Wright County Board Minutes

WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
APRIL 2, 2013
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Husom, Sawatzke, Daleiden, Potter and Borrell present.
The following corrections were made to the 3-26-13 Board minutes: At the request of Sawatzke, Page 1, Paragraph 6, the 2nd line should read: “Part of the Project includes a trail segment within the Park boundary.” At the request of Borrell, Page 10, Paragraph 7, the 2nd line should read: “Borrell asked if Houston will go to the site and draw a few specifications.” Borrell requested the minutes on Page 10, Paragraph 7, the 3rd line also be changed to read: “The farmers in the area and he could meet with Houston, give them more details, and Houston could go back to redraw their specifications for no additional charge.” Potter moved to approve the 3-26-13 minutes as amended, seconded by Daleiden. The motion carried 5-0.
On a motion by Borrell, seconded by Husom, all voted to approve the Agenda.
Potter moved to approve the Consent Agenda, seconded by Husom. The motion carried 5-0.
A. ADMINISTRATION
1. Performance Appraisals: C. Mueller, P&Z; R. Howe, Sher.
2. Acknowledge Notification Of Compliance, Local Government Pay Equity Act.
B. AUDITOR/TREASURER
1. Approve Renewal Of 2013 Seasonal On/Off Sale 3.2 Malt Liquor License For Olson’s Campground (Silver Creek Twp).
C. ASSESSOR
1. Approve Abatement, PID# 213-100-063300, Michael & Linda Bregenzer (Monticello Twp).
2. Approve Abatement, PID# 155-111-002030, Tamara Streich Leko (City of Monticello).
Richard Norman, County Coordinator, said it was a pleasure to introduce Tamara Bigelow, the first Human Resources Director for Wright County. Bigelow provided background information regarding her academic and professional experience. She earned a Bachelors Degree in Business Management with an emphasis on Human Resources and a minor in Human Relations from St. Cloud State University. Three weeks after she graduated, Bigelow said she was hired by Benton County to do their Payroll and Accounts Payable functions in the Auditor/Treasurer’s Office. She worked in that capacity for eleven months, after which she was promoted to a newly created Human Resources position. Bigelow said she worked there for nearly fourteen years. She is looking for new challenges, and is excited about the opportunity to work at Wright County with Coordinator Norman.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, reported back to the Board regarding the Intoxicating Liquor License Application for Whispering Pines Golf Course in Corinna Township that was laid over from the 3-26-13 Board meeting. Hiivala said Gloria Gooler, Office Manager I, Auditor/Treasurer’s Office, researched the type of application needed for a seasonal license. Hiivala said Gooler found that the license application is the same as the one Mark Dvorak, the applicant, completed for the Board meeting last week. Hiivala said Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, affirmed that the Board can set a seasonal license and its duration. Asleson was present to discuss the appropriateness of prorating the license fee.
Asleson said in the past, the $2,500 license fee was prorated for seasonal licenses over a 365 day period at a cost of $6.85 per day. Asleson said he spoke with Dvorak prior to the meeting. Dvorak requests an eight month seasonal license from April through November, 2013. Asleson explained that the Board has the authority to set a seasonal license for as long as nine months. The license application being considered would be for eight months. Sawatzke asked Asleson to confirm the cost of a full license. Asleson responded that a full license is $2,500. Sawatzke said Dvorak would pay about two-thirds of that amount. Borrell asked if the seasonal license for Dvorak would run from April 1 through November 30. Asleson confirmed that it would. Sawatzke said the license fee would amount to $1,666.
Borrell commented that the Board discussed this license application at the previous Board meeting. Borrell moved to approve a seasonal Intoxicating Liquor License for Whispering Pines Golf Course from April 1, 2013 through November 30, 2013 on a prorated basis. Asleson asked that the motion include the license fee. Sawatzke asked for clarification that the fee would be $1,666.67. Borrell amended the motion to include that amount. Potter seconded the motion. Daleiden said he did not think it was fair to Dvorak to start the license on April 1. He said he doubted Dvorak was prepared to open for business yesterday. He added that since the Board had the choice, they should ask Dvorak what date would work best for him.
Dvorak said that according to the Minnesota Golf Association (Association), his establishment was open on April 1. He said the Association sent out an email to that effect, prompting 100 calls from golfers. Originally they were considering opening on April 15th, but would like to start on May 1st. Borrell asked if Dvorak wanted the motion to change the seasonal license period to begin on May 1. Dvorak said he would prefer that for this year. Once he is set up in future years, the license period could start April 1.
Sawatzke asked if the weather turns nice on April 24, would there be a chance that Dvorak would open his business. Dvorak said their goal was the 15th. He said the difference in the license fee for the additional days was minimal. He asked Dvorak if he would open on April 1 next year. Dvorak said yes. Sawatzke said he would prefer to leave the motion as it is with the seasonal license beginning April 1. Dvorak said that was fine. The cost is about $200 per month. Sawatzke said he would like to create consistency from year to year. Borrell said when Dvorak applies next year, the Board can renew the license for the same period of time from April 1 through November 30. Sawatzke said that will work well. He was concerned that if Whispering Pines operated outside of those parameters, Dvorak would not meet the 100-seat minimum requirement for restaurants. Dvorak’s establishment only meets those criteria when he is able to provide outside seating. Sawatzke said Dvorak can’t offer outside seating in November or early March. The motion carried 5-0.
Hiivala requested approval of a contract with Houston Engineering (Houston) to draft a Technical Memorandum for County Ditch 38. Hiivala said representatives from Houston were present at the 3-26-13 Board meeting. The Board approved Houston as the vendor for the Ditch Records Modernization Project, and as such, will be able to utilize the work they do in that capacity to help lower the cost of the Technical Memorandum. The Houston contract in the Board packet represents the lowered cost not to exceed $6,700.
Borrell said he still harbors the concerns he voiced last week. Wenck Associates (Wenck) met them and provided a proposal for drafting a Technical Memorandum as well. Borrell was unsure whether the two proposals were comparable. He read from Page 2, Paragraph 1, 1st line of the Houston letter: “For the purposes of this proposal, we are assuming that each alternative will maintain the existing outlet elevation for the upstream wetland, and therefore a determination of wetland impacts will not be required.” Borrell said there is no upstream wetland. The wet area was created when the tile quit working. He added that Wenck is saying they will not deal with this issue because the area is a wetland. Borrell asserted that the area in question is not a wetland. Hiivala said the way he understands the letter, Wenck is saying they will not be improving the Ditch but will respect existing elevations.
Borrell referenced other clauses on Page 2 of the Houston letter, under the Assumptions category: 1) No additional surveying is required; 2) Hydrologic modeling is not required; and 4) Wetland impacts will not occur as part of any alternative. Borrell said the County does not know that these statements are accurate, and it is not clear what Wenck is conveying. He asked Hiivala to clarify these statements. Borrell said this could become a contentious issue because the area referred to as a wetland did not become wet in his lifetime until the tile ceased to function. Sawatzke replied that it may appear to be a wetland at this time. However, Sawatzke questioned whether it meets the legal requirements of a wetland based on the law since a drainage ditch exists there. He asked Borrell if he wished to lay this item over to allow time for him to ask these questions. Borrell asked if waiting one week would impact the project. He would like to call Wenck and Houston to satisfy his concerns.
Sawatzke suggested that Borrell ask Kerry Saxton, Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), if the area is a wetland. Sawatzke said Saxton might say it appears to be a wetland, but it can be drained. Borrell said it is a County Ditch. Sawatzke said Saxton understands the law as it relates to wetlands and ditches.
Hiivala remarked that when Wenck discussed their proposal, they gave the County no indication of what they would do outside of their written proposal. He does not know whether the Wenck proposal is different from the Houston proposal. Hiivala said the County will have a chance to explain their goals and concerns to Houston. The Board has not signed a contract with Houston. Hiivala said Houston acted in good faith to lower their estimate to $6,700, as stated in the contract now before the Board.
Borrell said he felt the proposal Houston did was fine. His concern is that the County does not know whether Wenck would provide more services, such as a hydrologic study, for an additional three to five hundred dollars. Borrell moved to lay over approval of the contract with Houston Engineering for a Draft Technical Memorandum for County Ditch 38 until the 4-09-12 County Board meeting. Sawatzke clarified that Borrell will research the issue and report back to the Board next week. Daleiden seconded the motion, which carried 5-0.
Hiivala received an email requesting a hardship determination under the Deferred Compensation Plan. Procedure calls for a Deferred Compensation Committee meeting when presented with a hardship withdrawal request. Hiivala said Asleson and he looked over the request and feel it meets the criteria for approval. He did not believe the meeting would last long. Sawatzke agreed that the request should go through the formal process to be resolved. Norman suggested meeting on 4-09-13 at 8:30 A.M. Potter moved to set a Deferred Compensation Committee meeting for 4-09-13 at 8:30 A.M. Husom seconded the motion. Borrell clarified that this is a Committee meeting. Sawatzke confirmed, saying Husom, Norman, Asleson, Hiivala and he would be present. The motion carried 5-0.
A claims listing was discussed. Daleiden moved to approve the claims listing, subject to audit, in the amount of $189,665.99, with 145 vendors and 213 transactions, seconded by Borrell. The motion carried 5-0.
Greg Kramber, County Assessor, requested approval to hire the appraisal services of Joseph Mako. When Kramber was promoted to County Assessor ten years ago, about eight to ten petitions were filed against the County each year. Currently, the average is 70 to 80 cases per year with more than 100 active tax court cases filed against the County. The County has gone to trial four times in the last ten years. The cases have not been extensive, as the Assessor Office has been able to work through the process and obtain many dismissals. Kramber said there are times when he has to prepare for a trial because the County and the plaintiffs’ positions are so far apart in values. In preparation for trial, Kramber has hired outside appraisal professionals in the past to testify as expert witnesses. Kramber has testified as a fact witness and has done review work as well. Kramber said Mr. Mako has extensive tax court experience. The Assessor Office has obtained two or three appraisals from Mako’s firm in the past. Kramber decides which appraiser’s expertise is best suited for the case before he presents his request to the Board.
Kramber said the property involved in this case is a 25,000 square foot daycare facility in Buffalo. It was originally built in 1991. Multiple additions have been constructed since then. The Assessor Office and the plaintiff are far apart in value at this point, but Kramber said dialogue continues with their attorney. He does not know if the case will go to trial, but if he doesn’t properly prepare, he would not be doing his job.
Sawatzke asked Asleson whether the Attorney Office agrees with Kramber’s recommendation, and if he has personally worked closely with Mr. Mako. Asleson said he has. Borrell asked the amount of money in question. Kramber said the County currently values the property around $1.9 million. The first year on the petition was $1,987,800. The property owner is asking for a $1 million valuation. The difference in tax dollars is $32,758. Over the course of three years, the amount about which the parties are in disagreement approximates $102,416. Borrell clarified that the amount is retroactive to the time the conflict originated. Kramber said it is.
Sawatzke said the system needs to be equitable. If someone threatens to sue the County and the Assessor Office responds by lowering their taxes, others will sue. Property owners who don’t sue the County will end up paying higher taxes than those who do. Sawatzke said a fair standard should be established between those who challenge the County and those who do not. Daleiden asked whether the Assessor Office may collect fees from the opposing party if the court rules in favor of the County. Asleson responded that they provide a motion of proposed value. If the judge determines a higher value than the County’s proposal, the County may recoup some of the costs, but not all of them. Some of the expert witness costs may also be collected through the process in the event the value is ruled higher than proposed. Daleiden moved to approve the request to hire Joseph Mako for appraisal services, seconded by Potter. Asleson said in the past, this expense has been paid out of the Professional Services Line Item, Budget 100. The motion carried 5-0.
Potter presented a Resolution regarding County Transportation Funding. Potter explained that this Resolution comes from Abbey Bryduck, Transportation & Infrastructure Policy Analyst with the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC). Potter said quite a few counties have adopted the Resolution. The AMC extended the deadline from 4-6-13 to 4-11-13. Proponents intend to let legislators know they support this resolution. Daleiden moved to adopt Resolution #13-07, seconded by Husom.
Husom asked whether the Resolution seeks specific funding. Potter said it does not. The Resolution simply expresses support for County Transportation Funding. The County can vote on the wheelage fee option as a separate issue at a later date. Potter said currently only a few counties have exercised that option. Most Outstate counties are considering it, even though not all will implement it. Sawatzke said he does not approve of the wheelage fee or the local option sales tax. Potter reiterated that the County does not need to act on either option. Sawatzke asserted that neither option is good policy. He continued that the wheelage fee has nothing to do with the amount of time people spend on the road. Sawatzke said a person could get taxed for a vehicle and never drive it. Contrast that with a gas tax. The person drives the vehicle, buys gas and pays the tax. Even a person who drives a vehicle twice a year would be subject to a wheelage fee. Sawatzke also did not see how a local option sales tax would impact transportation.
Daleiden commented that there are other options for vehicles that are driven twice a year, such as special license plates. Borrell asked if the Board could delete the wheelage clause. Potter said this is a Statewide Resolution. Potter replied that approving the Resolution does not mean the Board approves the wheelage fee. Borrell said its presence in the Resolution lends credibility to the concept. Daleiden said the wheelage fee is approved at the discretion of each individual county. Potter said the purpose of this clause is to provide a fair and balanced opportunity to allow counties to decide whether to exercise the option or not. Borrell remarked that he did not want people in other counties to have to pay a wheelage fee. Sawatzke said a wheelage fee can be done in the Seven County Metro Area. He thinks it is a bad idea. Wright County residents are not paying a wheelage fee now. He does not believe it is a good way to fund roads. Sawatzke said the gas tax is primarily based on usage, i.e., the more you drive, the more gas you buy. Some may argue that owners of fuel efficient cars do not have to pay as much gas tax. Sawatzke said those people are rewarded for their fuel efficiency. Borrell said he did not want to pass this Resolution because he is reluctant to impose a wheelage fee on anyone in Minnesota. He agrees with Sawatzke that it is a bad idea. Borrell said he would vote in favor of the Resolution if the line about the wheelage fee and local option sales tax were deleted. If not, he will oppose it. The motion passed 3-2 on a roll call vote, with Borrell and Sawatzke casting nay votes.
Norman asked whether the Board intended to send the Resolution to the County Legislative Delegation. Sawatzke said they do. Norman asked whether the Board wanted a cover letter drafted. Potter requested the Administration Department staff contact Bryduck at AMC regarding their preference in processing the signed Resolution.
Resolution for County Transportation Funding
Whereas Minnesota Counties have to rely increasingly on the property tax to maintain roads and bridges; and
Whereas the annual funding gap for counties has resulted in deferring basic maintenance, delaying expansion projects with resulting safety concerns, mounting congestion, and missed economic growth for businesses and commuters; and
Whereas the rural road networks in the State should be adequate to bring goods to market; and
Whereas transportation-related jobs put over $2.8 billion in the pockets of Minnesotans and generated almost $195 million in income tax revenue in 2011; and
Whereas according to the Federal Highway Administration, (FHWA) every $1 billion invested in highway construction would support approximately 27,800 jobs; and
Whereas the overall transportation and transit needs for Minnesota exceed $2.5 billion dollars per year for the next twenty years; and
Whereas transportation funding comes primarily from user fees and are constitutionally dedicated to transportation purposes; and
Whereas the wheelage fee and local option sales tax for transportation should be options for all county boards to implement to meet their specific county needs; and
Whereas a comprehensive transportation solution should include funding for roads, bridges and transit, and address the varying needs in different parts of the State;
Now therefore be it resolved that the Wright County Board of Commissioners encourages the Minnesota Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign a bill that brings adequate funding to Minnesota’s Statewide transportation system.
(End of Resolution #13-07)
Sawatzke referenced the request from McLeod County Commissioners to explore collaborating on a Multi-County Transit System. He commented that he believes this may be regarding the River Rider Transportation Program. Sawatzke said counties outside the Metro Area are receiving pressure from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to combine their respective transit systems. He is not aware of anything River Rider is doing wrong. He remarked that it may be that MnDOT has observed that the River Rider Program is working well, and they want the County to take on a system that is struggling. Sawatzke said this request should be referred to the River Rider Joint Powers Board. Borrell said Sawatzke and he were at AMC two weeks ago, and someone discussed this issue with them. Borrell said Sawatzke and he asked the person to send the Board a letter. The Board they referred to was the River Rider Joint Powers Board. The person mistakenly sent the letter to the Wright County Board. Borrell said the person did not know Sawatzke and he sat on the River Rider Joint Powers Board as well. Potter moved to refer the request from the McLeod County Commissioners to the River Rider Joint Powers Board to explore collaborating on a multi-county transit system. Norman said he received an email from Pat Melvin, McLeod County Administrator. Sawatzke asked Norman to tell Melvin the Board is forwarding the request to the River Rider Joint Powers Board. When doing so, Sawatzke asked Norman to let Melvin know that Borrell and he also serve on the River Rider Joint Powers Board. They request more information regarding the issues to be discussed at the upcoming meeting.
Norman suggested scheduling a Committee Of The Whole meeting to discuss Continuity Of Operations Planning (COOP) on 5-7-13 at 10:30 A.M. following that day’s County Board meeting. Daleiden moved to schedule a Committee Of The Whole meeting on 5-7-13 at 10:30 A.M., seconded by Husom. The motion carried 5-0.
Potter commended County staff for their great work on the Notification of Compliance, Local Government Pay Equity Act. He said what they accomplished was no easy task.
Borrell said the Budget Committee Of The Whole meeting held 3-28-13 at 6:00 P.M. was well attended. He apologized that the meeting was scheduled on Holy Thursday, a Christian holiday. Borrell said the meeting was informative, and he hopes the Board can hold another evening meeting in the future.
Bills Approved
Accurate Usa $292.00
Albertville Body Shop Inc 1,132.04
Allina Health System 523.70
Ameripride Services 389.62
APEC Industrial Sales & Serv. 635.73
Aramark Services Inc 6,594.46
Barnes Distribution 726.46
Bersie/Bruce 244.00
Bestfriends Veterinary Clinic 192.38
Boyer Truck Parts 1,990.30
Breezy Point Resort Inc 2,272.60
Brethorst/Darnell 139.50
Brownells Inc 341.93
Carver County Treasurer 341.44
Cenex Fleetcard 385.58
Center Point Energy 469.94
Centra Sota Coop - Buffalo 64,556.61
Climate Air 358.50
Cokato Motor Sales Inc 661.88
Country Inn 103.28
Crow River Tools 265.46
Crysteel Truck & Equipment 5,152.84
Daniel Sheridan Sr 214.32
Dell Marketing LP 1,321.49
Deluxe For Business 252.33
Design Elec.-Cold Spring Elec. 675.00
DLT Solutions Inc 7,980.32
Donahue Sports Center Corp 151.63
Elk River Municipal Utilities 107.17
Feddema/Tom 343.00
Frontier Precision Inc 552.03
Gabriel/Cathleen 100.00
General Pallet Inc 754.50
Glunz Constr. Septic Serv. LLC 130.00
Hardings Towing Inc 160.31
Hillyard Inc - Minneapolis 2,549.33
Howard/Jolanta 100.00
Identix Incorporated 467.95
Impact Proven Solutions 15,037.05
Integrated Fire & Security 907.88
Jerrys Towing & Repair 224.43
Keeprs Inc 307.42
Lynn Peavey Company 214.00
M & M Express Sales/Serv 145.43
Maple Lake Lumber Company 179.03
Marco 141.88
Marco Inc 5,487.23
Marietta Aggregates/Martin 111.92
MCIT 107.00
Menards - Buffalo 123.58
Messaging Architects Inc 13,125.00
Midwest Protection Agency Inc 517.13
MN Assn of Pretrial Service 195.00
MN County Attorneys Assoc 125.00
Morries Parts & Service Group 884.62
MTI Distributing Inc 309.30
Nelson Auto Center 25,784.82
Northern States Power Co 100.81
Office Depot 597.85
Olson & Sons Electric 282.09
Rigid Hitch Incorporated 135.63
Royal Tire Inc 404.19
Sprint 6,950.57
Sprint 3,177.39
St Cloud Stamp & Sign Inc 113.79
Thompson/Janet A 240.00
U of Minn./CCE Registration 205.00
Voss Lighting 1,073.78
Walmart Store 01-1577 955.44
Ward Williams 347.28
Wright Co. Auditor Treasurer 3,538.33
Wright County Highway Dept 781.27
Xcel Energy 1,704.37
29 Payments less than $100 1,500.85
Final total $189,665.99
The meeting adjourned at 9.37 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal April 22, 2013.


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