WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
JULY 31, 2012
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Russek, Thelen, and Eichelberg present. Commissioner Mattson was absent.
Russek moved to approve the 7-17-12 County Board Minutes. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 4-0.
On a motion by Russek, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the Agenda as presented.
On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Russek, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: L. Winterhalter, Atty.; C. Goodrich, A. Harvey, P. Thompson, T. Vaith, T. West, Aud./Treas.; D. Jore, Hwy.; W. Stephens, P&Z; J. Hartmann, G. Poepping, C. Torkelson, Sher./Corr.
2. Waive Inspection Fee For Fair Grounds Bleacher Inspection.
3. Claim, Madden, Galanter & Hansen, LLP, $13,476.83 (June, 2012 Service).
4. Appoint Virgil Hawkins Highway Engineer, Eff. August 8, 2012, Step 3, $95,029.
5. Refer Health Partners Rebate For Affordable Care Act’s Medical Loss Ratio To The Personnel Committee.
6. Schedule Bid Opening For Human Services Center Parking Lot For 8-21-12 At 10:00 A.M.
1. Approve Abatement, PID #114-317-001010, SAB Properties LLC.
1. Authorize Signatures On Grant Application For Emergency Funds From The Department Of Public Safety For 2013, $600, For The Victim/Witness Program.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented the June Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines. The tax settlement is recognized in the Guidelines. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, referenced the Building Care & Maintenance Budget on Page 22. The Professional Services Line Item reflects a previous expenditure of $15,364.31. Norman found that in April, a payment was made to the Regional Crime Lab which should have been coded to Budget 100 instead of Budget 111. Hiivala will make this correction. On a motion by Russek, second by Eichelberg, all voted to accept the June Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines.
Hiivala said Kerry Saxton, SWCD, did some exploratory digging on County Ditch 38 last week and found a collapsed structure. He understands Saxton is exploring the outlet on the Ditch. As Saxton was not available for a report at the Board meeting today, Hiivala said a more detailed report will be given when a bill is received for the work that was completed.
A County Ditch 24 update was provided. Hiivala said a floating bog on Locke Lake has been discussed at recent Board Meetings. He provided a map highlighting benefited property owners on the Ditch. There are quite a few lake properties that are not included in the assessment role. Hiivala said a redetermination of the Ditch is a possibility. He understands there are now five bogs on the Lake, and he understands the Lake Association has been towing the bogs. He asked whether the County should remove the bogs and ask the Lake Association to pay. Sawatzke said Kurt Deter is on retainer with the County and asked whether he has been consulted. Hiivala said he has not contacted him. Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, said the main danger of the bogs is to lakeshore owners. If the outlet to the Lake is blocked, it will raise water levels. The County could consult with Deter. Thelen asked whether the County would only act if the bogs clog the Ditch. Asleson said part of the question is the location of the Ditch. The Lake is not part of the Ditch system, and the bogs are currently located on the Lake. After discussion, it was decided that Deter should be consulted for an opinion. Hiivala will place this on the next County Board Agenda.
On a motion by Russek, second by Eichelberg, all voted to schedule a Primary County Canvassing Board Meeting on 8-16-12 at 8:00 A.M. in the County Board Room. The Meeting will be attended by Eichelberg, Russek, Hiivala, Court Administrator Peggy Gentles, and the Mayor of St. Michael.
A Tax Forfeit Committee Meeting was held on 7-18-12. The minutes of that Meeting follow:
Brian petitioned the City of Albertville’s request to have four parcels reverted to them per developer’s agreement, and two parcels for public use.
1A. Revisit sales prices for the City of Rockford (R 113-043-001280) The Committee reviewed the City’s request to acquire the property for use in an adult daycare facility. Brian advised the Committee that the City was within their rights to acquire the property. The Committee recommended selling the parcel to the City for $1 plus applicable fees.
1B. Revisit sales prices for the City of Waverly (Multiple properties - see attached listing. The Committee reviewed the City’s request to acquire the properties with the intent to re-survey and re-zone the properties. Brian again advised the Committee that the City was within their rights to acquire the properties. The Committee recommended selling the parcels to the City for $1 each plus applicable fees.
2. Update on Parcel 210-129-000020 Brian updated Committee on this parcel which is actually three separate 40’ lake access lots in Sherwood Forest that were owned the Homeowners Association. A request was received from one of the property owners that owns property adjacent to one of the strips. Brian stated there are a few open questions that need more research before any action could be taken on this.
3. Update on Parcel 103-032-000060 Brian gave an update on this parcel. The attorney working with Elim identified a strip of land that has not been assigned an property id number, but has been tax forfeited. The recommendation of the Committee was to create a parcel id number and sell that parcel to Elim for $1 plus applicable fees, as a private sale as they own all adjacent property.
4. Albertville’s Request Brian gave the Committee and update on the request he received from the City. They are requesting to take two properties from the tax forfeit list for a public purpose and then take an additional four that should have been conveyed to the City per a development agreement. The Committee recommends the convenience of the properties to the City.
(End of 7-18-12 Tax Forfeit Committee Minutes)
At today’s County Board Meeting, the following discussion occurred relating to the conveyance of the tax forfeit properties to the cities of Waverly, Albertville and Rockford (as discussed at the Tax Forfeit Committee Meeting). Draft resolutions were prepared for the County Board Meeting: Item
1A. Revisit sales prices for the City of Rockford (R 113-043-001280). Asleson asked that the Board lay this action over indefinitely, as the County has not received a resolution in support of this action from the Rockford City Council and that the minimum bid price be reduced to $1.00. The City of Rockford is looking at constructing an adult daycare center and part of Statute allows for reduced price. Asleson said a resolution referencing that part of the law is required from the City.
Item 1B. Revisit sales prices for the City of Waverly (Multiple properties). Asleson distributed a revised resolution relating to the City of Waverly. The resolution was revised to reflect the correct Statute reference. The same parcels are included. Carrigan Estates is a townhome development with a number of parcels that have gone tax forfeit. The parcels are small and limited to the boundary of the building. The common areas have also gone tax forfeit. Mixed in are parcels where people bought townhomes. The City of Waverly is looking into acquiring the parcels and putting in single family homes. A provision of Statute allows the City to acquire the parcels at a reduced price if they are for purposes of a blighted area. Asleson recommended that the price be reduced to $1.00/parcel plus legal fees and that a resolution be adopted recommending that the State convey the parcels to the City of Waverly. Russek moved to accept that recommendation and to adopt Resolution #12-38. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 4-0 on a roll call vote.
Item 2. Update on Parcel 210-129-000020. Asleson stated that the three 40’ strips of land with lake access went tax forfeit. Maple Lake has indicated an interest in them. More legal research needs to be completed so there is no action recommended at this time. Item 3. Update on Parcel 103-032-000060. Asleson said this parcel is located in the City of Buffalo near the Lake Ridge Center owned by Elim Homes. Elim Homes is looking into constructing a hospice house and discovered this tax forfeit parcel as part of the title search. In between the two lots owned by Elim homes is a 3’ strip that went tax forfeit in the 1930’s. The Tax Forfeit Committee recommendation is to assign a parcel number and indicate a purchase price of $1. Asleson suggested a private sale date in late August and to waive the 30-day notice requirement. Normally competing bidders are notified. However, this action is to clean up title or boundary issues that have existed for 70 years or more. Sealed bids will be received by the Auditor’s Office. The winning bid will be forwarded to the Department of Revenue. Sawatzke moved to set a private sale date for Parcel 103-032-000060, and for bids to be received by 10:00 A.M. on 8-24-12. The motion includes waiving the 30-day notice requirement. The motion carried 4-0.
Item 4. Albertville’s Request. Asleson presented two resolutions. The first resolution relates to four out lots within a development. Pursuant to the development’s agreement with the City, those lots were to be conveyed to the City. The development has since gone out of business. The City can apply to have those lots conveyed to them, possibly for the cost of recording only. The County does not set the price. The lots should have been deeded by the developer and were not. Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #12-39 conveying the four parcels to the City of Albertville. The motion was seconded by Sawatzke and carried 4-0 on a roll call vote.
The City of Albertville requests the conveyance of two tax forfeit parcels for use as street right-of-way and for trunk sanitary sewer utilities. The City is allowed to acquire the parcels for authorized public use. A $250 State fee applies if the property is used in this manner. Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #12-40 conveying the two tax forfeit parcels to the City of Albertville. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 4-0 on a roll call vote.
Russek moved to approve the 7-18-12 Tax Forfeit Committee Minutes. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 4-0.
On a motion by Russek, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.
Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator, requested that the Board authorize him to draft and prepare applications to the Parks & Trails Legacy and Non-Metro Regional Park Grant Programs on behalf of Wright County and the City of Monticello for Bertram Chain of Lakes Park. Grant applications are due 9-28-12. Prior to that date, public hearings are required. Mattice would work on preparation of the grants, maps, and resolutions, which are required as part of the application process. The recommendation for Mattice to prepare the applications comes from the Wright County Parks Commission and the Bertram Chain of Lakes Advisory Board. Mattice stated two applications will be involved. One is for Phase 6, in the amount of $1,697,571, which is a smaller acquisition. Another is for the remaining land base, in the amount of $8,316,000. Sawatzke asked whether the $8,316,000 is through the Parks and Trails Legacy Grant Program. Mattice said it is. Although there is not that much funding available through that Program, application materials will keep the group informed on the status and that this is the next Phase in the acquisition. Sawatzke asked whether those funding programs are set up to obtain 90% State money and 10% local money. Mattice said that is correct for the Legacy Grants. The Non-Metro Regional Park Grant would require a 40% match and Legacy Grants a 10% match. Applications will be submitted to both Programs and a combination of monies could be awarded. Eichelberg moved to authorize Mattice to apply to the Parks and Trails Legacy and Non-Metro Regional Park Grant Programs, seconded by Sawatzke. Russek asked for the funding source for the County’s match. Mattice said that can be discussed if Grant funding is received. Russek has concern about the funding source as the County is trying to hold the line on the budget. Mattice said until he runs the numbers, his assumption would be the County’s match for Phase 6 would be around $80,000. Sawatzke responded to Russek’s concern, stating that the County has not levied for any of the Bertram Chain of Lakes Park acquisitions to date. He said he knows County dollars are involved. However, the money has not been levied; funds have been utilized from the Capital Improvement account. Sawatzke said whether or not the Grant is awarded, it will not have an impact on the 2013 levy. He stated that the County Board does not intend to levy for the acquisition (the matching amount). The motion carried 3-1 with Russek casting the nay vote.
Mattice presented the 7-09-12 Parks Commission Minutes and provided an update on the Special Waterfowl Hunt at Ney Park for Veterans with Disabilities. The Hunt will take place on 10-06-12. The application deadline for participants is 8-31-12. Eight people will be allowed to participate, along with their mentors and equipment. If more than eight applications are received, a drawing to select the eight will be held at the 9-11-12 County Board Meeting. After the Hunt, a lunch will be hosted by the Silver Creek Sportsman’s Club for up to 30 other veterans with disabilities. A trap range will be set up for them. This was provided as an informational item.
Mike MacMillan, Court Services Director, brought forth discussion on the wRight Choice Program. He introduced Kris Thompson, ISD 877 Assistant Principal, and Abe Abrahamson, Court Services Juvenile Supervisor. The Program has completed one and one-half years of operation and is housed in the Government Center. MacMillan said it has been a unique opportunity to partner with the different school districts and the students they serve.
Abrahamson stated that he has been employed by Wright County for 21 years. With the exception of the MEADA Initiative, he feels the wRight Choice Program is the best example of collaboration during this time. There are many partners involved (School Districts, Human Services, Court Services, Sheriff, and businesses). The Program’s emphasis is on the restorative piece. Abrahamson mentioned Karen Determan, Court Services, who works with the wRight Choice teacher on restorative justice. Court Services staff members have taken the opportunity to complete educational pieces with the students, which has been very important to the Program. The Truthought Cognitive Behavior Program is used to teach students about decision making, thinking errors, self esteem, and respect. There have been people from Human Services, Court Services, and businesses teaching about collateral consequences, effective communication, job skills, etc. This activity has been built into the students’ day, along with the academic and restorative justice pieces. Abrahamson said the security and safety piece has also been a positive aspect of the wRight Choice Program. Over the duration of the Program, there has not been a safety or security issue, other than one minor mental health concern. Abrahamson said that students have a unique opportunity to be part of a Program which works to keep them academically sound, and one that provides them with the tools to learn from what they did wrong and hopefully prevent them from repeating some of those behaviors.
Thompson expressed thanks to the County for partnering with the School Districts in this effort. She viewed it as a unique opportunity and partnership for families and students at risk. The School Districts involved thus far have included Annandale, Monticello, St. Michael, Rogers, Maple Lake, and Delano. Rockford is in the midst of becoming part of the Program. Thompson said these Schools are funding their spots in the Program. The wRight Choice teacher has explored and received grant funding and is working collaboratively with Human Services on a project for homeless students and those living on couches. The wRight Choice students are creating toiletry packages. They are also putting together non-perishable food for elementary students for the weekend. Part of the community service piece of the Program includes partnering with the Food Shelf, the City of Buffalo to clean up around the lake, nursing homes, gardeners, Sheriff’s Office, the fishing program through the Senior Center, and the community of Rockford on meal packaging. Thompson said they recognize that all students have good within them. The Program places students in positions where they can realize success. They build off from that success, where the adults work with them as partners. She viewed this as a pivotal point for some students and their parents. The wRight Choice Program has allowed them to take a different approach, bringing students with and beside them. Thompson said the Central MN Mental Health Center works with both the mental health and chemical dependency pieces, and helps students grow in who they are and to make better choices. Thompson provided information on how long students typically are in the Program. The Buffalo School District has worked with a couple of 45-day placements (expelled students). Typically, the placements are shorter and average 2-5 days. With the 45-day placements, they work with the student and their probation officer to make better choices and help them through the hard time instead of sending them somewhere else. It is an early investment in the students that they hope will pay off. Not many of the students return to the Program. There are a couple of students who have returned in a positive piece through the Making a Difference Mentorship Program. The wRight Choice teacher brings students involved in the Mentorship Program to Middle Schools to meet with students who may be having a hard time. The Middle School students are more receptive to the other students’ suggestions and experiences. Timber Bay is another partnership they have worked closely with on several initiatives. Thompson referenced the success realized through an effort to assist with a situation involving 9th grade girls who were able to come together and diffuse a situation. Thompson extended thanks to the County on behalf of those involved with the Program. She said it involves thinking outside of the box and doing more with less money.
Eichelberg questioned the length of time students have spent in the Program (shortest to longest). Thompson responded that it depends on the situation, but can vary from 1-45 days. There have only been three students that have been placed for 45 days. Those students had significant legal issues occurring as well, and the Program assisted with getting them back on track. Thelen said the Association of MN Counties highlights innovative initiatives and asked whether the wRight Choice Program would be something that MacMillan has considered submitting as one of those initiatives. MacMillan stated that Norman forwards information from AMC to departments and it would be a good program to highlight.
Thelen asked whether Truthought is being offered in schools as well. Abrahamson said two Court Services staff went through an intensive train the trainer opportunity. They, in turn, trained the entire Court Services staff on Truthought. The training was also offered to Special Education teachers in the County. Thompson said when students attend wRight Choice, they go through the Truthought process (what did they do, what were the thinking barriers, and how do they overcome those barriers instead of placing blame, getting angry, etc.). The information shared by the students helps to determine how the student responds to conflict. Thompson has used the Truthought process (thinking barriers) when working with students that have been through the Program. She said it is amazing how well it works and is thankful to have been shown that process.
MacMillan said the other thing that needs to be addressed is the Lease Agreement for space within the Government Center for the wRight Choice Program. MacMillan was in contact with Mark Mischke, Buffalo High School Principal, and understands ISD #877 would like to proceed with a 10-month contract for the next wRight Choice Program. At the time of the meeting, Norman had not heard back from Mischke on the draft Agreements sent to him (10-month and 12-month). The Building Committee provided two options for the Lease Agreement. The first option would be a 10-month Agreement for the period of August 15-June 15 and would require the School District to remove their items from the space during the two month period. The second is a 12-month Agreement. MacMillan understands that ISD #877 would like to proceed with the 10-month Agreement because of their resources. The group was thanked for sharing the information and successes of the Program.
Carol Schefers, Public Health, introduced Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Schefers said as part of the day spent with Dr. Ehlinger, they plan to show him the many partnerships they work with in Wright County. Dr. Ehlinger was appointed by Governor Dayton and is responsible for directing work for the MDH. He is responsible for protecting, maintaining, and improving the health of all Minnesotans.
Dr. Ehlinger said as he has met with County Commissioners throughout the State, he has been impressed with their dedication, expertise and passion. He looks to the County Commissioners to provide feedback on what is being done at the State level. The purpose of Dr. Ehlinger’s visits to the counties is to obtain information on what is occurring in counties and to learn the issues (i.e., what counties are dealing with on a daily basis, what issues are affecting families, hospitals, Human Services, and education). Dr. Ehlinger feels Wright County has models that the State needs to look at, with public health and social services integrated in unique and beneficial ways. He stated that other things that impact health are education and economic development. Dr. Ehlinger said it is important to learn the issues as they plan for the next Legislative Session. He is hearing about the SHIP Programs and its benefits. Thelen said as a member of Live Wright, it is an amazing asset to be able to obtain grants for communities and increase active living. She understands the WOW Van has been a success as well. Dr. Ehlinger noted the Live Wright Program as a tremendous success. With Public Health, sometimes the impacts are not realized until down the road, and this Program is an investment being made toward future health. Minnesota is a healthy State because of investments made 30-40 years ago. He said we need to make investments for our children and grandchildren for their long-term health. Dr. Ehlinger was thanked for his work and the time given to the Wright County citizens.
A Transportation Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 7-17-12. Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, provided an overview of that Meeting. The following change was made to the minutes: Page 3, 1st paragraph, line 6, the sentence should read, “Sawatzke said the landowners could agree to the improvements themselves and save the 10% additional charge that would be incurred if the County holds a hearing.” The minutes follow, along with discussion that occurred at today’s County Board Meeting (reflected in italics):
1. Grand Castle Estates In Buffalo Township
Kryzer distributed a handout *Attachment 1+ that outlined the history of Buffalo Township’s desire to have the roads within the Grand Castle Estate paved to Buffalo Township’s standards so that they could take this road over and it could receive township maintenance. The County Board had agreed to front the money for this project last year, with the understanding that assessments to the properties would reimburse the county its money. However, no further action has been taken since this time. Kryzer discussed the issues with both Fingalson and Eichelberg about a month ago, and they agreed that it would be good for Wright County to hire Mike Nielson of WSB to organize the project and prepare the plan for assessments to the property owners. Buffalo Township has agreed to accept the road if it is improved to Buffalo Township standards. Kryzer’s recommendation is outlined in the handout. Fingalson asked if this road would have to be temporarily taken over as a county road, but Kryzer said that this wouldn’t be necessary. He is recommending that the assessment process be started and that bids be sought for the improvements. He also stated that it would be necessary, before construction is begun, to get a resolution from Buffalo Township indicating that this road will become a Buffalo Township road after construction is completed. It is possible that one or more of the landowners would contest the assessments, which is why it is important to gauge their preferences before the project is begun. Nielson said that he would like to get some borings to see what is in the roadbed for bituminous and gravel. Otherwise, it is hard to guesstimate what is needed. Some areas are substantially broken up. Fingalson said that Dick Larson, who served briefly as the Buffalo Township engineer, had done some hand auguring, and there is already some data in the file. Nielson estimated that it would cost between $1,000 and $1,500 to have some borings done, which would provide valuable information. Sawatzke asked if there would be an established ‘not to exceed’ figure for the reconstruction, and Nielson said that a previous estimate to Buffalo Township was approximately $120,000, with a 10% contingency. Kryzer said that this amount would be assessed to the 10 properties, seven of which are vacant. It would probably be best to come up with some kind of formula to assess differently the properties that are built and those that are not. Sawatzke commented that they all get the benefit of the proposed improvement, but Hawkins said that assessing property owners who already have a road in front of their homes is a bit more complicated. Since they already have a road in front of them, it would have to be proven how much of a benefit the new road would give them. Nielson said that he has been through many assessment processes, and it is important to be careful when assigning assessments to both vacant properties and to those with existing homes. He doesn’t know if the assessments have to be equal, and he commented that built properties would receive some benefit, but maybe only a certain percentage. The Court may also consider that the development company defaulted, and landowners of the houses already paid full price for the lots and shouldn’t be penalized. Hawkins asked if it would be feasible to consider a reduced assessment for the current lots with houses, and Nielson said that this would be better than not assessing them at all, as not assessing them would most likely lead to an appeal by the other property owners. He said that the property owners have indicated that they expect some costs, and they realize that they would benefit from township ownership and the resulting maintenance. Russek commented that those with built lots paid more for their lots because they expected the road to be built and bought them at full price. The remaining vacant lots have been assigned reduced rates because Wright County Planning & Zoning will not issue building permits. He has no problem with minor assessments, but he doesn’t want them to be equal. The value of the vacant lots dropped from $60,000 to $15,000 because they are unbuildable at this time. Building the road will increase their value, because after the improvements are made, they will become eligible for building permits. Thelen asked if Kryzer were recommending that Nielson be hired to deal with this, and Kryzer said that he recommends hiring/retaining Nielson to draft plans that will meet Buffalo Township’s standards and to start on the assessment process as directed in Chapter 429 (dealing with the assessment process). After the appeal process has been satisfied (30-day period), the request for bids can be advertised; and as soon as the Board accepts a bid, construction can begin. Russek said that he feels it is time to get this road cleaned up and assessed back to the property owners, with maybe a minimal assessment for those who have already built houses. Both Eichelberg and Schmidt agreed with Russek that it is time to get the road repaired/improved. Kryzer said that there are two different corporations involved, but there is some mutuality between them. They indicated that they would be okay with assessments as long as the current house owners are also assigned some assessment. Fingalson expressed his surprise that the corporations haven’t been more eager to get this situation cleared up so that these properties can be eligible for building permits. He questioned why they didn’t just take care of the improvements themselves so that the cost of the assessment hearing and the time delay could be avoided, but Schmidt said that he had several discussions with them and they didn’t want to proceed in that way. Sawatzke asked if the owners of the 10 lots will object to assessments at the hearing, and Russek said that the project won’t be done until the assessments are approved. They won’t be able to build on the vacant lots until the road improvements are made. Fingalson said that he understands that there is the possibility that assessments won’t be approved, but he questions whether the County will be left having to shoulder the total cost of the process. Even though the Planning and Zoning Department allowed the bond to expire, the Township is also responsible for not having an inspector for the initial road, so the costs should be shared. If the assessments are approved, then the property owners will be responsible for covering all costs associated with the road improvements, hearing expenses included. Neilson said that even if everyone attends the public hearing and objects to assessments, the County could still levy the assessment, go to court, and let the judge decide if the assessments are fair. The judge could adjust some assessments up or down, and the County wouldn’t have to award a bid until after the District Court makes a recommendation. Sawatzke commented that the road wouldn’t have to be made public if all landowners did not want that, and Russek said that if they voted it down the County could walk away from it. Sawatzke said that the landowners could agree to the improvement themselves and save the 10% additional charge that would be incurred if the County holds a hearing. Hawkins said that assessments are likely to be $13,000-15,000/lot if the costs are equally shared, and Kryzer said that he thought a court judgment would be based on a fair assessment, but it’s hard to predict what might be considered fair. If the lots are assessed and the companies file for bankruptcy, the County will get the lots. Kryzer said that he advises the members of this committee to make the recommendation as included in his correspondence to them and as referenced earlier in the meeting in Attachment 1. Within this recommendation is the suggestion that expenses be paid for from the Highway Department’s budget, but Fingalson said that it would be more appropriate to have this expense come from the budget of the Planning & Zoning Department. Sawatzke suggested that it come out of the general fund of capital reserve. It will get paid back with some interest. Kryzer indicated that he would discuss this with County Auditor Bob Hiivala, and suggested that perhaps the Highway Department could shoulder this expense in the meantime.
RECOMMENDATION: It was the recommendation of the TCOTW that Wright County retain Mike Nielson of WSB & Associates to draft plans and specifications for the construction of the roadway in the Grand Castle Estates plat. The plans and specifications must meet the requirements of Buffalo Township. After the plans and specifications are developed, WSB & Associates will start and oversee the process of assessing all costs of this project back to the benefited properties in the Grand Castle Estate plat. After the appeal process for any assessments has expired, WSB & Associates shall advertise and accept bids for the construction of the road in the Grand Castle Estate plat and report back to the Wright County Board for formal approval of the bids. After the bid is awarded, WSB & Associates shall serve as the inspectors for this project and shall assist in assessing all costs against the benefited properties. All invoices from WSB & Associates will be paid from the capital reserve portion of the Wright County General Fund and shall be submitted for approval by the Highway Department. No construction work shall commence on this project until Buffalo Township formally accepts the road after the assessment process has been completed.
At the 7-31-12 County Board Meeting, Sawatzke said he supports the recommendation. However, when the Engineer completes their process and estimates are received, the property owners should understand what it will cost them. If the property owners decide on their own that they do not want the road work done, then the County can let them have the road as it is and walk away. Sawatzke felt otherwise the road improvement issue may end up in court. The landowners are the ones that will have to fund any road improvements. Fingalson said the corporation has indicated that they will not go along with the improvements if the other properties are not assessed as well. The question remains as to how much that assessment will be. Greg Kryzer, Assistant County Attorney, said the County should not discuss amounts at this time. That will be discussed with Mike Nielson of WSB & Associates at a future date. Russek moved to approve the Committee’s recommendation on Grand Castle Estates, seconded by Eichelberg, carried unanimously.
2) Stockholm Township Concerns on Peyton Avenue (CSAH 3 Detour)
Hawkins explained that he had received correspondence from Selseth related to the CSAH 3 construction south of the City of Cokato. Generally, Wright County does post official detours, and every project that requires the closure of a road usually results in an increase in traffic on the neighboring roads (unofficial detours), township and county alike. People will often seek out the shortest alternate route that they can find. MnDOT has an unofficial detour policy, but Wright County doesn’t reimburse and has never reimbursed a township for increased traffic. He asked if the Commissioners are interested in looking at a new policy and invited the township here to speak to this issue. Stop signs were recently installed at Peyton and 70th Street, and the township would like to see enforcement increase at this intersection. Russek asked if tickets are issued to non-local traffic, but the concern is for traffic on an open public road, not that portion of CSAH 3 that has been closed to all but those who must access the closed portion of roadway. Hagerty said that he met last week with Hawkins, Fingalson, Brian Asleson (Deputy County Attorney), Tom Kelly (County Attorney), Kryzer, and some members of the Sheriff’s Department. Minnesota Statute 160.2715 refers to driving around barricades, which is not a concern here, or at least not a concern that they are aware of. This may apply once the road is partially paved. The township wants to make sure that what they are doing to control traffic is legal, that the signage is legitimate, and that there would be success when prosecuting offenders. Hagerty said that in the past when the Sheriff’s Department has attempted to fine those who have driven on closed roads, the judge threw most of the cases out. People have a legal right to access property on the route, and unless they can be followed from end to end, there is no case. Deputies can try to stop the offenders and sometimes give a citation. Most of the people driving these roads are locals, and word spreads pretty fast when a citation is issued. If the township were to put up speed limit signs to slow the traffic and a ticket is issued for excessive speed, the County will not win if the posted speed limit is not authorized. Hagerty said that speeds are generally 55 mph on rural roads, and though he would like to work with the township, he has no control over the dust. Gesinger said that his primary concern is for the safety of people and children. He’s not worried about people paying tickets and fines, but he would like to get the word out for drivers to slow down and added that 40 mph is a comfortable speed on Peyton Avenue. He asked if it could be designated as a detour and posted at 40 mph. It is a safety issue, and the faster people drive, the dustier the conditions, which makes it hard for people see the road ahead of them when others pass. Gesinger said that he would like to see the road posted at 40 mph, which might result in people driving only 50 mph, which is still slower than 60 mph. Hagerty said that he could increase the visibility of patrols in that area by placing some more people down there. He said that his department has traffic counters which would give a good idea on how many cars use that road and at what speed they travel. He could get some feedback in just five days. Selseth asked if there would be a way to keep heavy trucks off Peyton Avenue, and said that there had been a lot of traffic from subs and employees of Mathiowetz Construction, which is the contractor for the CSAH 3 project. She realizes that there are some farmers who need to drive their vehicles on this road, but some of the construction vehicles are in a hurry to get to their destination and she has been passed by a number of them, which created very poor visibility because of the dust they generated. Kryzer said that the weight allowed on the road can be restricted but not the speed. Hagerty said that problems develop with enforcement when some trucks are allowed on the road and others are not. Enforcement has to be impartial. He again stated that he could see that visibility is increased and counters could be placed on the roadway. That way they’ll have a good idea of the average speed. Selseth voiced her concern about vehicles that don’t stop at the newly installed stop signs, and there was an incident where two semi-trucks almost collided when they didn’t stop. Cordell said that “all-way” needs to be put on stop signs that are on each leg of the intersection. When a major change is made, a ‘stop ahead’ sign with a flag should also be installed. Selseth asked if it might be a good idea to approach Mathiowetz Construction and discuss with them the concerns about speed, safety, and dust. She said that they were watering the road the other day, so they may already be aware of the effect their traffic is having on the road. Fingalson suggested that posting message boards (Wright County has three) might help. Selseth said she would like to see a sign that would help slow the traffic down, which would be safer and also help decrease the dusty conditions. It would be good if the Highway Department could get the signs out there and if the Sheriff’s Department could help with extra patrolling. Gesinger will let Hagerty know where the traffic counters can be placed, somewhere on the straight away and not near a stop sign, and they can check this out when they return to Stockholm Township. He would also like to see the solar signs placed out near the road in addition to an increased presence of the deputies. Perhaps a car in both the morning hours and in the late afternoon/early evening hours would be effective. Fingalson said that the township should check with Cordell for the ‘all-way’ and ‘advance’ signs and discuss with him where they should be placed. Klima asked if the county has ever helped with dust control on township roads, and Fingalson said that they have no policy for that and they have never helped with this. He would be happy to help out, but there is no money designated for this expense. Sawatzke asked if a sign could be posted for ‘no truck traffic,’ and Klima said there could be an ordinance about picking up or delivering on that road, but probably only 80% would abide by it. Hagerty said that he would be down tomorrow to take a look at this road and the situation. Gesinger asked if the township could ask Mathiowetz Construction for help, and Fingalson said that they could try to work out something with them. Stockholm Township will work with Cordell to get the proper signs and to get them properly placed, and the township will work with Hagerty to see what level of enforcement/visibility might be effective for slowing traffic and subsequently decreasing the dust. Fingalson said that Highway Department staff will use one or two changeable message signs at one or both ends of Peyton Avenue to help with this issue.
At the 7-31-12 County Board Meeting, Fingalson said that recent rains have helped the situation. An extra message sign was added along the County road which has helped to slow traffic. They have already followed through with what was recommended at the TCOTW Meeting.
3) Review Proposed Five-Year Construction Plan
Hawkins distributed a handout of the current Five-Year Construction Plan and explained that the engineering staff and he have been considering some changes. The years 2013 and 2014 are pretty well set, but there has been some shifting of projects due to funding changes. Improvements to CSAH 12 between TH 55 and CSAH 37 have been delayed to 2014, and some other areas have been identified for consideration of reconstruction. The goal is to keep the pavement condition in good shape, which requires about 25 miles of overlays per year. About 27 miles of overlay have been identified for 2013, and about 25 miles for 2014. Generally, the overlay projects are grouped together in one area of the county to help keep the mobilization costs as low as possible. A larger map was displayed to indicate where certain roads are located that are good candidates for reconstruction. Some are already on the current plan, but others might need to be considered. CR 136 (near the north border of Wright County, east of South Haven) has risen to the top of the list of priorities because of traffic volumes and crash rating. If this were reconstructed, it could become an extension of CSAH 3, and state aid dollars could be used to make the improvements. Fingalson said that he could make that change administratively and not have to go through the Screening Board if mileage isn’t added. (Converting CSAH 10 to a County Road may allow this to be done.) Hawkins said that another project identified but not scheduled is the area on CSAH 35 known as Wolff Swamp. Any grading improvement there would have a pretty hefty price tag, and closing the road for a couple of years would probably be necessary. Sawatzke asked if the cost would be worth the improvements, and Hawkins said that the cost benefit ratio is very similar to the cost of improvements that were done on CSAH 36 a few years ago, and traffic counts are also very similar. Another spot improvement to be considered is in Otsego on CSAH 37 from TH 101 to Quaday. This project was submitted for funding, but it was denied. He said that he will keep applying. There was some discussion about a four lane highway to be built on Kadler, but Hawkins said that the cities of Albertville and St. Michael agree that they can’t economically support this project now because of the downturn in the economy. After talking with both cities, Hawkins said that rather than a four-lane improvement, a pavement preservation will be considered. Sawatzke said that this road is easily adequate with two lanes and didn’t see that four lanes would be necessary. Hawkins said that it has been identified as a future four lane in the Northeast Transportation Study that was adopted by the Wright County Board in 2004, but that improvement is not currently needed. A pavement preservation will last 15-20 years. Fingalson said that a public meeting will be held to discuss the next five years. The Highway Department needs to know which particular roads will be upgraded in order minimize on the maintenance. Many townships also want a meeting so that they know what is going on. One consideration is to have a fall meeting or sometime next year. He would like to establish a proposed five-year plan with a road tour in the fall, so that the current commissioners will have the opportunity to review this before the County Board has several new members. Hawkins said that he prefers to adopt a new five-year plan so that Meyer has direction for work for his crew. He can assess this from year to year when he prepares his budget request. Sawatzke commented that the staff had done a nice job of spreading the jobs around the county and that there’s something in there for everyone. Russek asked if a road tour should be scheduled and if a hearing should be set for October. Sawatzke added that he thinks a public hearing would work better before the road tour so that all the concerns could be visited. It’s not necessary to wait until a new Board is seated. Fingalson said that the decision doesn’t have to be made until July 31st, and Sawatzke said that he would like to do whatever the staff prefers. Meyer said that his biggest concern is that he doesn’t want to spend money on a road for maintenance only to have it ground up two or three years later. Potholes can still be addressed, but whole patches will probably not be done on a road that is going to be reconstructed/overlaid in a couple of years. Sawatzke asked how the economics of the proposed changes work out, and Fingalson said that this is a plan that is based on what is feasible. Work on CSAH 12 had to be switched to 2014 because the necessary state aid money won’t be available until then. There will be an opportunity for federal money with a new two-year bill now out, but this will probably be only for safety projects. Wright County has been very successful in the past with federal funding, and that really helps spread the state and local money around. Hawkins said that the overlays are reflected in the budget, and both CSAH 75 and CSAH 33 got federal money, so this has really helped all projects. He doesn’t have an exact estimate on what the projects would cost, but he would work on that prior to the public meeting. Russek said that this depends on what prices do, too. Fingalson said that the Board should proceed with thinking about planning a public meeting. Right now Wright County has five commissioners familiar with the process and who understand the state aid and federal procedures and have a good handle on the highway system. They would be in a good position to recommend a plan and that would help the Highway Department with the framework for planning. Sawatzke suggested that a public meeting be set for this fall, and Hawkins said that he will keep working on the detailed numbers and prepare to set up a public meeting and a road tour. Sawatzke asked about the proposed bypass around Howard Lake (CSAH 6), and Fingalson explained that this got moved from the five-year plan to the 10-year work plan because of the cost and because there was no consensus on the route for the bypass. Meyer commented that the pavement on CSAH 6 by the fairgrounds is in very poor condition, and something needs to be done soon. Hawkins said that improvements to that area are shown on the new proposed plan. Sawatzke said that rerouting CSAH 6, primarily because of the low height of the railroad bridge, is an expensive fix. Hawkins explained that other projects came up as higher priorities, and the CSAH 6 by-pass could be taken off the plan because of the low cost benefit. Sawatzke said that even if the improvement were done to create another route to avoid the low clearance of the railroad bridge on the current CSAH 6, most of the traffic would still use that route, with the exception of semi-trucks. Meyer commented that this would be excellent discussion for a public hearing, and Sawatzke said that if it is kept on the plan it could still be moved. Whether or not the by-pass is constructed, the old CSAH 6 would still have to be fixed.
RECOMMENDATION: It was the recommendation of the TCOTW that the Highway Department continue to work on recommended changes to the current Five-Year Plan and a detailed list of costs resulting from those changes, and that a Public Meeting and a subsequent road tour be scheduled for sometime this fall.
At the 7-31-12 County Board Meeting, Fingalson requested the Board schedule a Hearing on the Five-Year Construction Plan. Russek moved to schedule the Hearing on 10-09-12 at 1:30 P.M. The Hearing will be held in the County Board Room. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 4-0.
4. Township Signing Program Status
Fingalson said that he met with the townships at the Quarterly Wright County Townships Officers Meeting last week, and he is happy to report that the program is going very well. Gene Janikula, Supervisor of Woodland Township, addressed those present at the meeting and spoke very highly of the opportunity that townships have to participate in this partially funded program. He said that even if the townships received only 50% funding from the federal government, it would still be a great opportunity to get the signs replaced. Cordell said that he participated in the ride-along with one of the Cokato Township supervisors, and he was very supportive of the program. Agreements for Phase II were passed out at this meeting, and some have already been returned to the Highway Department. The deadline for return is August 7. Phase I is coming to an end, with only four ride alongs still to be completed. The Highway Department will get the paperwork for the proposal and plans, and once the bid opening is set, the project will be managed by the Highway Department. There is an outside chance that the entire program could be completed by the end of this year, but that is unlikely.
5) 7-W Transportation Policy Board (TPB)/Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) Report
• Enhancement Projects: Fingalson reported that he was asked by the TAC to go to the TPB to talk to them because of a letter sent by the TPB to members of the TAC regarding the protocol that is followed for choosing candidates for enhancement funding. Some concern and disappointment had been expressed regarding the City of Cokato not receiving any money for its proposed trail project. Fingalson said that the City of Monticello had presented a project that far outranked Cokato’s enhancement project, and funding was awarded to Monticello. The Cities of Annandale and Cokato had both presented their proposed projects to the Wright County Board, and the Board prioritized Cokato’s project ahead of Annandale’s. Because Monticello is a city of over 5,000 in population, it is not required to ask Wright County to sponsor it and can go directly to the TAC with its request. Because of the regional significance of Monticello’s project, the TAC ranked that project much higher than either Cokato’s or Annandale’s. Fingalson said that if Monticello hadn’t presented its project, the TAC probably would not have recommended either Cokato’s or Annandale’s project anyway, because neither proposal had a big regional significance. The decision was made by the TPB to endorse the continued recommendations from the Enhancement Committee. This means that there will no longer be the need for any County Board review and prioritization of proposed projects from within their county. The Enhancement Committee is a cross section of county engineers, city engineers, DNR representatives, people from MnDOT, and county parks administrators who are knowledgeable about trail systems and how they fit into regional programs. County Boards will still have to act as sponsors for cities under 5,000 population, but they won’t be required to rank projects if more than one is submitted.
Fingalson said that the TPB also talked about whether those in 7-W want to establish a 10% set aside for enhancement. MnDOT has a statewide goal for federal projects that 10% of federal money must be used for enhancement projects, but as a region, 7-W has not established that requirement. In some years, more than 10% is spent on enhancement projects, and in some years, less is spent. All agreed that they like the flexibility to make the decision from year to year, based on the projects being considered. There will be no mandatory 10% set aside for enhancement projects in 7-W.
The TPB also requested that there be an annual visit from a TAC member to explain the project recommendations.
• Metro Urbanized Area Boundary Changes re: Met Council
As a result of U.S. Census Bureau’s publication on March 27, 2012, part of Wright County will be included in the Metropolitan (Met) Council’s Urban Areas. Those areas include Albertville, Otsego, and St. Michael. Other areas added outside of Wright County include Elk River and a small portion of Wisconsin. This is the first time the Twin Cities Urbanized Area (UZA) boundary has extended beyond the metropolitan planning boundary, which had been previously contained within the seven-county area under the Met Council’s jurisdiction. The Met Council is now obligated to consider the newly added urban area in its future transportation planning and programming activities. It is possible that these new areas would benefit from additional funding.
At the 7-31-12 County Board Meeting, Fingalson stated that Hanover is included in the Met Council’s urban area but that is not reflected in the TCOTW Minutes.
• Central Minnesota Area Commuter Study
Fingalson reviewed a draft of an extensive study that was done in District 3 by a firm from California. They have good experience in this field and put together a good working document dealing with future transportation issues related to transit and commuter travel.
At the 7-31-12 County Board Meeting, Fingalson said he placed the draft Study in the Commissioners Conference Room for review. If gas prices increase to over $4 in the future, the County may be more interested in the Study.
Sawatzke moved to approve the 7-31-12 TCOTW Minutes, noting the one change on Page 3 that was discussed. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 4-0.
(End of 7-17-12 TCOTW Minutes and discussion at today’s Board Meeting)
Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #12-41, approving the Agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) for a trail and sidewalk extension in Montrose. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 4-0 on a roll call vote.
Fingalson distributed the 2011 Annual Report, which will be placed on the next County Board Agenda for approval. The new County map is available at a cost of $3.
A Building Committee Meeting was held on 7-18-12. At today’s County Board Meeting, Russek said ISD #877 will need to indicate whether they want to proceed with a 10-month or 12-month Lease Agreement. The 10-month Agreement would require them to remove the items from the Courthouse for the two-month period they are not utilizing the space. That way, the space can be used for other things if needed. Russek moved to approve the minutes and recommendations, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 4-0:
I. LEASE AGREEMENT, ISD #877, WRIGHT CHOICE PROGRAM.
The Lease Agreement with Independent School District #877 is being presented for renewal and relates to space rented at the Government Center by the School District for the Wright Choice Program. The most recent Agreement ran from September, 2011 through June, 2012 for a total cost of $13,750 (1,000 sq. ft. at $16.50/sq. ft.). The space rental is located in the former location of the Sheriff’s Detectives.
Mischke said the Wright Choice Program is the most effective school-based collaborative that he has been a part of. The School Districts of Monticello, Maple Lake, St. Michael, Delano, and Annandale have been participants in the Program. Howard Lake has not sent a student to the Program thus far. Rockford will be included this upcoming year. Mischke said they have accomplished more than anticipated through the Program and it has been a very positive experience. The current instructor has made connections at the County and community levels. The instructor has used her creativity to come up with ideas for the Program with neighboring school districts. She was able to secure $18,000 in grants previously and another $47,000 is on the docket for next year. Mischke said very little in grant funding, if any, can be designated toward administrative costs such as rent.
Norman met with MacMillan prior to today’s meeting to discuss the Agreement. Norman’s recommendation to the Board is that the Lease Agreement term be for a full calendar year. The space is being occupied for 12 months even though the Agreement calls for a 10-month period. The Program is not being run in the summer but the School District leaves their items in the space. Norman said the space cannot be used for anything else because of this. If the space is rented for the entire year, the annual cost would be $16,500.
MacMillan disagrees with charging the School District for the full calendar year. He offered having the difference taken from the Court Services Budget. Norman said the County would be subsidizing the Program. The County charges everyone, including departments, $16.50/sq. ft. for rent. This is because of a federal reimbursement program available to Human Services. The County is required to charge everyone the same amount of rent for all utilization of space in order to meet the federal requirement. That is why all departments are charged rent for space. Norman stated that the County continues to heat, cool, and maintain the area utilized. The County Board took action recently to approve use of three offices by Human Services in the same proximity as the Wright Choice Program. Human Services will be charged $16.50/sq. ft. for that space. Norman also has received a request from another organization to rent 3000 sq. ft. from the County.
Eichelberg asked whether the Wright Choice Program could utilize the space during the summer months. Mischke explained that any use during summer months would be minimal. The School District could look into running some community programs during that time. The other option would be to move the Wright Choice items out of the space during the summer months. Norman stated there would be a cost to the School District associated with that as well. In response to a question from Norman, Mischke indicated that School Districts currently involved in the Program are making a contribution towards it. He stated that they could contact the other schools for additional funding toward this Agreement and the contract for the Program Director.
The Committee discussed the Administration Office drafting two Agreements for review, one for 10 months and one for 12 months. The draft Agreements will be forwarded to Mischke for review by the District’s Business Manager.
Recommendation: Mischke will be scheduled on the 7-31-12 County Board Agenda to provide an update on collaborative efforts realized through the Program. Norman will draft two Agreements (10 month and 12 month periods) and forward them to the School District for review.
(End of 7-18-12 Building Committee Minutes)
A Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 7-10-12. At today’s County Board Meeting, Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 4-0:
Jacobs opened by stating that he is not seeking any action from the Committee today. This is an informational session only. His intent is to bring issues to the attention of the Board regarding water quality and water quality management, specifically sediment, fecal and nutrient loading. He provided a PowerPoint presentation (see attached copy). Jacobs addressed three topics:
• Storm Water and Erosion Ordinance Development
• Watershed Project Funding Strategies
• County-based Conservation Incentives.
Jacobs said the goal of developing a Storm Water and Erosion Ordinance (Ordinance) is to level the playing field for all cities. Currently many cities in the County have their own guidelines. The Ordinance would give contractors one set of guidelines to follow. Jacobs said the Water Management Task Force requested that he ask the Board whether they recommend that the SWCD begin formal action on these issues now or wait until after the election in November, as there may be new Commissioners next year.
Jacobs said his discussion of Watershed Project Funding Strategies will include the disadvantages Wright County faces when competing for State funds, including the Clean Water Legacy fund. Historically, local jurisdictions must be able to generate a 25% match to qualify. Many local entities find this difficult to achieve. Jacobs said Clearwater has the only watershed district in the County. The entire Metro Area is covered by a watershed district or watershed management area which has the authority to levy for special projects.
Jacobs said his third topic covers County-based Conservation Incentives. Land used for farming has dramatically altered the County landscape and water quality. Jacobs would like to provide incentives to farmers to utilize Best Management Practices (BMPs) by giving them property tax or income tax breaks as a reward. Jacobs said he is not asking for Board action today. Before they speak with legislators, Jacobs would like to update the Board regarding the issues on today’s agenda.
I. STORM WATER AND EROSION ORDINANCE DEVELOPMENT.
Jacobs referred to the map on Page 2 of the presentation that illustrates the location of Impaired Waters in Wright County. Streams, rivers and lakes colored in blue are not impaired. The waters shaded in red are not meeting State standards for nutrients such as phosphorous. Phosphorous comes from three sources: agriculture, internal loading and urban. Jacobs said the SWCD has monitored intensively for the last ten years, and has compiled substantive data regarding County trends. The situation has reached a plateau. The water quality is not substantially worse, but neither is it getting better. However, Jacobs said the County water quality is significantly below State standards. Jacobs said some lakes in the County will not be usable during very hot seasons with algae blooms and other vegetation. He said a number of lakes in the northern third of the County are well protected with buffers from runoffs and lake volumes. Unless there is widespread change, the status quo will persist. Lakes will not get worse, but neither will they improve.
Thelen asked whether water bodies not marked in red are monitored. Jacobs replied that they have monitored 60 lakes. Of those, 35 are impaired. There are a total of about 360 lakes in Wright County. The SWCD has not monitored all the lakes or every aspect of water quality. They monitored all recreational and general development lakes and a few environmental lakes. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has monitored a small number of sloughs.
Jacobs addressed the problem of urban erosion. He said the picture on Page 3 of the presentation shows a storm drain at the bottom of a hill. Page 4 illustrates a drain clogged with debris. The photograph on Page 5 reveals the stark division between sediment flowing into the relatively clean water of Buffalo Lake. Page 6 shows the clear water of another lake (possibly Pulaski) with a plume of impure water being discharged into the lake.
Jacobs said the Water Task Force has worked on storm water and erosion guidelines and standards for six years. The County Attorney reviewed them, Saxton worked on them, and the SWCD solicited comments from cities and engineering companies. Only a few responded. Jacobs said he is comfortable with the format of the Ordinance. The Board will ultimately decide who enforces the Ordinance, if approved.
Saxton said not all cities are in favor of the Ordinance. He said the current low level of construction is a good time to implement a new Ordinance. Sawatzke asked Saxton to clarify the concerns of the cities who oppose the Ordinance. Saxton replied that some cities think they are managing their water quality well, and others realize they need guidance. Some cities resent another government agency imposing guidelines. However, Saxton said the Ordinance would not require a lot of staff to implement the checks and balances. He feels cities should oversee the Ordinance. The Ordinance would enable cities to be part of the water management plan. Their Ordinance must be at least as restrictive as the County Ordinance, and may be more restrictive if they choose.
Sawatzke asked how many cities have standards comparable to the recommended Ordinance. Saxon said the Ordinance is fairly comprehensive. It requires infiltration in certain areas. Very few cities meet all the standards of the proposed Ordinance.
Jacobs said he has received positive feedback regarding working with storm water infrastructure and maintenance. A few of the larger cities actively addressing those issues have MS4 requirements. The State requires larger cities to have higher standards.
Thelen asked if there are any incentives, and whether the SWCD qualifies for any Federal or State grants. Jacobs replied there are grants through the Clean Water Fund. Saxton said he did not think there were many incentives available.
Jacobs asked the Board whether the Water Task Force should start the Ordinance process now, or wait until after the elections this November.
Sawatzke asked whether the Water Task Force voted unanimously in favor of the Ordinance. Jacobs said they did. Sawatzke asked who sits on the Water Task Force. Jacobs said there are nine members, including the mayor of Howard Lake, the City of Buffalo Administrator, members from the Sportsman’s Club, representatives from the agricultural community, a lake association and a township.
Thelen thought it would be good to delay proceeding with the Ordinance until after the elections. Saxton said the Water Task Force felt the Board should decide. Thelen suggested the Board move forward with the Ordinance process. Russek asked how the Ordinance is enacted, and whether it includes public hearings. Saxton said the process is the same as with any County Ordinance.
Sawatzke did not think the Board should postpone issues, but said if the Ordinance did not come before the Board for final approval until January 2013; the new commissioners would not be familiar with the history. Jacobs said he did not think it likely that the process would be completed before the elections.
There was additional discussion regarding the length of time required to complete the Ordinance process and the advisability of doing so in light of fall elections. It was decided to postpone the process until after the elections to allow potential new Board members to become informed and involved in the process. Jacobs said he will advise the Water Task Force of their decision.
II. WATERSHED PROJECT FUNDING STRATEGIES.
Jacobs said the Clean Water Fund, established by the State four years ago, has generated additional resources for watershed projects. Local entities seeking to implement projects must contribute 25 percent of the total cost to qualify for these funds. Some projects are small and cost only a few thousand dollars. Others affecting entire watershed areas may be $300,000 to $500,000. Depending on the cost of the project, local entities may find the 25 percent match unaffordable. Jacobs said the County Board has the authority to create a Special Taxing District for projects addressing water quality. In that situation, the local jurisdiction would spread out the cost and include everyone in the watershed, whether the individual contributions are calculated per acre or by flat fee per parcel. For example, the Lake Ann Watershed has 600 properties. A $75,000 assessment for a larger project spread over five years brings the individual amount down significantly. Jacobs referred to Mattson’s statement that the return on improved water quality and the ability to leverage dollars three to one with the State match is good long term planning. Jacobs said there are many potential projects the County could address with money from the Clean Water Fund, including erosion, ditch and shoreland projects, studies on phosphorous sources in lake basins and watersheds; etc. Jacobs said once a project is completed, the levy or tax is suspended.
Jacobs asked the Board whether they would be in favor of implementing a watershed taxing method for generating local funds. Russek asked Asleson whether the Board must receive a formal request from a lake association to form a Special Taxing District, or whether the Board has the authority to do so. Asleson said the process involves delineating the area, notifying residents and forming the District before taxing residents within it. He has reviewed Chapter 103b regarding Water Management Plan and how it relates to County authority.
Asleson said there are four ways to raise funds:
1) Service charges (Asleson said this does not work for these types of projects);
2) Special assessments (Requires appraisals and are often used for streets or sewers);
3) Special taxing district;
4) General levy for the project.
Asleson said he favors the third or fourth options. Chapter 103b states a general levy may be used to levy the tax across the entire County. If the Water Management Task Force presented two potential projects to the County at a cost of X dollars, for example, the Board could decide to include the amount in a general level and spread the cost over the entire County. Asleson said water quality issues affect the entire County. He said Jacobs is referring to a Special Taxing District that would affect only those who reside within it. The amount assessed to property owners would be amortized over a certain number of years. The County could issue a bond to get the funds for the project in advance. If the project total is a lesser amount, the County could fund it and collect the money back from residents over a number of years. Asleson said it is important to have a specific project in mind that includes the estimated cost.
Thelen asked what happens in the event the lake involved borders two counties. Asleson said he believes the other county must agree with the Special Taxing District.
Jacobs said there will be more money available in the next funding cycle, but he will not apply for any unless the Board is supportive of the projects. He is not asking for approval now for any specific projects. He will present them to the Board on a case-by-case basis with specific project costs.
Russek asked Asleson if a feasibility study is required when levying an assessment. Asleson said it is not required if the Board designates a Special Taxing District. The timelines are short. You can establish a Taxing District by resolution after a hearing. Public notice must be given for two consecutive weeks. He said if Jacobs informs the Board he would like to apply for State funds for a Special Taxing District, the County would have be able to match 25 percent of the grant money. If the Board approves the concept, Jacobs could apply for the funds. Once the County receives approval for the funds, the Board would make the decision whether to form a Special Taxing District. If the Board decides not to do so, the County would not get the grant funds. Generally, Asleson said the Board should be fairly certain about the decision to create a Special Taxing District when approving a grant request.
Saxton said the State has more funds now but wants SWCDs to target areas with greater need. In the past, people came to them about projects and were agreeable to helping pay for them. Now the SWCD is approaching residents, and they do not want to incur the costs. These projects cannot be done without a funding source.
Norman said a Special Taxing District makes more sense than a general levy. The first step would be to conduct an engineering study that defines the watershed area in question for a specific project. Information sessions should be held for citizens in that area to see if they have a desire to participate in the project. Define the project, and then bring it to the County Board and ask for authorization to submit the grant application. Norman said the Board at that time would decide whether or not to authorize the SWCD to apply for the grant, and would also define the funding mechanism. He recommended laying out guidelines to expedite the process.
Thelen asked if the other Board members agreed with the above concept for approving a grant application and creating a Special Taxing District. The consensus was yes. Saxton said a great deal of staff time is involved with these types of projects, including gathering public input and assessing support. Typically groups exist that both advocate for and against the project. Saxton said rarely is there consensus. Thelen asked if he thought the suggested process would exacerbate the situation. Saxton said it could, depending on the new Board and whether they want to deal with water quality issues.
III. COUNTY BASED CONSERVATION INCENTIVES.
Jacobs said the County needs to address cropland erosion in addition to achieving water quality goals set by the State. Currently, the State is directing local entities to get away from “random acts of conservation.” There are few State regulations regarding conservation.
Jacobs directed the Board to the photograph on Pages 7 and 8 of the presentation. He explained that it is difficult to garner support for these projects. The SWCD will cost share at 50 to 75 percent, but there are no direct incentives for farmers except taking land out of production.
Jacobs said different methods and mechanisms are available to enable the landscape to function hydrologically like it did 150 years ago. Runoff curve levels in forests average 55 to 60. Currently the runoff curve number for County farm land is closer to 74 to 80. Consequently, there is more runoff and higher nutrient loads. Water conveyance and ditch systems are overloaded. Jacobs said if the landscape could be improved to hold runoff for 30 to 48 hours, water quality and soil productivity would improve dramatically and flooding would decrease. He said urban areas have made good efforts toward capturing runoff from impervious surfaces. The agricultural community has done little to curb the rates and volume of runoff.
Jacobs said it will take State and Federal action to get agricultural landscapes back to ideal conditions. Monitoring done by the SWCD shows that the last fifty years of conservation practices have not achieved the desired results. He advocates utilizing wholesale farm conservation projects such as designing farming practices that retain water in the landscape. Jacobs mentioned property tax incentives for farmers who utilize these conservation methods. Some farmers told Jacobs it sounds like a good idea if it does not involve much work. Jacobs said property tax incentives are not enough motivation as they amount to perhaps $200 to $400 per year to the farmer.
Jacobs said the State of Minnesota is a pilot State for new conservation programs to be implemented on a national scale. He said farmers could donate money to a neighboring lake association. If the association is a 501C3 nonprofit, the farmer would get a tax deduction. If a farmer donates a five acre parcel of land or takes acres out of production, there is no tax deduction. Jacobs would like to see State and Federal tax reductions for farmers who hold back X cubic feet of water, or reduce phosphorous levels leaving the field by 500 pounds per year. Jacobs thinks these incentives may create a shift in farming practices. There would be a benefit to the public by allowing a farmer to take some land out of production or change the way he farms to achieve the incentives. He has spoken with several legislators who support his ideas.
Jacobs asked for Board input about creating property tax incentives for farmers utilizing conservation methods. Jacobs said a farmer who owns fields that receive certification for meeting water quality and hydrology standards could qualify for reduced property taxes. Norman said a farmer who takes land out of production to practice conservation measures should get an income tax credit since his profit line is affected. Jacobs said he is considering that idea. Saxton said farmers need financial incentives. The agriculture sector has to be regulated or given incentives to yield the desired response. His preference is an income tax incentive. Currently the farm community is doing well, with an average income of $140,000.
Saxton said the current farm bill is providing incentives to farmers to put every bit of land into production. Conservationists are losing the battle. The need for more effective incentives is great.
Recommendation: None informational item only.
(End of 7-10-12 Committee Of The Whole Minutes)
A Personnel Committee Meeting was held on 7-18-12. At today’s County Board Meeting, Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes and recommendations. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 4-0:
I. POSITION OPENINGS.
A. Assistant County Attorney.
Kelly said the position is open due to a retirement as of 7-31-12. He requested authorization to hire an Attorney I position as a Misdemeanor/Petty Misdemeanor Prosecutor.
Recommendation: Authorize filling Attorney I Misdemeanor/Petty Misdemeanor Prosecutor position.
B. Office Technician II, Sheriff Office.
Howell said the position became vacant due to a retirement at the end of June. This position works at the front counter. The Office is temporarily filling this position with transcriptionists. Sawatzke asked whether the retired employee was full time. Howell said yes.
Recommendation: Authorize replacing the Office Technician II position, Sheriff Office.
C. Office Technician II, Half-Time, Sheriff Office.
O’Malley said this position is related to the request presented at the 7-10-12 County Board meeting. The position is budgeted. He distributed a document outlining the history of the position, formerly titled Juvenile Holdover Attendant (see attached). Sawatzke asked if an employee left recently. O’Malley said the position became vacant a few weeks ago when the employee took a full time position in the Office. Miller said the position under consideration is half time.
O’Malley said the position was originally a full time and not a half time position. Prior to 2008, there were two half time positions. In 2008, the Office requested to change one of the half time positions to a full time position. This was approved effective 2009. The Office requested to fill the full time position in 2009. The duties of the position were changing.
O’Malley said in 2009 the budget listed three half time positions. Sawatzke said his documentation lists only two half time positions in 2008. Miller said in 2009 the Office requested another half time position, which was approved. Three half time positions were budgeted. The process of filling them was delayed while job descriptions were being developed. Technically, Miller said the Office had two half time employees filling a full time and a half time position.
O’Malley said only the half time position is currently filled. The full time position was left open in 2010 at the Board’s request due to budgetary constraints. Two employees were working half time. O’Malley said the budget line item changed in 2010 to one full time and one half time position. Sawatzke remembered when that took place. O’Malley continued that every year this position is discussed during budget meetings. The employee filling the position delegated as full time was still only working half time. He said the Office was told the issue would be addressed once the Classification Study was completed and the job description clarified. Now all the positions are titled Office Technician II. The full time position was intended to cover the front desk, visiting window and the reception area at the Jail. The two employees working in that position were technically half time, but often worked as much as three quarter time. The duties of that position require a full time person. O’Malley said in June 2012 one of the former half time employees filled a full time Office Technician II position in the Sheriff Office, creating the current half time vacancy.
Sawatzke asked O’Malley if the Office has 1.5 positions open. O’Malley said one full time position is vacant. This is the position referred to the Budget Committee Of The Whole meeting by the County Board on 7-10-12. It was vacated by the employee above who went to another full time Office Technician II position within the Office.
Sawatzke said he was still unsure when the position came before the Board. He said O’Malley originally suggested to the Board that it had been open since 2007. O’Malley said half of the position has been open since 2007. One person vacated a half time position as described above. Effective 1-01-09, only one half time person and one full time person has been budgeted. Sawatzke said half of this position was referred to the Budget Committee Of The Whole and half to this Committee. O’Malley concurred.
Miller affirmed that the Office had to wait for the completion of the Classification Study. Sawatzke asked if O’Malley wanted to fill the position as half time. O’Malley said no, the request is to fill a full time position vacant since 2009. Miller said the Office would accept authorization for a half time position, but the need is for a full time position.
Norman suggested referring the matter to the Budget Committee Of The Whole (COTW) to determine whether to authorize a half or full time position. Sawatzke said Norman could then verify whether the position is budgeted as full time. The Budget COTW could decide at that point to authorize a full time position versus half time. Miller said one of the full time positions is filled by someone who is working half time. Sawatzke asked Norman if he is convinced the full time position is budgeted. Norman responded that it appears so. Sawatzke commented that the matter was referred to the Budget COTW because the Board assumed the position was not budgeted. Norman replied that he re-examined the budget request presented for the Budget Committee Of The Whole meeting, but he didn’t see the request. O’Malley said the position was budgeted in 2009. Miller said he had the documentation. He produced a budget proposal showing a half time person was requested and approved. Then Miller referenced an updated budget request for 2009, indicating an extra half time person was added. He said this request was approved in 2009 with the intention that one position would transition to full time.
Norman asked which employee was half time. O’Malley named the employee. Sawatzke asked whether there will be a new half time position open if the current employee takes the full time position. O’Malley verified that the employee would like to get a full time position. Sawatzke said the Board gets complaints from other part time employees who are hired at 20 hours per week, yet are asked to work 25. Norman told O’Malley that if they want to fill the full time position now, they won’t need to go to the Budget COTW. Sawatzke agreed that was fair, since the Committee agrees on the facts. Eichelberg concurred, saying as long as it is agreed the position was in the budget.
Recommendation: Authorize filling the full time Office Technician II position in the Sheriff Office.
D. Civilian Corrections Officer (Laid over from 6/20/12 meeting).
O’Malley said this position was vacated by an employee who retired recently. He said the Jail has been running four positions down due to military and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) absences. There are three open positions, and the Office is trying to fill at least two of them.
Recommendation: Authorize replacement of Civilian Corrections Officer position. (End of 7-18-12 Personnel Committee Minutes)
A Ways & Means Committee Meeting was held on 7-18-12. At today’s County Board Meeting, Sawatzke made a correction to the minutes under Members Present, which should read, “Eichelberg (for Mattson), Sawatzke, and Norman”. Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes as corrected and the recommendation. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried unanimously:
I. DISCUSS OFFERING LONG-TERM CARE BENEFIT.
Brown explained that the Long-Term Care Benefit would be introduced as a volunteer program. She distributed information to the Committee (see attached). No County funds would be involved. Ochs, Inc. has presented this program to the Personnel Department several times. Brown said the deadline to apply would be the end of 2012, as one of the major carriers will not accept any new enrollees after that time. The cost of the benefit varies depending on the age of enrollment. Eichelberg asked whether the benefit could continue after employment. Brown said it can, at the employee’s expense. Spouses and parents-in-law may also participate. Brown explained that employees have guaranteed issuance. Family members must go through health prescreening.
Brown said the program would not entail a lot of work for the Personnel Representatives. Enrollment would be once per year. Personnel would introduce it apart from the Benefits Fair or other programs to be able to give interested employees their undivided attention. Norman asked when employees have to enroll. Brown replied at the end of the calendar year 2012. Thereafter, enrollment would follow open enrollment for the March 1 Plan Year. Sawatzke said he presumed Brown recommended the County approve this request. Brown responded that there is also an income tax advantage for enrollees of up to $100. She said the jury is still out regarding the benefit of long-term care insurance. Some companies recommend individuals look at their assets to determine whether the program makes sense for them financially. Others suggest looking at family history and longevity, as well as whether a person is likely to need nursing home care.
Norman said there is also the possibility of a refund to beneficiaries if an insured passes away before the age of 75. Brown added the premium would be a payroll deduction. Norman asked if she would set up an employee presentation. Brown said yes, but Personnel will first request quotes and then schedule employee information sessions. Sawatzke asked if there would be one carrier. Brown said yes. Norman asked whether the carrier would be CNA. Brown said not necessarily. There are only a few companies in Minnesota that provide long-term care insurance on a group basis. Most provide it on an individual basis. Sawatzke asked whether the insurance pays for costs incurred at a facility. Brown said it covers in-home and nursing home care. Norman said it is important for individuals to analyze their financial situation. Eichelberg asked whether there was a minimum regarding the number of employees who must participate. Brown said there were no minimums.
Recommendation: Authorize Personnel to obtain quotes for a long-term care insurance plan for employees of Wright County and approve offering long-term care insurance as an employee voluntary program.
(End of 7-18-12 Ways & Means Committee Minutes)
Correspondence was received from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, District 3. Based on the 2010 Census, the Census Bureau expanded the Twin Cities Urbanized Areas (UZA) boundary to include portions of Sherburne and Wright Counties, including the cities of Albertville, Elk River, Otsego, and St. Michael. The Metropolitan Council serves as the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Twin Cities UZA. Because of the changes to the UZA boundary, the Met Council, as the designated MPO, is obligated under federal transportation law to consider the newly added urban area in its future transportation planning and programming activities. The Met Council and MnDOT would like to initiate dialogue with the jurisdictions affected by the changes to explore options for addressing the expanded Twin Cities metropolitan transportation planning area. The Region 7W Transportation Policy Board (TPB) reviewed this matter and took action to recommend that each jurisdiction affected by the UZA changes in Region 7W appoint an official to serve on a special committee. This committee will include representatives from MnDOT and the Met Council. The committee will review the implications of the changes to the UZA on the region and develop a plan to move ahead for consideration by all parties involved. Sawatzke suggested that the Board appoint Eichelberg to this committee to serve the last few months of 2012. A new appointment would be made in 2013. Sawatzke moved to appoint Eichelberg, seconded by Russek, carried 4-0.
Tabled from the 6-19-12 Board Meeting, Russek’s appointment to the Tri-County Forensic Laboratory Advisory Committee was discussed. Russek had indicated previously that he did not wish to serve on this Committee any longer due to Wright County’s disagreement on the funding formula with the other member Counties of the Tri-County Lab. Russek stated today that as an agreement has been reached, he would be willing to finish out the year as Wright County’s appointment. Eichelberg moved to authorize Russek to fill out this appointment through the end of 2012. The motion was seconded by Sawatzke and carried 4-0.
Norman presented suggested changes to the Budget Committee Of The Whole Schedule for the 2013 Budget process. Based on availability of staff and Commissioners, he suggested moving the Budget sessions scheduled on 8-09-12 to 8-15-12. As Thelen is not available a portion of the afternoon on 8-15-12, the Human Services budget would be discussed at 11:30 A.M. and would run straight through the lunch period (there would not be a break as previously scheduled). Norman said it is likely there will be a need to hold more Human Services budget sessions. Moving the Budget sessions to 8-15-12 would require the reschedule of the Committee Meeting date from 8-15-12 to 8-22-12. Norman suggested changing the Fair Board budget presentation scheduled on 8-16-12 at 10:00 A.M. to 8-13-12 @ 11:45 A.M. He asked that the 9-04-12 Budget session be moved to 9-10-12 at 9:00 A.M. Russek moved to approve the revised schedule, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 4-0.
Design Elect. Inc-Cold Spring $972.00
3 D Specialties Inc 20,699.55
Advanced Graphix Inc 5,831.13
Albertville/City of 5,048.80
American Planning Association 285.00
Ameripride Services 322.61
Annandale Rock Products 637.74
Annandale/City of 1,291.80
Anoka County Corrections 9,273.00
Anoka County Sheriff 12,566.29
Ap Technology 1,055.00
Apec Industrial Sales & Serv 601.90
Aramark Services Inc 6,589.81
Arctic Glacier Inc 414.40
Atrix International Inc 370.00
Batteries Plus 117.54
Beaudry Oil Co 705.19
Benchmark Comp. Learning 10,000.00
Boyer Truck Parts 832.39
BP Amoco 3,281.30
Buffalo Township 804.20
Buffalo/City of 6,684.65
Burdas Towing 197.72
Bureau Of Crim. Apprehension 100.00
Cartegraph Systems Inc 1,500.00
Cenex Fleetcard 102.88
Center Point Energy 1,210.29
Centra Sota Coop. - Buffalo 5,631.76
Central McGowan Inc 121.62
Chatham Township 940.00
Clearwater Township 1,931.60
Climate Air 3,010.27
Cokato/City of 790.80
Corinna Township 946.20
Crow River Tools 880.62
Dell Marketing LP 4,788.39
Diers Electric Inc 110.50
Donald Mingo 101.50
Douglas/Ralph D 426.00
Evident Crime Scene Prod. 219.00
Excel Systems 1,443.38
Expert Auto. & Marine Inc 296.58
Farm-Rite Equipment Inc 574.86
Fastenal Company 730.62
Franklin Township 1,160.00
Gilson Company Inc 776.15
Gopher State One Call 216.35
Hardings Towing Inc 160.31
Holt Motors Inc 385.85
Integrated Fire & Security 4,998.98
Interstate Automotive 400.78
Interstate Battery Systems 226.47
John Deere Financial 117.49
Junction Towing & Auto Repair 436.05
Karels Towing 178.48
Kraemer Mining & Materials Inc 306.84
L3 Communications Inc 109.96
Laplant Demo Inc 1,916.01
Lynn Peavey Company 603.00
M-R Sign Company Inc 599.63
Magneto Power LLC 138.26
Marco Inc 4,080.82
Marysville Township 1,003.20
Mathiowetz Construction 997,098.43
Matt Legal Services 100.00
Mattson Well Company 178.40
McCarthy Well Company 195.00
Menards - Buffalo 600.24
Menards - Elk River 101.27
Middleville Township 611.20
Midwest Protection Agen. Inc 1,531.47
Minn. Dept. of Human Services 275.13
MN Attorney Generals Office 619.34
MN Chemical Company 1,260.16
MN Counties Comp. Coop. 524.37
MN Monitoring Inc 8,962.75
MN Office Of Enterprise Tech 1,226.25
MN State Bar Association 224.00
Monticello Township 1,314.00
Montrose/City of 1,311.00
Morries Parts & Serv. Group 1,600.59
Night Owl Doc. Mngmnt. Serv. 115.55
North Suburban Towing Inc 176.34
Northern States Power Co. 3,001.36
Office Depot 2,755.59
Rockford/City of 2,686.30
RS Eden 1,084.20
Russell Sec. Resource Inc 567.19
Ryan Chevrolet 202.21
Safelite Fulfillment Inc 349.53
Sherwin Williams 109.20
Silver Creek Township 1,018.00
South Haven/City of 320.60
Specialty Turf & Ag 408.26
St Cloud Times 284.82
Stearns County Treasurer 180.00
Stockholm Township 410.60
Synergy Graphics 8,709.00
Telvent Dtn 1,030.90
The Sign Man of Mn Inc 106.88
Total Printing 814.39
Traffic Control Corporation 892.41
Transcend United Tech. 31,275.00
Trimin Government Solutions 3,132.48
Uniforms Unlimited 375.13
US Internet 3,588.00
Verizon Wireless 1,015.07
Walmart Store 01-1577 674.13
Waverly/City of 123.15
West Group Payment Center 967.20
West Payment Center 1,513.37
Westside Wholesale Tire 3,132.39
Wright Co. Highway Dept 53,859.43
Wright Hennepin Coop Elec 5,116.64
Wright Hennepin Electric 2,699.33
Xcel Energy 762.39
Zep Sales & Services 1,525.91
26 Payments less than $100 1,359.61
Final Total 1,314,239.17
The meeting adjourned at 10:53 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Sept. 3, 2012.