WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
APRIL 12, 2011
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 a.m. with Sawatzke, Thelen, Mattson, Russek, and Eichelberg present.
The following corrections were made to the minutes of 4-05-11: Page 1, 5th paragraph, 4th sentence should read, “An additional $1,500 for rental of the County’s property will be collected after the event” (Sawatzke); Page 2, 3rd paragraph, 4th sentence should read, “Sawatzke asked what the concept is of the Bertram Park Fund” (Sawatzke). On a motion by Thelen, second by Mattson, all voted to approve the minutes as corrected.
The following item was petitioned to the Agenda: Aud./Treas. Item #3, “Resolution Authorizing Signatures On The Application for Cancellation of Forfeiture” (Hiivala). Eichelberg moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Thelen, carried unanimously.
Eichelberg moved to approve the Consent Agenda, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 5-0:
1. Performance Appraisals: B. Lutes, Atty.; B. Bersie, Hwy.; R. Thompson, P&Z; D. Clemence, K. Davis, G. Gerads, D. Scherber, J. Thinesen, P. Thinesen, Sher./Corr.
2. O/T Report, Period Ending 4-01-11.
1. Approve Abatement, PID# 215-000-171204, Kenneth Richie. (Rockford Township)
2. Approve Abatement, PID# 215-000-171202, Constance Blaeser. (Rockford Township)
1. Approve 2011 Tobacco Licenses For: Heidi’s Brew, Wine & Spirits (Albertville City), And Walgreen’s #13842 (St. Michael City).
Sheriff Joe Hagerty introduced Kim Elverum, DNR Boat & Water Safety Coordinator. Elverum serves as the liaison between the State and the Wright County Recreational Enforcement Division. Elverum presented the DNR Boating Safety Award to Deputy Joel Mackereth for his role as Boat & Water Safety Officer in 2010. There is only one Award given per year and the Award is for outstanding water patrol on the State’s lakes and rivers. Elverum said Mackereth has provided 27 years of high quality service to the County. Mackereth’s paperwork is always complete and on time, and he participates in their metro meetings. Mackereth said he was honored and humbled to receive the Award, and mentioned the co-workers and volunteers who helped make it possible. He stated that he would be remiss if he did not mention Sgt. Scott Halonen who was the impetus for the award. He complimented Elverum and the DNR staff for the assistance they provide. Mackereth spoke of the history of the Boat & Water Patrol, which started with 1.5 employees and has now grown to 38 cross-trained deputies. He complimented Sheriff Don Hozempa and his Command staff for having the vision to expand. He felt those selected to be cross trained have a true interest in water patrol and the safety of area lakes. Mackereth said the County has received grants through the DNR which have helped purchase numerous pieces of equipment including boats and personal watercraft.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented a resolution which would authorize the signatures of the Auditor/Treasurer and County Coordinator on an Application for Cancellation of Forfeiture. The situation involves a taxpayer who was almost in default on the second confession of judgment. The taxpayer was given until 3-31-11 to remit payment or the County would proceed with tax forfeiture. The taxpayer paid by 3-31-11 and the County waited 7 days to make sure the funds cleared. The County had already forfeited the property to the State. The Application declares an error on the part of the County. Thelen moved to adopt Resolution #11-20 authorizing the Auditor/Treasurer and County Coordinator to sign the Application for Cancellation of Forfeiture. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote:
WHEREAS On March 25, 2011, a County Auditor’s Certificate of Forfeiture was filed and recorded as Document No. A 1172682, regarding the following property:
Parcel # 204-123-001050, Lot 5, Block 1, Ray’s 2nd Addition, Clearwater Township, Wright County, Minnesota; and
Parcel # 204-123-001060, Lot 6, Block 1, Ray’s 2nd Addition, Clearwater Township, Wright County, Minnesota; and
WHEREAS Said Certificate of Forfeiture was prepared and recorded in error, since the previous owner, Nathan B. Trites, had been given until March 31, 2011 to pay up delinquent taxes owing on the property; and
WHEREAS Said delinquent taxes have now been paid; and
WHEREAS The County Auditor is now applying to the Commissioner of Revenue for Cancellation of the Certificate of Forfeiture pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, Section 279.34, on the grounds of administrative error;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the Wright County Board of Commissioners hereby recommends that the Certificate of Forfeiture, as detailed above, be cancelled.
(End of Resolution #11-20)
The March Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines were presented for approval. Hiivala referenced Page 11, Elections, which reflects a negative balance of $10,027.65 in the Operating Supplies line item. Hiivala said that in 2010, election expenses were incurred. Municipalities were billed in 2011 and the line item reflects the receipts from these billings. Hiivala said that overall, the General Fund is at 24% of Operating Expenses at 25% of the year. Budget 100 reflects a payment of $900,000 for liability insurance. Hiivala stated that some appropriations, such as liability insurance, are paid at the beginning of the year so the percentages may reflect higher at this time of the year. He referenced Budget 100, Employee Enhancement, line item 01-100-6808. The account code was changed to 01-100-6902 and he will make that correction to the Guidelines. The budget is $15,000 and to date, $10,471 has been expended. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, referenced Page 8, Auditor/Treasurer, Operating Supplies, which reflects a credit of $5,180.95. Hiivala explained that this credit relates to the reimbursement from municipalities for supplies related to the Truth-In-Local Taxation notices. Norman referenced Budget 100, Non-Departmental Revenues, and questioned having two lines items for Auction Proceeds, 01-100-5831 and 01-100-5931. Hiivala stated that the 100-5931 line item is the actual budget. He will move the receipts reflected under the 100-5831 line item to the 100-5931 line item. On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Sawatzke, all voted to approve the May Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines.
The claims listing was reviewed. Mattson referenced claims to American Tower Corporation that relate to tower lease. The claim on Page 7 ($8,017.60) is under the Sheriff’s Office and coded to Professional Services. The claim on Page 16 ($2,787.80) is under the Highway Department and coded to Radio Communication. Mattson questioned why they are coded differently. Hiivala said the claims for tower lease are funded based on how the Department presented their budget. Going forward, his goal is to have the claims for tower lease funded from the same line item. He suggested the creation of a communications line item. Sawatzke asked whether the $4,000 expenditure is a monthly or semi-annual payment. Hiivala said the expenditure is for quarterly rent. Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, stated that he would support consolidating expenditures for tower lease into one account in 2012. This would provide a better handle on the total cost. Mattson asked whether the two departments are being charged for the same tower. Fingalson said he was unsure as the Highway Department does not receive that level of detail. The bills are sent to the Auditor’s Office and the Highway Department is billed. Hiivala said the bill is divided based on the number of radios, with Road & Bridge having 25% of the radios and Sheriff having 75% of the radios. Although the Sheriff’s expense is billed to Professional Services and the Highway’s expense is billed to Road & Bridge, the expenses are all related to the 800 MHz radios. Hiivala recommended setting up one line item under Budget 100 (01-100) for these expenditures. Russek felt this should be done for the 2012 budget. Hiivala will present a report to the Board for expenditures in 2011. Mattson questioned whether the County is being billed per radio. Hiivala said it may be better to address this question with Bill Swing. His understanding is that the County is charged per tower but the County allocates by radio. Sawatzke clarified that the County is charged per radio for maintenance but is not being charged based on the number of radios for the towers. Mattson felt when the 800 MHz project was started that the costs would be exorbitant. In his past business, he used a radio system that functioned well with one tower and seventy radios. He said Winona County has a radio system with one tower and is able to connect everyone together. Thelen moved to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0.
Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, presented a request for payment of a claim to Bradford Delapena, Ltd. for attorney fees in the amount of $5,904. The Attorney’s Office prosecuted a kidnapping & assault case, which was dismissed by the judge at a pre-trial hearing. The Attorney’s Office felt that the judge used the wrong legal standards and the decision was appealed to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s dismissal of kidnapping, assault and robbery charges against the individual. Pursuant to Rule 28.04, Subd. 2(6) of the Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure, reasonable attorney fees incurred by the defendant must be paid by the governmental unit responsible for the prosecution. Asleson said the prosecuting attorney has to pay the attorney fees of the defendant whether a case is won or lost. In looking back, only 1-2 cases have been appealed pre-trial and then appealed to the Court of Appeals. In the majority of those, the County has prevailed. However, the prosecuting attorney would still be responsible for the attorney fees of the defendant. The majority of these cases in the past have been handled by the Public Defender’s Office. This case was represented by private legal counsel. Asleson and Tom Kelly, Wright County Attorney, reviewed the Attorney’s budget for an appropriate line item for the expenditure. The Professional Services line item in the Attorney’s budget covers a significant amount of funds for examiner fees for sexually dangerous predators. Sawatzke made a motion to pay the claim from Budget 100, Professional Services. The motion was seconded by Thelen. Norman said that the Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines for the first quarter reflects the Attorney’s Professional Services line item budget at $10,000. In the first three months, only $550 has been expended. He questioned whether Asleson knew of large expenditures forthcoming in this line item. Asleson was unsure of the pending cases. However, the Professional Services line item is used for expert witness fees and criminal cases. If the claim being discussed today is funded from the Attorney’s Professional Services line item, it would use over half of what is budgeted. With the remainder of the year ahead of them and unknown trials, he recommended that the claim not be paid from that line item. The motion carried 5-0.
Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, presented the 4-05-11 Transportation Committee Of The Whole Minutes (TCOTW). At today’s County Board Meeting, the following correction was made to the minutes: Page 1, add “Adam Nafstad, Albertville City Engineer” to the list of “Others Attending” (Fingalson). Eichelberg moved to approve the TCOTW Minutes and recommendations, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0. The minutes are listed below along with discussion that occurred at today’s County Board Meeting (reflected in italics):
1. Status of CSAH 37/CSAH 19/I-94 Project in Albertville
Kruse reported that the plans for the CSAH 37/CSAH 19/I-94 improvement project are on schedule. Plans have been submitted to Mn/DOT and have been undergoing a six-week review process, with the State, the County, and the City working together on details regarding traffic signals and some other items. A bid date is planned for July, and hopefully, bids will come in as expected or even lower. The City of Otsego has decided not to fund any part of the project, and Albertville has been working hard to see if any other funding is available. Wright County has pledged $1.64 million to this project, and if bids come in less than estimated, the County will share proportionately in those savings. Nafstad commented that they are hoping for a July letting and will advertise the project late spring. They are optimistic about receiving competitive bids, and the early 2011 prices have been good. This will be a two-year construction project, with the first year’s work consisting mainly of structural improvements such as walls, the bridge, and utility work that will need to be done in advance of the actual road construction. The road will be put into place in the Spring of 2012, with a planned opening to traffic in advance of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, when traffic snarls have been a serious issue on the current system. Kruse added that giving the contractor more time to complete the project might help bring in a lower price. There are no incentives to move the project along at a faster pace, but the contractor can decide to do that if he wishes to do so. The first stage will require minimal interruption of traffic, and Mn/DOT will require tight timelines to get the work done; but the contractor will be given more time to get some of the work done, such as constructing the retaining walls, etc. Fingalson reminded the Commissioners that Wright County has committed $1.64 million to this project, or 44%, whichever is less. Kruse said that the City did reapply and received an additional allocation of about $4 million with a preferred rate from Mn/DOT’s revolving loan funds. That will cover the amount that the County and Albertville borrow. Albertville can collect from the County and make the payments, or other arrangements can be made if the County prefers. Fingalson said that it would be helpful to know what the payment dates are so that this can be part of the budget planning process which begins in June, and he added that the County will work with the City. Kruse said that he will work with Fingalson to get timelines set. Communication hasn’t been real clear with Otsego, but it is Albertville’s sense that Otsego won’t be contributing to this project. He thanked the Commissioners for helping make this happen, and added that the County highway staff has been very good to work with.
2. Flood Control Project in Otsego
Fingalson said that there are a number of issues regarding the levee in the City of Otsego and welcomed both Werner and Hauck from the Army Corps of Engineers. Fingalson explained that a layout of properties was prepared by Jay Wittstock, former Wright County Surveyor, and that Kryzer will be representing the County Attorney’s office regarding the easements that are necessary to maintain the levee but that haven’t been recorded. Fingalson showed this large two-and-a-half by four-foot (21/2’ X 4’) layout. Photos were also distributed. [Attachment A, B, & C] Fingalson stated that the levee was built in 1969, and at that time the City of Elk River and Otsego Township were the two candidates for taking this over. However, Otsego was not a city and that’s how Wright County got involved. Because of severe flooding in 1965 and again in 1966 (of a lesser degree), there was some significant damage to this area. The County Board worked with the Corps to get funding to build a levee, which was, by default, to be inspected by the Highway Department. They were to make sure that the levee was maintained so that trees didn’t grow in the rip rap and that the earth was undisturbed. However, there is evidence that homeowners have been removing rip rap to make trails to the water so that canoes can have access to the river. As long ago as 1989, County Engineer Fingalson wrote letters to landowners requesting them to replace or repair all stone face areas where the integrity of the levee was compromised. Most homeowners cooperated with this request. The Highway Department continues to control the brush, trees, and noxious weeds on this levee. There have been annual inspections, but the Corps was able to get some stimulus money and hired a firm, HNTB, to review in depth various concerns about the levee. One area of concern is the area where the levee stops east of the river bridge. There is an emergency levee that was built on the northeastern end of the peninsula, probably by Otsego Township, and this levee is considered the non-federal part of this flood control area. It probably wasn’t engineered, as such, but put in by the township, and it probably needs to be looked at. The main purpose of the levee is to prevent erosion, but there also needs to be a buffer on the opposite side of the levee to help prevent water from seeping back from the east onto this area.
Hauck explained that the project originally looked as if the entire area could be protected by having some interior pump stations. After reviewing that proposal, it became evident that there wasn’t sufficient benefit to cost. Studying the current of the water, it appeared that if no protection were given to the banks, the river would cut a new channel through the area (including Wright County Road 130, now CSAH 42) and effectively cut off a portion of the peninsula from the larger land mass. The levee was designed to prevent this cutoff, and it was built up to the northern most point of the peninsula. There were benefits for this, but there was no claim for benefits for the east embankment, and Wright County has no responsibility for that levee on the east side. Hauck said that the most important thing information wise is to make sure that residents understand what their flood risk is, and that they would all be flooded out if the embankment isn’t maintained. He would like them to know that so that they can decide if they want to do something and can also have evacuation plans in place if there is a high water event. Wright County’s responsibility does not extend to the east side, but Hauck would like to get the residents involved so that they understand what the concerns and risks are if the river rises on the east side and floods back. The main benefits of the initial levee were identified to protect the highway so that it would not erode out. Mapping from FEMA shows that this entire area is in a flood plain, which would follow that the residents are required to pay for flood insurance if they have a federal housing loan. The City of Otsego should be worked with to make sure that they are aware that Wright County has responsibilities for only the western levee. If Wright County were to have an agreement with Otsego to do the maintenance on the levee, this agreement would have to be approved by the Corps. Fingalson said that the County had talked about giving this to the City of Otsego, but this was never done. However, before the County even considers turning this responsibility over to the City, the necessary easements (that Wright County apparently does not have) must be filed. Back in the 1960’s, the County had indicated that they had the easements to build the dike with the Corps, but apparently they did not have them. The process needs to be followed and the easements need to be obtained, which should be just a formality. Russek commented that when he had observed the levee years ago with Soil & Water, it was obvious that the bank had already started to erode behind the rip rap. Werner commented that when the project was first constructed, the City of Otsego didn’t exist. The area where there are now residences was farm fields, and the Corps of Engineers cannot protect private property. When this area was first looked at for a levee, the intended purpose was to keep the river from creating a new channel across the plains area. When they looked at that project, they determined how far up river they would have to go to prevent further erosion, which is where the rip rap is now. There wasn’t a lot of erosion at that time and they couldn’t justify putting additional material there because it was only farm field, and they had already achieved what they had wanted to do. That’s why the levee ended where it did. The Corps looked at it from the standpoint that they were unable to do anything more until the time that erosion threatens the levee. If the river starts to threaten the levee, then the Corps can take action. Until that happens, the Corps can provide some advice through the County and City for the landowners that they would assist them if they pursued a project, but they wouldn’t qualify for the Corps of Engineer’s assistance if it is not protecting a public infrastructure. The project itself was for the purpose of reducing flood damages to the county route and to the homes and to also prevent a new channel from developing. Since that time, an emergency levee was built on the opposite side. Werner said that the Corps does have a non-federal project rehabilitation inspection program where the City (or whoever the sponsor is) could bring that emergency levee into the Corps program, and it would then take that emergency portion of the levee and give it the exact same treatment as the federal portion of it. The only difference between the federal levee and the emergency levee would be that if the project were damaged as a result of a flood, the federal levee would receive 100% federal funding for repairs, and the non-federal levee would receive 80% federal funding for repairs, with 20% funding required from the local sponsor. The damage criteria is $15,000, so if there is damage in excess of $15,000, the Corps could be invited to fix it for very little cost. The sponsors would have to maintain it, which is the same action as what is required on the federal project now. Until the emergency levee is brought into the Corps program, the Corps can’t do anything. From a FEMA perspective, without an emergency levee, they acknowledge that there is a levee, but it is not protecting anything from flooding, and the whole area is shown in the flood plain. There are definite benefits of having the emergency levee in the program, but that is totally up to the City or County. If it is in the program, it would provide additional protection to the homes and prevent them from flooding. Otherwise, the Corps would look at it as if it isn’t there. Fingalson said that the Corps inspected the levee in 1988, even though it was considered non federal. Prior to 1988, the Corps acknowledged that there was a levee out there, and when it was damaged, the government came in and fixed it. Werner said that they had done work prior to 1988, and then Headquarters asked why they were doing that when it was not in the program. In 1986 or 1987, the Corps was told to inspect all levees, but then that directive later changed. The report also tells what needs to be done to bring this emergency levee up to federal standards.
One important piece of missing information is who built the emergency levee. If the Township or City built it, then there may be an easement, but it may only be a temporary one. The Corps wouldn’t have built it without an easement. The difference between the City and the Corps is that if the Corps built it, then at that point there would have been a cooperative agreement prior to building it. It would state that after a flood event the levee would have to be upgraded to Corps standards or be removed. Generally, they don’t say that you have to remove it after a flood, so they usually stay in place. Regardless of who built it, the Corps did some repairs on it after it was damaged, but basically they stopped after 1988. Fingalson asked if the levee was built by the Corps, would there have been a promissory note to the Corps that the County had to come up with the easements? Apparently, there was no required documentation that the County acquired them. Werner said that up until a few years ago, the Corps required a letter of assurance from the sponsor, but they did not check into whether they actually followed through on getting easements. They just took their word for it, and the residents of the area probably didn’t have any objections to the maintenance efforts. Fingalson said that it was just assumed that this was taken care of, and the Highway Department monitored the maintenance of this westerly levee. They assumed they had access to it. Sawatzke commented that maybe there was an easement, but it wasn’t well defined. Jobe said that he would like to look and see if there was something described in 1968. In a letter to the residents, Wittstock made a reference to the easements that the County had. Sawatzke said that there were easements but the descriptions on the easements weren’t adequate enough for Wittstock to go out and survey them, and improvements were needed in the descriptions. Jobe hasn’t looked back to see if they were recorded in 1968. Werner said that with the information from the Corps, the County should be able to survey them, but that still doesn’t say what we have and what we don’t have. Jobe said that he could do some more research, which would make sense based on what he is looking at. A plat of the levee was completed in 2005. [Attachment D] He will do some field work and research the records. Kryzer said that he had talked with Brian Asleson (Chief Deputy County Attorney) who had been working on the levee records, and Asleson indicated that he didn’t think there were easements, but there was a right-of-way map to identify parcels. Kryzer said that he will go back and look at the 1968 records. Jobe said that he would probably want to do some field work to see if this map still works, as these descriptions could be based off this plat. The plat was done in 2005, and there should be monuments in the ground that are represented by the line on the map. Sawatzke thought that Wittstock used what he had, which was an easement map that was not well defined, so certain locations couldn’t be pinpointed. There are limitations on what can be done. Supposedly all the survey work was done, but the legal work was not completed. The description might have been vaguer back when this property was a farm field, and it needs to be more defined now. Kryzer said that he has all the property addresses, and found out that all the property ownership, with the exception of one home, has remained the same as when the original easements were signed. It should be fairly easy to get these new easements signed and recorded. He will try to set up a meeting by the end of April or early in May to present the easements to the property owners again and find out what needs to be done on this. Werner reiterated that the reason easements are so important is that the maintenance requirements must be met for the federal program, and if the landowner doesn’t maintain it as a part of the original resolution, it becomes the responsibility of the County to go in and take care of it; and in order to do this, they need a legal, recorded easement. Fingalson said that one of the many recommendations in the report was that the wall of the box factory needs to be fixed, and this will become even more important in the future if the levee safety inspection checklist is to be followed. Everything will be rated, and if something is found to be unacceptable, the Corps will still inspect it and fight a flood, but damage assistance might become unavailable. They will want to keep it minimally acceptable. There are a lot of items out there now, including a building at the box factory, a garage on part of the levee, and trees that need to be removed. That’s where the easement becomes important. Werner said that the easement goes around the box factory building, but they would look at the drawings and determine what was there when the project was constructed. On the drawings, the drying rack on the top of the levee was removed as part of the project, but it was reinstalled after the project was completed. The same is true with the retaining wall. The drawings don’t show the wall. If the retaining wall were to remain in place, it would have to be shown that it is functioning as a part of the project and does not adversely affect the project and will not fail with flooding. There may be some resistance based on a previous meeting years ago, but that is why easements are so important. It is important to get the residents involved to let them know what the benefits are, but some landowners are attached to their setting. Werner was concerned that this year every resident would be flooded. The Corps is trying to reduce the risk of the houses flooding out. A major concern this year was with bloating, the embankment, and encroachment which could all contribute to the failure of the levee. The residents need to know why certain maintenance needs to be done. Even if the easements are filed according to this survey, it still does not address the County’s concern if there is a breach in the 1969 agreement. Sawatzke said that it still gives the County the power to clear up the embankment so that it is less likely to fail. It is best to first get the easements into place and then see if anyone violates the requirements. Werner said that under the original agreement, the County would be responsible for the maintenance of that project using federal government standards. If the local landowner doesn’t cut down the brush or trees that are in violation, then it becomes the County’s responsibility to cut them down, and an easement is necessary in order to take care of this. The large drawing that Hauck had recently given Fingalson shows the minimum of easement required by the Corps, but if the County wants to create more easement, they can do that. The whole purpose of accessing the property would be for the protection of the landowners’ property, and if they do not allow access for maintenance of the levee, they would then be putting their own property at risk.
RECOMMENDATION: It was the consensus of the TCOTW that steps be taken to obtain easements from property owners abutting the federal levee in the City of Otsego, and that these easements be recorded so that Wright County can legally access the levee for maintenance purposes as required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Assistant County Attorney Greg Kryzer and County Surveyor Steve Jobe will begin the process by looking for any easements, developing easement documents that are needed, and obtaining signatures from property owners so they can be properly recorded.
The following is the discussion which occurred on this topic at the 4-12-11 County Board Meeting: Fingalson said there has been some confusion on the easements. At one point, there was discussion that there are easements but the easements are not clearly defined and are not giving them the room they need for maintenance. Asleson has also made the statement that he didn’t feel there were any easements. Fingalson said there needs to be a meeting in May or June with the property owners to obtain the easements. The County needs to properly maintain the levy. There has been discussion on giving the levy to the City of Otsego but there was no decision made on that at the TCOTW Meeting. It was felt the easements should be obtained first and that is the direction of the recommendation.
3. Discuss Selling Cutting Edges to Townships and Cities
Fingalson handed out a short summary [Attachment E] explaining the practice of selling cutting edges to various townships and cities and how the decision to do so can actually act as a subsidy to the cities and townships. Jans orders cutting edges for the County’s plows and graders through the Hennepin County purchasing program, and he has a $50,000 budget line item to pay for them. Ordering these supplies in bulk helps keep the price lower, and when supplies are depleted and more blades are ordered, they are often available only at a much higher price than when purchased earlier in the year. Sales to others can deplete Wright County’s own supplies, thereby forcing Wright County to purchase edges in lower quantities and at much higher prices than were previously available. Both Jans and Fingalson agreed that they like to help the cities and townships out by allowing them to purchase edges when necessary, but both also feel that this practice is detrimental to Wright County and its budget funds. It becomes too complicated for accounting and inventory purposes to charge out a cutting edge at a price that is different from its purchase price. So if an edge is sold, it must be charged out at the same price at which it was purchased [plus 10% service fee], but if the supply runs short, then the County is forced to purchase new edges at a higher price. Several options for action were included on the handout, and committee members discussed the merits of each. It was generally agreed that Option #4 was the choice that would help save the County money while still being beneficial to the townships and cities. The townships and cities would be asked to make a commitment prior to when Jans places an order, and then they could make payment and pick up the edges when they are delivered to the Wright County Public Works Building. This way, the townships and cities would receive the benefit of the lowest prices and Wright County would not be forced to order new edges at higher prices later in the year. The townships and cities can carry their own inventory, but they can place their order with Jans at a time that he can determine, and he can communicate this to them.
RECOMMENDATION: It was the consensus of the TCOTW that Wright County Townships and Cities will continue to be able to purchase cutting edges for plows and graders through the Wright County Highway Department if they make a commitment, by a deadline to be determined by Wright County, on the number of edges that they wish to purchase. This commitment to purchase will require all ordered edges to be picked up at one time, date(s) to be determined by Wright County, and payment upon receipt.
4. Report of 7-W Policy Board Meeting Settlers Parkway (Future CSAH 34)
With the support of Wright County, the City of Buffalo was successful in being awarded $1.081 million (available in 2015) for the ‘Settlers Parkway’ project, which will complete a connection from CSAH 34 (at TH 55) to TH 25, just south of the current TH 25/CR 147 intersection. Wright County has about $350,000 available from the TH 55 Corridor Coalition that could be used toward this project. In order for this project to work, a number of different actions have to be taken. A portion of Buffalo Township would have to be annexed into the City of Buffalo. Buffalo Township is supportive of that action, and the City of Buffalo has already begun proceedings for this to happen. Hopefully, this will be completed in the next few months. Fingalson said that the 2011 approved County budget included $100,000 for the local share of right-of-way acquisition for the previously planned CR 147 realignment, but since that is not going to happen, this money could be used to help pay for the environmental study and right of way that is necessary for the new project. Getting an environmental study done is the second step of the process, following the annexation step, and an agreement will need to be in place between the City of Buffalo and Wright County. Sawatzke asked if $100,000 would be the total of Wright County’s commitment, and Fingalson said that the City will want to talk with Wright County about what the city/county funding split will be. This new route will be helpful in eliminating the TH 55/CR 147 intersection that presents many safety concerns. Mattson commented that he would be very comfortable if CSAH 34 ran from TH 55 all the way to TH 25 so that the public would be able to find the most direct route to where they are going. Fingalson said that he agrees with what Mattson says, and that the public doesn’t care who owns a road, but they want to be efficiently directed to their destination. Signs can be posted to direct people, regardless of who owns the road. Sawatzke asked if Wright County would be involved in this project just one time, and Hawkins explained that this project would be in lieu of the CR 147 realignment project, and that CR 147 would be turned over to the City and the Township. The $100,000 would be used to start the project. Buffalo Township is agreeable to this project and would like this to happen, and they are very supportive of the County giving CR 147 back to them. If this project didn’t take place, Wright County would have to be looking at another connection, and that project would be much more expensive than this one. An overlay might be necessary for CR 147 before it is given to the Township, but that is still much less expensive than building a realignment and grading a new road. Sawatzke asked if there would be any assessments for the property owners along the new road since this new road would help them develop the property, and they would have to shoulder the cost of building their own road if the City/County didn’t build it in this location. There is a possibility that right of way could be donated as a concession to having a road built, but Johnson said that the property owners were not in favor of that idea. Hawkins said that this project will be a regional improvement, and the details will need to be worked out with the City. Fingalson said that the County will need to sit down with the City of Buffalo to figure out who is going to pay for what, but action will need to be taken soon while the Corridor Coalition funds are still available. Eichelberg encouraged Fingalson to schedule a meeting with the City and the Township so that the process can begin. Fingalson said that formation of a task force would be a good idea to help with the planning process. He suggested that two commissioners serve on this task force along with staff and a couple of city council members, and Thelen suggested that both Eichelberg and Russek serve because the project is in their districts. Fingalson said that he will be meeting with the City of Buffalo about another issue and will suggest forming a task force at that time.
RECOMMENDATION: It was the recommendation of the TCOTW that Fingalson contact the City of Buffalo for the purpose of forming a task force to begin the process of planning for this new roadway that will connect TH 55 (from the TH 55/CSAH 34 intersection) to TH 25 (just south of the current TH 25/CR 147 intersection) and to discuss funding options.
The following is the discussion which occurred on this topic at the 4-12-11 County Board Meeting: Fingalson said this is a City of Buffalo project. The City has been trying to obtain Federal funding for the project for three years. Since the project involves the CR 147 intersection, the County has decided to participate in the project. Federal funding was received in the amount of $1,081,000 and the funds will be available in 2015. There is also $350,000 of Highway 55 Corridor Coalition funding available. There will be a meeting of the Coalition this Friday. Fingalson said he should find out at that meeting whether additional funding may be available (up to $400,000 total). The County has $100,000 designated in the 2011 budget toward this project, which are matching funds with Federal funding for the purchase of right-of-way. The first step that needs to be taken is to have the property annexed into the City of Buffalo. The City is proceeding with annexation. The Township is receptive to the annexation and supports the regional connection. Because Federal funds are involved, the right-of-way cannot be acquired until the environmental reports have been completed.
5. Discuss Transportation Enhancement Project Review Process
Fingalson said that it would be possible to set up a system whereby the commissioners could get information about enhancement project requests in advance of the TCOTW meeting where the commissioners make their recommendations on the prioritization of projects. The staff could also review funding requests and could rate the projects based on certain criteria. He said that this has been discussed in the past, and the 7-W region sets up a committee that annually reviews all of the funding requests within all four counties. The enhancement project that was submitted by Cokato was ranked higher by the 7-W committee than the one submitted by Annandale, which was the recommendation of the TCOTW, although neither project received any funding. Typically, the County Board reviews the project requests and recommends to the 7-W committee the ranking of the projects submitted from within Wright County. Thelen said that she would like to review the project requests and weigh in on them based on some sort of regional significance or other criteria. She would like the Board to be more accountable for the reasons that they choose to rank one project over another. She said that Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator, would be the logical person to review these requests and give a ranking, because he would know best how they fit in with the regional trail system, and he could help with the ranking if he were given criteria to follow. Thelen said that she would like to be able to review the grant requests ahead of time with a list of criteria to follow, and she would be willing to spend time with others trying to figure out a system. She said that grant writers spend a lot of time and effort in drawing up these requests, and she would like to be sure that their applications are thoroughly reviewed. She would like to review the requests ahead of time, because she doesn’t feel as if she has enough review time to make a decision. Sawatzke said that perhaps Mattice could be asked to give an analysis of each proposal as it relates to the county over all and as it relates to the trails and bike system. He could make a few statements about each but not make the decision about how to rank them. Sawatzke said that he would not want a score sheet that would take the decision making out of it. He would feel great about some input, but he wouldn’t want someone else to tell commissioners what the decision would be. Russek said that Wright County has had good luck in the past in getting money, so he doesn’t see the need to change the process. Thelen commented that it doesn’t always work well from different perspectives. Eichelberg said that the process will be improved when the Parks Department has a final plan for trails and walkways, and if every city gets a copy of the plan, they will be able to work with this when drawing up their own requests. Thelen said that this will help them write the request if they have a better idea of what the criteria are, and she will be better able to see how the request fits into Wright County’s overall plan. People writing the grant requests need to know what the County Board is looking for. Thelen said that she would like to be in a comfortable position to support her ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the extent to which Mattice has some criteria which is objective and quantifiable, and the people will know what is going to be looked at. It would be fine with her to get the applications in advance so she will have time to review them more thoroughly. She said that it would be worth it to take the time to sit with Mattice to look at some criteria that could be used so that the process wouldn’t be biased. Getting the finalized and more comprehensive trail/bike plan will be another step to determining what the regional significance is. Fingalson commented that it could be useful in comparing respective projects, and when equal, then the County Board can ‘share the wealth.’ He said that the Highway Department can attempt to get the applications to the board members a week ahead of time if that would help. Applicants have to define within the application how their projects tie into the regional significance, and Thelen said that she would appreciate receiving these applications in advance.
RECOMMENDATION: It was the recommendation of the TCOTW that Fingalson and Mattice meet with Commissioner Thelen to develop a revised process of reviewing enhancement project applications for the County Board’s approval.
The following is the discussion which occurred on this topic at the 4-12-11 County Board Meeting: Fingalson said that since the TCOTW Meeting, he spoke with Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator. Mattice is willing to assist with the development of a new process for reviewing enhancement project applications. Fingalson said another TCOTW Meeting needs to be scheduled in the next two months, so this topic could be incorporated into that meeting.
6. Construction Project Status
• Hawkins explained that the CSAH 12 reconstruction project is in suspension at this time while soils are settling. It could stay suspended until June, and the Highway Department will stay in touch with the soil consultant expert regarding this issue. There is still a difference of opinion between the Contractor and Wright County about the extra charges that Mathiowetz has invoiced for extra work on the project, and a difference of opinion between Wright County and the City of Buffalo about who is responsible for payment. Most of the Contractor’s claims have been denied, but some are valid because of the extra work that was required due to the City’s force main. Fingalson said that the agreement with the City makes it clear that extra charges because of the force main are to be covered by the City. A meeting involving the three agencies will be held soon.
• Construction plans for the CSAH 75 realignment project will be submitted this week to State Aid. The bridge will be removed, as will part of the existing roadway. An at-grade railroad crossing will take the place of the bridge, and this crossing will be an ‘exempt’ crossing and won’t need crossing arms. Some right of way was swapped with Xcel Energy, so no further purchases were necessary. A few factors have lengthened this process, including the City of Monticello’s plans to have an alternate bid for a pedestrian underpass as a safety enhancement, which will be done without any County money. They are hoping to get a DNR grant and State Aid money for their part of the project. A June bid opening is the goal.
• The bid for the CSAH 40 Bridge reconstruction was awarded today at the County Board meeting. A pre-construction meeting is scheduled for April 12, and work should begin the first week of June.
• A bid opening for the 2011 Overlays has been scheduled for May 10.
• Application was made for safety funding for several projects, including intersection lighting, chevrons, and rumble strips. Though it’s not yet official, word is that Wright County was approved for the entire request.
• A kick-off meeting for the Township Signing Program is scheduled for April 6 at the PWB, and Fingalson will be reporting on that meeting at the Township Officers meeting on Thursday evening. Posts for the signing could go in the ground as early as this fall, and the State will be hiring a consultant to review all the roads before installation begins.
The following is the discussion which occurred on this topic at the 4-12-11 County Board Meeting: Fingalson said Wright County was one of two counties selected by the State to replace all the township signs on the township system. The other County selected was Stevens County. He said this project will be time intensive. The good news for the townships is that included in the sign replacement, besides the regulatory and warning signs, will be the street name signs. Those signs were installed in 1992 and were the smaller sign version. Instead of 4” letters, the new signs will have 6” letters on an 8” wide plate. They are similar to those on the County system. The signs will be inventoried this year. Construction and installation of the signs will take place next year. The County will take the responsibility for this. A consultant will be hired to take the inventory of signs for Wright and Stevens Counties. That process will take until fall. The winter months will be used to plan for the installation. The bid opening for that will occur in Wright County. One decision the County Board will need to make is whether to front the money for the townships or require them to pay up front. There was a pilot project about four years ago involving six counties. Mille Lacs County was involved with this pilot project and required the townships to pay for the signs up front. Fingalson said he did not have specific numbers, but felt the inventory would run around $200,000. He felt the installation costs will be quite a bit more. This topic will be discussed at a future TCOTW Meeting. Individual agreements with each township will be required reflecting who will be responsible for what, including maintenance. Fingalson said he found out if maintenance is not done on the signs, the County may lose the Federal funding. He felt the County needs to notify the townships to make sure they maintain the signs. This was not done with the last sign installation. With the pilot project in Mille Lacs County, federal funding was at 90%. The Federal funding for the Wright and Stevens Counties projects is at 80%. The 20% remainder is the townships’ responsibility.
7. Status of Former Chouinard Property
Johnson reported that he found someone interested in knocking down the barn and the shed at the former Chouinard property, and this contractor has already sent his certificate of insurance to Johnson. He will also remove about 80% of the wood from the site. There is hay in the loft, and this could be burned or possibly be moved to the compost facility. The Sentence-to-Serve crew will remove the shingles after the roof is on the ground. The concrete will have to be removed by someone else, and it is not known if there is rebar in the concrete. Fingalson said that he was thinking that some of the gravel on the site could be used on a project just down the road from there on CSAH 18. It could be mined or left ‘as is’ if that would help sell the property. The St. Michael Fire Department is willing to burn the house down in a training exercise, but they charge $1,500, and then the ashes would have to be removed off-site. Sawatzke suggested that action on the barn and shed be completed before any other decisions are made regarding the other structure. Eichelberg said that the land would be more valuable after it is all cleared, and Fingalson asked if he should list it with a realtor. Eichelberg suggested that he wait until the land is cleared so that people will know what they are getting. Johnson should begin working on plans to remove the house, and an asbestos study will have to be done to determine contamination risks. It might be worthwhile to contact Rachel Contracting to see if they are interested in demoing the concrete.
RECOMMENDATION: It was the recommendation of the TCOTW that Mark Johnson proceed with the contract with Rustic Way to remove the wood from the barn and the shed on the former Chouinard property. It was also recommended that Johnson contact Rachel Contracting to see if they would be interesting in demolishing the house and in removing all concrete from the property site and to find out what they would charge for doing this.
(End of 4-05-11 TCOTW Minutes)
Norman presented a request to schedule a Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting to discuss adding a Human Resources Director position to the Administration Department. He referred to a letter from Mike MacMillan, Past Chair of the Leadership Team. The letter reflects that the Leadership Team, in conjunction with the County Board, has looked at ways to improve the leadership structure and enhance Wright County’s services to employees and constituents. One of the sub-groups of the Leadership Team looked at ways to reduce the workload of the County Coordinator and have a positive impact on departments and employees in the County. Out of that committee came the recommendation to add a Human Resources Director to be housed within the Coordinator’s Office. Norman recommended setting the meeting date for 4-26-11 at 10:30 A.M. Sawatzke stated that at one point in this process, he wanted to see a survey of other counties relative to their staffing levels in the Administration Department. He asked Norman if he recalled that. Norman stated that what was provided to the Committee that has been working on this is information on other counties positions, how many people they supervise, and the salary range. Sawatzke recalled a survey reflecting data on Coordinator and Administrator positions and how many staff they have. Sawatzke said this topic initiated with discussion on how many areas the Wright County Coordinator is responsible for managing. He felt information should be obtained from other counties on what functions other Coordinators or Administrators are responsible for managing. For example, the Wright County Coordinator is in charge of such areas as Purchasing, Safety, and Personnel. He felt organizational charts from comparison counties would be great. The information should include information on Human Resources Departments, including how many people are in the Department and whether they have a Human Resources Director. Smaller counties may have a Human Resources Director with no staff below them. Norman said Administration will survey comparison counties that they normally look at for labor market data. He will attempt to have those organizational charts by April 26th. Sawatzke asked Norman for his opinion on whether the Human Resources Director position would be an addition to total staff members in his office. Norman responded that the position is in the conception stage and he would like to bring all issues to the table for discussion. Sawatzke said if Norman is looking to add staff count, he would not be in favor of discussing the position. He said the County is not looking at adding staff, they are looking at cutting staff. He asked again for Norman’s opinion. Norman responded that he would like to reserve his opinion for the Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting. Thelen thought this would be one of the things that would be discussed at that meeting. Russek said he was contacted by MacMillan on the Human Resources Director position. Russek told MacMillan that he would have the position referred to the Personnel Committee Of The Whole for discussion instead of just to the Personnel Committee. Russek instructed Norman to place it on the Agenda as a Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting. Thelen moved to schedule a Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting for 4-26-11 at 10:30 A.M., following the County Board Meeting. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg. Mattson said with the way the economy is going, he would also like information obtained from the comparison counties on what position cuts are being made. The motion carried 5-0.
Norman said the Regional Crime Laboratory Joint Powers Agreement calls for the formation of a committee. The committee has been established but each member county is allowed one additional law enforcement representative. This representative can be from the Sheriff’s Department or one of the cities. Norman has not discussed this with Sheriff Hagerty. It was the consensus that Sheriff Hagerty should be consulted for his opinion on this appointment as the Sheriff’s Department provides law enforcement coverage for 90% of the County. No action was taken today on the appointment. A meeting of the Regional Crime Laboratory committee was held last week and attended by Russek, Sawatzke, Norman, Asleson, and Hagerty. Mattson asked whether Wright County could obtain a breakdown of costs associated with the Crime Lab compared to the costs for other counties. Russek said that information is forthcoming. At the meeting, the group discussed expenses. Another meeting will be scheduled to discuss the Regional Crime Laboratory budget. Sawatzke said the largest problem is that Sherburne County doesn’t share the concerns Wright County has with regard to the Joint Powers Agreement. Sherburne, Anoka and Wright Counties each have two votes on the Joint Powers Board.
American Tower Corp. $10,805.40
Ameripride Services 118.72
Apex Software 645.00
Aramark Services Inc. 6,187.31
B & B Products - Rigs and Sq 10,775.60
Bankers Advertising Co. Inc. 395.52
BDS Laundry Systems 355.84
Buffalo/City of 24,501.93
Center Point Energy 776.86
Centra Sota Coop Cokato 554.40
Cottens Inc. 2,131.22
Cub Foods 175.72
Cub Pharmacy 1,453.54
Dell Marketing LP 2,386.08
Denn/Franklin E 276.00
Department of Public Safety 8,550.00
DLT Solutions Inc. 5,310.73
Douglas/Ralph D. 292.00
Dustcoating Inc. 7,212.45
Frontier Precision Inc. 29,056.91
Gale-Tec Engineering Inc. 998.00
Globalstar USA 116.41
Hillyard Inc. - Minneapolis 702.20
HSBC Business Solutions 139.45
Integrated Fire & Security 285.00
Interstate Battery Systems 603.52
Kaplan Professional School 1,325.00
Kjolhaug Environment Se 187.50
LaPlant Demo Inc. 519.54
Lawson Products Inc. 409.56
Loberg Electric 252.29
M & M Express Sales & Serv 341.87
M-R Sign Company Inc. 9,207.17
Magneto Power LLC 171.85
Marco Inc. 839.18
Menards - Buffalo 165.15
Midland Corporate Benefits 997.75
MN Counties Computer Coop 1,243.43
MN Law Enforcement Expl 2,278.00
MN Spring & Suspension 379.41
Moore Medical Corp 515.95
Morries Parts & Service Group 1,384.05
North American Salt Co. 1,600.08
Office Depot 1,499.55
Overhead Door Company 1,283.11
Pearson Education 597.91
Quik Stand Inc. 250.00
Regents of the Univesity 31,862.49
Royal Tire Inc. 137.98
Sherwin Williams 610.09
SHI International Corp 573.18
Total Printing 405.06
Transcend United Tech 292.00
Uniforms Unlimited 585.60
United Parcel Service 133.77
Unlimited Electric Inc. 1,148.95
Victor Township 1,407.10
Voss Lighting 313.57
Voss Plumbing & Heating Of 2,750.00
Waste Management TC West 1,817.21
Wright Hennepin Coop Electric 106.93
21 Payments less than $100 1,046.677
Final total $204,492.66
The meeting adjourned at 10:18 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal May 2, 2011.