Wright County Board Minutes

WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
MARCH 15, 2011
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, Thelen, and Eichelberg present.
Mattson moved to approve the 3-08-11 County Board Minutes, seconded by Thelen, carried unanimously.
Eichelberg moved to approve the Agenda as presented. The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried 5-0.
On a motion by Thelen, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
A. ADMINISTRATION
1. Performance Appraisals: R. Burns, M. Gasper, A. Pulvermacher, Bldg. Maint.; E. Ross, Hwy.; G. Eldred, D. Evjen, Surveyor.
2. Charitable Gambling Application Form LG220, Church of St. Mary of Czestochowa, 1867 95th St. SE, Delano MN (Franklin Twp.).
3. O/T Report, Period Ending 3-04-11.
B. ASSESSOR
1. Approve Abatement, PID #210-031-000260, James Carlson (Maple Lake Twp.).
C. AUDITOR/TREASURER
1. Approve Tobacco License Renewal For Cruiser’s (Monticello City).
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, introduced Diane Sanders, C.R.O.W. (Crow River Organization of Water) and Bill Stephens, Wright County Environmental Health Supervisor. Stephens is working with Sanders to apply for a septic loan program for Wright County residents. Sanders explained that the C.R.O.W. has received $496,000 in grant funding for land use changes in the watershed and best water management practices. Along with the grant funding, they were awarded $1.2 million in low interest loan funding. Of that, Wright County will receive $300,000. Wright County is one of five counties participating in the low interest loan program. A one-to-one match is required for grant funding and can be made up of cash and in-kind services. This match is met with funding from the C.R.O.W. Sawatzke moved to adopt Resolution #11-15, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote:
BE IT RESOLVED by the Wright County Board of Commissioners, that it hereby designates Wright County Environmental Health Officer Bill Stephens as Project Representative for the implementation of the “Reducing Surface Water Runoff in the Crow River Watershed Project” for Wright County. The Project Representative shall have the authority to represent the Wright County Board of Commissioners in all project matters that do not specifically require action by the Wright County Board of Commissioners.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED by the Wright County Board of Commissioners that, as Loan Sponsor, the Wright County Board of Commissioners enters into the attached Minnesota Clean Water Partnership Project Implementation Agreement along with Crow River Organization of Water, as Project Sponsor, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to conduct the implementation of the “Reducing Surface Water Runoff in the Crow River Watershed Project.”
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED by the Wright County Board of Commissioners that the County Board Chair be authorized to execute the attached Loan Agreement for the above referenced Project on behalf of the Board as Loan Sponsor.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED by the Wright County Board of Commissioners that Richard W. Norman be authorized to execute loan disbursement requests for the above referenced project on behalf of the Board.
(End of Resolution #11-15)
Hiivala requested that the Board authorize him to sign the Minnesota Clean Water Partnership Project Implementation Loan Agreement with the MPCA. Eichelberg moved to authorize Hiivala to sign the Agreements, seconded by Thelen. Sawatzke asked whether those citizens who have failing septic systems can apply for loans. Hiivala explained that the Program will work through an assessment process. The applicant will need to go through certain criteria. The County will issue a check to the vendor for the work and the amount will be assessed to the applicant. The MPCA is paid back by the County. Hiivala said it is a process similar to that with debt service. The motion carried 5-0.
Hiivala and Richard Norman, County Coordinator, were contacted by Edward Jones Investments to be added as a Deferred Compensation Plan provider. Hiivala recommended a Deferred Compensation Committee Meeting be held to evaluate the request. Edward Jones representatives would like to propose an approach that would meet the criteria for being added as a provider. Mattson moved to refer this issue to the next Deferred Compensation Committee Meeting, which will be held on 4-13-11. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0.
On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Mattson, all voted to approve the February Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines.
Mattson moved to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0.
Steve Voss, Mn/DOT District 3 Planning Director, gave a presentation on the Region 7W Transportation Policy Board. Voss said District 3 is a 12-County area. As District Planning Director, he works with planning and programming and assists with the long range plan and 4-year and 10-year construction programs. His position also supports activities of the ATP (Area Transportation Partnership) and the Regional 7W Policy Board. Mattson serves as the Chair of the Central MN ATP and is a member of the Transportation Policy Board. Mattson is the Region 7W Policy Board Chair. Region 7W includes Benton, Sherburne, Stearns, and Wright Counties (minus the St. Cloud APO 20-year planning area). The Joint Powers Agreement between these counties reflects that “This agreement is made for the general purpose of establishing a formal structure in Region 7W to address regionally significant transportation issues, conduct regional transportation studies and plan, and solicit and select projects seeking federal transportation funding that support the activities of Mn/DOT and the Central Minnesota ATP.” More information can be found on the Mn/DOT website, www.dot.state.mn.us. This was provided as an informational item.
Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, requested the Board schedule a bid opening for Seasonal Requirements. These bids will cover the period from 5-01-11 to 4-30-12. They include the following items: Sealcoating, Culverts and End Sections, Sand and Rock, Equipment Rental, Application of Reflectorized Pavement Markings, Micro-Surfacing, and Plant-Mixed Bituminous Mixture. Eichelberg moved to schedule the bid opening for 4-13-11 at 9:00 A.M. at the Ways & Means Committee Meeting. The bid award will be made at the 4-26-11 County Board Meeting. The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried 5-0.
Fingalson requested approval of Detour Agreement No. 98525 for TH 169 in Elk River over TH 10. This is an Agreement Mn/DOT has requested approval of for work they are completing on the bridge on the TH 169/TH 101 roadway. Traffic will be detoured to CSAH 42 for about one month. Not all traffic will be routed to CSAH 42 as some of the traffic will use the other bridge. The amount estimated for road life consumed is $1,034.74 and would be payable by Mn/DOT to Wright County. Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #11-16, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
A Personnel Committee Meeting was held on 3-09-11. At today’s County Board Meeting, Eichelberg referenced the recommendation for Item G1, Summer Help, Sign Persons & Engineer Interns, and said it will be up to the Personnel Department to determine whether the position pay will require Step 1 of the Salary Schedule. Norman said that upon consultation with the County’s Labor Law Attorney, they are comfortable recommending a salary between $9.00 and $10.40. This salary will allow the Department to hire a person to assist for up to a six-month period. Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes and recommendations. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg.
Mattson said he had concern although approval of the minutes does not equate to a large dollar amount overall, except for the Human Services Manager approved at yesterday’s Human Services Board meeting. Mattson said he did not vote in support of the Human Services Manager position. The State is estimating a $5 billion deficit and Mattson was unsure of its ramifications on the County. Sawatzke referenced the Personnel Committee minutes and said action includes cutting of some line items in these proposals. For example, the Highway Department will realize a significant savings by virtue of an employee being on leave for up to six months. There is no increase in the temporary line item. The result is a potential savings of $15,000-$20,000. The Parks Department also realized a decrease in what was budgeted for their temporary line item. Sawatzke said the process of departments gaining approval to fill vacancies has resulted in a savings as opposed to the former process where departments were allowed to proceed with filling vacancies without approval. With regard to the Human Services Manager position approved at yesterday’s Human Services Board Meeting, the vacant position is being filled instead of filling the Children’s Services Supervisor position. Mattson said he would vote in favor of the motion based on the explanation by Sawatzke. The motion carried 5-0:
I. POSITION OPENINGS.
A. Deputy Sheriff.
Per action taken at the 3-08-11 Wright County Board Meeting, this position has been referred to the 3-15-11 Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting.
B. Civilian Corrections Officer.
Per action taken at the 3-08-11 Wright County Board Meeting, this position has been referred to the 3-15-11 Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting.
C. Sergeant’s Eligibility List.
Per action taken at the 3-08-11 Wright County Board Meeting, this position has been referred to the 3-15-11 Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting.
D. Social Services Supervisor. Mleziva stated that the Children’s Services Supervisor is retiring the end of March. The Social Services Manager position has been vacant since August, 2010. Mleziva proposed that the Children’s Services Supervisor position not be filled when the employee retires and the Social Services Manager position be filled instead. The Social Services Manager would take on the Children’s Services Supervisor job duties in addition to the normal job duties of the position. Mleziva will assist with some of the administrative parts of the Children’s Services Supervisor position.
The Children’s Services Supervisor supervises 12 employees. If the request is approved, those employees would report to the Social Services Manager and Human Services Director. The Social Services Manager would supervise the 6 Human Services Supervisors and staff, along with the staff that currently report to the Children’s Services Supervisor.
Recommendation: Forward the request to the next Human Services Board Meeting for discussion.
E. Account Tech./Tax Forfeiture Specialist.
An accounting staff person will retire on 5-06-11. Hiivala presented a request to proceed with the replacement process instead of waiting until the position is vacant. The start date of the position would be after 5-06-11. The position also works with the tax forfeiture process and confession of judgments. The duties of the position are shared with one other position in the Office. Other staff members are cross trained to provide assistance when needed. Hiivala stated the department has 29 out of 30 positions filled. The Assistant Finance position has remained open for several years. The Account Tech./Tax Forfeiture Specialist position vacancy may create a promotional opportunity. Sawatzke said if this does occur, Hiivala would then need to bring back the request to backfill the position vacated.
Sawatzke questioned the workload of the office compared to that of a few years ago. Hiivala said there has been a reduction in the number of documents processed but the accounting side of the Office is as busy as it was several years ago. Staff has completed projects including imaging of the accounts payable system. Some functions have been added in association with this process.
Recommendation: Authorize proceeding with the process to replace the Account Tech./Tax Forfeiture Specialist position. The position will be posted for both internal and external candidates.
F. Office Assistant, Recorder Department.
Gabrelcik said Kelly Day was promoted from Office Assistant to the Chief Deputy Recorder position. The request is to fill the Office Assistant vacancy. The Recorder’s Department has 10 positions and currently 8 are filled. In addition, there is one person out on a leave of absence so they are operating with 7 employees. The Department includes the positions of Recorder, Chief Deputy Recorder, and 8 Office Assistant positions.
Gabrelcik said they are processing more documents than one year ago in February and it is getting busier. The Office is required to be at 90% compliance with the Recorder’s Compliance Fund (10-day turn around time.). They are currently operating between 90%-100%. Gabrelcik said this is because they are two people short and getting busier. Petersen stated that most of the staff in the Recorders Office have been employed a number of years so their vacation accruals are higher. With a small office staff and the10-day turnaround requirement, it may be hard to meet the compliance requirements.
Recommendation: Authorize replacement of the Office Assistant position. The position will be posted for both internal and external candidates.
G. Summer Help.
1. Sign Persons & Engineer Interns.
Sawatzke asked whether the request today covers all Highway summer help. Carlson stated that he would present the request for Engineer interns and Cordell would address the needs of the Sign positions. There would be no additional requests for Highway Maintenance. Cordell stated that last summer, one of the Sign Technicians was injured and has not recovered. The employee is expected to be out for two additional months because of surgery and then will come back with restrictions (total of six months). Cordell requested authorization to hire a seasonal position (up to 120 days/year) right away. Currently, there is one Sign Technician so one of the sign trucks is not being operated. The Sign Technician position requires a Class A License. If the employee on leave recovers sooner than expected, Cordell may approach the Committee with a request to continue with temporary help so both sign trucks are being operated.
Cordell stated that if the seasonal Sign Technician person is hired, one sign truck will be operated with two people. There are 13,600 signs on the system. With the 13-year minimum Retro-Reflective Replacement Program, 1,000 signs should be replaced annually. Because of the injury to the employee, there are an additional 200 signs from 2010 that were not placed. Cordell distributed a handout which outlines sign replacement needs (attached). Norman was in contact with Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, about this position and recommended that a seasonal temporary position be requested for up to 120 days (as per the Union contract).
Cordell and Carlson said there is $20,000 in the Highway Budget for summer help. It is estimated that the budget would be split equally between survey/engineering and sign help. Cordell stated that Workers Compensation has covered a portion of the wages for the injured employee so there is funding in two line items to cover the seasonal employee. In 2010, the wages of the summer help were as follows: Sign Person-$9.50/hour, Engineer-$10.00/hour, and Intern-$10.50/hour. The original 2010 budget was for $21,500; however, the County Board reduced the budget by $1,500. Sawatzke asked how the actual to budget figures compared for summer help. Carlson stated that they came in slightly under budget in this area. Potential cuts from the State were referenced. The County receives approximately $4 million in local government aid from the State and it is unknown how much will be cut. Sawatzke said it would be ideal if the Highway Department did not spend all that was budgeted for labor. Dependent on the State cuts, some of that budget may be needed to cover shortfalls.
Sawatzke questioned hiring two summer college students versus one seasonal Sign Technician. Cordell explained that he needs assistance now. There are flood projections of 1965 proportions and he only has one person running the sign truck. The Sign Technician is also responsible for road closure signs and mailbox installations. Cordell would like someone who could drive the sign truck when needed and that requires a Class A License. Cordell said he would not be running two sign trucks this summer. He stressed that he was in desperate need of assistance in this position.
Discussion followed on whether to hire the seasonal Sign Technician at Step 1 of the Salary Schedule. This would be similar to what was done with a temporary Mechanic position in the Highway Department. The temporary Mechanic filled in for an employee on leave. Cordell said the Sign Technician job requirements would be a Class A License and the ability to operate a computer. A pre-employment physical may be required. After discussion, it was decided that Cordell can determine a wage for the seasonal Sign Technician position that will allow him to employ the person for up to six months. The wage should be between $9.50/hour and the Step 1 wage of a Sign Technician.
Recommendation: Designate $20,000 in summer help in the Highway Department. Cordell and Carlson can determine how to split the funding between survey/engineering and sign help. Authorize hire of a seasonal Sign Technician for up to six months with the salary to be determined based on the needs of the department. The position will be posted for both internal and external candidates.
2. Parks Maintenance.
Mattice stated in 2010, the approved budget for the temporary line item was $56,000. The County Board then reduced the line item to $50,000. Mattice said the Parks Department was able to operate within this reduced budget by shifting hours and keeping the starting salary at $9.25/hour. Mattice said in 2011, $56,000 was approved for the temporary line item through the budget process. The proposal is to hire nine seasonal staff who will work in the following locations: 4-Buffalo, 2-Schroeder Park; 2-Collinwood Park; and 1-Rover (see attached).
Sawatzke said he would like the Parks Department to live within the $50,000 budget again in 2011. Mattice said he could reduce the Rover position from 40 hours to 20 hours per week at a cost savings of $3,000. If $.25/hour raises are not given, this would save $1,400. It was noted that Scott Isackson has worked for the Parks Department for 13 years and is required to carry a Class A License. Joe Wallin has worked for the Parks Department for 5 years for the mowing crew. The majority of the other employees of the Parks Department have been employed for 2-3 years. Sawatzke noted that the Parks Department is one of the few departments that is fully staffed.
Recommendation: Authorize $51,500 for the Parks Department Seasonal positions.
3. Survey Intern.
Jobe stated that the 2011 temporary line item is budgeted at $5,000. In 2010, just under $5,000 was expended in this line item.
An Intern will work from mid-May through mid-August, depending on the school schedule. The Intern works in the field with the survey crew. The salary was $10.25/hour in 2010. Jobe said the Intern from last year may return this year. Eichelberg felt if the same person returns, they could be paid $10.25/hour. Otherwise, a new intern should be paid $10.00/hour. Jobe said if the position needs to be filled, he will work through faculty at several colleges for possible interns. The position will not be advertised. Sawatzke said the Surveyor Department is short one staff person so he supported the entire $5,000 budget for this line item.
Recommendation: Authorize $5,000 for the temporary line item in the Surveyor budget.
(End of 3-09-11 Personnel Committee Minutes)
Steve Jobe, Surveyor, requested approval to purchase the 2011 Oblique Aerial Imagery from Pictometry International Corporation. The request includes directing the Surveyor to proceed with preparing a contract for final Board approval and signatures. The product allows capture of photography at a 45 degree angle. This creates a more natural three-dimensional view so that users can see land features and structures clearly and in their entirety. This type of aerial photography can include photography from directly overhead, which is the method of the current aerial photography. Jobe said if the request is approved, he will request photography at all camera angles. The Oblique Aerial Imagery would be used in conjunction with existing technology and will benefit the offices of Assessor, Sheriff, Planning & Zoning, Surveyor, Auditor/Treasurer and the County’s GIS (Geographic Information Systems). The project is included in the Surveyor’s budget and is earmarked to be funded from the Recorder’s Compliance Fund. Mattson questioned whether the product can be sold. Jobe explained that Pictometry International Corporation has partnered with Microsoft on this project. Microsoft is paying 40% of the flight cost; in exchange, they will offer the imagery free online through Bing maps. Jobe does not see a revenue source for the County. Sawatzke asked whether the County could obtain the imagery free through Bing maps. Jobe said the imagery will not be available through Bing if counties do not participate. Jobe said the purchase will be funded from the Recorder’s Compliance Fund. A total of $270,000 was earmarked in the Capital Improvement Plan and another $105,000 was slated for the regular aerial photography. Because Pictometry International Corporation will allow photography in overhead (straight down) views as well, he recommended placing the regular imagery (Lidar) on hold for a year or two. Russek asked how often this imagery will be repeated. Jobe said he was unsure but felt it was a good time to get a snapshot of the County. It will depend on how often it is used by County offices. The County will receive a 10% discount for signing a six-year agreement. The agreement allows the County to opt out at any time. Most counties are utilizing this technology. A savings is realized by networking with neighboring counties. Five counties are required to participate. The contract amount, including a 10% discount, is $279,397 including tax. Jobe said 2011 would be the year to complete this as that is when surrounding counties are having it completed. The last year the traditional aerial photography (Lidar) was completed was 2008. Wright County follows a three-year schedule but many counties follow a two-year rotation. Thelen questioned whether this request should have been presented to the Technology Committee for discussion. Jobe said he and Bill Swing, Information Technology Director, discussed that option or possibly referring it to a Committee Of The Whole Meeting. Thelen said although this sounds like a good project, she has difficulty knowing the prioritization of this project relative to other projects. She was concerned with the huge outlay of funding, having the request presented in this fashion, and not being able to see the priority of this project compared to other technology projects. Jobe said funding for this project is from the Recorder’s Compliance Fund. Even though this is considered a technology related item, the project is for land records development. It was also included in the Capital Improvement Plan. Sawatzke added that although there are many technology needs in the various County departments, this project is land records related. The general technology projects will not be funded from the Recorder’s Compliance Fund. Sawatzke asked whether there was unanimous agreement in the land records departments that this is an important project with a high priority. Jobe said this is the case. This project has been discussed for a number of years in the Land Records Technology Committee meetings. Greg Kramber, Assessor, spoke in support of the Oblique Aerial Imagery. He felt that many departments could benefit from the detail this type of photography brings. It will enable the Assessor’s Office to review properties online and gather data prior to making an on-site visit. The Assessor’s Office is required by Statute to physically review a property once every five years. Swing said it was the consensus of the Land Records Committee to support this project. He said this project has been discussed for at least five years. Swing said the budget includes a $25,000 SAN (Storage Area Network) upgrade that is required for the Pictometry. That upgrade is contingent upon approval of this project. The SAN upgrade would also be funded from the Recorder’s Compliance Fund. Thelen voiced concern with the legal/privacy issues if the aerial photography is offered through Bing. Todd Hoffman, Sheriff’s Office, said this type of aerial view can be helpful in investigations and search and rescue missions. With regard to privacy laws, he said aerial photography is legal above 1,000 feet. Mattson noted that Google Earth allows views of individual streets. Norman asked whether Pictometry International Corporation is the only company in the United States to offer this product. Jobe said it is the only company that he is aware of and the owner of the software. This is a complete package with the software. Sawatzke suggested that future aerial photography only include the three-dimensional view. He did not see a value in going back to photos from directly overhead with this technology available. Jobe said it is less expensive for the overhead view. The difference would be the cost ($270,000 versus $100,000 every few years). Jobe said this is a good use of the Recorder’s Compliance Fund. The deadline to make a decision on this is the next couple of weeks. Several of the other counties have already presented this to their Board’s for approval. If the Board supports the request, it will allow Jobe to proceed with producing a contract for County Board approval. He anticipated it being presented at the next County Board Meeting. Sawatzke moved to authorize the purchase of the 2011 Oblique Aerial Imagery from Pictometry International Corporation and to direct Jobe to proceed with preparing the contract for final Board approval and signatures. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 4-1 with Thelen casting the nay vote.
A Technology Committee Meeting was held on 3-09-11. At today’s County Board Meeting, Eichelberg referenced Item D, Joint Powers Agreement, Emergency Services Board. The Committee recommendation is to authorize signatures on the Agreement. Eichelberg questioned whether there had been a change in that recommendation since the Committee Meeting. Swing stated that the Joint Powers Agreement is in the administrative review phase so the Board should not take action to approve the Agreement today. After the Regional Radio Board meets on March 30th, the Agreement will be presented to the County for approval. Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes and the one recommendation (Item C, Channel Add). The motion was seconded by Sawatzke. Mattson referenced the 800 MHz project and the costs that have resulted since the inception of the project. He questioned when there will be a finished product. Swing stated that with any system, there is an annual maintenance cost. With the 800 MHz System, the project came in substantially under budget (by $300,000). As reported to the Technology Committee, there will be reoccurring charges in the budget. Swing felt it came down to cost versus value. The Technology Committee heard from the EMS and Fire Departments about the value to the County’s public safety. It is an expensive system. Swing said from the technology side of things, he felt the project was well planned and it came in under budget. As with most systems, they need to be maintained. Mattson said that he did not have a question in the value of the 800 MHz System but felt the cost was a floating target. The motion carried 5-0:
I. 800 MHz RADIO.
A. Report From Fire & EMS.
Swing distributed handouts regarding the agenda items for today’s Technology Meeting (see attached). Swing stated that he and Howell attend a bi-monthly meeting for the Wright County Radio User Group. Howell chairs this group. It is a forum for Wright County Sheriff, IT, Fire, Police, Ambulance, Public Works, and Public Health to gather to discuss procedures addressing the effective and efficient use of the 800 MHz radio system. Swing stated that the purpose of today’s Technology Committee Meeting is to provide an update regarding the quality and communications status of the 800 MHz radio project since its inception. He invited Bob Van Lith and Gordy Vosberg to provide feedback about the new system as it relates to public safety.
Van Lith stated that the fire departments have noticed a huge improvement within the County communications system. Prior to the 800 MHz system, there was one radio channel that was shared by fire departments when working in mutual aid and fire investigations. This tied up the same channel that was used by the Wright County Dispatch Center. Now there are several tactical channels. Van Lith cited numerous examples of improved communications, clarity, and operation of the radio system. He stated that they have appreciated having direct contact with cities within Carver County. Swing asked Van Lith to describe what would have happened if the County wouldn’t have built the 800 MHz system. Van Lith stated that there would be zero communication between the fire departments. He stated that they are very happy that the Commissioners authorized pursuit of the project. It was a very expensive project and is expensive to maintain.
Eichelberg asked Van Lith whether the training portion of the project was the most difficult part of the process. Van Lith stated that the toughest part in transitioning over to the 800 MHz project was breaking the old habits of its users.
Vosberg stated that the availability of the tactical channels in 800 MHz is much wider than the traditional VHF channel system. The efforts and staffing in EMS is spread thin. The units have a cooperative relationship and work with each other through mutual aid. He stated that EMS wasn’t able to have direct communications with other units. Now, with the PSA and ARMER system, he has the ability to request a talk group to communicate with any other unit. This was particularly useful last spring in Monticello during a HazMat drill. He thanked the County Commissioners for committing to the project. He stated that EMS couldn’t do their job without this progressive communications system.
Van Lith stated that without the 800 MHz system, the County Public Works Department would have a very difficult time being effective during the upcoming and predicted spring flooding. In the past, with the older radio system, each arm of Public Safety would have to contact the corresponding City Hall to determine where the mutual aid was needed.
Van Lith stated that the new system does have a learning curve, yet the capabilities of the system are endless. There are many different channels to operate on: county, regional, state, and national channels. He noted that there are still a few kinks that need to be worked out within the system. Vosberg stated that there are regional and operator group meetings that occur on a monthly basis. The information from those meetings are shared with other regions. He had the privilege of speaking at another regional meeting to discuss the pitfalls Wright County ran into when it transitioned into the 800 MHz system. Each region does something different and learns from each other. He explained that he is confident that any errors in the system can be worked out. Swing agreed by stating that the meetings are conducive for healthy discussions on what can be done better. The 800 MHz project has enforced the importance of communication. Eichelberg stated that he sees first hand at the Regional Radio Board Meetings how clarifications are made and problems are identified. Swing stated that there is a Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) for Central Minnesota Region meeting on Friday. Swing stated that the Wright County Radio User Group really appreciates the cooperation of the Ambulance and Fire Departments.
Howell stated that with the new 800 MHz system, the County has the ability to talk with our neighboring subsidiaries. There is more coverage. He cited a recent incident where a patrol car rolled over in a section of the County that was known for not having adequate radio coverage. Prior to the 800 MHz system, the Deputy would not have been able to contact Dispatch.
Norman asked if there have been any equipment issues. Howell stated that there have been two or three radios that went in for warranty service. Otherwise, there have been virtually no problems. He stated that from the Sheriff’s perspective, there have been very few problems with the infrastructure; all of which have been addressed.
Swing stated that there are computer rooms located under the radio towers. The computers monitor the towers and send email notices to alert of failures within the system. He stated that there is some redundancy built into the system. The monitoring capability of the towers was really important. Howell stated that last week, there was a power outage. While at home, he received emails that the generators kicked in at the appropriate time. Swing stated that they appreciate Jans for topping off the generators with fuel.
Fingalson stated that the Highway Department has experienced a few problems which are being corrected by Granite. He noted that the transition has been a little frustrating but thinks it will be corrected. A step was missed in the programming of the Public Works radios and the messages were garbled. Some reprogramming has been done. Jans stated that there were some clarity issues that he assumes is because of the location of the antennas.
B. Review Of 2010-2011 Maintenance Expenses.
Swing referred the Committee to the Budget and Expenditure Report within the packets. The spreadsheet shows how the 2010 actual expenses compared to the 2010 budget. It also provides a budget for 2011. He noted that the 2010 expenses against the project were discussed in past County Board Minutes and should not be a surprise to any County Board Members.
Swing stated that it is unusual for an IT Department to allocate the costs of this type of project. However, he has an Office Assistant that helps him in the process. In the handout, he provided a detailed spreadsheet of the claims that were expensed in 2010. It provides a snapshot of the expenses and shows how the County was able to come within the 2010 budget. The system has stabilized and they have a better feel for the management of it.
Swing reminded the Committee that the Motorola RF Contract terminated in 2010 and the County will now pay for repairs in 2011. He budgeted the repairs for 2011 at $51,000. Swing also explained that Wright County modeled its charge backs to the cities after Sherburne County. Sherburne County charges $75 per radio to its participating cities. Wright County has collected 100% of these fees which is shown in the 2011 Budget Report. He stated that his Department is handling the finances of the system. The revenue and expenses are included in his budget. He stated that expenses are distributed to the Sheriff and Public Works Departments according to their ratio of radios. Norman asked whether the expenses to the Public Works Department is distributed to Highway, Parks, and Surveyor’s Departments. Fingalson stated that Highway absorbs 100% of the costs for the three departments.
Fingalson stated that he would like to propose simplifying the accounting process for the 2012 budget year. He stated that the amount doesn’t justify the inconvenience of the reporting efforts. He stated that the tower lease bill is paid by the Auditor’s Office and then is prorated to the Highway and Sheriff’s Departments. Then a monthly journal entry is made by Nila Ellis, Highway Accountant, for their portion of the cost to maintain the 800 MHz system. He stated that it seems to be added work with some redundancy. Fingalson suggested that perhaps the entire revenue source and related expenses could occur within one Department. Howell stated that the Sheriff’s accounting system is different from the Highway’s system. He stated that the Sheriff’s Office does not have a problem with how the expenses and revenues are being tracked. He stated that the 800 MHz system is a County system that is utilized by EMS, fire departments, Public Works, and the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office would not want the entire 800 MHz system within their budget.
Fingalson stated that since there is no federal reimbursement for this project, it seems like a prime time to simplify the accounting process and be more consistent. Hiivala stated that the processes must mirror what was adopted for the 2011 budget. Hiivala verified that Ellis does have to duplicate the tower lease bills when creating her line item journal entry. The Auditor/Treasurer’s Department has a formula coded to each bill that splits out the expenses related to the 800 MHz system according to the ratio of radios within each Department. Norman noted that the Highway Department charges back fuel usage to corresponding Departments. He stated that he didn’t see a difference in the process. The maintenance and tower lease should be distributed over three departments after it is supplemented by contributions from the cities. Thelen asked why this topic is of concern. Hiivala responded because the expense doesn’t have a direct reimbursement tied to it. Hiivala proposed that in an effort to simplify the process for Ellis, the expense could be an annual journal entry instead of a monthly activity.
Norman proposed that this conversation continue at budget time. Eichelberg agreed by stating that this should be a discussion that occurs in front of the full County Board. The budget is already set for 2011. Fingalson stated that by adding the expense of the maintenance for the 800 MHz system, the Highway Department had to cut other items from its budget in order to stay under limits.
Fingalson stated that the Highway Department absorbs the entire cost of the maintenance because it is hardly worth the effort of dividing the monthly expense to the other two Departments within Public Works. Swing stated that he would be in favor of retaining the formula, yet can see how it would simplify the process if Ellis had to make only one journal entry.
C. Channel Add.
Swing stated that Sherburne and Wright counties have ten channels and eight towers in its simulcast subnet system. A channel study has indicated that in order to be proactive in the growth of the system, there should be a total of 11 channels. He stated that the cost to add another channel will be $150,185 and would be 100% grant funded. Swing explained that the County received a grant at the onset of the 800 MHz project for $718,000. The grant was earmarked for several counties to build an 800 MHz project. However, several counties never committed to building their 800 MHz systems and there were extra funds left in the grant. It was determined that the funds would be perfect for adding another channel to the Wright-Sherburne subnet.
The cost to add the channel would be $150,185. Funds were received in January, 2011, for $76,984 for the Phase III 2005 grant allocation. Upon completion of adding the eleventh channel, the County will be reimbursed by a 2010 DHS Grant for $125,000. Total receipts for adding a channel would be $201,984, with a cost of $150,185. Swing explained that the County would have an extra $50,000 in the bank because of this addition. Swing clarified that the project must be completed within six months due to time limit constraints on the grant. Swing stated that he will expense the project out of his IT budget. Hiivala noted that the Phase III 2005 Grant Allocation for $76,984 was shown as a revenue within the IT budget. Howell stated that the grant funding is from Homeland Security. Swing stated that the City of St. Cloud is the fiscal agent and grant administrator.
Swing clarified that the channel add project involves a contract with Motorola. It has the same language as the previous warranty contract with Motorola. He clarified that there would be a reoccurring maintenance cost for the additional channel of approximately $2,750. This reoccurring cost will become effective one year after the warranty period.
Swing stated that he will seek approval of a resolution to accept grant funds from the Central Minnesota Regional Radio Board. The resolution states that the County is agreeing to support the equipment. Norman stated that Swing will want to present the resolution for this item separately from today’s minutes. It should be presented under “Items for Consideration”. Swing stated that Howell will be attending the Regional Advisory Committee for Central Minnesota Region on 3-11-11 and the Regional Radio Board meets on 3-30-11. The Committees would like to see that this resolution has been approved.
RECOMMENDATION: Authorize adding one channel to the Wright Sherburne simulcast subnet for a total of 11 channels.
D. Joint Powers Agreement, Emergency Services Board.
Eichelberg stated that the Joint Powers Agreement should go before the County Board as part of the County Board Agenda under “Items of Consideration”.
Howell stated that Wright County is a member of HSEM Region #4. The purpose of the Joint Powers Agreement is to create a clean process for how emergency management grant dollars are distributed. The newly drafted Joint Powers Agreement is merely a housecleaning mechanism defining who is to receive and distribute the grant monies. By signing the Joint Powers Agreement, it will not commit the County financially to anything. Howell stated that the contract was given to Asleson for his review. Asleson stated that he did not have any concerns about the Agreement. Norman stated that MCIT should be notified of the County entering into a Joint Powers Agreement.
Howell stated that Wright County has always been apart of the Regional Emergency Services Board, however, the agreement is being expanded to include emergency management. Steve Berg has been a lot closer to this subject and he was unfortunately not able to be present for today’s meetings.
Norman stated that he would recommend that the Joint Powers Board make sure they are covered by insurance. Howell stated that he would bring this topic to the RAC meeting. Swing stated that RAC is looking for closure on this topic at the next meeting. Jobe asked whether the proposed Joint Powers Agreement would replace the Radio Joint Powers Agreement. Howell stated yes.
Swing stated that he would submit the Joint Powers Agreement to the County Board under “Items of Consideration”. Norman stated that he would recommend having somebody present to answer questions from the County Board about the new Agreement. Howell stated that he would try to recruit Berg to be present at the meeting. Thelen suggested that if the Commissioners were to see a marked up copy of the proposed changes, this may alleviate a lot of questions.
RECOMMENDATION: Authorize signature for the Central Minnesota Emergency Services Board Joint Powers Agreement.
(End of 3-09-11 Technology Committee Minutes)
Thelen moved to adopt Resolution #11-17 to accept grant funding from the Central Minnesota Regional Radio Board. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote. The grant funds relate to the addition of a radio channel to the ARMER backbone sites located within Wright and Sherburne Counties. The Central Minnesota Regional Radio Board has allocated a portion of the Federal grant funds in the amount of $250,000.
Norman announced that the Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting scheduled for today will be held in the County Board Room instead of the Commissioners’ Conference Room. The meeting will start at 10:45 A.M.
Bills Approved
3D Specialties Inc. $7,525.31
Abrahamson/Brian 437.50
Ameripride Services 531.56
Anoka County Sheriff 8,548.83
Apollo Glass Company 161.65
Aramark Services Inc. 6,504.00
Assn. of Minnesota Counties 1,350.00
B & B Products - Rigs and Squ 8,858.99
Bauman/Lawrence R. 289.50
Beaudry Propane Inc. 3,412.35
Bergee Industries 137.87
Bottiger/Shawna 150.00
Boyer Truck Parts 850.96
Brock White Co. LLC 120.51
Buff N Glo Inc. 130.00
Buffalo/City of 69,054.96
Cardiac Science 1,309.22
Center Point Energy 958.35
Centra Sota Lake Region LLC 27,013.61
Construction Services Dive 3,430.37
Crow River Tools 577.05
Culligan of Buffalo 225.66
Determan/Karen 225.50
Dustcoating Inc. 3,621.66
Dynamic Imaging Systems Inc. 5,408.01
Engel/Dale L 762.50
Fibernet Monticello 205.20
Globalstar USA 116.41
Granite Electronics 1,532.79
Harris Computer Systems 15,728.84
Herald Journal Publishing 360.64
Hickmans Service Inc. 162.98
Highway Technologies Inc. 838.80
Hillyard Inc. - Minneapolis 1,891.61
Hoisington Koegler Group I 4,756.25
Holiday 19,531.82
Huemoeller/Neal 283.00
Integrated Fire & Security 827.16
Interstate All Battery Cent 173.00
Koen/Andre 2,000.00
Kopff/Nancy 282.50
LaPlant Demo Inc. 534.08
Loberg Electric 131.72
Marco 141.07
Martin-McAllisters Consult 1,200.00
MCHRMA 195.00
Menards - Buffalo 421.72
Midway Iron and Metal Co Inc 201.52
Midwest Safety Counselors 983.67
MN Chemical Company 737.44
MN Counties Intergovernme 216.00
MN Department of Labor & 120.00
MN Police and Peace Ofcrs. 375.00
Morries Parts & Service Grp 503.03
Mountain Stream Sports & A 196.20
North American Salt Co. 17,306.83
North Metro Realtors Asso 114.00
Office Depot 6,513.25
O’Ryan’s Conoco 241.00
Qwest 3,151.09
Ramaciotti/Frank 100.00
Reid and Associates/John E 855.00
Sand Creek Group Ltd 3,732.50
SHI International Corp 173.14
St Cloud Times 247.85
State of MN-Office Enterp 1,805.00
Strand/Elizabeth H. 100.00
Tools Unlimited 177.70
Tractor Supply Credit Plan 254.78
Trusight 5,600.00
Uniforms Unlimited 365.18
Verizon Wireless 160.25
Voss Lighting 750.60
Wagner/H. David 289.50
Walker Trucking/C 4,390.00
Waste Management TC West 2,212.54
Wright Hennepin Electric 229.62
Zee Service Company 424.49
Ziegler Inc. 15,228.99
28 Payments less than $100 $1,440.06
Final total $272,106.74
The meeting adjourned at 10:36 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal April 11, 2011.


Return to Wright County Menu | Return to Government Table of Contents

Herald Journal
Stories | Columns | Obituaries | Classifieds
Guides | Sitemap | Dassel-Cokato Home | Delano Home | HJ Home