Wright County Board Minutes

WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
APRIL 19, 2011
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, Thelen, and Eichelberg present.
Eichelberg moved to approve the 4-12-11 Wright County Board Minutes. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0.
On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Sawatzke, all voted to approve the Agenda as presented.
On a motion by Thelen, second by Mattson, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
A. ADMINISTRATION
1. Performance Appraisals: T. Sarvie, Atty.; J. Bean, N. Flesher, T. Halberg, T. Korbel, J. MacLeod, M. Silbernagel, M. Sturm, G. Wakefield, Sher./Corr.
2. Claim, Madden Galanter Hansen, LLP, $3,704.34.
B. ASSESSOR
1. Approve Abatement, PID #219-000-284302, Jose and Jodi Martinez (Victor Twp.).
C. SURVEYOR
1. Transfer Of Vehicle From Sheriff To Surveyor, Vehicle #850, 2001 Chevy Tahoe.
At 9:05 A.M., Commissioner Russek welcomed those present for Boy/Girl County Day. The County Board introduced themselves and the areas they represented. They fielded questions from the students and chaperones. As part of Boy/Girl County Day, students toured other parts of the Government Center and attended a lunch at the American Legion.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented the claims listing for approval. He referenced a claim on Page 4, Menards ($14,336.51). The claim is incorrectly listed as Menards and will be switched to MCCC. Mattson referenced a claim on Page 12, Naaktgeboren Decorating ($331.00) for the Planning & Zoning Office. He inquired whether this should have been presented to the Building Committee or whether the claim related to general maintenance of the building. Norman said it was for general maintenance. Russek asked to pull the claim on Page 14, Gries & Lenhardt PLLP ($2,000.00) for discussion. The claim had been discussed at the 4-05-11 County Board meeting where the Board took action to defer payment of the claim until the Board receives further information regarding whether the Auditor thinks the County should be charged a flat rate or an hourly fee. The Board also wanted more information regarding whether the taxpayers have a legal requirement to pay for the Sheriff’s legal representation relating to the filling of his command staff. At today’s County Board Meeting, Russek asked whether a bill had been received outlining the charges. Hiivala said he received detailed support for the claim and could provide it to the Board for review. Included in the support are the bill and a letter from Tom Kelly, County Attorney, providing his opinion on whether it is the County’s responsibility to pay the claim. The letter reflects the Office of the State Auditor has stated they do not see any compliance issues in paying the claim. The State Auditor’s Office would not say that the fee had to paid as that would be outside the scope of their representation and instead referred that question to the County Attorney. The County Attorney’s Office represents and works closely with the Sheriff’s Department, and provides legal services to the County Board as well. The letter states that Kelly would not find it objectionable if the Board were to authorize payment of the claim. Because of the conflict of working with both the Sheriff’s Office and County Board and not wanting to be in the middle of this dispute, the letter reflects that Kelly was not giving the ultimate opinion as to whether or not the County should pay the claim. The decision to pay rests with the County Board and is subject to review in District Court if the Sheriff chooses to pursue that course of action. At today’s meeting, Sawatzke asked Richard Norman, County Coordinator, whether he had completed any additional research beyond the letter from Kelly as to whether the claim should be paid. Norman said he had not. Russek said he had a problem with the bill being submitted after the fact. He felt the Sheriff should have requested approval ahead of time. Sawatzke felt the bill was high for the generation of a letter. Sawatzke asked Norman whether the County should obtain more advice whether to pay the claim based on the letter from Kelly. Norman said Kelly’s opinion is that it is entirely up to the Board whether to pay the claim. Sawatzke asked Norman if it would be an acceptable position if the Board decided not to pay the claim. Norman responded that it would be, but he was unsure whether the Sheriff would take any other action. Kelly said he works closely with the Board and the Sheriff’s Department so that puts him in the middle. He was asked to review whether the County could pay the bill and the answer would be yes. Kelly said it is still the Board’s decision and it is subject to District Court. The analysis on whether to pay the claim was based on communication with the State Auditor. He said it appears to be appropriate but the decision is the County Boards. He apologized for begging off and said he could only give an opinion as far as the letter from the State Auditor. Thelen referenced bills paid for other departments and asked what the distinction is in this instance. She felt it was the cost of doing business and it is a legitimate claim that should be paid. Sawatzke said the distinction is that typically when legal bills are paid, the Board desires to obtain that legal opinion or legal use. In this particular case, it was an attorney that was hired basically to challenge the Board and the Board is here representing the taxpayers. He felt that was the substantial distinction. He was not sure the County would want to set precedence where employees can take on the Board with the purse strings of the County. As mentioned at the last meeting where this was discussed and acknowledged by Sheriff Hagerty, when discussion initially took place Sheriff Hagerty indicated to Sawatzke that he was personally going to pay the claim. After thinking about it later, the Sheriff ultimately presented it to the Board for payment. Sawatzke said that apparently Hagerty felt the claim was not appropriate as well. Sawatzke asked Norman whether advice could be obtained from Frank Madden, Labor Law Attorney. Sawatzke added that he did not want to spend $1,500-$2,000 to obtain this advice. Norman felt Madden could provide this advice at a $120 hourly rate. Sawatzke said Madden’s hourly rate is one-half or one-third of the rate charged by Hagerty’s attorney, which he felt was an interesting point. Sawatzke asked whether Norman felt the County had the legal grounds not to pay the claim. Norman responded that this would be a legal decision made in Court. The Sheriff has the right to contest this in Court and it would be left up to a judge to decide. Sawatzke had concern with more attorney bills. Sawatzke made a motion to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit, with the exception of the bill from Gries & Lenhardt. The motion was seconded by Mattson. Mattson said his concern is if the County starts paying claims such as this, it could open things up so it may happen many times. Thelen asked whether the motion indicates that it is up to the Sheriff to pay the claim. Sawatzke said that is the Sheriff’s option. He did not move to deny the claim but rather moved to pay the claims in the abstract with the exception of the Gries & Lenhardt claim. Sawatzke said he wouldn’t mind obtaining advice but was concerned with the cost of doing so. He would have liked to obtain this advice from the County Attorney but understands the dilemma because of his relationship with the Sheriff and the Board. Sawatzke felt Norman should consult Frank Madden to determine a cost to provide an opinion. He felt if Madden could provide this opinion at a cost of $120, it would be worthwhile. If the cost is substantial, such as in the claim that is being presented, he did not feel it was an option. The motion carried unanimously.
Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator, requested that the Board authorize signatures on a Lease Agreement between Wright County and Freedom Farm (non-profit corporation) for the Lake Ida School House. Susie Bjorklund, Executive Director for Freedom Farm, was present for discussion. Mattice said work on this Lease has been going on for a couple of years. The Lease Agreement was developed in 2010. Since that time, Freedom Farm has secured the necessary volunteers to move forward with utilizing the School House as a day retreat center for their therapeutic riding center and veterans retreat. Freedom Farm was founded to improve mobility and build confidence in children and adults with physical, mental, and emotional challenges through the use of horses. An architect volunteered to complete the remodel plans. Mattice and Bjorklund met with Planning & Zoning today and received a list of parameters Freedom Farm will have to follow while going through the permitting process. Mattice asked that the Board authorize signatures on the Agreement so that process can begin. Any time in that process that the request is denied through the Planning Commission or other required Boards, the Lease Agreement will be terminated. The County will have to addendum the Lease Agreement after approval through the Planning Commission so the building plans can be attached. Russek asked whether the County’s insurance agrees with the Lease. Mattice said the request from Freedom Farm was reviewed by MCIT long ago and they were okay with it. Insurance items are listed under Item 9 in the Lease Agreement, “Freedom Farm shall maintain general liability insurance, with minimum limits of $500,000 per claim and $1,500,000 for any single occurrence, with the County named as additional insured.” Mattson moved to authorize signatures on the Agreement, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0. Mattice said that Sean Riley, Planning & Zoning Administrator, said since this is County property, the landowner signature (County) is required on the permits that Freedom Farm applies for. Mattson moved to authorize Mattice to sign the Planning & Zoning applications. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0.
Mattice said at their last meeting, the Parks Commission had preliminary discussions with the consultant on the Trail, Bikeway, and Active Living Plan. The Parks Commission is requesting to hold a joint meeting with the County Board to meet with the consultant to go over the draft Plan. The meeting will allow Parks Commissioners, County Commissioners, Parks Department staff, and members of the Trail, Bikeway and Active Living Work Group an opportunity to review and discuss the draft plan with the consultants. Sawatzke moved to schedule the Joint Meeting with the Parks Commission for 5-24-11 at 10:30 A.M. The meeting will be held in the County Board Room. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0.
A Deferred Compensation Committee Meeting was held on 4-13-11. At today’s County Board Meeting, Russek asked Norman whether the County allows potential providers of Deferred Comp Plans the opportunity to come to the Employee Benefits Fair. Norman stated that this is allowed. Chris Kruse attended last year. Sawatzke referenced the Committee recommendation, “Keep the County’s Deferred Compensation Policy as-is, however, define the word “new” as it relates to vendors meeting the minimum requirement of 20 new enrollees.” He asked Norman whether a meeting was held yet to address this. Norman said this has not been done. Thelen moved to approve the Deferred Compensation Committee Minutes, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 5-0:
I. EDWARD JONES INVESTMENTS 457 PLAN.
Norman stated that he and Hiivala previously met with Dave Wilson and Chris Kruse from Edward Jones Investments to discuss their plan and what they would need to do to offer their plan to County employees. It was determined that because Wilson is new to the process, he should come before the Deferred Compensation Committee.
Wilson stated that he is familiar with the County process: the approval of the Edward Jones Plan is contingent upon meeting the minimum requirement of 20 new enrollees. He feels that this rule is a little constricting. He asked whether other providers have been able to meet this rule since the rule was enacted. The Committee attempted to recall if other providers had met the requirement. Wilson commented that he does not think he and Kruse would be here if they had not been approached by County employees. Kruse and him have been approached by current employees that are not happy with their 457b plan. He stated that typically employees have two concerns regarding their retirement plans: performance of the funds and their portfolio, and representative service. He stated that the two employees that have approached him have complained about the lack of service or education regarding their individual plan. He stated that it is his opinion that the County has a responsibility to educate employees about the County sponsored Deferred Compensation Plan. He disclosed that he is on the Buffalo School Board and was a part of the process in selecting the providers for the Buffalo School District employees.
Thelen asked Wilson and Kruse what concerns the employees have shared with them. Kruse stated that clients have come to them asking if they could start their 457b plan with Edward Jones. Wilson and Kruse had to tell them no because they are not a County authorized provider. Wilson and Kruse have heard complaints from County employees regarding their current provider. The theme has been that employees have signed up for their 457b plan and haven’t heard from their representative again. Kruse stated that the complaints he has heard have been about one specific provider.
Wilson stated that he has concerns regarding the small number of employees that are participating in the County’s Deferred Compensation Plan. He stated that he knows when employees are participating in their employer’s retirement plans, they are somewhat locked into their place of employment. Sawatzke stated that government employees know that their PERA, in combination with their social security, is pretty lucrative. A government employee can retire without having a 457b plan. Wilson stated that although Sawatzke makes a good point, PERA may not be good enough for some employees. Sawatzke stated that he would not argue with Wilson’s comment. Wilson responded that this is where a retirement representative should come into place. The representative should be providing education to clients to determine whether their PERA will be enough for retirement. Brown stated that today’s employees are more computer savvy and have likely chosen to educate themselves by utilizing the internet.
Thelen asked what the problem would be if the County were to relax its requirement of 20 new enrollees. Brown stated that it is her opinion that the more vendors the County offers, the less enthusiasm there is for contributing to a 457b plan. She stated that she thinks the employees are confused. It becomes a complexity issue with regard to how many providers the County can manage. Thelen asked whether having multiple authorized retirement representatives causes a lot of extra work on Personnel. Thelen asked if an employee receives guidance prior to selecting a County approved vendor. Brown stated that the Personnel Office has packets of information about each vendor. The Personnel Department also hosts an Employee Benefits Fair each year. Payroll has to manage the payroll deductions and deposits. Kruse confirmed that it is more hassle to have more vendors.
Kruse stated that the Buffalo School District offers a 403b plan to its employees. It too had multiple vendors. The IRS cracked down and restricted the number of authorized offerings to 1-3 options. He confirmed that it would be better for the County to have 1-3 vendors. Sawatzke commented that this is a market of “buyer beware”. Kruse stated that he disagrees with Sawatzke’s statement. The County has a fiduciary responsibility to provide a reasonable plan to their employees.
Kruse explained that obtaining 20 new enrollees is difficult. He is not allowed to call employees, and the Employee Benefits Fair is not very well attended. Brown clarified that at last year’s Employee Benefits Fair, the County placed the Deferred Compensation representatives in a different room because there were too many people in one room. The hope was that employees could focus on spending time with the Deferred Compensation representatives in a comfortable setting. Brown stated that Personnel received negative feedback regarding this change and would not likely separate the Deferred Compensation providers from the other providers. Kruse stated that he is requesting Wright County allow new vendors to become an authorized representative if they have 20 new and existing 457b participants. Wilson stated that this would make it fair for those employees that are not happy with their current plan provider. Wilson asked if the County is going to be strict with the 20 new enrollee rule. Norman stated that the County has required the same standards from other vendors. The County has to draw the line. More options can make the decision process more confusing which could ultimately lead to the employees not making any decision. An employee’s enrollment in a 457b plan is strictly voluntary.
Kruse stated that the County could easily outline the services that each authorized provider offers. Four measurable characteristics could be used in comparing the vendors: number of investment options available, services provided, education, and costs. He recommended that the plans be reviewed every three years under these merits. Norman stated that the Personnel Office does not have the internal expertise to develop a matrix regarding the options, benefits, fees for each vendor. Thelen asked whether Kruse would be willing to do this. Wilson stated that this information would have to come from the County. Each of the authorized providers should be able to provide the information for the County to put into a spreadsheet. Wilson stated that the Buffalo School District did this as a way to narrow the scope of eligible providers. The School District also eliminated the vendors that provided the same service. He stated that cost was definitely an issue when assembling the information. Brown stated that most of the County providers put their administrative fees into their literature; however, it isn’t always easy to analyze the information. She stated that she does not have the capability of sorting out this type of information.
Brown stated that all of the County’s Deferred Compensation providers have service representatives. She is not aware that Personnel has heard any complaints from employees. Kruse stated that a service provider is different than having an advocate. Wilson stated that he would recommend that the County conduct a poll with its employees to determine their attitudes regarding the County’s Deferred Compensation program. Sawatzke stated that he has been on the Deferred Compensation Committee for many years with Asleson, Hiivala, and Norman. He has never heard any complaints regarding the County’s Deferred Compensation program and its authorized vendors. Brown stated that her biggest complaint is that there are too many options. Having multiple vendors is overwhelming. Brown stated that part of the problem is that employees often do not take the initiative to determine what is coming out of their paycheck.
Wilson stated that the School Board selected one provider, ASP, to manage the employees’ money. The provider allows any local advisor to be involved. The central billing comes from ASP. Otherwise, the employees can select their advisor. Brown asked if having an intermediary like ASP adds another layer of administrative expenses. Kruse stated that the total fees would not be any higher than what County employees are currently paying in the Deferred Compensation Plans. Wilson asked that the Committee define “new” as it relates to vendors meeting the minimum requirement of 20 new enrollees. He asked if “new” enrollees could include those persons who have ceased contributing and wish to start again in a new plan, and those that rolled their dollars over into an individual IRA. Asleson stated that the County Board has to determine whether the 20 new enrollee threshold was done for a reason. Norman stated that the County Board should make a determination on the period of time between ceasing participation and starting again. Wilson cautioned the Committee that they cannot make their rules more restrictive if it was not previously addressed in the plan document. Norman informed the Committee that the policy was put into place in 1995.
Sawatzke asked that Norman, Asleson, and Hiivala discuss how they want to define the word “new” as it relates to vendors meeting the minimum requirement of 20 new enrollees. He asked that they make their recommendation to the County Board.
Kruse and Wilson clarified that if Edward Jones became an authorized 457b vendor for the County, employees could use any of the Edward Jones Investment advisors within and outside Wright County.
RECOMMENDATION: Keep the County’s Deferred Compensation Policy as-is, however, define the word “new” as it relates to vendors meeting the minimum requirement of 20 new enrollees.
(End of Deferred Compensation Committee Minutes)
The meeting was recessed at 9:39 A.M. and reconvened at 9:47 A.M.
A Public Hearing was held to consider adopting amendments to the Wright County Comprehensive Water Management Plan. The Plan was originally adopted in 1991 and last amended in 2006. Every five years, the Plan is reviewed and amended as needed. Joe Jacobs, SWCD, said the main areas impacting water quality in the 2006 Plan included Groundwater Quality, Surface Water Quality, Development Pressures, and Agricultural Issues. The main push over the past five years has been to essentially complete an assessment of where the water quality was and to obtain a better idea of whether County waters meet State standards. They have been working with the MPCA on impaired waters that don’t meet State standards. About 1/3 of the County’s waters do not meet standards, 1/3 are severely impaired, and 1/3 are at the tipping point. Jacobs explained that mitigation efforts include determining the source of the pollutants. In Wright County, they are working with phosphorus levels. Nutrients can be beneficial to lakes but an excess is not good. Through water management, the main goal is to streamline the TMDL process (total maximum daily load). The assessment process is being completed so they are prepared to work with the State.
Jacobs provided the following information:
Summary of Goals and Actions:
The process of choosing the following priority concerns highlight specific activities within our society which are negatively impacting Wright County’s water resources. These challenges bring opportunities to reverse both the perceived and observed degradation of the County’s water quality. Jacobs outlined action items for each of the Goals listed. He also provided information on water quality on some of the impaired lakes.
Goal A: Groundwater Quality. Provide high quality groundwater supplies to the citizens of Wright County. Actions focus on the implementation of the following objectives:
• Increase available background information of Wright County’s groundwater through monitoring, analysis, outside data sources and better information distribution.
• Work to prevent failure of individual septic treatment systems (SSTS) and related sewage pollution in Wright County.
Goal B: Surface Water Quality. Maximize the accuracy and the effectiveness of the MPCA’s “One Waters” watershed protection and restoration strategy.
• Collect and compile data supporting the intensive watershed monitoring process.
• Foster an efficient delivery system to get projects on the ground during the implementation phase of watershed projects in the County.
Goal C: Development Pressures. Develop regulations and implement educational forums and incentives to ensure orderly development with minimal impacts to Wright County’s water quality. Actions focus on the implementation of the following objectives:
• Guide new development with comprehensive planning, accessible information and consideration for natural resources.
• Influence landowners in existing development to use practices, which reduce and/or mitigate negative human impact on natural resources.
Goal D: Agricultural Land Use. Achieve Countywide use of environmentally conscious practices by agricultural producers to protect and enhance Wright County’s natural resources. Actions focus on the implementation of the following objectives:
• Influence agricultural operators to use practices which either reduce and/or mitigate negative human impact on natural resources.
• Continue Wright County’s partnership with the Wright County Feedlot Officer to ensure all County feedlots are in compliance with 7020 rules.
The Implementation Program identifies priority concerns including actions to be implemented, when the action will be accomplished, responsible agencies, and the cost/funding sources. If capital improvement projects are listed, they will include the following: physical components of the project-size, configuration, location; purposes of the project and relationship to the objectives; proposed schedule for project construction; expected federal, state and local costs; types of financing proposed-special assessments, grants and sources of local financing proposed.
Minnesota Impaired Waters and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs):
The Federal Clean Water Act requires states to adopt water-quality standards to protect waters from pollution. These standards define how much of a pollutant can be in the water and still allow it to meet designated uses, such as drinking water, fishing and swimming. The standards are set on a wide range of pollutants, including bacteria, nutrients, turbidity, and mercury. A water body is “impaired” if it fails to meet one or more water quality standards. To identify and restore impaired waters, Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act requires states to:
1) Assess all waters of the state to determine if they meet water-quality standards.
2) List waters that do not meet standards (also known as the 303(d) List) and update every even-numbered year.
3) Conduct TMDL studies in order to set pollutant reduction goals needed to restore waters.
MPCA’s responsibilities include performing assessment activities, listing impaired waters, and conducting TMDLs in Minnesota. The Agency also coordinates closely with other state and local agencies on restoration activities. The MPCA 2010 Clean Water Act Section 303(d) list of impaired waters in the County was provided. Also provided was information on the Intensive Watershed Monitoring for the Upper Mississippi River (St. Cloud) Watershed and the Crow River Watershed.
Project Prioritization. Due to the richness of Wright County’s water resources and a finite amount of funding, it is imperative that water management activities be prioritized. The range of the County’s surface water quality varies greatly as does the recreational usage of water bodies. The Wright County Water Management Task Force has deliberated on different strategies to best manage the water resources as well as the County’s anticipated financial contribution set aside for natural resource protection. The most agreed upon criteria for being a priority water body is that it has local support. Obvious local support can be seen in the three predominate river organizations in the County: The CROW, the Upper Mississippi Basin (St. Cloud Reach), and the Clearwater River Watershed District. Because lake groups vary greatly and so do their activity levels, a benchmark to be a priority water is that the lake has a current Lake Management Plan (within five years). The process of developing a Lake Management Plan demonstrates the lake group has identified watershed goals and has the desire to achieve them. A second and equal prioritization criterion, which will qualify a lake as a priority water body, is our reasonable ability to significantly enhance its water quality in a relatively short time frame. The Task Force decided that lakes with a summer average surface total phosphorus level of <80ug/L should be able to achieve noticeable improvements with watershed land-use modifications. Lakes with surface levels of total phosphorus <40ug/L are to be considered protection lakes. The Task Force also recognizes that there may be certain projects of high value that do present themselves; these targets of opportunity will also be classified as priority projects and will be identified when they arise. The Water Management Task Force does not want to exclude any lakes but there are constraints as it relates to resources.
Jacobs said the County has a lot of impaired waters. He said that is not because Wright County has terrible water quality; it is because the waters have been monitored more than most counties. As more counties monitor, they may obtain the same results. The MPCA sees the Mississippi and Crow as impaired. In lakes, there are two major impairments. One is nutrient levels. Some lakes may have excellent nutrient and phosphorus levels but they have an excess of mercury. The mercury issues relate to air quality. They do not work with air quality issues, which are under the MPCA’s and EPA’s realm. He said they focus on lakes with severe phosphorus problems. When the MPCA sees a body of water as impaired, they use a “One Waters” watershed protection and restoration strategy. Jacobs said it is good to review amendments to the Plan every five years as many programs change. He said the first step in the process is for MPCA to see that data has been monitored and gathered. This has been done. The second step is to assess the data, which they are in the process of right now on a number of lakes. The third step is to establish implementation strategies to meet standards, which is essentially to put lakes on budgets or allocations for the impairment. The last is to implement water quality activities.
Jacobs explained a TMDL is being completed on Ann Lake. This is a two-year process. Water sampling is an ongoing activity and they are in the last stages. The Ann Lake watershed is about 18,000 acres. The entire watershed was broken out and the main tributaries dissected. Samples of water going into the Lake were taken over a two year period. Water was assessed at the outlets of Ann Lake and Emma Lake. Graph samples and flow measurements are also taken. The equipment gathers data on a 15-minute basis. The result was that the phosphorus levels were about twice as much as State standards. The levels were at 15,000 lbs. going into the system and this level should be at 7,000 lbs. Sources of the nutrient levels were reviewed and it was found that only 3% was residential. The septic systems have all been certified as meeting standards. There are no cities so the nutrient levels from this source would be 0. This leaves agricultural and internal loads. Based on this, there is a 3,500 lb. reduction needed in both the agricultural community and the internal load component. Jacobs said both will be challenging. There are currently very few restrictions on both. There are some driving factors which can be mitigated such as curly leaf and trying to improve drainage patterns. He felt to make a large impact in this watershed, feedlots must be addressed (when and where to apply manure and buffer strips).
Timing of the program. Jacobs said they started the intensive watershed monitoring program in 2007 of the North Fork of the Crow River. The Mississippi River monitoring started in 2009. The South Fork of the Crow River will start in 2012. The entire County will be covered by TMDLs. There are additional lakes that are being monitored but not as intensely as Ann Lake. The State does not have enough funding to do these intensive studies, but Jacobs feels there will be confidence in the data obtained through these studies across the State. The main purpose of the monitoring is to find the key contributors to the impairments and reduce them. Monitoring stations will be set up where water leaves the County to see if practices are making a difference. Watersheds have been divided into sub-watersheds (20-40 sq. miles) so they will have a better grasp on specific land use and changes that are implemented.
Thelen said that at the last Clearwater River Watershed District Meeting, discussion included a project where technology is used to assess where to apply fertilizer and at what rates. It was suggested that this makes an enormous difference in the watersheds. She asked Jacobs whether he found that hopeful. Jacobs responded that he found that very hopeful because the work they are doing with the landowners and farmers is being done on a voluntary basis. They are finding economics in good stewardship which alleviates the need for enforcement. This helps them achieve their goals without having to put money into incentives. They need to find a mechanism that is a win/win for those involved. Soil samples are being taken to find existing conditions and then site specific fertilizer applications are produced. There has been some progress in this area in the Clearwater chain. This is one of the things they are looking at in the Lake Ann Watershed. They are taking soil samples to determine if there is an overload in phosphorus levels that could cause increased levels in the Lake.
Mattson mentioned the Lake Sylvia area and the reference to mercury levels. He asked whether the State is monitoring the landfill in this regard. Jacobs said mercury levels can be a groundwater issue if there are a lot of mercury devices buried. The major contributor in the country is electrical power plants. He said burning plants release significant amounts of mercury. This is a national issue and they don’t handle this on a local level. Mattson said that some of the lakes that are located further away from the plant have higher levels of mercury than lakes that are closer to the plant. Jacobs said mercury enters the atmosphere so it is not necessarily dispersed close to the plants. The only reason the lakes are listed as impaired for mercury is that they were tested for mercury. The DNR has information on the monthly mercury intake levels for fish consumption. Mattson spoke with a scientist from the Nuclear Power Plant who indicated that coal burning plants contribute to this problem as well. Jacobs said he attended an open house for the Nuclear Power Plant in Monticello. Their largest issue is long term storage of waste rods. Jacobs said the coal plants burn an enormous volume of coal which does affect the amount of mercury in the atmosphere. Plants burning corn stalks also release mercury. Jacobs said restrictions are better than they have been but new restrictions are always being reviewed.
Mattson asked whether soil samples have been taken west of Buffalo where a lot of dumping occurred in the past. Jacobs said the MPCA does have monitoring wells on long term or old dumping sites. He said to let them know if there are specific areas to be tested or historical pits that may have oil or petroleum disposals in them.
The Public Hearing closed at 10:30 A.M. and the regular Board Meeting was reconvened. Thelen made a motion to adopt the Amendments to the Water Management Plan. The Amendments will be forwarded to BWSR. Jacobs said there will be a form that needs to be signed at a future date. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg. Mattson referenced the Middle Fork of the Crow River and said he understands this is the most polluted of the forks in Minnesota. He asked whether the State has stepped in to restrict run off from beet farms. Jacobs said Wright County is in the bottom of the Watershed and receives pollutants from upstream. However, the County generates a lot of pollutants locally. That is why monitoring of the outflow waters is important. Water coming across County lines is also being monitored. The CROW Organization is working a lot with this effort and leading the charge with the main stem of the Crow River and the TMDLs on lakes. He acknowledged the efforts of partnering agencies which makes their activities effective. Jacobs extended appreciation to the Wright County Board for their contribution to the CROW Organization as they play a large role in the effectiveness of the water quality in Wright County. The motion carried 5-0.
A Personnel Committee Meeting was held on 4-13-11. At today’s County Board Meeting, Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes and recommendations, seconded by Sawatzke. Sawatzke received an email from Todd Hoffman, Sheriff’s Department, on an amendment to the minutes on the recommendation for the Evidence Technician. Hoffman was present at today’s meeting and stated that Norman advised him that the Sheriff’s Department does not need to come back to the Committee to hire the Evidence Technician but should involve the Personnel Department. The minutes will not need to be amended. Mattson referenced the positions of Evidence Technician and Technical Applications Specialist. He asked whether these are new positions. Sawatzke said with the Evidence Technician position, the employee resigned from the position so there is an opening. For a number of months, a Deputy will fill that position as they are unable to be on patrol. The eligibility list will be used to fill the position when the Deputy resumes his normal job activities. The Sheriff’s Department will not have to come back to the Committee to request approval to fill the position as that will be part of the approval with today’s minutes. Norman said the Technical Applications Specialist is a new position in the Sheriff’s budget. The process included having a job description written and negotiating placement of the salary in the Courthouse Unit contract. This has been completed. They are now asking for authorization to fill the position. Mattson said the result is adding one position through approval of the minutes, which comes at a cost to taxpayers of about $50,000. Sawatzke said the position was approved last year during the Budget process. The Sheriff’s Office traded three deputy positions for this position. With regard to the positions that were presented to the Personnel Committee, the first two positions will be posted internally. If the positions are filled by current staff, that will give the Board the opportunity to reevaluate whether to backfill the positions that are vacated. Sawatzke said in his opinion, those backfills may be ones that are potentially not filled. Mattson said with the price of gas and groceries, the public sector is struggling. He does not want the County spending money unnecessarily. The motion carried 5-0 to approve the minutes and recommendations:
I. POSITION OPENINGS.
A. Highway Maintenance Crew Supervisor.
Meyer distributed a handout (see attached) that described the Highway Maintenance Crew Supervisor responsibilities, and illustrated the Highway Department’s organizational chart. Fingalson stated that this agenda item was prompted by the retirement of Rick Bonk. There are two Maintenance Crew Supervisors to supervise 22 maintenance persons. The duties of the Supervisors are divided geographically east and west. The Supervisors report to Meyer. The hope is to fill the vacancy internally. The Supervisor positions are non-union. Norman stated that the position would have to be posted internally.
Sawatzke asked how much time the Supervisors spend supervising. Meyer stated that the Supervisors do all of the training, and fill in when an employee is sick. The Supervisors operate the pavers and are on all large highway construction projects.
Sawatzke asked if there were to be a vacancy within the Department, and given a choice, where would Meyer prefer to have that vacancy. Meyer stated that he understands what Sawatzke is implying. He stated that the preference would be within his maintenance crew staff. However, the County Board would have to determine what Highway services they’d want jeopardized. Fingalson stated that when there is a vacancy within the Maintenance crew, there is a reduced level of service. Fingalson stated that the Highway Department only has two nighttime maintenance staff members during the winter months. They work closely with the Sheriff’s Office to take care of ice control for school activities. Wright County does not have the luxury of 24 hour highway maintenance service.
Sawatzke proposed lying over the filling of a maintenance position until the August Personnel Committee Meeting. Meyer stated that the Highway Department has work to do. Although snow and ice is more critical, his crew takes their vacations and utilize their comp time during the summer months. Eichelberg stated that keeping the roads maintained is one of the most important functions of the County. Sawatzke stated that he thinks the County can get by without a Maintenance position for a few months until the County knows what cuts the State will be making.
Meyer commented that the promotion to the Maintenance Crew Supervisor could come from anywhere within the organization. The vacancy won’t necessarily come from within the Maintenance Division. Fingalson stated that there would be a series of postings for each backfill. Pawelk stated that it could take a month or two to fill each of the vacancies as a result of the backfill. Eichelberg stated that there is importance in having supervisors for 22 Maintenance Crew members. He would vote for efficiency and authorize filling the Supervisor spot. Fingalson stated that it would place too much on Meyer if the County Board did not approve filling the Maintenance Crew Supervisor position. Sawatzke stated that this decision is about tight budgets and expectations. Eichelberg stated that he thinks it is important to fill the Supervisor position. The Highway Department has been operating very well. Sawatzke stated that he’d go along with this hire, but most likely would not be supporting the backfill.
Pawelk explained that she would post the advertisement for hire on the Wednesday following the County Board’s approval. The advertisement would be posted internally for seven days and interviews would be conducted approximately 10 days later.
Meyer stated that if the County Board is not considering filling the backfill position, then they have to determine what level of service will be jeopardized. By eliminating a plow truck, the routes of other drivers will be expanded. Fingalson confirmed Meyer’s statement by stating that the Highway Department would have to expand its routes. Norman stated that this discussion is premature. When the backfill vacancy occurs, it will be brought back to the Committee for discussion.
RECOMMENDATION: Authorize posting internally and filling the Highway Maintenance Crew Supervisor.
B. Assistant Environmental Health Officer.
Riley stated that as a result of his promotion, there is an Assistant Environmental Health Office (EHO) position vacancy. Sawatzke stated that during Riley’s interview, Riley acknowledged that there would likely be an additional vacancy within the Planning & Zoning Office. Riley stated that the EHO position is critical. His thought is to fill the EHO position and have them still do some of the planning work as well.
Pawelk explained that this position would require an internal posting. Sawatzke clarified that an internal hire would move the candidate to the next highest pay grade on a different pay schedule. Riley stated that he understood this. The promotion would likely be a 30-40 cent increase. Riley stated that he would be asking the candidate to do the EHO work at 100% and performing additional work in other areas within the Department. Norman stated that there must be caution paid to working out-of-class and defined duties within a job description. Sawatzke stated that he does not think there would be a problem if the employee is being paid at a higher rate for doing both jobs.
Sawatzke asked whether the Administration Department foresees any problem with moving an employee to a higher position and doing some lower grade work. Brown stated that it would depend on the percentage of their duties. Riley stated that he has reviewed the job descriptions and feels they are generic enough to entail the duties planning services. Brown stated that the County Board could make an out-of-class assignment if it was not ready to make a permanent decision.
Eichelberg asked Sawatzke if he is in agreement to internally post for the EHO position. Sawatzke stated that he is in agreement of filling the position but does not want to add to the current staffing level within the Planning & Zoning Department. Riley stated that his Office would be down two positions.
RECOMMENDATION: Authorize internal posting and filling of an EHO, but not to expand the staffing beyond 2 vacancies.
C. Evidence Technician
Hoffman clarified that the Sheriff’s Office is not asking to hire a person for this position. He contacted Personnel on 3-25-11 to request establishing an eligibility list. On 3-28-11, he received a response stating that the Sheriff’s Office would have to obtain Commissioner approval to establish that list. He stated that it was his understanding from Russek and Sawatzke at the 3-15-11 Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting that creating an eligibility list does not need to be discussed by the County Board. Norman stated that every position opening comes before the Committee; hence this is why the Evidence Technician was placed on today’s agenda. Brown stated that eligibility lists are created as position openings become available.
Brown stated that typically when she thinks of an eligibility list (i.e. Correction Officers, Deputies), there are multiple hires, background checks, psychological and physical testing. It is a long hiring process. Hoffman stated that the process to create an eligibility list would be the same as the Civilian Correction Officer position. The advertisement would state that the Sheriff’s Office is accepting applications for the creation of an eligibility list. Brown stated that the process is much more thorough than simply accepting applications. The entire interviewing and testing process would have to be facilitated for a potential future hire. Hoffman stated that if that is the normal process, he would expect the process would be followed for this position, as requested by the Sheriff.
Hoffman stated that at the 3-15-11 Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting, it was discussed how Human Services wanted an eligibility list. The Evidence Technician position is no different. This is an important position that deals with money and drugs. By creating an eligibility list, the Sheriff’s Office is trying to save budget dollars. Currently, the Sheriff’s Office is having a Deputy temporarily perform this duty. Brown stated that in Human Services, there was a rumor that one of their Financial Workers was going to quit. They wanted to put out an employment posting on a potential vacancy. She stated that the County does not create eligibility lists for the sake of eligibility lists. Hoffman clarified that the Sheriff’s Office is not asking to fill the Evidence Technician position right now.
Sawatzke stated that he understood the request for the eligibility list. Establishing the list would allow for the Sheriff’s Office to act quicker at a later date. Pawelk stated that by authorizing an eligibility list, the County Board would be approving the hiring process and immediate fill of the vacant position. Norman asked how long the Sheriff’s Office would keep the eligibility list. Hoffman stated that typically an eligibility list is maintained for a year; however, statute says it can be used for up to two years.
Sawatzke asked why the Sheriff’s Office can’t have an eligibility list for this position. He stated that the Sheriff’s Office is saving the County money by not filling the vacancy. He stated that Hoffman is not asking to create eligibility lists for all positions. By creating an eligibility list for the current vacancy, they would eliminate 2-3 weeks in the process once the Sheriff determines he wants to fill the position. Pawelk clarified that the Sheriff’s Office would have to come before the Personnel Committee prior to specifically hiring for the position.
Hoffman stated that the Sheriff’s Office would like clarification regarding future eligibility lists. Personnel responded on 3-28-11 that they weren’t going to act on the eligibility list until they received guidance from the Commissioners. Sawatzke stated that he would not expect this process to take place for all jobs. This is an unusual position. Brown stated that this is a typical Teamsters 320, Courthouse Unit position. She stated that Personnel creates an eligibility list once it receives approval from the County Board to fill a vacant position.
Norman asked if the Evidence Techs are provided a County vehicle. Hoffman stated that there are two fleet vehicles that are available to perform work related duties. The Evidence Technicians do not take home a County vehicle.
Brown stated that candidates applying for Deputy and Correction Officer positions typically understand eligibility lists. Candidates applying for other positions don’t typically understand the process or purpose of being placed on a list for future consideration. Norman stated that the process has to be honest. The advertisement should state the intent of the process. Norman asked Hoffman what the time frame is for the hire for this position. Hoffman stated that the Sheriff will make that decision. He was told to get an eligibility list. At this time, the Sheriff’s Office is able to fulfill its needs through a temporary placement.
Eichelberg stated that he is in favor of authorizing an eligibility list for this position with the understanding that this does not set a precedence.
RECOMMENDATION: Authorize creating an eligibility list for the Evidence Technician position.
D. Technical Applications Specialist (TAS).
Hoffman stated that the Sheriff’s Office did not understand why this position was placed on today’s agenda. Norman stated that this position was on the 4-05-11 County Board Agenda as a Consent Agenda item. The Consent Agenda item was to place the position on the Salary Schedule for the Teamsters 320, Courthouse Unit contract. The Consent Agenda item was approved. Brown stated that every position opening comes before the Committee. Hoffman stated that the TAS position was addressed at the 3-15-11 Personnel Committee Meeting and the Sheriff’s Office was confused as to the purpose of it being on the Committee Agenda schedule again. Norman clarified that it did not have a salary for this position at the 3-15-11 Personnel Committee Meeting.
RECOMMENDATION: Authorize posting and filling the Technical Applications Specialist position.
(End of 4-13-11 Personnel Committee Minutes)
A Ways & Means Committee Meeting was held on 4-13-11. At today’s County Board Meeting, Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0:
I. BID OPENING-SEASONAL REQUIREMENTS.
Bids were closed at 9:00 a.m. Fingalson opened the bids for various categories. Highway staff will tally the bids and present a summary and recommendations to the County Board at their 4-26-11 County Board Meeting.
(End of 4-13-11 Ways & Means Committee Minutes)
The Board discussed a request from the Highway Department to approve a speed zoning resolution for segments of CSAH 19, CSAH 36, CSAH 37, and CSAH 75. Sawatzke said the documentation provided indicates that these routes have either been modified recently with improvements or are on routes that cities have requested speed zoning studies. Sawatzke is interested in knowing which routes are those that cities are requesting to have done. He said people get upset when they expect a speed zoning study will result in a lowered speed limit and it actually increases. Russek said cities should be aware of the chance that speed limits can increase. The studies are completed by the State. Sawatzke said he would not vote for these studies if the cities are not in favor of them. Sawatzke moved to lay the item over for one week for clarification from the Highway Engineer on what cities want the studies completed in their areas. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried unanimously.
The Highway Department submitted for approval Cooperative Maintenance Agreement No. PW 18-73-11 with Hennepin County for Wright County Road 139 (County Line Road) and Wright CSAH 17. The Agreement provides for payment by Hennepin County to Wright County for routine maintenance performed by Wright County on these specific roadways. Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #11-21, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Bills Approved
Advanced Graphix Inc. $265.68
Allina Hospitals & clinics. 12,394.63
American Institutional Supplies 390.20
Ameripride Services 118.72
Annandale/City of 943.60
Aramark Services Inc. 6,322.99
Asplin Travel Plaza/Kirk 111.86
B & B Products - Rigs & Sq 5,854.39
Bound Tree Medical LLC 550.42
Buff N Glo Inc. 210.00
Buffalo Township 645.40
Buffalo/City of 36,075.10
CADD Engineering Supply 184.69
Cameron/Tim 150.00
Center Point Energy 11,242.07
Centra Sota Lake Region LLC 36,503.74
Civic Research Institute Inc. 179.95
Climate Air 8,448.09
Corporate Payment System 1,184.06
Culligan of Buffalo 400.00
Design Electrical Contract 2,803.86
Eich/Kurt 125.00
Envirotech Services Inc. 7,212.45
Fastenal Company 298.48
Forestry Suppliers Inc. 174.04
Gabriel/Cathleen 200.00
Grainger 152.00
Greenview Inc. 759.85
H & H Sport Shop Inc. 119.88
Hanover/City of 836.20
Hardings Towing Inc. 454.19
Herald Journal Publishing 2,581.06
Herc-U-Lift 281.36
Hoisington Koegler Group 1 4,421.88
Interstate Automotive 106.87
Jahnke/Chris 141.00
LaPlant Demo Inc. 1,027.01
Law Enforcement Training S 180.00
Loberg Electric 384.43
Marco 550.01
Marietta Aggregates/Martin 322.81
MN Alcohol Traffic Safety 260.00
MN Assn. of Assessing Office 1,300.00
MN Counties Computer Coop 14,336.51
Monticello Auto Body Inc 7,876.76
Morries Parts & Service Group 1,911.08
Naaktgeboren Decorating 331.00
New River Medical Center 800.00
Norman/Richard W. 154.54
Office Depot 989.97
Oryans Conoco 165.00
OSI Environmental Inc. 750.00
Performance Office Papers 705.38
Philips Health Care 106.98
Pictometry International C 38,381.75
Qwest 6,367.02
Russek/John 290.12
Shenehon Company 3,791.82
St. Michael Veterinary Clinic 413.40
St. Michael/City of 5,429.00
State of MN-Office Enterprise 965.00
T & S Trucking 14,700.00
Tractor Supply Credit Plan 106.94
Transcend United Technolo 487.50
Trusight 4,900.00
Ultramax 831.00
Uniforms Unlimited 997.20
US Internet 325.00
Vance Brothers Inc 502.31
Waste Management-TC West 237.44
West Payment Center 1,277.74
Westside Wholesale Tire 691.27
Windstream 275.41
Wright Co. Highway Dept 192.29
Wright Hennepin Electric 1,323.32
28 Payments less than $100 1,319.62
Final total $258,800.34
The meeting adjourned at 10:54 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal May 16, 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