Wright County Board Minutes

OCTOBER 4, 2011
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, Thelen, and Eichelberg present.
Thelen moved to approve the 9-27-11 County Board Minutes. The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried unanimously.
Eichelberg moved to approve the Agenda as presented. The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried 5-0. T
he Consent Agenda was discussed. Mattson requested further discussion on Item C1, “Planning & Zoning, Permission To Tour Discovery Farms In Wisconsin As Part Of MN Assn Of County Feedlot Officers Convention & Training, 10-19-11.” Eichelberg moved to approve the remainder of the Consent Agenda, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 5-0:
1. Performance Appraisals: W. LaSonne’, Assr.; A. Busse, S. Sandberg, Atty.; K. Labo, Aud./Treas. A. Fournier, J. Kramber, J. Lewandowski, C.Poirier, Sher./Corr.
2. O/T Report, Period Ending 9-16-11.
3. Approve Addendum To 2012-2013 Law Enforcement Contracts Relating To Leap Year For The Cities Of Albertville, Clearwater, Cokato, Delano, Hanover, Maple Lake, Monticello, Montrose, Otsego, Rockford, St. Michael, & Waverly.
4. Set Special Board Meeting For 11-29-11 @ 6:00 P.M. (2012 Budget & Levy).
1. Approve Memo Of Understanding with City of Cokato, City of Albertville, City of Waverly, & French Lake Twp. for the Storage and/or Purchase of Sand/Salt and/or Salt for 2011/2012 Snow/Ice Control Season.
1. Refer To Personnel Committee Discussion RE: Chief Deputy Wage (Continuation From 11-16-10 Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting).
Consent Agenda Item C1, “Planning & Zoning, Permission To Tour Discovery Farms In Wisconsin As Part Of MN Assn Of County Feedlot Officers Convention & Training, 10-19-11” was discussed. Mattson asked for information relating to cost and mileage for the tour. Tracy Janikula, Feedlot Administrator, said the Conference fee was approved at the last County Board Meeting. The fee includes the bus tour to Discovery Farms in Wisconsin. Mattson moved to approve Consent Agenda Item C1, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented the claims listing for approval. On a motion by Mattson, second by Thelen, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.
Greg Kramber, Assessor, said Malco Products, Inc. filed tax court petitions for the 2008, 2009, and 2010 assessments for property located in Southside Township. To properly prepare for settlement discussion and/or trial, Kramber requested approval to hire the professional real estate appraisal services of Joseph Mako, MAI. The fee for the three dates of value appraisal is $10,210. If this proceeds to trial, the County would accrue an additional expense of $90/hr. for consulting and trial preparation meetings and $140/hr. for trial testimony. Funding would be from Department 100, Professional Services. Kramber said Mako has extensive knowledge of appraisal work and is familiar with Wright County. He was one of the most affordable appraisers Kramber contacted. Eichelberg moved to approve the request to hire Joseph Mako, MAI with funding from Department 100, Professional Services. The motion was seconded by Thelen. Mattson questioned the County’s valuation of the Malco Products property. Kramber said the County’s value is at $2.3 million. For the last year of the petition, Malco’s offer was $1.1 million to $1.2 million or a 50% reduction in value. Kramber said it would be hard to justify that type of valuation on that nice of a facility. The motion carried 5-0.
Sean Riley, Planning & Zoning Administrator, requested that the Board adopt the Findings and Recommendations of the Planning Commission for the adoption of amendments to the Wright County Zoning Ordinance, Section 604.6 Subpart 5, “Entitlement Transfers.” At the 9-22-11 Planning Commission Meeting, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the Amendment. Riley explained that currently, to transfer entitlements the land must be owned in common and contiguous. The proposal is a provision to all non-contiguous ownership if it is issued a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), the entitlement stays within the boundary of the township, and the ownership of the two properties is held for three years. Sawatzke asked about the three-year ownership requirement and asked if the property must be owned for that long before the owner can apply for a CUP. Riley stated this is correct. The CUP is presented to the Planning Commission for approval. This is being done to preserve farmland. It is up to the Planning Commission whether it passes that test to allow the transfer. Sawatzke asked whether it is a requirement that before transfer is allowed, there is an effort to preserve farmland. Riley said this is correct, and that transfer does not negatively impact the surrounding land where the entitlement is located. Sawatzke asked whether the three-year rule is to prevent people from buying land and swapping right of way, etc. Russek sits on the Planning Commission and he said that was their thought. The townships are pleased with the three-year rule. Transfers cannot occur across township lines. Riley said the cities have concern with the transition areas but that can be brought forth during the public hearing process. Thelen moved to adopt Ordinance #11-04, accepting the Findings and Recommendations of the Planning Commission for the adoption of Amendments to the Wright County Zoning Ordinance, Section 604.6 Subpart 5, “Entitlement Transfers.” The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0 as follows:
The Wright County Zoning Ordinance is hereby amended as follows:
604.6 Requirements and Standards for Dwelling and Permitted Divisions
Delete section (5) Entitlement Transfers and insert:
(5) Entitlement Transfers
Standards for Entitlement Transfers. The purpose of allowing transfers is to preserve productive farmlands, and to minimize the effects of the residences on the environment, the surrounding neighborhood and nearby farm operations. In no case shall the use of entitlement transfers be used to increase the potential residential density in the Agricultural or Agricultural/Residential Zones. If a new road is proposed or required to serve a group of lots, a plat will be required and the road must be accepted by the Township Board. These standards are in addition to those contained in Section 505 (Conditional Use Permits).
(a) Contiguous Common Ownership - Entitlements may be transferred to contiguous property under common ownership provided the proposed divisions comply with 604.6(4). Said transfers may be approved by the Zoning Administrator if all other regulations are met. Transfers shall require the issuance of a Conditional Use Permit by the Planning Commission if the transfers result in the grouping of three or more homes at one location.
(b) Non-Contiguous Common Ownership - Transfers from property under common ownership, but not contiguous, require the issuance of a Conditional Use Permit. Such transfers must be within the boundaries of the Township where the entitlement currently exists and common ownership of the parcels must be established and recorded for a minimum of three years before the transfer can take place.
Enacting Clause:
This Ordinance Amendment is effective the day following final adoption. The enacting clause will not be incorporated into the final Wright County Zoning Ordinance.
(End of Ordinance #11-04)
A Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 9-20-11. Discussion at today’s County Board Meeting is reflected within the Personnel Committee Minutes in italics:
I. Discuss Human Resources Director Position.
Norman distributed information supporting his request to hire a Human Resources Director (HR Director). The information reflects that of the top 25 Minnesota counties in population, Wright County remains the only one without a Human Resources Director. He viewed this as a critical position with over 700 employees in the organization. He provided information (attached) on various functions carried out in Human Resources to include the Employee Selection Process, Classification Plans, Performance Evaluation System, Compensation System, EEO/AA, Records Administration, Risk Management, Employee Relations, Labor Relations, and Legal Compliance. Risk Management is a Human Resources function but is carried out by the Safety Director. Another handout (attached) reflects the legal compliance issues dealt with daily and a sampling of Federal and State Laws. This was developed by St. Louis County for the Human Resources Management Group. Norman said issues have grown to be more complex and time consuming and require more research to assure the County is protected from any liability it could be facing.
Thelen questioned reporting responsibilities. In many counties, the HR Director reports to the County Administrator. She assumed all department heads in those counties would report to the Administrator as well. Norman confirmed this. Sawatzke questioned the organizational structure of the Wright County Administration Department. Norman said staff members report directly to him as County Coordinator. If the HR Director position is authorized, the Personnel Representatives would report to the HR Director. The HR Director would report to the County Coordinator if the function remains within the Administration Department. Thelen said it has been identified that one of the problems of having the County Coordinator serve as HR Director is that the position has too much to do. It has also been identified that there may be conflict with having the County Coordinator oversee negotiations and personnel administration. Thelen said if the HR Director reports to the Coordinator, then that conflict may still exist. Norman said this would not necessarily be the case. If the HR Director serves as a member of the Negotiation Committee and deals with Labor Negotiation issues, that person will take direction from the County Board on parameters set for the negotiation process. In many counties where there has been a HR Director for a number of years, the HR Director is the primary person at the negotiation table. They don’t retain a labor law attorney until they reach mediation or pending interest arbitration.
Norman said that under State Statute, a county will have either a County Manager (Ramsey County only), County Administrator, or County Coordinator. Norman said that Administrators he has discussed this with say they receive their authority from the County Board. He did not feel an Administrator would hire or fire a department head without input or participation of their County Board.
Russek stated there has been an overwhelming request from Department Heads in support of the HR Director position. Mike MacMillan, Court Services Director, was unable to attend today’s meeting but forwarded information to the County Board in support of the position. The Department Heads are asking for an HR Director to assist the Coordinator with some of his responsibilities and to provide an easier process when they need to consult with the HR Director. Sawatzke referenced MacMillan’s support of the position and said the Court Services employees are State employees so he did not feel MacMillan was part of this decision. Sawatzke asked Norman whether he hires employees for Court Services. Norman said when MacMillan recently attended the Personnel Committee Meeting, he was asked whether he considered his employees County or State employees. MacMillan’s response was that they were County employees. Sawatzke asked who administers the interview process for Court Services positions. Norman said the District Court judges hire the probation agents. MacMillan recently requested filling another position in Court Services through the County Board, which was authorized. Sawatzke said Court Services employees are State employees, not County employees. They do not follow the same process as regular County employees. He found it interesting that MacMillan would be the lead person promoting the position when his employees don’t utilize the County process, to a great extent. Russek stated that MacMillan is leading this effort as he was President of the Leadership Team when this issue was presented (to look into hiring a HR Director). Mattson requested that the Department Heads present their opinion on this issue.
Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, stated that the Highway Department is in the top three County departments for number of employees. They rely on the Personnel Department to deal with various personnel issues to assure things are handled appropriately. The Coordinator has many responsibilities and it is sometimes hard to meet with him when needed. The Personnel Representatives are helpful but indicate that some things require the approval of the Coordinator. There are times when they are unable to obtain timely information or have things dealt with in a timely manner. Fingalson supported filling the HR Director position so there is someone to consult when needed. Fingalson said Wright County is a leader in the State. He referenced Wright County being in the top 25 group and being the only county who doesn’t have an HR Director.
Bill Swing, Information Technology Director, said he looks at other counties and the way his counterparts and their administrators work together. In 2008, they tried to move forward with technical and strategic planning but it went no where. The ideal model would be if the County Coordinator’s Office would have more time to discuss these issues. One example is Records Management. Swing felt the County has lost out on that issue. He referenced the scale model of Scott County and felt that would be a better way for Wright County to align itself. Swing supported the HR Director position as a step in that direction of restructuring. Swing said the Leadership Team subcommittee met on 9-30-10 to look at the structure of other counties, not just in the Human Resources area. He said there are ways of restructuring which will make departments run more efficiently. He concluded by stating that Administration and Information Technology need to work together in the future on leveraging technologies to realize more efficiencies.
Tom Kelly, County Attorney, said he was part of the Leadership Team subcommittee which discussed various aspects of the struggles associated with the County Coordinator’s workload and responsibilities. T. Kelly referenced the material provided on surveys of other counties. He noted that Wright County employs 700 people but is the only county that does not have an HR Director. He referenced the amount of time the Coordinator spends on personnel issues. Grievances are a very technical area of the law and the Coordinator handles these. T. Kelly assumed that if the HR Director position is filled, that individual will handle grievances and not the Coordinator. Although he was unsure of the time spent by the Coordinator on personnel issues, he felt some expertise in larger grievances would reduce costs associated with an outside labor attorney.
Thelen questioned whether the HR Director would have the same problem in responding to questions if they had to go to the Coordinator as the next in the chain of command. She felt if the HR Director directly reports to the Board, it will free up the Coordinator more. Norman stated that it will depend on how involved the County Board wants to get in human resources and whether the position reports directly to the Board in handling human resource functions. Thelen said all other Department Heads report directly to the County Board. Norman said this will be a Board decision.
Eichelberg said he looks at the request from a different perspective. When Norman retires, he questioned who will accept the County Coordinator position if it includes being the HR Director. He felt this was an opportunity to transition into having the positions separate and felt it was advisable to do so. Norman said not only would the position provide assistance for his position and the Administration Department, but it would be advantageous for the County. Norman said he has discussed the need for an HR Director in his performance reviews since 2006. He understands this is not an ideal time to add a new position but questioned when it would be. The Leadership Team and the Board have been discussing this for the past 1.5 years. The position is in the 2012 budget. Norman said he respectfully requests the Board support the position so the County can proceed with the process to hire.
Russek referenced the grievances over the past year and the amount of time spent by the Coordinator and the Labor Law Attorney on these. Norman said there is another arbitration hearing scheduled for tomorrow which is expected to encompass the entire day. This does not include the time spent in preparation. Sawatzke said Norman alluded to when the best time will be to hire for the position.
Sawatzke said he was undecided on whether to approve the HR Director position. The budget includes two Personnel Representative positions and one HR Director. Currently, there are three Personnel Representatives. The Administration Department is not asking to increase position count, but to take a position and give it more responsibility. More responsibility would be shifted to one of the positions. Norman said that early in the process, the Board clearly indicated they might support an HR Director if the head count in the Department did not change. Norman said the Administration Department’s budget reflects this. If the HR Director position is authorized, it will be an open and competitive process like any other position opening. Sawatzke said that if the majority of the Board votes to approve this position, if a person outside of the organization fills the HR Director position someone will be laid off. He felt the Board must either find that acceptable now or not move forward. Russek said it was always the intent that the head count in the Department would not increase. If one of the current Personnel Representatives applies and is selected for the HR Director, then they would supervise the other two Personnel Representatives. Sawatzke said if one of the Personnel Representatives is not selected, they would be laid off. Thelen asked whether there is a way to post this as an internal promotion. Norman responded that this position requires a special skill set so it will be an open recruiting process. Thelen asked whether Norman was okay with laying off one of the staff in his office. Norman asked that they let the process take its course to see what happens. Mattson questioned the number of years of experience required to be an HR Director and thought there will be complications if the three Personnel Representatives don’t meet the qualifications. Norman stated he plans to work with Trusight to develop a job description. They have experience with both pubic and private sectors and know the minimum requirements that an organization will look for in an HR Director. Russek said most of the time, jobs such as this require experience.
Sawatzke asked Norman whether his job description will change as a result. Norman confirmed that it will. Thelen said that maybe some grievances will be avoided, as some may have come forward as a result of staff not getting to things. She said the Sheriff Department’s perspective is there is a glitch in getting things done in a timely fashion. She referenced the example of the Nursing Mothers Room and questioned whether that would fall under the Coordinator or the Human Resources Director. Norman said it would fall under both positions, as the Coordinator is in charge of the facilities and outfitting the rooms. The Nursing Mothers Policy would fall under both as well.
Don Mleziva, Human Services Director, said he was unaware that there had been a commitment to not increase the head count in the Administration Department. Mleziva said the Personnel Representatives have repeatedly stated they are overworked and have too much to do. If one of the positions is removed through the process of hiring an HR Director, he questioned what is being gained in terms of efficiency in the Personnel Department. Mleziva said the work is there. He referenced the comment made by Fingalson earlier today relating to the Coordinator not being available to meet at times. Mleziva said they often times are in a waiting mode due to the Coordinator meeting his other Administrative responsibilities. He felt it would be valuable to have someone to meet with that administers Personnel decisions on hiring, grievances, and position replacements. Because of the recession, replacements are deliberately being placed on the back burner to save money. To be an effective operation, he felt this should be avoided if at all possible going forward. He viewed having an HR Director as a significant benefit to oversee the administration of personnel functions, given the size of the County. Mleziva felt that overall, the County may be cutting itself short if a position in the Administration Department is eliminated by making this transition of responsibility. Russek stated an advantage would be that the HR Director would be full time. At the current time, he thought the Coordinator is possibly giving 1/3 of his time toward these activities. Russek feels if the position handles the personnel items, the Department can get by with the same number of people it has now.
Eichelberg stated he supports moving forward with the HR Director position. Thelen said she could support this as well. She is unsure about the reporting responsibilities to the Coordinator, because she questions whether that will relieve the Coordinator’s responsibilities. Sawatzke asked Eichelberg and Thelen whether they were in agreement that this would not increase head count. Thelen said she was unsure about this. Sawatzke said he was against the request as he could see where the request was headed. He does not buy into the fact that they are overworked as Mleziva stated. Sawatzke said that two years ago when the County entered into the Classification Study, the Coordinator indicated that it was a good time to do so as the workload was slow in this area. Now there is a motion to add another person. Eichelberg clarified he is not supporting an increase in personnel. Sawatzke said he wanted a commitment from all supporters of the HR Director position, so something doesn’t change in the end. Thelen asked when the decision was made to keep the position count the same in the Administration Department. Sawatzke said that occurred 2-3 months ago. He referenced the Administration Department’s budget and said it is based on that. Sawatzke said he could go either way on the decision. He could support the HR Director position based on the rationale. However, he would not if it turns into increasing staff count in Administration. Russek said when the decision comes to the County Board, it will be with the idea that the position count will not increase.
Sawatzke asked Norman whether the Board will have the opportunity to review both job descriptions before the HR Director position is hired. Sawatzke said because of the Coordinator’s role in supporting the Board, the job description should not change without the approval of the Board. As duties will be removed from the Coordinator’s job description, he suggested a Personnel or Negotiation Committee or Committee Of the Whole Meeting. A recommendation would be presented to the County Board for approval. Sawatzke referenced Norman’s role in the negotiation process. He said Norman has so much experience that the County would lose by removing him from this role. He would not support both the Coordinator and HR Director serving on the Negotiation Committee. Norman stated that in order to develop the job descriptions for the two positions, the Board will need to decide the reporting relationship. The Board will also need to decide who they will have participate in labor negotiations. He said the information provided by MacMillan alluded to a conflict of interest in that regard. Norman said it is sometimes hard to sit in negotiations in the morning and deal with an employee issue in the afternoon. He can see where people might view this as a conflict. He viewed labor negotiations remaining with the Coordinator as a positive. Norman said he has the historical perspective on why something is in the contract where no one else may understand this.
Russek said there are three supporters of filling the position. Norman said he was hoping for support from all five Commissioners. Sawatzke stated he is not against the position. He is hearing some assurance that the position count will not be increased in Administration and that the Board will be able to review the job descriptions. Norman asked how the Commissioners viewed the reporting relationship. Sawatzke felt there would be great expense of having the HR Director report directly to the County Board. That would mean they would be their own department and would require their own clerical staff. Right now there is the ability to share resources. If there is not that ability, the cost will be driven up. Thelen asked why departments could not share resources. Sawatzke said this could happen if the departments share a space. Russek said if they want the Coordinator to remain on the Negotiation Committee, then he felt the HR Director should report to the Coordinator. Norman said that would be his recommendation but it is a Board decision. Thelen questioned whether that would be the same relationship. Norman did not feel the HR Director will become very involved in the Negotiation process.
Sawatzke asked whether the job description will be in place before advertising for the HR Director. Norman said this will be done prior to advertising, as it would be difficult to do so without a job description. As stated previously, this will be developed by Trusight. If the County Board supports the reporting relationship to the Coordinator, the job description will be developed looking at that model. The descriptions will be brought back for review by the full Board or the Personnel Committee. Advertising would occur thereafter. Mattson asked whether the handout material reflects the HR Director’s responsibilities. Norman said the handout reflects personnel functions carried out in a Human Resources Department. The HR Director would oversee these functions.
Norman said he understands the Board would like Labor Negotiations to remain with the Coordinator. That does not mean the rest of the items listed under Labor Relations would remain with the Coordinator. The other functions such as the handling of grievances and arbitrations would probably be assumed by the HR Director. Norman said there are two forms of arbitrations. An interest arbitration occurs when a settlement can’t be reached with a bargaining unit. There is not the ability to strike but they have the ability to go into interest arbitration. They go into the interest arbitration process over the contract (wages and benefits). A grievance arbitration involves an employee or group that feels they have been wronged or it could involve the interpretation of contract language. Norman said the process can be very time consuming. Until last week, there were over 10 active grievances.
Russek questioned whether the job descriptions will be referred to the Personnel Committee or the Personnel Committee Of The Whole. Norman said due to the importance of the position being developed for the County, he recommends the full Committee setting so the entire Board is comfortable with what is included in the description. He would place on an upcoming Board Agenda a request to set a meeting to review the job descriptions when they are ready.
Recommendation: Move forward with supporting an HR Director position in the Administration Department. Job descriptions for the Coordinator and HR Director positions should be drafted, with the understanding that the HR Director reports to the County Coordinator. The job descriptions will be presented at a Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting.
At today’s County Board Meeting, Sawatzke moved to approve the Committee recommendation to have the Administration Department create job descriptions for the HR Director and County Coordinator positions. The descriptions will be brought to the Personnel Committee Of The Whole for review. The motion was seconded by Thelen for discussion. Thelen said she had concern with a couple of issues. She said department heads have spoken in favor of the HR position. In discussing this with many department heads after the meeting, she learned they were not in favor of hiring the HR Director position if it means getting rid of current staff. She said this concerns her a great deal and felt this was the last thing the County should do. She understands the consensus is to hire an HR Director, adding no more staff to the Administration Department. She viewed this as having one less person performing the work and having one more layer of administration. She supports the HR Director position if it involves an internal hire. She felt it was problematic to proceed otherwise. Thelen has concern that there were no people represented from the Personnel Department at the meeting. Thelen’s other concern is that this position would be reporting to the Coordinator, which she viewed as being less than a department head and more like a manager.
Thelen said the Committee received a handout of HR Director functions. She would be interested to know how many of these things are currently being done by staff. She feels staff should have input on what is done as this process moves forward. She referenced the Personnel Committee Of The Whole Minutes which reflect a comment about staff not getting work done. She clarified that she didn’t mean to single out the staff; she meant the Department, the structure as it currently exists. Thelen said she does not know where the problem necessarily lies. Thelen strongly recommended an internal hire. She was unsure the County was ready to get rid of staff that has been here for a long time. Thelen said she will not support the HR Director position at this time. Mattson made reference to the comment by Thelen on the duties of the HR Director. He said the Personnel Committee Of The Whole Minutes reflect that, “Norman said the handout reflects personnel functions carried out in a Human Resources Department. The HR Director would oversee these functions.” Thelen said what is not known is who currently handles many of these functions. She would be interested to know what functions would be moved to the HR Director and what would remain with the Coordinator. She felt having the HR Director report to the Coordinator was unusual in the organizational flow chart. She did not understand why the County would not proceed with an internal hire for the HR Director position. Russek said the position will be advertised both internally and externally. He said that it is up to the individual as to whether they apply. Thelen said it is her understanding that the Personnel Representatives will apply. Eichelberg asked Thelen if she agrees that a job description is needed even if they proceed with an internal hire. Thelen said she does not know what is needed. If it is a problem with work load, possibly more of the tasks could be delegated. She felt there are some irregularities that should be looked at. Thelen said it is suggested to open the position up to the broader pool. She asked whether the Board would prefer to hire someone from within so there are no layoffs. She did not recall the County taking action to replace a position that completes the work with a position that manages the work.
Sawatzke said he and Russek were members of the Leadership Team Committee that discussed the HR Director position. They were the least vocal members of this Committee on pushing this position forward. The push was from other places. Sawatzke said his position is that there is not as much work to do now in Personnel. He is not suggesting the Department is not busy but it is not a workload that requires more staff. He said if this discussion is to the point where it is agreed an HR Director position is needed but that an additional person is needed, he will not support it. He said it is important that everyone understands where this may go. Thelen said that is her problem. She does not want to lay off current staff. She supports an internal hire. Mattson said they could still move forward and readdress this after interviews are conducted.
udy Brown, Personnel Representative, asked for a Personnel Committee Meeting as an opportunity for the three Personnel Representatives to discuss workload and volume. She said the Board has made the assumption that there is not as much to do, due to the economy and not as many position replacements. She said the Board has failed to realize that due to the economy, they do receive volumes of applications for the positions that do come up for replacement. They interview twice as many as a typical replacement. There may be fewer positions but a longer period of time to hire is involved. Another thing the Personnel Representatives spend a lot of time on is entering data into programs. With automated systems for almost everything, they must go online with every insurer that the County does business with and make changes for employees. Also, more time is involved with online position advertisements. Processes are not streamlined and it involves more time than it did previously. She said additionally, the Board has taken away a half-time position for clerical support that they used to have, so the Personnel Representatives do all of their own clerical work. Brown stated she would like an opportunity to meet with the Personnel Committee to discuss their job functions and time involved. Thelen asked Brown if it is worth getting an HR Director if it means getting rid of one of the Personnel Representatives. Brown said she does not see how hiring an HR Director will change the workload. She understands and realizes the Coordinator has more on his plate than he can handle. She said the HR Director will have to absorb the work of one of the Personnel Representatives if one of them is released. Thelen referenced the three Personnel Representative positions. She asked Brown if one of the current staff was hired as the HR Director whether they would be doing more work. Brown said this is correct. Thelen said they would be doing their current work plus the duties of the HR Director. Eichelberg asked Brown whether she agrees that a job description would be required with an internal hire so that person would understand the job duties of that position. Brown said there needs to be a job description for all positions.
Sawatzke said the more this is discussed, the more he fears this will turn into another unbudgeted position being added to the Administration Department. A couple of years ago, the County started job classifications. At that time, Personnel indicated it was a great time for that project as things had slowed down. Sawatzke said maybe the County should not move forward at this time with the HR Director position. He said he does not want there to be discussion in six months about the need of adding a staff person. The motion to approve the recommendation carried 3-2 with Sawatzke and Thelen casting the nay votes.
Sheriff Hagerty said the purpose of meeting with the Committee is to provide a better understanding of his role, their roles working together, and to foster better communication. A handout was provided (attached) reflecting an opinion on the difference between a Sheriff’s Department and a Sheriff’s Office. The handout reflects, in part, that “The Office of Sheriff is not simply another ‘department’ of county government. The internal operation of an Office of Sheriff is the sole responsibility of the elected Sheriff. County department heads are subordinate to a county governing body, because a ‘department’ is truly only a division of county government. The Office of Sheriff is a statutory/constitutional office having exclusive powers and authority under state law and/or state constitution. These inherent powers are not subject to the dictates of a local county governing body.”
Hagerty said he inherited some transparency issues when he became Sheriff. As part of overcoming these issues, he met with Norman and has also provided information directly to the Board on news releases and incident updates in the County. The Sheriff’s Office also implemented a medicine take back program. These are examples of some of the things that have been done at minimal cost. He said he has been fiscally responsible in the Sheriff’s Office. The Office has turned back millions of dollars in the budget in the past ten years. They continually look for ways to do this. Hagerty said the Sheriff’s budget came in $400,000 less this year and $100,000 less for 2012. One method they are using to accomplish this includes moving personnel within the Office.
Hagerty referenced the five positions the Sheriff’s Office left vacant in 2008. He felt the problems that have resulted began in March, 2010, when the Lead Clerk Supervisor position was presented to the Personnel Committee Meeting for replacement. Sheriff Gary Miller was unable to attend the Personnel Committee Meeting where this was being discussed. Shortly before that meeting, it was learned the position would not be recommended. The Sheriff’s Office has been asked to provide flow charts and eligibility lists just to solicit interest in a position. He felt this was out of the realm of the Sheriff, as it is his Office to manage. Hagerty felt the process of reviewing positions at the Personnel Committee Meeting looks favorable to the public. He asked the Board to have confidence in his decisions on replacing positions. He provided examples of some of the issues the Sheriff’s Office faces on a daily basis and that staff resources must be directed to handle what arises. Coming to a meeting to ask to replace a position takes time away from these resources. He wants to be a team player but requests some autonomy to decide where the resources of the Sheriff’s Office should be allocated. He said the County Board has been great in setting budgets and they will not find he spends money needlessly. The Office has things in check with overtime. Currently, there are three openings in the Sheriff’s Office. With two of these openings, the Sheriff’s Office said they would come back for replacement as a courtesy. It then became an expectation and then a demand. He felt it has become cloudy on who is running the Sheriff Office, which he saw as his job as Sheriff. Some issues have been settled through grievance arbitration. Hagerty said with 220 employees, there is a lot of turnover. He views getting authorization to replace a position in the budget as redundant or re-authorization. He does not view this as an inherent thing he should have to do each time there is a position opening.
Sheriff Hagerty referenced communication with the County Board and said he is looking for more of that interaction. He offered meeting with the Board on a quarterly basis to review the Sheriff’s budget. Hiivala has been coming to the LEC to assist them with their budget. He hopes the Board has the faith in him to make decisions on what positions to replace and when. A new eligibility listing for deputies may be needed (cost of $3,000 to administer the test).
Sheriff Hagerty expressed appreciation in keeping the two open positions in the budget since 2008. The Office is working to come up with unique applications to save money. He asked the Board to have confidence in him being prudent with the budget.
Thelen asked if the issue is mostly related to the Sheriff having to obtain approval for positions before they are replaced. Hagerty referenced the past practice of placing position requests on the Agenda for approval. He said now the County Board requires position replacements to be run through the Personnel Committee prior to approval by the County Board. He felt this process muddied up the grievances that occurred in his Office over the past year. He received approval in November, 2010 to restructure the Sheriff’s Office. However, the process took away his ability to manage his budget, which had been approved. He said the process was redundant and inefficient. Hagerty stated he would not hesitate on proceeding in the same fashion again if he had to.
Sawatzke asked whether Hagerty feels the County Board has the authority to set the Sheriff’s budget. Hagerty agreed. Sawatzke said the budget is made up of many things, including equipment, vehicles, and employees. What the County Board has tried to accomplish by bringing position replacements to Committee is to prevent having to lay staff off. He feels it is better not to hire initially than to have to lay the person off in the future. The Board is trying to look at positions when they become vacant, as the Board has total budget authority. Sawatzke said the Sheriff’s Office went for a number of years without filling several positions. In looking at the Jail, he thought they could possibly get by with 1-2 less staff. Hagerty said he will continue to look at these things. He is doing this as he has the authority under his budget. Sawatzke said the County Board found out through the grievance process that the County Board sets the salaries as well. Hagerty said he never disputed that. That involved the Union. Sawatzke said when setting the budget, it is easier for the Board to review positions. Under Hagerty’s philosophy, the positions would be hired right away. Hagerty said that he would not do that. Sawatzke said he may not support having the positions in the budget if he thought that were happening. Hagerty said he would then have to convince the Board during budgets that he needed the positions.
Hagerty said what he wants is nothing more than the Office requires. Once the budget is set, he asked the Board to trust him to manage it. Hagerty feels it is redundant to come for approval to get the same position filled. He would like to partner with the Board on some of the initiatives the Sheriff’s Office is taking.
Thelen said she could support not having the Sheriff’s Office position openings come to the Personnel Committee for approval as it is a peer level. She feels the Sheriff’s Office is in a unique situation due to high turnover. The budget could be reviewed quarterly with the Sheriff. She felt the Sheriff’s replacements are different than other Department Heads as they work off of eligibility lists.
Sawatzke said the personnel requests should come before the Personnel Committee. The Sheriff’s Office can decide whether they have staff available to attend the meeting. Otherwise, they should send information to the Committee on their request to replace the position. Sawatzke pointed out that if another department does not attend the Personnel Committee Meeting, the request for replacement is not approved. This is not the case with the Sheriff’s Office; positions requested have been replaced. He did not see this as a conflict with the Sheriff’s rights. Hagerty said it is re-authorization of what has already been authorized. Sawatzke said this is the County’s process. If that process is taken away, it reflects the Board doesn’t have that authority.
Thelen felt the process is redundant. She said the Sheriff’s Office is a separate Office with higher turnover. There are statutory things the Sheriff has to do. She felt the Sheriff’s Office could just inform Administration who is hired. Sawatzke stated this is the gray area. The County Board is the employer who hires and sets salaries. Once the employee is hired, the Sheriff supervises them.
Norman stated he needs to have Board direction. Whatever decision is made, the process should be applicable to all elected department heads so they are treated equally. Russek said a policy was developed on handling open positions. It is expected that departments follow this and now there is a problem. He agrees that the elected department heads should be treated the same. Eichelberg asked whether staff members are hired at Step 1. Hagerty confirmed this is correct. Eichelberg said that Administration will need to be informed of who is hired. Hagerty stated they work closely with Administration to track hiring.
Sawatzke said the Board has the authority to set budgets. He asked Norman whether the Board has the authority to amend budgets. Norman responded this is correct, but would need to seek legal counsel on whether amending the Sheriff’s budget would open up the appeals process under Statute. The budget could not be increased. Sawatzke stated the Board is trying to retain their statutory authority as well. He said the Sheriff has the ability to challenge his budget. Norman said that the State’s budget process is on a fiscal year cycle, starting July 1st. In two years, for example, if the County faces a multi-million dollar cut from the State, they could elect to implement a mid-year correction to the budget to meet obligations. Sawatzke asked whether the Board would have the authority to do this with both appointed and elected departments. Norman felt this would be the case. If the Board chose to amend the budget of an elected department head, they would have the opportunity to appeal that budget. Thelen said the Sheriff will still work with Personnel, they just will not have to do so with every position. Sawatzke asked what will occur if a decision is made to take positions away mid year. One could make a strong argument that by not routing personnel requests for the Sheriff’s Office through the Personnel Committee is giving up the County Board’s authority to amend budgets. Hagerty said the County may want to consult its Labor Law Attorney prior to amending a budget.
Recommendation: There is no recommendation to the County Board as there is a split decision on whether the Sheriff will be required to present to the Personnel Committee requests to fill open positions. The split decision is as follows: Thelen and Eichelberg support the Sheriff not having to present requests to the Personnel Committee; Russek and Sawatzke support him doing so. Commissioner Mattson left for another commitment prior to the time the Committee’s recommendation was addressed. At the request of Sheriff Hagerty, a County Board Agenda packet will be provided to him.
At today’s County Board Meeting, Norman said there were four Commissioners present at the conclusion of the Committee meeting. It was a split decision on whether the vacant positions in the Sheriff’s Office should go to the Personnel Committee. Norman asked for clarification on that issue. Sawatzke made a motion to acknowledging the Committee had no recommendation on this issue and that the County will continue with its current policy. The recommendation includes providing an Agenda packet to the Sheriff. The motion was seconded by Thelen. Thelen said one of the major reasons this was discussed was so the Sheriff’s Office would be exempt from coming to the Personnel Committee for each hire. She felt the Sheriff’s arguments were compelling. The Sheriff’s Officer hires from eligibility lists. Thelen felt the Sheriff was on the same page as the County Board in terms of watching the budget to assure they are not hiring when they don’t need to. She felt the issue deals with replacements and the unnecessary redundancy of requiring the Sheriff to bring those to Committee. She supported not requiring the Sheriff to bring position replacements to the Personnel Committee. Russek commented that Thelen seconded the motion and now she is going to vote against the motion. Thelen said that is correct. Sawatzke said in the past, position replacements were not referred to Committee. With the down turn of the economy, the Board decided to reevaluate the budget mid-year (expenditures and revenues lost through State reductions). The Board looked at ways to solve budget issues and to avoid layoffs. Sawatzke said the Board has the statutory authority to set and amend budgets. Referring position replacements to Committee offers the opportunity to review whether to amend budgets. Former Sheriff Gary Miller did this when he decided not to fill five deputy positions. At that time, Sheriff Miller discussed this with the Board. He said there is precedence that sometimes positions do not get filled. There were five previously in the Sheriff Department and now there are two. There may be occasion in the future where the Board will want to have this type of discussion again. Without the meeting, the discussion will not occur. Sawatzke said the Sheriff could send a representative if he cannot attend. He did not think the Board could require Sheriff Hagerty to attend the meeting. However, to eliminate the Board’s ability to evaluate spending as the year progresses undermines the Board’s ability and statutory responsibility to set and amend budgets. Sawatzke said they recognize Sheriff Hagerty has the statutory authority that other department heads do not have but it also needs to be recognized that some of the things that go on relate to both parties. He said spending relates to both parties and so they need to be partners in the discussion. Thelen said Sheriff Hagerty recommended reviewing the budget on a quarterly basis. She viewed the Sheriff’s Office as a separate and unique office.
Russek said Sheriff Hagerty visited with him this morning. He relayed to the Sheriff that he understands his position and that he hoped the Sheriff would understand the Board’s. Mattson said he left the Personnel Committee Meeting early but supports position replacements being referred to Committee. He said the Board needs to know what is occurring. Thelen said the Board will know what is going on. It is a question of the necessity of position replacements coming before the Personnel Committee. She understands the need for the process but feels it is becoming a bit of a hardship for the Sheriff’s Office. Sawatzke said the process allows a chance to reevaluate positions. It is a cost saving measure and that is why it was put into place. He felt positions should be referred to Committee whether an eligibility list is involved or not. Sawatzke said if the Sheriff cannot attend, he can either send a representative or an email explaining the justification for replacement. Recently, a position replacement came forward from the Jail. O’Malley and Pippo were unable to attend because of another commitment so the information was sent by email.
Sheriff Hagerty said this is all about communications. He asked that the Board recognize the autonomy of the Sheriff’s Office. He referenced a recent request to fill a Bailiff position. The response received is that the position replacement must be sent to the Personnel Committee. Sheriff Hagerty viewed this as redundant and inefficient. He said his position is separate from a department head in a huge way. He holds an elected office. The Sheriff’s performance is reviewed every four years. If his performance is not what it should be, he will get voted out of his position. Sheriff Hagerty stated the Sheriff and County Attorney are allowed to challenge their budgets under Statute 387.20. He felt the Board has been fantastic to work with on setting the budget. If an email works for the Personnel Committee Meetings, he could send the justification for a position. Otherwise, Sheriff Hagerty offered the possibility of quarterly meetings with the Board. He would like to be a partner but requested the Board recognize the autonomy of the Sheriff’s Office.
Sawatzke questioned the Sheriff on who has the authority to set the Sheriff’s Office budget. Sheriff Hagerty said by Statute that is the County Board. Sawatzke asked Sheriff Hagerty whether the County Board has the authority to amend that budget. Sheriff Hagerty stated he had that discussion with the Coordinator and it appears there are some criteria required. Sheriff Hagerty said he does not want this to be a power struggle. Sawatzke said the County Board has certain authority and responsibility as well. He said referring positions to Committee offers an opportunity for discussion, and to look at the work load and whether to replace a position. Sheriff Hagerty said this has to be his call once the budget is set. He is not looking for the County Board to cut the Sheriff’s budget. Sawatzke said the Sheriff is then taking away the authority the Board has to amend budgets. Sheriff Hagerty did not feel that was the case.
Sawatzke said the eligibility lists should be available at all times and that should not hold the process up when a position is up for replacement. Sheriff Hagerty said the Personnel Representatives have been good about posting and filling positions. This issue involves the delay in getting to that point. Sheriff Hagerty told Sawatzke he respects that the Board sets the salaries and the budgets. He thanked the Board for their efforts in setting the Sheriff’s budget.
Judy Brown said in the Sheriff’s Office, eligibility lists are created for those positions which are deemed essential (deputies, correction officers, dispatchers). Eligibility lists are not used for other positions that are deemed non-essential, such as clerical. Sawatzke said that he wants to make sure eligibility lists are kept up to date for the three essential job classifications so that does not delay the process. Norman said this was discussed in a previous meeting and agreed to by all in attendance.
Russek restated the motion indicating that it is to bring all position openings to the Personnel Committee and that Sheriff Hagerty will receive a County Board packet. The motion carried 4-1 with Thelen casting the nay vote.
(End of 9-20-11 Personnel Committee Of The Whole Minutes & discussion)
Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, requested the Board adopt a resolution certifying unpaid sewer charges to PID #215-013-000090, Matthew J. & Lexann M. Steffens (Rockford Twp.). Asleson said the Charlotte Martha Sewer District was set up in 2000. The project was installed a couple of years later. Since that time, there have been a number of new sewer hookups. In this particular case, the person received a building permit from the County. A house was never constructed, but there is a garage with plumbing facilities and a guest room. In the process, the person was quoted fees owed to the City of St. Michael for the sewer connection charge. Those fees were never paid. The property is outside of City limits so the City Council cannot certify these fees on the tax statements. Asleson said the resolution reflects unpaid charges in the amount of $5,493.00 plus interest on any unpaid balance. What they hope to do in the future is have fees collected as part of the County’s building permit process with monies being forwarded to the City. It will be a matter of setting up a process to make sure the pass-through of funds is acceptable to the Auditor/Treasurer. Asleson has been in contact with the property owner several times. The notice for today’s meeting was sent to the same address. He has not heard anything since he sent the notice but has received responses from other correspondence sent to that address. Sawatzke asked whether the property owner has the option of repayment over a period of time. Asleson said he misunderstood what the City proposed in a previous conversation about spreading payment over a number of years. In the past, hookups fees have been paid up front. The City would like to collect the fees all at once and not spread payments. Asleson said this option was offered to Steffens but he has not heard whether he wants to elect that option. The main concern is having this action recorded so that if the property is sold or foreclosed, it will appear with the property transfer. Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #11-45, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
A Ways & Means Committee Meeting was held on 9-28-11. At today’s County Board Meeting, Mattson stated that he has not been in contact with Mattice since the Committee Meeting to find out what occurred in the meeting with the two property owners. Sawatzke said the Committee received information at the 9-28-11 Meeting relative to a 15” pipe being installed by the County 12 years ago at a higher elevation than the previous pipe. Sawatzke said the County is involved because of actions taken to create this situation. On a motion by Mattson, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the minutes:
I. Discussion RE: Drainage Tile Issue, Collinwood Park & Adjacent Drainage System.
Mattice said the direction of the Ways & Means Committee on 8-17-11 was to collect data on water elevations. Based on 1981 data from the DNR survey, the Wright County Surveyor’s Office attempted to mimic the survey shots to find the water surface elevations and down stream flow lines. Maps of the area were distributed (attached) reflecting water and drain tile elevations.
Trunk explained that they were able to locate the drain pipe using a metal detector. There is a 15” plastic drain pipe on Wright Count property, closer to the marsh. Mattice thought this was put in approximately 12 years ago. Trunk stated that apparently, part of the 18” reinforced concrete pipe was removed at that time and replaced. Survey results indicate this replacement tile is about 6” higher than in 1981 (Current elevation=1033.51; 1981 Elevation=1032.6). Mattice thought the insert may have been put in by Morris Excavating. The elevation of the insert may differ based on the condition of the tile when it was installed or from heaving. Trunk was unsure if a pipe is placed down 6” whether the same flow would occur as the tile has probably moved over the years. He stated the root system of the trees may be causing problems.
Trunk said the water elevation of Chelgren Lake is 9/10 below the ordinary high water mark. The current water surface level is 1034.74’ compared to 1033.87’ in 1981. Collinwood Lake’s current water surface level is 1032.83’ compared to 1031.84’ in 1981. The downstream flow line agrees with the shots taken in 1981. The DNR has control of Chelgren Lake and Collinwood Lake. They do not have control of the marsh. Trunk said a 1981 letter from the DNR reflects that any change to the tile line or any alteration of the outlets would probably not be allowed without obtaining permits and further studies being completed. The letter includes a list of seven items that would need to be covered or noted on the application.
Mattice suggested three options. The first would be to reset the upstream flow line to the elevation of what it was in 1981, tying into the existing line. The second would be to establish the same flow line and replace the tile. The third would be to do nothing. Sawatzke said an 18” tile would carry 50% more water than the 15” tile. Allen stated that replacing the tile to 18” should not be a problem as they have shots reflecting the tile at that capacity previously. Sawatzke feels the County should be involved with the pipe replacement because of the involvement when the pipe size was reduced. He was unsure of the County’s responsibility on the north side of the private road. Trunk said an easement of record was not found for the drainage tile.
Although Terning presented the request to the County for assistance with addressing water problems in this area, there are other properties being impacted. The cabin owners on Collinwood Lake have sink holes on their properties. The private road leading to the cabins floods at times. Terning said there is also lost water storage in the system as things are backed up. The old DNR survey indicates a high spot in the marshy swale at a 1034’ elevation. That could hold back the water flow from Chelgren Lake. Trunk said based on the elevations taken, there will not be any water flowing in that area if the water level of Chelgren Lake drops 7/10’. The landowners share a common easement for 78th St. NW and it is recorded. It is a private road.
Cost of repair was discussed. To replace the tile from the inlet to the outlet is estimated at $4,000 (materials only). This does not include adding a manhole. Terning said he will hire Morris Excavating at a cost of $3,000 instead of completing the work himself. Morris Excavating has suggested curving the line to save cost. Permission for repair has not been obtained from the landowners. It was felt that each landowner, if agreeable to the repair, could contribute 1/4 of the $4,000 material cost. The County would be a contributor to this cost and would assume responsibility for road work and survey work related to this project, and making sure documents are recorded.
The Committee discussed various locations for the tile line. It was felt that running the tile line along a property line would be preferred. Currently it runs through four properties. One option would involve running the tile west along the road and then north across to the property line between the two easterly parcels owned by Gary Piehl. The other involves running the tile line on the easterly edge of the parcel owned by Chares & Patricia Devos. Allen feels the DNR should be involved in any tile reconstruction. A change in the outlet location would have to be approved by the DNR. Saxton did not feel this would present an issue with the DNR. He said placing the tile line to the east of the Devos property would provide a short, straight line to the outlet (375’ vs. 200’). Allen said a contractor form permit will be required, which is free.
Terning questioned future maintenance. Sawatzke said he did not know who would be responsible for maintenance. Asleson stated that with no easements, it has historically been whoever put in the line or the successor landowners that are responsible for maintenance. He said it makes sense to have a recorded easement so maintenance can be performed if needed.
Recommendation: Mattice will contact property owners to determine whether they are interested in meeting to discuss repair and cost share. If they are, Mattice will coordinate a meeting with property owners, Terning, Mattson, and SWCD representatives. If property owners are not interested in repair, the County will repair the portion on County property only. If the material cost of repair greatly exceeds $4,000, Mattice should bring this issue back for discussion.
(End of 9-28-11 Ways & Means Committee Minutes)
Bills Approved
Albertville Body Shop Inc.. $2,895.54
Allina Hospitals & Clinics 20,665.34
Ameripride Services 161.27
Anoka County Corrections 17,864.00
Aramark Services Inc. 14,014.56
Bachman Printing 272.49
Bauman/Lawrence R. 435.00
BP Amoco 100.80
Cameron/Tim 150.00
Cenex Fleetcard 704.60
Climate Air 11,845.880
Conestoga-Rovers & Assoc 2,600.00
Craguns Lodging and Conf 2,037.00
Cub Pharmacy 257.75
Dell Marketing LP 3,820.96
Denn/Franklin E. 344.00
Display Sales Company 251.16
Douglas/Ralph D. 438.00
Dynamic Recycling 10,254.42
Electric Pump 577.10
Ellis/Nila 104.12
Emedco 131.89
Emergency Physicians Prof 187.50
Ernst General Construction 8,331.74
Feddema/Tom 292.00
Hardings Towing Inc. 213.75
Hardrives Inc. 572,210.12
Hillyard Inc. - Minneapolis 8,293.93
Huffcutt Concrete Inc. 610.00
Integrated Fire & Security 1,230.00
Intereum Inc. 207.38
Junction Towing & Auto Rep 142.14
Keaveny LTC Pharmacy 1,961.60
Knife River 3,053.50
Kustom Signals Inc. 132.30
L3 Communications Inc. 274.67
Lacount Sales Inc. 206.78
LaPlant Demo Inc. 1,389.53
Larson/RL Excavating Inc. 291,144.12
Maple Lake Lumber Company 178.67
Marco 1,806.19
Marco Inc. 4,646.99
Mattson/Richard 119.00
Mini Biff LLC 133.28
Minnesota Monitoring 4,408.50
NAMI In-St. Cloud Area 200.00
Northern States Power Co 1,586.87
Northland Business Systems 257.82
Office Depot 1,776.65
Pederson/David 260.00
Ram/Swana 290.00
Redstone Construction Co. 183,846.98
Regents of the University 31,862.49
Russell Security Resource 848.77
SHI International Corp. 965.08
Southwest Chapter of ICC 100.00
St. Michael/City of 1,500.00
State Supply Co. 144.59
T & M Towing and Snow Plow 187.03
The Sign Man of MN Inc. 384.75
Unlimited Supplies 228.05
Wright County Highway Dept. 1,184.02
29 Payments less than $100 1,422.49
Final total $1,218,145.08
The meeting adjourned at 10:01 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Oct. 24, 2011.

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