSAH 37. He understands the City of Otsego is not ready to do that yet so it may be premature to bring this forward. It is not possible for the City to change the functional class without the County’s support. That cannot happen without it being designated as the future CSAH 37 and the Cities agreeing to take over old CSAH 37. The discussion has not happened as to whether they expect the County to rebuild the road as a new County State Aid Highway. Fingalson felt the traffic would be much reduced from what it is now. The road was seal coated last year and the surface is fine. Fingalson spoke with the Albertville City Administrator and they have concerns with taking the road over as well. Fingalson said the Cities are just starting discussion and he feels they should also talk with property owners ahead of time. Since the TCOTW Meeting, the State has sent an email to the Cities saying the functional class of the road cannot be changed unless the road is extended to Hwy. 19. The segments need to connect from one County State Aid Highway to another or to a Trunk Highway. Fingalson said the City will not be able to obtain Federal Funding without the change in functional class. The City can improve the road to State Aid Standards using their Municipal State Aid Funds. They could elect to do that and still have time to contact the property owners to work out an alignment. They could also work with the County on the road becoming a future County State Aid Highway. Fingalson said they do not want the City to build a segment that doesn’t meet standards. Sawatzke said the County does not have to support the City’s use of Municipal State Aid. Fingalson said this is true but as identified in the NE Plan, the City would be building it with the idea that someday the County will be taking it over. He said they do not want them to build a road that doesn’t meet the minimum State Aid Standards. Sawatzke asked whether the City has applied for Federal funding or whether they will make the project fit the requirements to obtain funding (road goes all the way through). Fingalson said he has not talked with the City Engineer. In view of the response from the State, they may decide to apply for the entire segment. Fingalson said the recommendation of the TCOTW Committee could be changed to reflect that the County supports the request from the City of Otsego from TH 101 to CSAH 19 if it qualifies. This would include the Cities taking over old CSAH 37. Fingalson said they may need to reconvene the group that put together the NE Plan. Sawatzke said the City of Otsego could rebuild the road and that would not commit the County to anything. The County has the ability to say they will not take anything over until the three Cities have agreed to take over CSAH 37. The following changes were made to the TCOTW Minutes: Page 5, 1st paragraph, 9th line, change sentence to read, “Sawatzke said that a commitment to take over the existing CSAH 37 will be needed from each of the three local units before action is taken, and he feels that the property owners of that property where the new road will cut across should be notified first for their input.” (Sawatzke); Page 5, Recommendation for Item #3, Presentation by City of Otsego/CSAH 37 Route, should be changed to read, “It was the consensus of the TCOTW that Wright County support the City of Otsego’s application for federal funding (if they qualify) for the construction of a new portion of CSAH 37 between Oakwood Avenue NE and McAllister Avenue NE and that Wright County work with the three Cities involved in changing the functional class for the segment between TH 101 and CSAH 19.”
Item 4, Update on Former Chouinard Property in St. Michael. Mattson mentioned that the removal of the asbestos on this property may be a much simpler process than other asbestos removal. Mattson spoke with Ward Carlson about the possibility of submitting a quote and he expressed interest. Fingalson said Highway Department staff is working with the County’s Planning & Zoning Building Inspector on what must be completed for asbestos removal. The County is interested in receiving quotes from anyone. Sawatzke said that a special license may be required for the asbestos removal. A contractor could quote the work and sub out that portion if they do not carry the license.
Eichelberg moved to approve the TCOTW Minutes and recommendations, to include the changes as noted on Item #3. The motion was seconded by Mattson. Thelen referenced the TCOTW Minutes and said that the recommendations reflect the word “consensus.” She said that would mean that everyone agreed to the recommendation. She felt a better word to use would be “majority opinion.” She did not feel that some of the items were looking for a consensus. Thelen referenced Item #1, Approve/Prioritize Enhancement Projects for Federal Funding (FY 2015). Thelen said she would go along with the Committee recommendation with the proviso that where all other things are equal, geographic equity might be a good way to prioritize the applications for funding. Thelen could not tell with the process in place whether all things were considered equally. After the TCOTW Meeting, she obtained the City applications for review and then contacted a person from Region 7W. The person from Region 7W felt it would be a good idea to develop criteria for review so it is a structured review process. Geographic equity and regional significance could be included in the review process. The other thing mentioned is Region 7W does not want use of funds for projects that are considered municipal obligations. Thelen said she could not tell from the maps provided whether the sidewalks are part of a larger project or part of an overall City plan. She restated that she would go along with the recommendation but she would like something set up relative to score sheets, regional significance, and criteria. Thelen would like grant documentation in advance for review. She was unsure whether the County Board needed to take action by motion to establish this process. Fingalson outlined the review process for Enhancement Projects submitted for Federal Funding. A meeting is set in early February for the Transportation Advisory Committee (Sherburne, Stearns, Benton & Wright County Engineers; Transit Group Rep.; and Mn/DOT Reps.). This is an opportunity for all cities to make their presentation. He said historically, the 7W Group does not look favorably on financing sidewalks for cities as they feel the cities should do this on their own. This request ties in with a trail plan. The City could be asked whether they will accept funding without money for the sidewalk.
Fingalson said that many times applicants will ask for the full 80% funding. They will ask the applicant to take a lesser funding amount. The recommendation of the Transportation Advisory Committee then moves to the Policy Board. Commissioner Mattson is a member of this Board. The application then moves to the ATP where all 11 counties are involved. Once approved, the application moves to the State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP). There is no guarantee for funding of any of the projects. Fingalson said it is very important for the County Board to indicate their top priority for multiple projects submitted. If funding is only received for one project, the groups need to know the County’s first priority. Fingalson said that discussion on the structured review process by the County should be referred to a future TCOTW Meeting. This would provide an opportunity for staff review and recommendation from the Parks Administrator and Highway Engineer. Eichelberg requested that information be provided on what specifically they are looking for at these policy meetings so the County has something to compare to the applications received. The motion carried 5-0 to approve the 1-04-11 TCOTW Minutes as revised. The minutes of the TCOTW Meeting, as corrected, follow:
1) Approve/Prioritize Enhancement Projects for Federal Funding ( FY 2015)
Hawkins explained that for cities under 5,000 in population, Wright County is required to act as an agent for requesting federal funding for enhancement projects. Both the City of Annandale and the City of Cokato are presenting candidate project applications for funding, and the TCOTW will make a recommendation to the County Board how the projects should be prioritized to the Region 7W Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) and Policy Board. Wright County may be asked which project is higher priority, if enhancement funds are available and only one Wright County project is funded.
• City of Annandale: Casey explained that the City of Annandale will be making application for funding to make a 6,100 foot trail continuation, beginning on the west end at Douglas Drive and ending on the east end at Pioneer Park [Attachment 1]. This will be the second leg of the trail, and they have been working on it for many years in partnership with the Annandale area community. Casey said that the main driving force behind the development of the trail is for the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. The proposed project will link neighborhoods and parks in southern Annandale with an 8-foot bituminous trail. The trail will connect to a significant trail system already in place within the city, and will also tie in with Wright County’s planning, and eventually with the regional planning. DeWolf commented that the City understands how these projects come together, especially with federal funding, environmental reviews, and right-of-way acquisitions. The City already has the right of way acquired to move forward with the project.
• City of Cokato: Lembke said that the City is looking for funding to complete a trail segment which will increase pedestrian safety and mobility. The City leaders and Park Board are dedicated to providing safe and functional recreational facilities for their residents, with safety at the top of the list. Currently, there is a large area of Cokato that exists with no trail or sidewalk infrastructure, and pedestrians and bicyclists are forced to be on the shoulders of busy roadways, such as TH 12. There is limited access to Cokato from the east side of the city for local and regional users, and this trail will serve the eastern third of the community. It will also be a connection of the regional trail to city parks and downtown businesses and provide connection to other regional trail facilities and areas beyond Cokato [Attachment 2]. The idea is to create multi-use trail and sidewalk facilities, which will increase pedestrian safety, provide connection to parks and isolated neighborhoods, and connect with the regional trail on the east side of TH 12 and with existing facilities. Construction of this trail will also restore and improve areas with native plants and trees. The biggest goal of this improvement would be to increase pedestrian safety, because now there is only one signalized crossing where pedestrians can safely cross TH 12. The City is prepared to cover 40% of the total project costs.
Mattson commented that a number of good projects come before the County Board, and members like to balance out the recommendations by prioritizing different communities from year to year. He would recommend giving Cokato the top priority because Annandale has received funding in recent years. Cokato is applying for funding of $330,000 and Annandale is applying for funding of $240,000. Hawkins said that ranking the requests is for the benefit of those on the Region 7W TAC who will be reviewing the applications.
Cities under 5,000 in population are required to have their county act as a sponsoring agency, and it is Wright County’s responsibility to rank the projects prior to submitting them to Mn/DOT prior to the January 14 deadline for applications. The recommendation made today will be acted upon at the County Board meeting on January 11 and then submitted on January 14.
DeWolf asked if sidewalks were eligible for federal funding, and Lembke said that he had discussed this with Steve Voss of Mn/DOT and was told that there was no clear determination on the criteria on the width. Costs of sidewalks are included in the overall project costs. There is currently a five-foot sidewalk, but they will find out if they need to increase the width, which would then have to be moved partially, but would still be in the right of way. Federal funding for trails requires an eight-foot minimum width, and 10 feet is the width designed for many trails. Mattice commented that sometimes city ordinances don’t allow bicycles on sidewalks, but they do allow them to use the trails. Since this design does connect up to a trail, it is considered more of a trail than a sidewalk. DeWolf said that Annandale’s plan is for an actual trail eight feet wide and not sidewalks (five feet wide). The design is for an eight-foot wide trail for multiple uses. Since the design guidelines call for trail widths at eight feet minimum and 10 feet preferred, the guidelines have been met for approval. Both Russek and Sawatzke commented that 10-foot widths seem excessive; both for materials needed and for the amount of traffic on the trails, but Sawatzke said that this opinion does not reflect that one project might be better than the other. He added that he agrees with both Mattson and Russek that in the past preferred rankings have been moved around to different communities based on whose turn it was. He said both Hanover and Maple Lake presented requests, and Hanover was given the higher ranking because Maple Lake had already received funding from this source in a prior year. [It was learned after this meeting that only the Hanover project was reviewed last year.] In this case, Annandale had received a top ranking in a prior year.
Thelen said that she was new to this process and asked how it worked. Russek said that the TCOTW Committee makes a recommendation on the ranking, but they do not make the final decision on funding. Rankings are made and then presented to the Region 7W TAC and Policy Board, but there is no guarantee that funding will be available or granted. Both projects will be submitted in case there is sufficient funding for both of them. Thelen said that she has not had the time to review the applications and would like each City to say why they think their project is better than the other. Russek said that both Cities had made a presentation, and now it is the TCOTW’s responsibility to rank them. In order to move the opportunity around, it is now the southern half’s turn to be ranked higher. Mattice added that the Wright County Parks put a trail plan together in 2002 and are currently in the process of redoing the county park trail plan. They will be holding a variety of community open houses, and there will probably be updates to the plan. He said that both of the plans presented here today have positive qualities. Thelen said that though it is nice to move the projects around the county, she would still like to consider the merits of each, prior to making a decision. She doesn’t have enough of an overview and is not sure how to measure the merits against a number of factors. Maybe there’s a value to finishing up a trail system or maybe a value to having both trails and sidewalks. She does not like the current process of recommending a project based solely on whose turn it is. She would like a little more notice and time to review the applications.
RECOMMENDATION: It was the consensus of the TCOTW that the project presented by the City of Cokato for Trail and Sidewalk Extension be given the No. 1 ranking and that the project presented by the City of Annandale for a Trail Extension be given the No. 2 ranking when presented to the Region 7W TAC. This group will then determine how to distribute the federal funds that are available.
2) Approve County Projects for FY 2015 Federal Funding
Hawkins explained that the Wright County Highway Department is recommending that two projects be submitted for federal funding in 2015. Wright County has been successful in the past and has received over $14 million in federal monies since 1998. The two projects presented this year will be a CSAH 37 Preservation Project [Attachment 3] and a CSAH 35 Bridge Project [Attachment 4]. Plans will be to reclaim CSAH 37 from TH 25 west to CSAH 8. Wright County had success in obtaining about $1 million in federal funds for reclamation of CSAH 75 from Clearwater to Monticello and about $720,000 for an overlay on CSAH 33. CSAH 37 last received an overlay in 1995, which would be 20 years of use by 2015, the year that funds would be available. The ranking should be pretty good for this project, but it will need to be added to Wright County 10-Year Work Plan prior to the request for funding. It is in the functional class of major collector and has to be part of the plan in order to be eligible for funding. The County’s current Five-Year Plan goes through 2014, and planned overlays aren’t projected for 2015 and beyond just yet. Hawkins worked with Steve Meyer, Highway Maintenance Superintendent, and looked at what might be coming up for 2015 projects. CSAH 37 meets the criteria pretty well for reclamation and overlay.
The CSAH 35 Bridge is already in the Five-Year Plan for replacement, but this would be a good opportunity to request federal funding. The approaches are narrow, and it would be redone with wider shoulders.
Both projects will be presented to the County Board on January 11 with plans to apply for funding for both of them. They do not get ranked and will be competing for money from the same source.
RECOMMENDATION: It was the recommendation of the TCOTW that applications for CSAH 35 Bridge replacement project and the CSAH 37 reclamation and overlay project be submitted for federal funding through the ATP (and add the CSAH 37 project to the 10-Year Work Plan).
3) Presentation by City of Otsego/CSAH 37 Route
Hawkins explained that the City of Otsego had contacted him about a proposed project that is already in Wright County’s 10-Year Work Plan as a result of the Northeast Transportation Study that was completed about five years ago. Wagner said that the Otsego City Council met on December 9, 2010 about changes to CSAH 37, after which meeting he was instructed to contact Wayne Fingalson and Virgil Hawkins of the Wright County Highway Department, not as an attempt to secure federal funds, but to bring Otsego’s plan forward to them. Currently, CSAH 37 has two right angles (90 degree curves) at 60th Street and 70th Street. Otsego plans to redirect CSAH 37 at Oakwood Avenue where it would continue west on 70th Street all the way to CSAH 19. This would eventually be a straight shot from TH 101 to CSAH 19, and the two 90 degree curves would be eliminated (on Oakwood Avenue) and traffic would not be directed through downtown Albertville. Eventually, there would also be an interchange at Kadler Avenue on the west side of Albertville. In order to be eligible for federal funding, CSAH 37 needs to be classified as a minor arterial as was recommended in the Northeast Transportation Study. The part of CSAH 37 that isn’t proposed for improvement would have to be turned back to a local authority as a local street or major collector, after the new CSAH 37 is built. Hawkins said that in 2006 this portion of 70th Street was approved for CSAH mileage, but it was contingent upon turning the existing CSAH 37 road back to three cities (Albertville, St. Michael, and Otsego).
Part of the proposed road is currently a gravel road and the other portion has never been a road and is farm field. One option shows that a newly constructed CSAH 37 would curve around a farmstead to the west of McAllister. This would be a rural section. Advantages would include a good east-to-west connection for most western Otsego residents, benefits to thousands in the west sewer district, a paved shoulder that will double as a trail, and no EAW would be required. Some negative effects might be increased traffic on 77th/McAllister north of the proposed route, and the construction and new route would affect nine to 18 property owners along 70th Street.
Part of the road would be urban type with a wider shoulder, and that would cost about $1.2 million for that portion. The total amount to improve the road and create a new extension would be $4 million. With the creation of this extension of CSAH 37, the portion of CSAH 37 that now exists from Oakwood to I-94 would have to be turned back to Otsego, St. Michael, and Albertville. Wagner said that Otsego is leery of taking over any of this portion of CSAH 37 because it is not up to good standards. If they put a lot of money toward constructing this new road for the county, they don’t want to take over a bad road. They will see how much federal money they can get and possibly build it as a four lane roadway where the traffic is predicted to be 25,000/day by 2040. Sawatzke agreed that this fits in with the Northeast Transportation Study plan but is hesitant to move forward without giving property owners an opportunity to give their input. He suggested that contact be made with property owners and then this project could be considered as a federal funding candidate for next year. He said that he would be concerned if funding is awarded and the property owners haven’t been contacted. Hawkins said that this is a valid plan and it is already on Wright County’s 10-Year Work Plan. Otsego will know by April if funding has been awarded, and Wagner said that if the City is not awarded federal funding, it is highly likely that they will go ahead with construction on the 0.5 mile portion with Municipal State Aid funds.
Robertson stated that the City Council first discussed moving ahead with this early in December and that they have just begun contacting property owners. Russek asked if the farmstead owner would approve of having his farm cut in half and having his front door next to a busy highway. Sawatzke said that a straight road through this farmstead might actually make it better for selling property. He asked if Otsego could do more legwork first and then bring this project back next year. He said that he doesn’t oppose the plan and thinks that it makes sense in the long run. Darkenwald explained that Otsego had been looking at three projects and then decided to go with this one. Wagner and Robertson thought that they should consult with Fingalson and Hawkins to consider making it into a bigger project. Russek said that he still feels the people should be informed of what is planned, and Hawkins agreed but added that the federal money wouldn’t be available until 2015. Wagner said that the farmstead owner has already sold 40 acres just west of his current property and the right of way has been dedicated for a county road through that area.
Hawkins said that since Otsego is a city over 5,000, they can apply for federal money on their own, but Wright County could support that action. Wagner said that CSAH 37 is not a minor arterial, but Hawkins said that designation as a minor arterial to this portion would be contingent upon turning the old, or existing, portion of CSAH 37 back to the cities. Wagner said that this would be the best scenario for that section, and then they could continue working on the last mile portion between Albertville and Otsego.
Sawatzke asked if any thought had been given to keeping the new portion (70th Street NE) of CSAH 37 straight rather than winding it around the farmstead. Will this farm be active for many years, or will we be building a curve around a farm that won’t be working anymore? Darkenwald said that the farmer gave right of way to the west section and doesn’t own property on the north side. The developer to the north gave the right of way because that was a requirement of being able to develop the neighborhood. He does not know what the farmer’s plans are for the property. Robertson said that they are planning to hold an informational meeting this month or next. Eichelberg said that he prefers that Otsego apply for federal funding on its own. Hawkins said that even though this is a planned improvement for all of the northeastern part of the county, the Wright County Board should decide if they want to allow Otsego to apply through Wright County or apply on its own. Robertson said that the City Council directed him to explore the federal money option because it would be great to have help paying for this improvement. Sawatzke said that a commitment to take over the existing CSAH 37 will be needed from each of the three local units before action is taken, and he feels that the property owners of that property where the new road will cut across should be notified first for their input. Robertson said that Otsego is only asking for the County’s support. They are not asking for the County to make application for them. Wagner said that if Otsego is eligible for federal funding, they would like to have the new CSAH 37 (70th Street) designated as a major collector or as a minor arterial so that the old portion can be turned back. Hawkins said that the County could assist the City in applying for a functional class change to support this application. Wagner said that Otsego will be applying for $1 million for the project. They would like Wright County to support their effort and provide supporting documentation of the road designation. Russek commented that he is reluctant to create a new road unless Wright County can get rid of the old one.
Hawkins said that the turnback of the existing CSAH 37 would have to happen in order for the County to designate a new CSAH 37 on the 70th Street alignment.
RECOMMENDATION: It was the consensus of the TCOTW that Wright County support the City of Otsego’s application for federal funding (if they qualify) for the construction of a new portion of CSAH 37 between Oakwood Avenue NE and McAllister Avenue NE and that Wright County work with the three Cities involved in changing the functional class for the segment between TH 101 and CSAH 19.
4) Update on Former Chouinard Property in St. Michael
Johnson reported that he has researched options for the removal of the old barn on the former Chouinard property in St. Michael, and during that process he has talked with at least 20 people. Of the three people that came out to look at the barn, only one is interested in taking it down. This structure was built in the 1930’s or 1940’s and the beams are not the type of wood that is used for architectural purposes, so they have very little value. The wood is still worth $10,000 to $20,000, but this is about the cost to take it down. The hay loft boards are rotting and the siding is faded red but not the thickness that most people look for. The one person interested in taking down the barn says the asbestos removal will have to be done, the foundation will have to be removed, and the shingles will have to be separated out and hauled away. Asbestos removal is estimated at a cost of $4,000 - $5,000, and the foundation could probably be removed by Wright County Maintenance people. Omann Bros. have expressed some interest in purchasing the property. Johnson said that he assumes Omanns are not interested in the barn and that the property might be more valuable without the barn. Eichelberg agreed that removal of the barn would probably add to the value. The property is zoned Commercial/Industrial. Johnson suggested that the property be listed with a realtor after the barn is removed.
RECOMMENDATION: It was the consensus of the TCOTW that the County Board direct Mark Johnson to accept quotes for the removal of the asbestos in the barn and for the removal of the barn.
(End of 1-04-11 TCOTW Minutes)
Fingalson then presented resolutions relating to items discussed at the 1-04-11 TCOTW Meeting (see above). For cities under 5,000 in population, Wright County is required to act as an agent for requesting Federal funding for enhancement projects. Fingalson presented a Resolution of Support from Sponsoring Agency for the City of Cokato Cokato East Side Trail and Sidewalk Extension project. Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #11-01, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Fingalson presented a Resolution of Support from Sponsoring Agency for the City of Annandale Southside Trail Extension project. Thelen moved to adopt Resolution #11-02, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Fingalson presented a resolution relating to the submittal of an application to Mn/DOT for FY 2015 Federal Funding. Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #11-03, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote:
WHEREAS, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) has established Area Transportation Partnerships (ATPs) throughout the State of Minnesota to develop prioritized lists of transportation projects seeking federal transportation funding for inclusion in the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP); and
WHEREAS, it is recommended by the County Engineer that Wright County submit an application to Mn/DOT for Fiscal Year 2015 federal funding for the following projects:
Project; Description; Total Cost; SAFETEA-LU Request
CSAH 37 (TH 25 to CSAH 8); Preservation, Bituminous; $2,000,000; $1,600,000
CSAH 35 Bridge (#90697); Bridge Replacement; $630,000; $504,000
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Wright County Board of Commissioners approves the above-mentioned candidate projects for submittal to Mn/DOT to apply for federal funding (SAFETEA-LU) for Fiscal Year 2015.
End of Resolution #11-03.
Fingalson presented a resolution that would add the CSAH 37 Preservation Project to the 10-Year Work Plan. Fingalson said the project cannot be funded unless it is part of the Plan. Information was provided on other projects included in the Plan. Thelen moved to adopt Resolution #11-04, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
The meeting recessed at 10:14 A.M. and reconvened at 10:30 A.M.
Bruce Kimmel, Ehlers-Inc., said bids were received on behalf of Wright County for the refunding of $1,505,000 General Obligation Sewer Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2011A. The sale was held on 1-10-11. A total of ten bids were received. The winning bid was from United Bankers’ Bank of Bloomington, joined by Citizens State Bank of Waverly. The bid holds a true interest cost of 2.6476%. Kimmel said nine of the ten bids were very competitive and this reflects the pace of competitive interest in the bonds. Wright County was the first Minnesota bond issuance in 2011. Kimmel felt this was favorable as there is money to reinvest. Subsequent to the bid opening, the issue size was decreased by $10,000 to $1,495,000. The bond size was reduced as the winning bid took less underwriters discount than was estimated. The future value savings over a 10-year period is about $95,000. On a present value basis, that is about $82,000. Kimmel said when he met with the Board about two months ago, there was a projected savings of about $106,000. Last month, the market declined and there was a loss of about $25,000 of that savings. Since that time, about $15,000 has been regained. The total savings in present value terms is about 5.3%. Kimmel said the Sewer District will save about $9,500/year on average over the next 10 years. Kimmel provided a graph reflecting bonds over the past 30 years. He said the market is at near historic lows. It is a very advantageous time to issue debt. The County may not have debt issuance plans for the near future but it could be advantageous to the County for things like capital notes or road projects. He said the short term rates are expected to remain this way for the foreseeable future. This could be of interest to the County later this year or early next year. Kimmel said the County has received a Standard & Poor’s (S&P) Credit Rating of AA+. A very strong affirmation of the AA+ Rating was received, being one notch below the AAA Rating. He understood S&P did discuss the AAA Rating and what it would take to get the County to that rating. Kimmel said one thing is under the County’s control and one is not. The first relates to Wright County continuing to work on polices and procedures. S&P likes to see standard policies and procedures in place for financial management. The County is doing fine but there is always room for improvement. Kimmel will continue to work with Hiivala on this. The second relates to the economy. S&P is looking for maturation, growth and stability. Wright County has good wealth and tax base levels but they are just looking to get a little further down the road. Kimmel said S&P is pleased overall with the County’s financial management and fund balances. Fund balance is the key consideration right now, having the cushion or a rainy day fund. Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #11-05 awarding the sale of General Obligation Sewer Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2011A, in the original aggregate principal amount of $1,495,000. The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, requested the Board approve a resolution of support for the Transportation Project submitted by the City of Buffalo for the State Transportation Improvement Program for FY 2015. Fingalson referenced a recent discussion with the Board relating to the elimination of the CR 147 and TH 55 intersection and a new extension of CSAH 34 from TH 55 to TH 25. Federal funds will be used for the new connection. As part of the County’s 2011 budget, $100,000 of local levy is available (based on 20% of the estimated cost) for the project.
About $350,000 is available through the TH 55 Corridor Coalition. Fingalson said he was bringing this forth as it is probably a $2 million project and there is not enough money to complete this. He said the County needs to discuss how the project should be staged. The funds from the TH 55 Corridor Coalition may not be available much longer (possibly two years but maybe only one year). Those funds could conceivably be used for the railroad crossing. Fingalson said the reason he is bringing this forth today is that for the past two years, the City has submitted this as a City of Buffalo project (connection between two trunk highways without the County’s involvement). The City is proposing to make application again this year, with an application deadline of this Friday. Fingalson recommended that the County provide support to the City that the concept has been approved by the County Board (looking at this segment as future CSAH 34 and eliminating the CR 144 intersection). Fingalson said the project has not been funded over the past two years, mainly because it was a City of Buffalo project. They have not identified that this is a future CSAH segment and that it will have some significant safety benefits. Fingalson referenced the draft resolution for support of this project. If approved, he would attend the Transportation Advisory Committee meeting and team up with the City to make a case for this project. He felt this may increase chances for funding. This would not be a joint application, it would be a City application with the support from the County. Fingalson said this road lies both in the City and in the Township. The County would need to obtain some right of way. Russek did not think the County should have to pay for right of way. Fingalson said by law the County must present what is fair market value, especially if Federal funding is involved. A meeting will be held with the landowner later this week. Mattson voiced concern on a previous project in the City of Buffalo for a bridge that was not completed and funding was turned down. He said this does not sit well with the ATP Board. Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #11-06, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Fingalson requested approval of a resolution approving Agreement No. DPS-M-1001 with the State of Minnesota, Department of Public Safety, for crash data history. This action will allow the County Engineer to act as the County’s agent in entering into an Agreement with the DPS in order to gain regular and repeated access to crash record data that is necessary in the performance of duties by the Senior Traffic Technician as part of the safety program. Fingalson said that what they normally receive is an update to 10-year data and they have to wait 3-4 months. This access will allow them to gain access to crash details prior to that time. They had this access previously but now the State would like County Board approval for them to obtain this access. Fingalson requested that approval include authorizing the Highway Engineer to sign for this access for current and future years. Thelen moved to adopt Resolution #11-07, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Mattson moved to adopt Resolution #11-08, for final acceptance for the 2010 Street Lighting Projects, Contract #10-02, with Design Electrical Contractors, Inc., of St. Cloud, Minnesota. The motion includes authorizing final payment of $25,268.23. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Mattson moved to lay over to a future meeting the resolution to form a Joint Airport Zoning Board for the Maple Lake Municipal Airport. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0.
Albertville Body Shop Inc.. $790.00
American Public Works Assn. 181.25
American Society of Civil Eng. 157.50
Ameripride Services 116.58
AMI Imaging Systems Inc. 29,414.39
Aramark Services Inc. 12,137.75
Automatic Garage Door & Fir 137.80
B & B Products - Rigs and Sq 140.00
Beaudry Propane Inc. 2,437.39
Boyer Truck Parts 549.16
Buffalo/City of 59,529.10
Burdas Towing 120.77
Business Ware Solutions 216.11
Canon Business Solutions 390.80
Centra Sota Lake Region LLC 22,566.74
Chamberlain Oil Co. 562.55
Climate Air 2,860.00
Cottens Inc. 2,085.03
Cub Pharmacy 601.43
Delano Sports Center Inc. 319.71
Dell Marketing LP 100.00
Department of Public Safety 8,550.00
Design Electrical Contrac 25,268.23
Dingmann Marine & More LLC 235.43
Dustcoating Inc. 17,910.48
Elk River Municipal Utilities 105.49
Erickson Engineering Comp 1,777.50
First State Tire Recycling Co. 330.30
Force America Inc. 1,232.28
Greenview Inc. 326.39
Hillyard Inc. - Minneapolis 459.78
Image Builders 240.24
International Assn. of Prop 100.00
Intoximeters Inc. 124.16
Jerry’s Auto Salvage 277.87
Little Falls Machine 210.76
Loberg Electric 29,426.32
Main/Fred T 100,000.00
Martin-McAllisters Consult 400.00
Mid-States Organized Crime 300.00
Midwest Safety Counselors 280.73
MN Bookstore 821.87
MN Counties Computer Coop 160.52
MN Counties Ins. Trust 27,126.00
MN Deputy Registrar Assoc 414.00
MN Sheriffs Association 5,452.00
MN Transportation Alliance 3,120.00
NADA Appraisal Guides 160.00
National Association of Col 1,676.00
North American Salt Co. 57,385.54
Office Depot 454.58
ORyans Conoco 140.00
Reds Auto Electric 108.64
Royal Tire Inc. 3,240.89
Ryan Chevrolet 538.63
Sand Creek Group Ltd 1,505.00
Scharber & Sons Inc. 101.38
Schneider Corporation 4,215.00
SHI International Corp 7,308.12
Society for Human Resource 180.00
Stork Twin City Testing Cor 8,805.00
Transcend United Technolo 612.00
Trueman Welters Inc. 3,812.76
Waste Management - TC West 1,976.50
Wheels West RV Inc. 2,361.84
Wright Co. Highway Dept 1,000.00
Wright Co. Journal Pre 154.56
Wright Hennepin Coop Elec 307.10
Wright Hennepin Electric 634.06
33 Payments less than $100 1,488.31
Final total $479,153.26
The meeting adjourned at 10:55 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Feb. 7, 2011.