WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
MARCH 12, 2013
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Husom, Sawatzke, Daleiden, Potter and Borrell present.
Potter moved to approve the 3-05-13 County Board Minutes as presented. The motion was seconded by Daleiden and carried 5-0.
Husom moved to approve the Agenda as presented, seconded by Daleiden, carried 5-0.
On a motion by Potter, second by Borrell, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: L. Fox, D. Weed, J. Wilmes, Sher./Corr.
2. O/T Report, Period Ending 03-02-13.
3. O/T Report, Period Ending 02-16-13.
4. Approve Labor Contract Agreement With Teamsters Local No. 320, Courthouse Unit.
Virgil Hawkins, Highway Engineer, brought forth discussion on renewal of rental property contracts for two County owned properties, the Stemper and Rassat sites. Portions of the Rassat borrow site (southwest of Buffalo) and the Stemper site (near the LEC) have been rented out for many years. The current two-year contract expired last year. The County Board granted time extensions and signed new contracts with Dale and Linda Gapinski for the past eight years. The Rassat site (30.75 acres) rental rate for 2013-2015 is proposed to remain at $60/acre ($1,845/yr.). The Rassat site is taxed at $1,344 for 2013. The Stemper site (12 acres) rental rate for 2013 is proposed to rise to $90/acre ($1,080/yr.) and rise to $95/acre for 2014-2015. The Stemper site is taxed at $576 for 2013.
Hawkins said the rental contracts have been referred to the Ways & Means Committee in the past for discussion. The Board could elect to discuss the proposed contracts today or refer them to the Ways & Means Committee. Potter inquired why three-year contracts are being proposed as opposed to the two-year contracts entered into in the past. Mark Johnson, Right-Of-Way Agent, stated that it is a matter of efficiency and the renters have been good stewards of the land.
A history of the sites was provided. The Rassat site was first rented in 1999 (26 acres). A local farmer was approached on renting the land. In 2002, the County requested quotes for land rental, and the Gapinskis’ quote was quite a bit higher than others received. A three-year contract was entered into. About two years ago, the County discussed the need for a more formal contract. The contract was drafted by the Attorney’s Office and includes the same language as is being proposed today. Rental of the Stemper site started in 2001. The Stemper site has been partially mined and that is what is being farmed. The site was 27 acres prior to the construction of the Jail/Law Enforcement Center.
Borrell asked about the possibility of selling the sites when they no longer are used for gravel resources. Sawatzke felt the County would be less inclined to sell the Stemper property because of its proximity to County buildings and property. The County could consider sale of the Rassat site at a point in the future when gravel is no longer being mined. Hawkins stated the Sheriff’s Office utilizes a portion of the Rassat site as a shooting range. Daleiden moved to renew the contracts for the Stemper and Rassat sites for a three-year time period. The motion was seconded by Borrell and carried 5-0.
Hawkins recommended award of the CSAH 35 Bridge Replacement Contract (SAP 086-635-038) to Mathiowetz Construction for $1,580,294.91. Project funding will be CSAH Regular and Bridge Bonding funds. Husom moved to award the contract to Mathiowetz Construction as recommended, seconded by Potter. Daleiden asked whether there are change orders involved with this type of project. Hawkins said change orders can occur, for example, if a change in site conditions occurs. This can be accomplished through a work order or a supplemental agreement.
The State also must approve of the change if State Aid dollars are involved. Although there may be change orders associated with most all projects it does not necessarily mean the contract cost will be exceeded. Change orders are not a large issue in projects, and can sometimes work in the County’s favor. The motion to award the contract carried 5-0.
Sean Riley, Planning & Zoning Administrator, asked that the Board direct the Planning & Zoning Office to present a Zoning Ordinance Amendment to the Planning Commission relating to Orchards, Wineries, and other similar commercial outdoor recreation. The process would involve the Planning Commission making a recommendation to the County Board, who has the final authority on approving or denying amendments. Riley said the Zoning Ordinance currently includes a zoning definition adopted in 1985 relating to commercial outdoor recreation, “commercial recreation which requires large land areas or location in an agricultural setting that allows golf courses, driving ranges, flea markets, shooting ranges, etc. but not to include campgrounds nor recreational vehicle camps.” Since that time, other uses have been allowed to include such things as paintball courses, remote airplanes, hunting preserves, and dog training facilities. There have also been a number of agricultural operations including orchards, pumpkins, and wineries, and up to this point the items (apples, pumpkins, and grapes) have been produced and sold seasonally in an outdoor setting. That has been a permitted use under the Ordinance and no hearings were held.
Riley said businesses have expanded beyond the traditional outdoor orchard, produce sales, and the occasional hayride to many onsite, outdoor functions and some indoor uses (small retail, catering serving small food items such as pies and sandwiches). In addition, the facilities have been expanded to host events (weddings, gatherings, and reunions). Riley said it seems as though the clientele expect more, and landowners/business owners offer more to attract customers to stay in operation. It is important to balance these impacts with surrounding residential areas while also allowing farmers to do their jobs.
Riley said surrounding counties have updated their ordinances relating to wineries, orchards, and retail. Husom asked whether updates to other county ordinances could aid in Wright County’s update. Riley said there are a number of similar documents that can be researched. Some counties have chosen a broader definition while others have quite a bit of detail (i.e., an ordinance specifically relating to wineries). Riley said each issue itself may not present a problem but together could impact hours of operation and how many people may attend in a given day. The process will allow notice to the neighbors and if it is felt there is a possible restriction for the property, a public hearing can follow. Sawatzke asked whether this process is to define things and not necessarily prohibit something that is allowed or vise versa. Riley responded that it is both. There are currently things that are not allowed because there is not a definition or a process to put them through. Some things have expanded beyond the margins due to business growth. The County is not necessarily against the use but the process will provide a better category to put them into. For example, Riley said the County would not want a bar, restaurant, or event center in the country on its own. The intent would be for wineries, orchards, etc. to be able to offer other services and events. Whatever level is allowed, such things as parking, roads, dust control, hours of operation, and noise will be researched. It will also be considered whether the land is planned for future annexation with city services or whether it is rural. Sawatzke said the Planning & Zoning Office would initiate this process, including a request for input from cities and townships. The Planning Commission will then make a recommendation to the County Board if there is to be an Ordinance change.
Daleiden made a motion to direct Planning & Zoning to bring forward a Zoning Ordinance Amendment to the Planning Commission relating to orchards, wineries, and other similar commercial outdoor recreation. The motion was seconded by Husom and carried unanimously.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, asked that the Board appoint three Commissioners to the Joint Ditch 14 Committee and the Joint Ditch 15 Committee. Both Ditches are located in Stockholm Township. Wright County has three Commissioner appointments and Meeker and McLeod Counties have one each. Potter moved to appoint Husom, Daleiden, and Borrell to the Joint Ditch 14 Committee and the Joint Ditch 15 Committee. The motion carried 5-0 on a second by Daleiden.
Sawatzke referenced Hiivala’s Board Agenda Request Form reflecting a request for approval of a 2013 tobacco license renewal for Quik Shop in the City of Delano. Sawatzke said this item was not listed on the Consent Agenda as the Request Form indicates. After discussion, it was the consensus that Hiivala will check to see whether the license renewal can wait to be approved at the next County Board Meeting.
Hiivala brought forth discussion on County Ditch 10. He said Wenck Associates, Inc. was the Engineer for the hydrological study, as well as the Engineer that scoped the repair work with benefitted landowners. Wenck presented the scope of work to the County. The next step is to draft bid specifications. Wenck has provided a proposal which reflects the following estimated costs:
1. Prepare Plans & Specifications Estimated Cost: $9,500
2. Draft the formal bid contract and award/select the contractor Estimated Cost: $1,500
3. Wenck can be present on site to oversee construction; survey final cross sections and ditch profiles; and regulate compliance with plan specifications. For this task, 5 site visits are estimated. Estimated Cost: $5,000
Hiivala introduced Bryce Cruey, Water Resources Engineer, Wenck Associates, Inc. to further explain the work. Hiivala said Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, recommends contract language for ditch repairs. Borrell asked whether the work being done will be under $100,000 each year. Hiivala said the bid estimate is $100,000 and includes a 25% contingency, but that is not part of the above costs. Borrell moved to approve the contract with Wenck Associates Inc. for bid specification work and alternatives for Ditch 10. The motion was seconded by Daleiden. Hiivala clarified that the total bill from Wenck Associates Inc. is $16,000. Sawatzke asked whether Wenck would agree not to exceed $16,000, as the proposal reflects estimated figures. Sawatzke stated this expenditure is spread to a handful of residents on the Ditch and not to the residents of the entire County. Cruey responded that any items that are out of the scope of the project will be identified early on and brought forward. As long as the work falls within the scope of the project, he believed the costs would be within the proposal amounts.
The Board discussed utilizing the Sentence-To-Serve (STS) crew for work in the Ditch. Daleiden said it would be useful to use the crew to clean some of the Ditch in an effort to reduce costs. That would allow expansion of the area cleaned. Cruey said doing so would not reduce the $16,000 costs outlined. In terms of the entire project, he felt there would be options such as this that could be looked at. Sawatzke suggested those areas proposed to be cleaned by the STS crew could be bid separately. That way the County could compare the costs between what the main contractor bids and what it would cost to have STS complete the work. Daleiden said the STS crew could be used to manually clean areas of the Ditch so the contractor could get into the Ditch sooner with their equipment. Because of ditch rules, only so much can be spent on the Ditch. He would like to reduce costs where possible in an effort to clean more areas of the Ditch. Husom suggested Wenck Associates meet with the STS crew leader. Borrell asked whether one of the alternatives will be to clean the Ditch and leave some of the grubbing and tree removal for later. Cruey said that will be up to the contractor. As part of the $9,500 cost, Wenck Associates will go to the sites identified in various meetings, and they will keep in mind the process with the STS crew. He indicated that when the engineer’s cost estimate was put together, it was taken into account there would be less hauling included so some of the trees removed could be left on site. Sawatzke said it is usually indicated to the contractor whether the material is hauled or burned on site. It would be nice if property owners would burn the material on site. The motion carried 5-0.
Hiivala asked that the Board discuss engineering services for County Ditch 38. Wenck Associates prepared a quote on the preparation of an engineer’s scope of work alternatives. The quote included compiling existing information, determining the official extent of the Ditch, and preparation of alternative concepts and a technical memo. Hiivala said Joel Toso and Bryce Cruey of Wenck Associates Inc. are ready to discuss the alternatives for Ditch 38. He did not present the quote at today’s Meeting as he was unsure whether the Board wanted to obtain more quotes. The County generally contacts Houston Engineering and Wenck Associates for such work. Sawatzke thought it would be beneficial to obtain quotes from both firms. He asked what Wenck Associates has done thus far on Ditch 38. Borrell said Wenck attended the meeting on the Ditch. Sawatzke asked Wenck whether the County has paid them to date. Cruey outlined what he has done with Ditch 38, which includes attending the meeting, discussions with Saxton and Hiivala, and putting together a cost estimate for the problems associated with Ditch 38. Wenck Associates was not paid for this work. Borrell suggested moving forward with Wenck as they are familiar with the complexities of the Ditch. Daleiden said Wenck provided three scenarios for the Ditch. He suggested having Houston Engineering look at the Ditch as they may come up with other scenarios to consider. Sawatzke supported that suggestion as long as Houston Engineering understands they will not be paid for this effort. Wenck has put time into this and not received compensation. Hiivala said that the background information supplied for today’s Meeting reflects that “Wenck quoted work to compile existing information, determining the official extent of the ditch and to prepare alternative concepts and finally to prepare a technical memo.” He can contact Houston Engineering and ask them to quote on the same components. Sawatzke asked Cruey if the County will be billed for anything Wenck has done or attended thus far. Cruey said the County will not. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, said the Ditch 10 Meeting Minutes that were discussed a few weeks ago at the Board Meeting were not approved at that time. He requested that those Minutes be placed onto a future Agenda for approval. He stated that Minutes are also needed for the Ditch 38 Meeting and the Ditch Committee Of The Whole Meeting dealing with Ditch Modernization. This is being requested to keep the County’s records up to date. Sawatzke asked Hiivala to place the minutes on a future Agenda. Hiivala confirmed he would. Husom moved to direct Hiivala to contact Houston Engineering about their intent in submitting a quote for this project. The motion was seconded by Daleiden and carried unanimously.
On a motion by Daleiden, second by Potter, all moved to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit, in the amount of $240,198.83, with 174 vendors and 232 transactions.
A Technology Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 3-05-13. At today’s County Board Meeting, Borrell moved to approve the Minutes and recommendations, seconded by Potter, carried 5-0:
I. Technology Overview And 2013 Technology Plan.
Swing gave a brief history of the development of County technology. Swing said the County has a tremendous opportunity to improve services to constituents and reduce costs. He distributed a document entitled “Technology Overview, March 5th, 2013” (see attached). Swing wants to apply technology that is appropriate, improves services to the public and helps reduce costs to the County.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Swing said County technology focused on individual Department systems. Today the goal is Enterprise (organization-wide) Systems. With the Internet and SharePoint, the County has the capacity to automate the Enterprise, gain efficiencies and leverage technology and information flow.
In the 1980s, Swing said 60 to 70% of County technology efforts went into managing property taxes. In the 1990s, the County launched a web site. Swing said the web site now looks dated. The County website will be redesigned during the second half of this year. The purpose of the first web site was to provide a profile of the County. The second was to provide information to the public. The current goal of the County web site is interaction. Swing said the redesigned web site will one day allow citizens to interact with the Planning and Zoning Department, Human Services and other County Departments from home via the Internet. However, he cautioned, it will be a long time before the County web site achieves that level of service.
Swing mentioned several past technology projects, such as the 800 Megahertz Public Safety Radio project for the Law Enforcement Center (LEC). He described changes made to the technology infrastructure over the years that have revolutionized County servers. Swing said County internal and external users demand high availability and performance. It takes many resources to provide and maintain the County’s technology infrastructure.
Swing said the Information Technology Department (IT) can no longer concentrate primarily on servicing individual Department projects. Referring to Page 3, Philosophies, Swing said County technology must be deployed strategically to reap the maximum benefits. He stressed that the County is poised on the verge of a monumental opportunity that could be lost if advances in technology are missed.
Swing added that the County must be fiscally conservative. To be as technologically advanced as Scott and Stearns Counties, the funding paradigm would have to change. Daleiden asked whether the information being gathered within the County and the State is fully utilized, or is the process more complicated than necessary. He said there is value in keeping things simple. Swing responded that without appropriate planning and assessment, technology can miss the mark.
The County is implementing the Electronic Document Management System (EDMS) in Human Services. The Department has gained efficiencies and is progressing. Swing said this project is an example of how “bleeding edge” technology implemented by the County has hit the mark. In general, the County is determined to spend money on appropriate technologies and maintain the “middle ground.”
Husom said last year Stearns County announced that they reduced their budget by one percent. She asked whether their leading edge technology was a factor, and if so, would advanced technology help the County reduce spending in other areas. She was looking for a correlation to lower spending while employing cutting edge technology. Swing replied that he has discussed evaluation of return on investment with other IT directors. Every system must be scrutinized individually. The EDMS system enables employees to handle increasing caseloads, and will reduce the need for additional employees in the future. Swing said this is an example of providing better services at lower costs. Kieft confirmed that the EDMS system is achieving those returns. Swing added that it takes time to develop ways to measure performance of certain technologies.
Regarding major Trends (see Page 4 of the attachment), Swing said the focus is now Enterprise instead of Departmental. Business analysis and project management skills are required to evaluate the return on the technology investment and make a smooth transition to the Enterprise approach.
Governance is another trend. There is increased emphasis on web delivery of services and interaction with the public, for example, via social media. Swing said more governmental agencies are embracing that technology to communicate with constituents. He continued that Public Health and Parks are prime candidates to use social media to support their functions.
Swing said the Cloud and hosted systems will eventually become more centralized at State and Regional levels. He said governmental agencies will collaborate on technologies to save money and deliver better services. Swing said services will go outside the County, with less emphasis on maintaining servers and low level programming inside the County. The website redesign will partner with an outside entity. Each Department will have the ability to update their respective pages on the Intranet and Internet. There will be less emphasis on development and deployment of independent Departmental systems. IT can no longer do it all. In short, Swing said the IT Department will not package systems for individual Departments and deliver them. Technology must be an internally collaborative effort.
Swing discussed the initiatives for 2013 listed on Page 5 of the attachment. They are finally in the process of unloading GroupWise, the last of Novell software. This allows for tight integration of systems on the new Microsoft platform. Regarding the Remote Worker item, Swing said IT would like to accommodate Human Services social workers to enable them to do online processing from a client’s home. Currently the connections are too slow. Daleiden commented that the Remote Worker program is led by the State. Kieft clarified that online applications are State led. He said individual counties must develop incentives for funding. Consequently, the County and not the State has to formulate remote technology.
Swing said there are four critical aspects of the technology infrastructure: band width, the Sprint device, switching in the data closets, and the Citrix software. Swing said all four aspects of County infrastructure are deficient. Each one will require a substantial effort to reengineer.
Swing said County employees use more than 400 remote electronic devices. Managing and controlling the remote devices presents a challenge. The County recently approved an updated policy that incorporates remote devices. Daleiden asked how many cell phones are in the number Swing mentioned. Swing replied that as of 6-13-12, there were 487 devices between Sprint and Verizon. Daleiden clarified that Swing was combining both cell and smart phones. Swing said any device supported by either Sprint or Verizon was included, as well as 84 connection cards in squad cars. The County spends more than $200,000 per year on carrier fees to support these devices.
Swing explained that significant work to switches is being done in Human Services. Regarding strategic planning, Swing said both the Sheriff and Human Services Departments are thinking outside the box. He believes those discussions will yield Capital Improvement Fund ramifications.
Turning to Page 6 of the attachment, Concepts Supporting Improved Governance, Swing said a Technology Capital Improvement Fund should be established. IT is doing a space study regarding relocation of the IT Department. Swing would like to centralize the Business Analyst and Technician positions. Ideally, Swing said they should be close to Administration, along with a computer lab and a records center.
Swing said IT and Administration are Enterprise and not individually-focused Departments. He has brought in consultants to interview Departments in the past. He feels he has gathered reliable information regarding Department technology needs.
Hiivala commented that he and Swing have discussed technology components, such as those utilized for Court Services. They were working on a significant project, but experienced delays and were not able to spend all the money in the budget. If a Capital Improvement Fund is created for the current technology initiative, the concern about spending budgeted money derived from levied dollars within a certain time frame would be alleviated.
Swing referred to Page 7, entitled Supplemental Documents. The 2013 Technology Project Schedule details several major initiatives, including Microsoft and SharePoint integration. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is also a significant effort this year, involving records inventory and retention. Swing said records management has to become a priority before documents are discarded permanently.
Moving to the EDMS Schedule on Page 9, Swing said the electronic workflow of documents is a very strategic direction for IT.
Swing explained the IT Department organizational structure as illustrated on Page 10. There are 13 employees. The Scott County IT Department has 45 employees, while the population they serve is similar to Wright County. Swing said the key to success in IT is communication. He referred to Page 11, the 2013 Schedule of Technology Committees. Swing said his Department holds many committee meetings, but they have proven to be productive.
Borrell remarked that Swing’s organizational chart does not include IT staff who work at remote locations. Sawatzke said there are IT staff who work in other Departments who are not listed on the chart. Swing responded that he did not draw lines to other Departments. There is an Application Support Specialist who works in the Sheriff Office and one in Human Services.
They know the applications of those Departments better than the rest of the IT staff. The IT Department focuses primarily on infrastructure and standards. The committees are an opportunity for staff to communicate with each other. Most of the discussions center on operations. Eighty percent of IT time is spent on maintaining infrastructure and keeping Departments running.
Borrell said he is not happy with the County website, saying it is hard to find information. He asked whether the County could purchase a website template from another county that had a more user-friendly web site. He thought that might be a way to save money on the development of a new web site. Swing said he has discussed this with other county IT Directors. He likes the Washington County web site. They use a vendor called CivicPlus. This type of venture requires a marriage between a selected vendor and the County. Blue Earth, Stearns and Washington Counties have gone with Requests For Proposals (RFPs). He recommends this approach. It would take substantial effort to incorporate another county’s look and interface with the County web site. Swing suggested gathering ideas from other sites and tailoring them to fit the County’s IT process. There is much data feeding the County web site from Structured Query Language (SQL) services. IT will have to maintain certain facets of that inflow, including data sites with Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Swing is surveying other counties regarding their web site designs. He will leverage as much as possible from their experiences for the redesign of the County web site.
Borrell asked whether an individual Department could maintain their own web page and simply call IT when they have questions. Swing said the SharePoint tool will enable every Department to maintain their web pages to a certain degree. Borrell gave the example of Parks Director Marc Mattice, who has a link on the County Parks web site to a Facebook page. He asked whether that posed a security risk, even though it reaches more people. Swing said the Board recently integrated a social media policy into the Acceptable Use Of Technology portion of the County Personnel Policy. He said this has opened the door to utilizing social media sites.
Borrell said he would like the voicemail for Human Services intake staff to play a recurring message that informs the caller of the number of people in the queue ahead of them. Alternatively, an automated voicemail message could tell callers how many minutes they will wait before talking with staff. Borrell asked if that service would be difficult to implement. Swing said he will research that question and provide information in the future.
Borrell asked why technology updates are needed for remote workers who are already able to do their work via the Internet. Swing reiterated the four components of technology infrastructure that must all be at optimum capacity for systems to work efficiently: adequate band width, switches, servers and Citrix.
Daleiden explained that the problem is the speed at which remote workers can access the Internet and accomplish their tasks. Currently it takes too long due to internal and external technology limitations. Swing agreed, saying the system is currently not performing as it should. The public and County staff expect fast connections.
Borrell asked whether a potential client can access application forms online. Swing said there is an online form now, but it is not being utilized much. Tremendous resources are needed to bring interactive forms to the County. IT created Purchase Order and Requisition forms for staff to access online. The process was complex, and cost $25,000 plus internal resources.
Borrell asked whether there will be a time when clients can stop by Human Services and fill out forms online at a terminal. Staff could quickly retrieve the data each time the client moves from Financial to Social Services. Swing responded that Borrell is reflecting the need for a centralized index for the County. Ideally, the receptionist would enter the client’s name and all available services for that person would be displayed.
Potter asked the dollar amount that would be sufficient to establish and sustain a Technology Capital Improvement Fund. Swing replied that an estimated $400,000 to $500,000 would be needed annually for the EDMS project alone. The Law Legal Project may need the same. Sawatzke said that is less than the County spends currently per year on technology. The County has invested millions of dollars in recent years for the 800 Megahertz Project. The County has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in Financial Services, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars for a property tax technology system that ultimately was not utilized. Most of these projects have been effective. Some were not.
Sawatzke said the County belonged to a consortium of counties that spent millions on a system by a company called Manitron. Swing said most Metro counties are still using it. Sawatzke said Wright County discontinued the program. He asked Swing how much the County lost on that project. Swing said $70,000, although some of the infrastructure related to the project was reallocated. Sawatzke said despite the fact that the County has not had a Technology Capital Improvement Fund, it has nevertheless spent a great deal of money on technology. Hiivala confirmed that the County spent a total of $750,000 over three years on the Human Services EDMS project.
Norman interjected that the County utilized the Recorder Technology Fund (Fund) as a resource for eligible Departments. Hiivala said funding future technology projects from the Fund is not a sustainable option. Sawatzke said there is less revenue. Hiivala said the Fund now contains only several hundred thousand dollars.
Swing said he has no complaints regarding the support the Board has given technology initiatives over the years. Funding for the EDMS project will stop at the end of the year. It would be helpful to have a funding source that was not calendar driven. Sawatzke said if a Technology Capital Improvement Fund were created, it would not be significantly more than other available sources.
RECOMMENDATIONS: None Informational item only.
II. Web Streaming Of County Board Meetings.
Swing referred to Agenda Item #2, Web Streaming of County Board Meetings (see attached). The idea was originally proposed a year ago. The Project Team assessed six solutions. Another impetus is that Charter will transition from an analog to a digital format soon. The new format will necessitate a two-week broadcast delay of County Board meetings on local channels.
Swing, Norman and Backes met at Stearns County to observe and discuss their web streaming process. He said considerations must include not only the technology, but also the process involved. There may be a more ideal way to generate the Agenda and Minutes.
Swing said the Project Team (Team) is considering the Carver County (Vimeo) and Anoka County (Livestream) solutions. The Team felt the Livestream option would be a temporary way to launch web streaming of County Board meetings. Assuming that additional information about Livestream confirms their initial thoughts, the Team would like to implement it. The company offers a thirty day free trial. Swing said after the redesign of the County web site, the Team will look at a more permanent streaming solution.
Swing said the vision is to have the entire Board meeting agenda and meeting process converted to digital. Individual Departments would submit agenda items and supporting documentation online, and Administration staff would manipulate the information. Board members would access the finished product via tablets, and meeting packets would be archived and posted on the County web site.
Daleiden said for the sake of transparency, the public should be able to access all documents in the meeting packets that are available to the Board. Husom asked whether the packets would be distributed electronically to the Board. Daleiden said that was the long-term goal. Sawatzke said it is less convenient to view three documents electronically than when comparing hard copies. He thought the system would work well for the public, and provides better access.
Daleiden say the packet for today’s Board meeting included ten pages for the Consent Agenda that were not necessary. The public does not see those documents. He considers it wasteful to make fifteen copies of such documents for Board packets. He realizes the change to electronic documents will not happen overnight. Potter said it would be good to reduce the amount of paper used. Daleiden said he asked a reporter whether he would like to receive the Board packets by email. The reporter said yes, as he typically uses only one or two documents in a packet and recycles the rest.
Swing said the Sheriff Office uses e-subscriptions to notify interested members of the public regarding announcements and alerts. The same could be set up for Board meetings. Daleiden said small steps can be taken to get to the long-term goal.
Swing referred to the page entitled County Board Function Comparison of Technology Solutions. He listed the advance and annual costs of the solutions. He expressed the opinion that IQM2, the vendor Stearns County is using, is his preference for a streaming solution among those he evaluated. Daleiden said he found other vendors that represent a different technology. Swing said he agreed with the Team’s decision to go with Livestream or Vimeo initially as an inexpensive option. Once the web site redesign is completed, other streaming amenities such as processing agendas and minutes could be considered.
Sawatzke asked the purpose of the annual fee with various vendors. He wondered why the County couldn’t simply buy software and install it. He said the County could make a lot of paper copies per year instead of paying IQM2 $10,500 in annual fees. Swing said IQM2 maintains and enhances the system for the full ECM solution. It is hosted on a server. Swing reminded the Board that every technological system implemented must be maintained and upgraded periodically. The County has contracts linked to every critical system, which cannot be arbitrarily discontinued.
Norman said the Project Team was inclined to implement the Vimeo solution utilized by Carver County, if the Board approved it. The Team will continue to research alternatives with the ultimate goal in mind. The Team will also consider Daleiden’s suggestion that additional cameras be installed in the Board Room, using cost comparisons with image quality as a top priority. Norman said he cannot participate in Board meetings and remotely control cameras at the same time. He referred to the recommendation to use volunteers to run cameras for Board meetings as noted on Phase 1 on the Comparison of Technology Solutions page. Norman suggested that the discussion about Board minutes and agenda processes take place at a separate meeting.
Sawatzke said he would be interested in knowing the costs. He does not think the current system is unacceptable. The camera can move from the dais, to the podium and the overhead screen. When comparing the County broadcast to those of other government entities, Sawatzke does not feel the County production is below par. Daleiden said a camera should also move to Coordinator Norman, since the Board frequently interacts with him. Sawatzke was not sure that was a critical issue. He suggested they try live streaming and then determine whether another camera is needed.
Norman said there have been times when he has forgotten to switch camera angles with the current remote control system. Daleiden said cameras are not that expensive. Sawatzke replied the issue is having a person to run them. The reason the Board went to the current system is that volunteers are hard to find. Daleiden suggested training a few County employees to run the camera. Sawatzke said the Board Chair could run the remote camera controls.
Daleiden said the goal is to make the County presentation more professional. Borrell said the Board could see how the Carver County (Vimeo) solution works with the existing camera. Sawatzke said if the Board is not satisfied with the end product, the Board can discuss it again at a later date. Daleiden reiterated that one of his concerns with the present system is that Norman does not appear on camera. Perhaps Norman could move to the dais instead of his position at the side of the room. Sawatzke said occasionally Norman goes to the podium to present, at which times he appears on camera. Husom liked the volunteer idea. Borrell suggested the Board start with simple streaming, and if another camera is purchased in the future, volunteers could be sought. Husom said it would be hard for Norman to operate the camera controls while taking part in the meeting. Sawatzke said the cable company used to provide a camera person for Board meetings. Even then, camera shots were missed.
Norman asked whether the Board was still interested in broadcasting Board meetings over local channels via Charter once streaming begins. He said meetings would be aired eight days after the original date. Husom said if the meeting is live streamed, the public will be able to view it live or on demand. Daleiden said the problem is some people are computer illiterate. Currently Administration submits information to Charter that displays broadcast times for Board meetings. The County could add information regarding the opportunity to view Board meetings live or archived via the County web site. That would drive more people to the web site.
Swing said it appears the Board is leaning toward the Carver County vendor as an interim solution. He asked if he could also investigate the Anoka County vendor, Livestream, for further information. Carver County’s solution (Vimeo) is only on-demand and does not enable constituents to view the meeting live. Swing said Livestream does two things Vimeo does not: It streamlines the process and allows live streaming. Vimeo requires extra procedures to remove the DVD after the meeting. Livestream offers both on-demand and live streaming.
Sawatzke said the Project Team will review the options and come back to the Board with a recommendation.
Norman asked if the Board would like to meet regarding how minutes are done. Daleiden requested Norman provide State Statute requirements regarding Board minutes. Norman responded that he has the information to distribute today. Daleiden questioned the necessity of providing detailed minutes when the meeting is recorded live. The video can be archived and is accessible in the future. Sawatzke said current video recordings are not saved forever. Backes confirmed they are saved for six months. Swing said the County needs to archive the recordings on network.
Norman said there is a need to discuss minutes. Additionally, once live streaming begins, a decision should be made regarding whether to stream Human Services Board, Planning Commission and Board of Adjustment meetings as well. Daleiden said the County should stream those meetings in the interest of transparency. Sawatzke said the Board must evaluate whether anyone in the public is interested in viewing the meetings. Sawatzke asked how many meetings the Board envisioned streaming. Norman suggested only meetings held in the Board Room. He thought Committee Of The Whole meetings could be streamed if deemed of interest to the public. Daleiden said regardless, the meeting videos would be archived and could be viewed in the future. He speculated that perhaps it would help people become more interested in County government.
Husom said the number of web site hits could be tracked, and the streaming feature publicized. Norman said an additional outcome of streaming may mean there will be more contact from the public with questions and concerns for Departments. The County will have to take customer service response to a new level. Sawatzke said the Anoka solution with Livestream may be viable. Swing said it was an intriguing option. Husom asked if IT is able to determine the number of hits on the County web site. Swing said they have that capability. Sawatzke asked the average number of hits the County web site receives in a month.
Swing will research that question and report back at a later date. Sawatzke asked if the number of web site hits continue to increase. Swing said yes, especially on interactive web pages.
RECOMMENDATION: The Project Team consisting of Daleiden, Norman, Backes, Swing and Nelson will review the Livestream option and make a selection between the Vimeo system or the Livestream system.
(End of 3-05-13 Technology Committee Of The Whole Minutes)
Potter introduced Steve Bot, St. Michael Administrator/Engineer, who provided an update on the I-94 Coalition Project. Bot said the effort has included a number of other cities, the County’s support, and the I-94 West Chamber to actively push for improvements on I-94, which is a very important corridor of commerce for Wright County and the State. Bot said they have recently gotten a few of the local Representatives to sign bills at the Capital. On 3-18-13 at 10:00 A.M., Representative Michele Bachmann will host a press conference regarding I-94 and Hwy. 10. The MnDOT Commissioner also hosted an event on 3-11-13 that was attended by Bot, Hawkins, and Potter. He said there is a lot of push toward getting improvements on I-94. I-94 is not included in MnDOT’s 20-year plan other than for maintenance.
Bot said the I-94 Coalition and Chamber recently brought on a Project Manager that specializes in corridors and moving things forward. He distributed a copy of the latest brochure highlighting some of the important things along the Corridor. Bot referred to the data relating to congestion, safety, mobility, and freight. In the Corridor from St. Michael to St. Cloud, it accounts for 40% of the congestion in MnDOT’s Inter-Region Corridor and yet is only 1.6% of the total Inter-Region Corridor in the State. He said there is wide-reaching support on the Federal level with letters of support from Senator Klobachar, Senator Franken, Representative Bachmann, and Representative Paulsen.
Bot is looking for County support in terms of time (Commissioners and staff from the County’s Highway Engineering Department) and financial support. In 2010, the County contributed $5,000 to the I-94 Coalition. Bot viewed this as a critical point to move forward and are looking for funding. There are financial commitments in the $5,000-$10,000 range, with some being on-going, from the cities of Otsego, Albertville, St. Michael, and Rogers, as well as businesses through the Chamber. The City of Monticello will be considering this shortly. He referenced the County’s contributions to other coalitions, such as the Hwy. 55 Corridor Coalition.
Potter asked whether it is critical to move forward at this time because of MnDOT’s Minnesota State Highway Investment Plan (MnSHIP). Bot said MnSHIP is MnDOT’s 20-year Plan. He serves on a couple of MnDOT Boards that are looking at the entire State and redoing the 20-year Plan. MnDOT says the plan only includes maintenance of the roads (not expansion) especially outside of the metro area for the 20-year period. Bot said they are working with the Legislature to bring attention to and possibly obtain funding for I-94. There is some momentum being seen. One bill has nineteen House of Representatives signatures. It is important that everyone support the effort in terms of time and financial commitment to get things rolling and to spread the word. He said he would appreciate the Board’s support in that regard.
Sawatzke said the Hwy. 55 Coalition has a good deal of support from private business and asked whether the I-94 Coalition does as well. Bot said this is the case. Over the course of the Coalition, he estimated at least half of the funding has been through business. The next phase of fundraising is coming up. The I-94 Coalition has not done an annual fundraiser, as is done by the Hwy. 55 Coalition. Sawatzke asked Hawkins if he knew how long the Hwy. 55 Coalition has been in existence. Hawkins said it was started in 2001. Sawatzke said SRF ran the effort and there were some victories. He said there has been talk of backing off for a period of time as they are in a holding pattern. Hawkins said the Hwy. 55 Coalition helped with many projects (TH 12 signal project, obtained funding for Hennepin County projects, and obtained right-of-way money for Settlers Parkway in an effort to make that area safer and eliminate the intersection with CR 147). Hawkins said the funding for SRF, the facilitator, is through Federal dollars. Sawatzke asked how much the County contributes annually. Hawkins said the initial contribution in 2001 was $10,000 with an annual membership of $1,000. There is also membership by the cities, chambers, and businesses in Wright and Hennepin Counties.
Sawatzke said the goal of the I-94 Coalition is for another lane. The Hwy. 55 Coalition was involved with various projects along the way. Hawkins said one of the largest things the Hwy. 55 Coalition accomplished was getting the Official Mapping completed. Sawatzke agreed, and said that is what will make the extra lane on Hwy. 55 viable in the future. He said they are not looking to map I-94; they are looking to add an additional lane. Bot said with I-94, the advantage is MnDOT’s design is already complete and they are implementing the first stages in Monticello. There is no right-of-way to acquire and the median is placed down the middle. The project involves six lanes (3 on each side) leaving the outside lanes as shoulder for now. A bituminous lane will be added in the future. This is an expensive project in terms of interstate but it is an easier project to pull off. MnDOT District 3 has indicated if they can obtain the funding, this can be constructed in 2014.
Husom asked about the I-94 Fund contributions to date. Bot estimated $50,000-$75,000 has been raised over the course of 5-6 years, with a fund balance of about $5,000-$10,000. Daleiden asked if SpeeDee has contributed financially. Bot said not at this time. St. Cloud is part of the Central MN Corridor Coalition. That group recently indicated that St. Cloud will be done growing without improvements to I-94. It has been dynamic to get their legislative people on board as they see this as a critical corridor. SpeeDee has changed their hours so they are not leaving St. Cloud until 9:00 A.M. Potter said MnDOT has identified this as a corridor of commerce. Next year is a bonding year and if there is any possibility, this needs to be included in MnDOT’s Plan in order to get funding. Bot said that is correct. From the data they have looked at, the I-94 Corridor would pretty much be “the poster child” for the corridors of commerce. There are some smaller programs that offer funding such as the TED (Transportation and Economic Development) Program and the Sims Corridor which focus on new projects, but I-94 does not fit into those because of its size.
Sawatzke suggested that if the County approved another $5,000 contribution to the I-94 Coalition, that would bring the total contribution to be equal with the $10,000 that was given to the Hwy. 55 Corridor Coalition. Daleiden said the County gave the Hwy. 55 Corridor Coalition $10,000 initially plus $1,000/year for a number of years. Sawatzke said the Hwy. 55 Coalition has been in existence for some time. Bot stated that the County contributed in 2010 to the I-94 Coalition but it has been in existence for 5-6 years.
Borrell asked whether the I-94 Coalition will end when I-94 is six lanes or will it ask for additional funding every year. Bot said six lanes is the goal. One of the bills includes the section from Rogers to Monticello, which would be most of the way through Wright County. The intent is all the way through the County but that might take time and they will take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Bot viewed this as an opportunistic time based on the potential funding. He said it is time to ramp things up through the Legislative Session to see where this goes. Next year is a bonding year. Potter said the I-94 Corridor attracts business because it is a corridor of commerce. New business will increase the tax base, assisting with the budget and reducing costs for constituents.
Borrell said he is not opposed to the request for funding, but this type of organization can take on a life of its own. Sawatzke said about a year ago, discussion included whether the Hwy. 55 Coalition should be disbanded for a while. Although there are still needs along Hwy. 55, he personally feels I-94’s needs are greater. He was unsure whether he viewed it this way because he travels I-94. Sawatzke said the Coalition needs to proceed cautiously and not include too much in the project. They may need to take sections at a time. If they include all the way to St. Cloud, that would more than double the cost of the project, which he did not view as feasible. Borrell said that once the improvements have been made through Clearwater, he thought the County should be done. Sawatzke said the funding request is not for construction but a lobbying effort. Potter said it is important that this project be brought forth at this time. It is unknown how the project will be funded. Sawatzke said it is the philosophy of taking care of the infrastructure versus adding more. He did not view this as adding more, as it is not a new road but rather taking care of what is there. The corridor is under capacity for the amount of traffic it receives. Daleiden made a motion to contribute $8,000 to the I-94 Corridor Coalition, seconded by Potter. As recommended by Norman, Daleiden and Potter amended the motion to include the funding source of Budget 100, Professional Services. This is because this expenditure was not included in the Road & Bridge budget. The motion carried 5-0.
Earlier in the Meeting, the Board discussed laying over an item that was missed being placed on the Consent Agenda, “Approve 2013 Tobacco License Renewal for Quik Shop (City of Delano)”. Hiivala returned to the Board Meeting and requested the Board take action today. The Quik Shop has applied for their Tobacco License Renewal late and paid a double fine. The Sheriff and County Attorney have signed off on the application. Borrell moved to approve the 2013 Tobacco License Renewal for the Quik Shop in the City of Delano, seconded by Daleiden, carried 5-0.
Sheriff Joe Hagerty asked for Board consideration to expedite the process of hiring for a Dispatch position because of a resignation received yesterday. There are a limited number of dispatchers (15), and he viewed this as a very essential employee group in the Sheriff’s Office. Twelve hour shifts were recently added, and a report was sent to the Board reflecting they have stayed within budget. He requested approval to establish an eligibility list for Dispatch positions. Hagerty said one of the Lieutenant’s contacted the Administration Office yesterday on the eligibility list. He said they want to make sure they can get that position replaced, as the position will be vacant in two weeks. The Board previously authorized the use of a seasonal employee for up to 120 days per year instead of 67 days per year. If the seasonal employee fills the vacated position, Sheriff Hagerty would like to bring on another seasonal employee. These are budgeted positions. He wants to expedite the process as they are generally down one position in that area. Eligibility lists are used for Correction Officers (54 positions) and Deputies (136 positions). There has not been much turnover in the Dispatch area. Sawatzke asked Norman if there was any reason why an eligibility list could not be created for this position. Norman responded that doing so would be fine. Hagerty will work with Personnel Representative Judy Brown who was initially contacted on creating this eligibility list. He said Personnel is agreeable to moving to a paper application process rather than a test, which is what was done with the Correction Officer position. Sawatzke said Norman will start the process of creating an eligibility list for the Dispatch position.
Fred Pryor Seminars $249.00
Allina Medical Transportation 500.00
Ameripride Services 188.10
APEC Industrial Sales & Serv. 1,494.20
Aramark Services Inc 6,514.87
Bauman/Lawrence R 144.00
Big Time Towing 293.91
Bryan Rock Products 577.57
Buffalo/City of 65,000.11
C Walker Trucking 2,325.00
Center Point Energy 986.34
Centra Sota Coop - Buffalo 634.84
Climate Air 1,906.80
Corner House 1,500.00
Creative Forms & Concepts 707.57
Crow River Tools 584.51
Dell Marketing LP 971.40
Election Sys. & Software Inc 2,111.33
Envirotech Services Inc 14,549.07
Expert Automotive & Marine 197.72
Green Interiors 482.07
Hardings Towing Inc 240.62
Hillyard Inc - Minneapolis 1,364.06
International Assn of Prop./Evid. 100.00
Interstate Automotive 133.59
Johnson Larson Peterson PA 100.00
Johnson/Brian M 102.49
Karels Towing 200.39
LaPlant Demo Inc 517.98
Lawson Products Inc 339.55
Lee/Philip M 1,000.00
Lockup USA Productions 108.50
Lous Gloves Inc 381.00
Magneto Power LLC 219.93
Marco Inc 169.56
Martin-McAllisters Consulting 1,350.00
MATSA Conference 480.00
Menards - Buffalo 210.46
Mid-America Business Sys. 657.28
MN Area Assoc. of Realtors 1,368.00
MN Chemical Company 1,466.46
MN Counties Computer Coop. 1,362.46
MN County Attorneys Assoc. 214.26
MN Monitoring Inc 2,326.00
MN Supreme Court 1,316.00
Morries Parts & Service Group 855.22
Motorola Inc 13,527.45
National Seminars Training 179.00
North American Salt Co 31,510.41
O’Ryans Conoco Marathon 125.00
Office Depot 1,197.22
Polar Chevrolet 26,408.29
Precision Prints of Wright Co 176.34
Redneck Trailer Supplies 765.07
Royal Tire Inc 5,501.24
Schermann/Robert D 170.00
Schmidt/Donald M 131.00
Snowplows Plus 146.42
Spec. Operations Training Assn 400.00
Transcend United Tech. 112.50
Uniforms Unlimited 1,132.77
USPCA Region 12 220.00
Waste Management-TC West 2,250.19
Waverly/City of 441.75
Winter Equipment Co Inc 2,059.74
Wright County Human Services 200.00
Wright County Journal Press 392.10
Wright Hennepin Electric 435.15
Zacks Inc 587.22
28 Pymts. less than $100 1.226.41
Final total $240,198.83
The meeting adjourned at 10:15 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal April 1, 2013.