WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
OCTOBER 1, 2013
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Husom, Sawatzke, Daleiden, Potter and Borrell present.
Borrell moved to approve the 9-24-13 County Board Minutes as presented. The motion was seconded by Husom and carried 5-0.
Potter moved to approve the Agenda as presented, seconded by Daleiden, carried 5-0.
On a motion by Daleiden, second by Borrell, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: T. Bigelow, C. Hayes, Admin.; W. Maresh, Assr.; S. Sandberg, Atty.; A. Bixby, K. Green, L. Pulvermacher, Aud./Treas.; J. Moe, Ct. Serv.; B. Haynes, N. Helgeson, Hwy.; S. Albrecht, H. DuBois, H.Gillham, T. Klaers, C. Poirier, A. Pribyl, Sher./Corr.
2. Authorize Attendance At Association Of Minnesota Counties Conference, 12-9-13 through 12-11-13, Minneapolis.
B. HUMAN SERVICES
1. Position Replacements:
a. 1.0 FTE Social Worker, Child Protection;
b. 1.0 FTE Social Worker, Adult Protection Worker/Vulnerable Adult Investigator.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented a draft resolution allowing for the repurchase of a tax forfeit parcel by Gary & Janet Halderson (PID #220-000-034204) in Woodland Township. Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, said repayment will be over a 10-year period and the owner must keep current taxes paid. He stated the applicants have already deposited one-tenth of the delinquent taxes, penalties and interest owing, along with other costs. The draft resolution will be revised to reflect this. Husom moved to adopt Resolution #13-32, seconded by Borrell. Sawatzke asked what will happen if the applicants do not make payment. Asleson said the contract for repurchase is similar to a contract for deed, whereby the County must provide notice and allow time for the applicant to make payment. If the contract is cancelled, then the property reverts back into the State’s name. Daleiden asked if the County assesses a fee for the work involved. Asleson said the County charges $100 for a repurchase contract. Time spent on each varies. Asleson stated the fee could be looked at to see whether it should be increased. The motion carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
On a motion by Borrell, second by Potter, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit, for $134,042.48, with 135 vendors and 195 transactions.
Virgil Hawkins, Highway Engineer, requested the Board approve a letter of support for the I-94 West Corridor Expansion to be included in the Corridors of Commerce Program. MnDOT is requesting input from stakeholders on suggested projects for the Program. Potter moved to approve the letter of support, seconded by Daleiden. The motion and second were amended to include having all Board members sign the letter. The motion carried 5-0.
A Building Committee Meeting was held on 9-25-13. At today’s County Board Meeting, the Board discussed the two topics from Committee:
4th Floor Security: Sawatzke said at one point, the County offices went away from panic buttons. The 911 System was considered more efficient because of the ability to determine the source of the call. The following changes were made to the Building Committee minutes:
• Page 2, 2nd paragraph, last line should be removed which reads, “Sawatzke said he favored the option that automatically dialed 911 because the Sheriff’s Office is given the location of the caller.” Sawatzke said he did not attend the Building Committee Meeting so he was unsure why that comment was in the minutes.
Potter explained that at the Building Committee meeting, he cited a prior comment Sawatzke made in this regard.
• Page 3, 4th paragraph, remove “video camera” from the list of items that quotes will be obtained on. Daleiden said there are already video cameras on the 4th Floor.
Borrell asked for the purpose of placing lockers on the 4th Floor. Daleiden said the lockers will be utilized for personal items of clients going to the 4th Floor so they will not have to be searched. Husom saw value in some panic buttons in addition to the phone, as a person may be able to push a panic button but not reach the phone to dial 911. Sawatzke said he does not oppose panic buttons. Previously, the County deemed it was not the way to proceed but it may now be appropriate. Lt. Todd Hoffman, Sheriff’s Office, said that when the County had panic buttons, the Sheriff’s Office had a monitoring station. If the County decides to proceed with panic buttons in the future, it will need to be determined where that will be monitored (i.e., Wright Hennepin Security, tied into the 911 System). Husom moved to approve the recommendation for the 4th Floor Security, which reads, “Obtain quotes for installing bulletproof barriers at the reception windows, panic buttons, and lockers in the Attorney’s Office and Court Services.” The motion was seconded by Daleiden. Borrell said he is okay with obtaining prices but he is against the bullet proof glass. He added that he would favor taking down the Plexiglas. The motion carried 5-0.
Move File System from Former Sheriff Administration to Jail.
At today’s County Board Meeting, Potter said the cost to move the file system with rails was previously estimated at $7,500. The Purchasing Agent negotiated the price to $4,200 to complete the move without the rails. The advantage of having the files on rails is it allows the files to be more compact. Daleiden said these files will never be computerized per Court Administration. The files will be moved to the old Jail cell pods. Daleiden moved to approve the recommendation, “Authorize expense of $4,200 to move existing shelves in the former Sheriff Office down to the old jail cell pods for Court Administration file storage.” The motion was seconded by Borrell and carried 5-0. On a motion by Daleiden, second by Potter, all voted to approve the 9-25-13 Building Committee Minutes as corrected:
I. 4th Floor Security.
T. Kelly read a statement (see attachment). He said the Attorney’s Office and Court Services deal with a different segment of the population and not the average citizen who comes to the Government Center to transact business. T. Kelly said the people who come to the Attorney’s Office and Court Services are being prosecuted for various crimes. There is much anger and emotion, and some of these people are criminals. He said the Attorney’s Office and Court Services should not be considered separately from the Courts regarding their need for security. He and other attorneys in the Office have been subjected to threats. They felt the metal detectors were effective, and County security measures have taken a step backwards by removing them.
MacMillan echoed T. Kelly’s concerns. He said it is time for a solution. In one week there were seven arrests out of his office. MacMillan said he and his staff deal with these situations continually. MacMillan said T. Kelly’s thoughts need to be considered. County attorneys, other attorneys, staff, and clients need to be protected. His Department has implemented safety training programs for agents and clerical staff. Agents wear vests in the field. MacMillan said these practices have been sufficient when metal detectors were in place. Now that they have been removed, he would like to discuss a variety of options to improve security. Some options include video monitoring, secured lockers, bulletproof glass, panic buttons, and scanning wands to minimize threats to the staff.
MacMillan said the options in which he is most interested are:
1) Installing secured lockers for clients’ belongings;
2) Bullet proof glass; and
3) Panic buttons.
The doors to the interior office are already locked. MacMillan requested authorization to get bids on these three items. He said scanning wands could be utilized but are labor intensive. Placing the extra metal detector on the fourth floor would require staff to operate it.
MacMillan said panic buttons are an obvious partial solution, and could be funded from his 2013 Department budget. He has investigated several agencies that have a similar office arrangement as Court Services and do not have a metal detector. MacMillan said Brown County is considering a panic button that will connect directly to the 911 service and would trigger all law enforcement in the area. MacMillan said he did not want a panic button at every desk, only the front and back clerical desks and the UA rooms where agents are confined with clients. T. Kelly requested only one panic button.
Hayes said the Government Center used to have panic buttons throughout the building, but they were not reliable. Now that the phone system has been updated, the location of the caller is identifiable.
The caller simply has to dial 911.
T. Kelly said if Sgt. Rebecca Howell were wearing a pager, the call would automatically go to her as well. He would like the panic button to be connected to a live person in the Government Center.
MacMillan said the call could be directed both to Sgt. Howell and 911. Sometimes it is not possible to get to a phone during a crisis. Hayes said he did not want an option that may be hard to maintain and not reliable. Gentles said the panic buttons in the Courts go to the bailiff’s radio, but not 911.
MacMillan asked for authorization to investigate those options. He said bulletproof glass would provide peace of mind for the clerical staff. Potter asked the cost. Hayes said a bulletproof wall would also have to be installed in addition to the glass. He said the pass-through in the glass must be small enough to prevent someone from sticking a gun through the opening. Potter said Hayes may obtain pricing information. MacMillan said he had no information regarding the cost of these options. His goal is to provide security and peace of mind for his staff.
Daleiden asked the type of glass currently in place on the fourth floor. Hayes said it is tempered glass and not rated for bullets. Potter said the County saved $83,000 to $90,000 by removing one metal detector. The costs for the items MacMillan is requesting are one time expenses. Daleiden said he would like to know exactly which counties are providing security for their entire government centers, and not just the courts. T. Kelly said the Sheriff told him the most recent one was Isanti County. Potter said he heard McLeod County is investing money to control access to their entire government center.
T. Kelly said eventually the Courts, Court Services and the Attorney’s Office will be in a separate complex. That is a future reality. In the meantime, some security measures need to be taken.
Potter asked whether the panic buttons can be linked to the phone system. Daleiden said Bill Swing, Information Technology Director, will check on whether that is possible. Hayes said he would prefer that method. Daleiden said the system should be tested monthly.
MacMillan asked again for a recommendation that the Board authorize the solicitation of quotes for panic buttons, lockers, and bulletproof glass. Daleiden said Hayes will obtain the bids and consult with Swing. MacMillan asked to be involved in the process. He said Brown County spent $3,000 for the panic buttons. Daleiden said he wanted them everywhere. MacMillan said that is a separate issue.
Hayes asked whether the phones were programmable to enable someone to push one button to get 911. Gentles said that would be hard to do surreptitiously. T. Kelly said if the call went instantly to the bailiffs, they could respond quickly. Daleiden suggested they look at both options. If the panic button is wired directly to 911, the recipient would see the origination of the call and dispatch immediately.
Potter suggested they start by installing panic buttons on the fourth floor and see how it works before implementing it throughout the entire Government Center.
MacMillan said Brown County found a company in Minnesota that installs panic buttons.
Daleiden said the old panic buttons do not work with the current phone system.
Potter clarified that the recommendation is to get quotes for a bulletproof barrier (wall and glass), and secured lockers. Swing is checking into panic buttons. Daleiden said a cheaper option for a bulletproof wall would be a stainless steel plate. Hayes said the wall is as important as the glass so the employee can duck down under the counter. He said he will research standards for bulletproof barriers.
Daleiden asked to add video monitoring as a deterrent. He said someone monitors security cameras in the bailiffs’ office. Hayes said he was not certain that someone is continuously monitoring the cameras. L. Kelly said they focused primarily on the Courts area. Daleiden reiterated that a video camera would be a good idea. L. Kelly responded that it depends on the purpose of the camera. Daleiden said it should be positioned in a visible location. Hayes suggested posting a monitor so people will see themselves on camera. T. Kelly asked for an estimate on the length of time it will take to get bids. Hayes said he would have them at the next Building Committee meeting. L. Kelly stated that meeting is set for 10-09-13.
MacMillan will forward a copy of his staff security training program to L. Kelly.
Recommendation: Obtain quotes for installing bulletproof barriers at the reception windows, panic buttons, and lockers in the Attorney’s Office and Court Services.
II. Move File System From Former Sheriff Administration To Jail.
This item was laid over from the 9-11-13 Building Committee meeting. L. Kelly said Hayes was getting a proposal on the cost to move only the shelves. Hayes said they were considering two compact movable systems in the former Sheriff’s Office location that could be relocated to the former jail area. Court Administration would use the shelving components of those units.
Gentles asked if they are similar to the shelves in the vault. Hayes said they are. He said relocating the compact movable systems was too costly. Instead, they considered taking the shelving components only (not the rails and movable parts), and setting them up on the floor with fixed aisles. The cost to dissemble and relocate the shelves to the former jail cell blocks is $4,200.
Daleiden asked whether the shelves would be mounted to the floor. Hayes said a double row of shelves would be stable without being mounted to the floor. He thought a single row of shelves should be fastened to the wall.
Daleiden asked Gentles if this was a satisfactory solution for her. She replied that she prefers open shelving to boxes. They currently use two areas in the basement the records center and the cage. These areas have different types of shelving and a variety of items are stored in filing cabinets and boxes. Daleiden said they would like all Court Administration items stored in the former jail cell area. Gentles questioned whether that would provide enough space. Hayes commented that Court Administration could still use the storage space they now have in the cage. Only the files and boxes in the records center would be moved for now. Gentles said her preference is storing all files and boxes in one area if space is sufficient. They have 258 boxes in the records center at this time. They need 344 linear feet to house the boxes currently on the shelves. Gentles said they need about 1500 linear feet total. She said in the spring the discussion entailed moving Court Administration records from the records center and not the cage to allow them storage space for at least one more year. She thought the proposed shelving would be enough for the items now in the records center. Gentles said there are open shelves in the cage, as well as a little furniture.
Hayes asked what kind of access Court Administration needs. Gentles said controlled access. Staff goes there twice a day on a regular basis. Hayes said the former jail cell pods provide 1,680 linear feet of filing space, which is more than Court Administration currently utilizes. Gentles said her main concern is that it is a secured space. She asked whether the jail pods would meet their needs. Hayes assumed it would if some of the fixtures are removed. There was discussion regarding where to place the shelves. Gentles said the former jail cell pods would work if there is more space than they currently occupy and that the shelves are safely fastened to the floor.
Hayes asked if Court Administration staff would move the files. Gentles said they would move them. Daleiden said Building Care and Maintenance staff can move them. Hayes said Court Administration may have a specific order in which they want the files placed. Potter said the boxes could be placed in the adjoining pod and arranged as Court Administration directs.
Potter said the storage space Court Administration is currently occupying in the cage is needed by the Attorney’s Office. The idea is to ultimately relocate all Court Administration files to the former jail area. Gentles said she prefers all the records be located in one space. Hayes said they will start by moving Court Administration files out of the records center.
Hayes clarified that the recommendation is to authorize spending $4,200 to move the shelves. Daleiden asked if a Maintenance staff person could do it. Hayes replied that Al Buskey, Government Center Building and Maintenance Supervisor, said they could not. L. Kelly was more comfortable with the company moving the files due to liability issues.
Hayes suggested that they save the movable parts of the shelves not being used in case they are needed in the future. Daleiden asked if Court Administration records would be converted to electronic files once the new facility is built. Gentles said they have been imaging documents for the past month. Going forward, they are not expecting to add more paper. There are no plans to do archival imaging of existing paper documents at this point. They purge when possible, but many paper records are permanently retained.
Recommendation: Authorize expense of $4,200 to move existing shelves in the former Sheriff Office down to the old jail cell pods for Court Administration file storage.
(End of 9-25-13 Building Committee Minutes)
Kelly Strei and Nick Neaton, 4-H Program Coordinators, requested the Board declare October 6-12, 2013 as National 4-H Week in Wright County. Wright County 4-H is the Youth Development Program of the University of Minnesota Extension. 4-H offers age-appropriate, hands-on learning through short and long-term projects and activities including: 4-H Clubs, after-school programs, volunteering, civic engagement, and community service. Wright County 4-H has over 600 youth members and 160 adult volunteers. Youth grades Kindergarten through one year past high school are eligible to participate. Members and adults are leading efforts to solve problems in their communities and make a difference for their futures. National 4-H Week is an opportunity to showcase the benefits of the Wright County 4-H Youth Development organization and honor the contributions they provide to Wright County communities. Julianne Quandt Annandale) and Amanda Maus (Waverly) spoke of their experiences and how 4-H has impacted their lives. Borrell moved to adopt Resolution #13-33, seconded by Potter, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
A Personnel Committee Meeting was held on 9-25-13. At today’s County Board Meeting, Daleiden moved to approve the minutes and recommendations. The motion was seconded by Borrell and carried 5-0:
I. Flex Schedule For Jackie Benn, Financial Worker, Family Financial Services.
The 9-09-13 Human Services Board referred the recommendation to allow Benn to work 7:30 A.M. 4:00 P.M., Monday through Friday.
Recommendation: Approve request per the discussion at the 9-24-13 Personnel Committee Of The Whole meeting.
II. SHIP (Statewide Health Improvement Plan) Grant Personnel Changes:
A. Move .5 FTE Case Aide To Health Promotion Coordinator;
B. Contract For .7 FTE Health Promotion Coordinator.
Nesseth distributed a document related to the two requests (see attachment). Sawatzke asked if these positions are budgeted. Kieft replied that they are both funded with grant money. Nesseth said the Human Services Department (Agency) will receive SHIP funds as of 11-01-13 if the two positions are approved.
Nesseth said the Agency has several Case Aides. The employee related to this request has been working on a number of Public Health program tasks that will be transferred to another staff person. The employee is qualified to be a Health Promotion Coordinator based on her education and experience.
Nesseth said Public Health could potentially receive $643,000 in SHIP grant funds over a two-year period. Placing this Case Aide position into the half-time Health Promotion Coordinator position would enable it to be fully funded. Other staff positions, including the contracted Health Promotion Coordinator position, would be funded by the SHIP grant as well. When that funding ends, Nesseth said the Agency will still need more Health Promotion coordination services. Carol Schefers, Public Health Director, has researched other Health Promotion agencies. More Agency staff will be transferred to this area as utilization of MN Choices commences. (MN Choices is a web-based assessment program that includes support planning for people who need long-term services and support).
Sawatzke asked if there were any criteria that the County does not meet relative to the SHIP program that might cause issues in the future. Kieft said he briefly studied the grant and did not remember any clauses that might be an issue for the County. The Agency has received this grant in the past, and he did not recall any criteria that were a concern.
Sawatzke said the Agency is contracting with a company. Sawatzke asked if the SHIP grant is federally funded. Nesseth replied that it was a combination of federal and other funds.
Sawatzke said the request is consistent with the Board’s expectations. Nesseth confirmed that the timeline for this position is 11-01-13.
Recommendation: Approve request to hire a contracted .7 FTE Health Promotion Coordinator and reclassify a present .5 FTE Case Aide position as a .5 FTE Health Promotion Coordinator.
(End of 9-25-13 Personnel Committee Minutes)
A Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 9-24-13. At today’s County Board Meeting, Lee Kelly, Interim County Coordinator, said the Human Resources Director plans to present the proposed revisions to Personnel Policies 508.08-Flex Time at an upcoming meeting. With regard to the Ag Inspector position, Kelly plans to contact the candidate as the Contract language has been revised. Potter moved to approve the Personnel Committee Of The Whole Minutes, seconded by Husom. Hiivala asked for clarification on what needs to be presented to the Board for approval with regard to flexible schedules. Sawatzke said schedules for four 10-hour days must come to the Board or Personnel Committee. The Board has agreed that departments should have flexibility on five 8-hour day schedules between the hours of 6:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M. or allowing employees to leave early on Friday to avoid overtime. Permanent schedules need to go before the Board. Interim schedules are at the discretion of the department head. He said the direction given to the Human Resources Director was to draft Policy language changes to reflect this. Sawatzke said one of the overriding things is that the benefit should be for the organization. An employee should not be allowed a flexible schedule, for example, because they want to come in early. Daleiden asked whether Information Technology is exempt. Sawatzke said nothing prohibits Information Technology from presenting requests to the Personnel Committee. Daleiden said with Information Technology, a project may be over by the time something gets referred to Committee. Sawatzke said the Committee Of The Whole discussed providing flexibility for large projects. If it is an ongoing schedule, then it needs to be presented to Committee. The motion to approve the minutes carried 5-0. The Personnel Committee Of The Whole Minutes follow:
I. Revision To Wright County Personnel Policies 508.03-Flex Time.
Bigelow distributed suggested revisions to the Policy (attached). She stated flex time was discussed by the Leadership Committee on 8-01-13 and it was the consensus to bring the topic to the County Board. Bigelow has been approached multiple times on questions on flex time. She also worked with the Information Technology Department on some FLSA and overtime issues. That prompted questions on allowing exempt employees to leave early on Fridays to avoid overtime if they have already worked 40 hours, and whether that would violate Policy. Overtime has been paid rather than letting the employee leave early. Daleiden questioned overtime pay requirements on a daily basis. Bigelow said that the law does not require overtime for hours over an eight-hour shift but union contracts may. Sawatzke said the majority of contracts include overtime after 40 hours.
Daleiden asked Bigelow to define flex time. Bigelow said one definition is when time deviates from the regular set schedule of 8:00 A.M. 4:30 P.M. as reflected in Wright County’s Policy. Another would be a regular flex schedule (i.e., four 9-hour shifts and a 4-hour shift every week). She stated there is also the non-regular flex schedule which can occur on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis, depending on the employer’s needs or employee requests. She feels there is confusion amongst departments on the definition but she did not feel there were as many questions relating to the regular, set flex schedule. It is her understanding that regular flex schedule requests come to the County Board for approval.
Sawatzke said his concern is not with the scenario of allowing an employee to leave early on Friday when they have reached their 40 hours. His concern is the ongoing, permanent flex schedules. He said the Board should have oversight on those. Sawatzke reviewed minutes on this topic from the 1990’s. At that time, some of the situations included employees being on a flex schedule to lower their daycare costs or to work another job. There were reasons that did not have anything to do with the organization. Some of the other concerns at that time included feedback from supervisors and department heads on problems this created in their departments with employees questioning why others were getting to be on a flex schedule and they could not be. Also discussed in the 1990’s was the four 10-hour work week. He questioned what good it is for the organization if the public can’t get into the building at 7:00 A.M. to meet with the employee. Daleiden said in the case of the Financial Services Unit in Human Services, authorizing an employee to come in an hour early or work an hour late would allow them to get more accomplished because of no interruptions. Currently, employees have a designated time when no one answers the phones. Sawatzke said in the past, they have authorized some employees to work a non-traditional schedule based on the needs of the organization. Daleiden said the changes in technology could allow employees to complete work at home. During the County’s Best Ideas Contest, one of the suggestions was to allow employees to complete training when they are home with a sick family member.
Husom supports allowing an employee to work prior to or after the normal work schedule to accomplish more, as long as the client’s needs are being met. Borrell questioned what criteria would be used to determine whether clients are being assisted. He recently observed a situation where a client could not reach a person to speak with in a specific department. Borrell said there should always be someone from that department available, even in situations where they have decided to have a specific time period set for not taking calls. Borrell said he is open to flex schedules if service can be maintained.
Sawatzke does not disagree with Daleiden and Husom. He questioned what is wrong with the current Policy. There are some departments that have never had flex time, and he thought flex schedule requests should be the exception rather than the norm. He thought requests involving a more permanent schedule should come to the Personnel Committee. An example would be an employee being done at 12:00 P.M. most Fridays. Sawatzke said if the Board is not involved, the requests could be handled in as many ways as there are departments. Board involvement will create consistency and assure the requests are being made for the good of the organization.
Sawatzke said if an employee comes in late due to working late another night that week, it is not a violation of Policy. That would be different than having an employee work four 10-hour days. Daleiden said that the Parks and Highway employees work four 10-hour days in the summer. He is unsure what type of schedule Parks follows in the winter due to snow. Mattice stated that if the employee starts early to plow, they do not leave early due to other work that must be completed. The employee is paid overtime. This is also the situation when equipment breaks down or with Saturday programs.
Sawatzke said if Highway employees start early, they are done early. He said that in the 1990’s, the Board held discussion with the Highway and Parks Departments. Due to setup and tear down time of equipment, it made sense for the organization to have them work four 10-hour days.
Bigelow said she read through the Best Ideas Contest entries and would be remiss if she did not say there is a desire from the employee side for flex schedules as well. This can be viewed as a non-monetary benefit to the employee. Some of the results can be a more loyal employee and more productive workforce. Bigelow said the taxpayers are always number one, but if the employee needs can be met as well it is best to do that.
Potter said Sawatzke would like to maintain the process where the Personnel Committee reviews requests for permanent flex time schedules. Borrell said that would be the time to review whether the request makes sure the public is being served and whether it will degrade the service to the customer.
Daleiden asked whether an employee is allowed to flex their hours if they have a medical appointment. Bigelow said if the Board is okay with that type of situation, she could develop Policy language to capture that. Bigelow said at times, employees would rather save their sick or vacation time and work extra to make up the time. Department heads are fielding these types of requests, and they are unsure whether they are responding consistently. Bigelow said they want to improve morale but they don’t want to violate Policy. The consensus of the Board was that this type of schedule will work for some positions but not others.
Sawatzke said that it is critical that the Auditor is involved in this process. When there were problems a number of years ago, payroll raised red flags. Hiivala stated that whatever is decided on flex time, the time sheet should be reflective of the actual hours worked. If an employee is allowed to work 7 hours today and 9 hours tomorrow, the time sheet should show that. The employee should attest to the hours worked. Sawatzke said one of the issues in the 1990’s was that some contracts reflected an employee received overtime for any hours worked over 8. There were people that worked four 10-hour days and received overtime. Some of that was alleviated by changing the contracts to reflect overtime is paid on anything over 40 hours in a work week.
Bill Swing, Information Technology Director, stated that the best time for technicians to work is when the users are not present. Projects vary from week to week, and work after hours is required to keep projects on task. Swing has worked with Bigelow on work schedules in the Information Technology Department. Swing said he makes decisions in order to get the job done. The Department needs flexibility. In the end, it is a win/win for the County and the employee. In larger counties, the Information Technology staff are exempt. Sawatzke viewed Information Technology differently as they do not serve the public. Swing said the problem lies in that he needs to follow Policy but he needs to also have flexibility. Daleiden said that some of the Information Technology staff members are part of a union contract with other employees.
Sawatzke referenced the Policy which states, “Flexible schedules shall not be granted without approval from the County Board or Human Services Board.” Sawatzke said his interpretation is that this pertains to a schedule that is ongoing and consistent. He said Swing’s references were more of a flexible shift, not a flexible schedule. Swing said the County Board has approved a fixed, flexible schedule for the Information Technology Department to cover early morning and after hours. On top of that, the Department has projects that occur where he needs to work employees outside of a regular schedule in a controlled fashion. Swing said they will not completely get away from a flex schedule.
Sawatzke suggested that Bigelow revise the Policy language and present it to the Board for review. Husom referenced the work week. The Policy states, “The work week starts on Sunday at 12:01 A.M. and ends on Saturday at midnight. The most commonly utilized work schedule is 8:00 through 4:30 P.M., Monday through Friday.” She said that just because a schedule is outside of the 8:00 A.M. through 4:30 P.M. schedule, it does not mean it is outside of Policy to set other schedules. It just states it is just the most common schedule. If Departments have employees on different shifts, that is not outside of Policy. She cited the Sheriff’s Department that uses three shifts.
Jay Kieft, Human Services Director, cited the reference to how many departments there are and how they are all so different, yet the County is trying to apply a Policy that puts all departments under one umbrella. That creates inefficiencies. He said department heads have to make decisions on a daily basis on how to best serve the customer. Kieft said he supports the reference in the Policy that this is for customer service, although he appreciates Bigelow’s points relating to a new generational workforce that enjoys benefits. Kieft said the departments know their business and how to best serve customers. They need the flexibility to do this, which is more than the current Policy provides.
Borrell said the County Board is elected to represent County residents. If they receive complaints that services are not being provided, the Board may have to trump the department’s decision. Kieft said as a department head, he is accountable to the Board. With regard to Information Technology, Borrell said the customer may be the rest of the departments. If the Policy is revised, language should reflect that if there are performance or customer service issues, the Board has the discretion to withdraw the flex time.
Mike MacMillan, Court Services, Director, said department heads are accountable to the Board and if something is out of line, it can be dealt with. He viewed the Policy as too broad to take care of everyone. MacMillan allows flex time with clerical staff and agents. This has allowed him to cut the budget. This needs to be done not only for the employee, but based on department and public needs. MacMillan’s view is that 60% of the public would like service in the evening. With the implementation of flex time in his department, he has seen increased morale, reduced absenteeism and tardiness, and low turnover. They also feel medical costs have been cut due to less burnout. More has been done with cross training. The Department implemented changes ahead of the 2007 budget process, in an effort to keep temporary and overtime expenses out of the budget. MacMillan said it worked. MacMillan said the Policy changes as proposed give control to the Board with some flexibility to departments.
Sawatzke supported the department heads deciding if an employee works five 8-hour days with hours outside of the normal 8:00 4:30 schedule. Schedules that include four 10-hour days should come to the Board for approval. Daleiden agreed.
The Board asked members of the Assessor’s Office what they do in the case of property reviews. Randy DesMarais said that they try to schedule reviews between 8:00 A.M. and 4:30 P.M. There are occasions when reviews are done earlier or later. At specific times of the year, the Appraisers also attend the Township Board of Equalization Meetings. DesMarais said when these situations occur, comp time is accrued. Sawatzke noted that during these specific times of the year, those employees may not be able to flex their schedules because of the work load. DesMarais said that is correct.
Bigelow said it is not clear whether there is consistency amongst departments with regard to how flex time is handled. Sawatzke said when someone works three hours extra and then comes in three hours late another day, he does not consider that a flex schedule that needs to be granted by the Board.
Bigelow asked Sawatzke if, in that scenario, it would be considered flex time if the schedule was deviated because of the needs of an employee. For example, the employee wants to work extra hours today so tomorrow they can leave early. Sawatzke responded that the department head needs to take into consideration whether this person is asking to do this every Friday or whether it is a rare situation. Once a year would not be a problem but twice a month would be. Daleiden said it appears there has been confusion on the part of the department heads on whether they have that authority. Husom clarified that one type of flex schedule would be the regular schedule and the other would be the non-regular schedule. Daleiden agreed with Sawatzke’s comment earlier in the meeting that Bigelow could re-draft the Policy language to reflect the Board’s conversation today. Daleiden said that four 10-hour day requests would be referred to the Personnel Committee. Sawatzke added that a schedule that is outside of the five 8-hour days would need to go to Committee. If an employee works five 8-hour days but the start and end times vary from 8:00 A.M. 4:30 P.M., that is okay.
Sean Riley, Planning & Zoning Administrator, said he has staff members that may perform site inspections on their way to or from work. One employee comes in early and fields calls, answers emails, etc. The Office needs to perform services outside of the traditional 8:00 A.M. 4:30 P.M. work schedule and they have been doing so for a number of years. Another issue relates to employees use of sick time or vacation time for appointments or picking up children from daycare. The employee may be short on sick or vacation time and would prefer to flex their hours. Riley said this could happen multiple times during a year. He said it would be nice for department heads to have the discretion to allow an employee to flex their schedule, and they could determine if the employee has an on-demand need or is abusing the system. He did not see any harm in not using the sick or vacation leave and instead have the person put in the same amount of time. The staff at the Planning & Zoning Office is small so they do not have the ability to work four 10-hour days. Riley asked for a more open work period to allow flex scheduling within that time period. Husom said it is an advantage to have the person at work for 40 hours, whether it is for 9 hours one day and 7 hours the next day. She said the County is paying them either way, either through sick or vacation time or through regular time. Husom said she agrees that the discretion should lie with the supervisor or department head.
The Board then discussed extending the most commonly utilized work schedule to any 8-hour period between 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M., qualifying that it must be for customer service. Hiivala asked for clarification on whether only permanent flex schedules go before the Board and not schedules where an employee wants to leave early occasionally on a Friday. Sawatzke said leaving early should be a minor occasion with department head approval. He does not want it to get to the point where there are issues or grievances associated with flex time. The schedule should not be ongoing or every other week. An example of a one-time occurrence would be if an employee is going somewhere on a weekend and works four 9-hour days and 4 hours on Friday. Sawatzke said this should be the exception and not the norm. Hiivala said that the time sheets need to reflect the actual hours worked. Sawatzke said contract language must be followed. He said Bigelow will have to look at the contracts. He said they attempted to negotiate the 8-hour language out of the contracts but could not recall if they were successful in doing so. If the contract does not allow it, those employees would not have that flexibility. Daleiden said that if they receive feedback on customer service where there was, for example, only one employee in a department on a Friday to deliver service that will be an issue. That scenario could occasionally happen.
Bigelow summarized the Board’s direction on flex time:
1. Allow department heads the flexibility to schedule 8-hour shifts between 6:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M. without having to obtain Board approval.
2. Any deviation from the 8-hour shift should be referred to the Personnel Committee for approval.
3. If there is any adjustment on a daily or weekly schedule that is not a regular or reoccurring event, it is okay for the department to deviate. For example, an employee works 9 hours one day and 7 hours another as long as it is not a regular schedule.
Sawatzke said the obvious understanding in the third item is that it is being done in the best interest of the organization. Bigelow asked if that should apply to everything. Daleiden said that is correct. Swing asked whether the Information Technology staff is able to work outside of the 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. schedule for flex time. Sawatzke said he understood Swing had already come to the Personnel Committee with the schedule for the Information Technology Department. Sawatzke said there are departments that are not going to fall under this, such as Dispatch and the Sheriff’s Department. Bigelow said those contracts have that language already; there are some departments that are required to work non-standard schedules. Mattice asked whether there is a perceived violation of the Policy with regard to campground manager’s schedules, which are outside of the 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. schedule. Sawatzke said the Board is aware of those schedules. Hiivala asked whether the Policy revisions will include allowing four 9-hour shifts and one 4-hour shift. Sawatzke said that would be allowed occasionally. Permanent work schedule changes would need to be presented to the Board for approval. Bigelow stated it is not really work schedule changes but a deviation from the 8-hour shift, as the department head can change the schedule as long as it is an 8-hour shift. Sawatzke said that is correct as long as it falls within the 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. time frame. Borrell said that it should be reflected that customer service needs to be maintained.
Recommendation: Bigelow was directed to draft Policy language revisions based on Committee discussion and present the draft to the County Board for approval.
II. Ag Inspector Position.
The Committee reviewed the five applications received for the Ag Inspector position.
Sawatzke inquired whether the candidates have been advised of the pay or contract language. L. Kelly and Asleson stated they have not had contact with the applicants thus far. Asleson said the advertisement did reflect that “the Ag Inspector will be an independent contractor and provide their own vehicle, equipment, and liability coverage. Compensation will be paid monthly.” In response to Borrell, Asleson said mileage is not paid. The County enters into a contract with the Ag Inspector for an annual fee. Asleson will revise the Ag Inspector Contract to reflect the Ag Inspector’s name and language to indemnify the County.
Sawatzke stated that the Ag Inspector frequently participates in Township Officer Meetings and should attend those meeting 2-3 times/year. It is especially important for the Inspector to attend spring and summer meetings. The Ag Inspector is also expected to provide an annual report to the County Board. It will be the Inspector’s choice whether to provide this report in writing or whether to present the information at a County Board Meeting.
The 2013 Contract was for $13,281 or $1,106.75 per month. Sawatzke said the same salary will be offered for the 2014 Ag Inspector Contract. He stated that the funding saved in 2013 for the Ag Inspector position should be given to the SWCD for their weed fund ($6,600) and should be paid from the same line item as the Ag Inspector.
Recommendation: The Committee recommends offering the Ag Inspector position to Eric Heuring (Monticello Twp.) based on education, experience, and qualifications for the position. Asleson will revise the Contract language. L. Kelly will contact Heuring to offer the position based on the terms outlined in the revised Contract.
(End of 9-24-13 Personnel Committee Of The Whole Minutes)
Potter requested the Commissioners obtain a subscription to the Saint Paul Legal Ledger Capitol Report as a resource to obtain update-to-date information on what is occurring at the State Capitol. The annual cost is $169. Daleiden moved to approve a one-year subscription, seconded by Husom, carried 5-0.
Daleiden requested an update on the hire of the Ditch Inspector. Asleson said that he will be developing a job description for the position and will work with Kelly this week. Final approval will be brought back before the County Board.
Daleiden referenced a meeting held regarding the epoxy problems with the Jail showers and asked for an update. Asleson said that a meeting was held with staff from the Administration Department and Attorney’s Office. There are some potential issues relating to the Statute of Limitations that do not appear to be in the County’s favor. At this point, staff is trying to determine whether the County has a right to make claims against the installer. Daleiden suggested a letter to all parties involved in the situation saying they may want to resolve this if they desire to work with counties in the future. For a shower to fall apart when it has never been used indicates something went wrong. Sawatzke suggested we reference the Owner’s Committee Minutes which were taken at the time the Jail was built. He said that the Owner’s Committee was told to spend the extra money on the epoxy if the County wanted the showers to last. He recalled someone providing information on warranties and life expectancy. Kelly said the Administration Department reviewed minutes and could not find anything on this subject. Asleson said that at first look, it doesn’t appear there will be a lot of leverage from a legal standpoint. The County may be able to work with the installer on a customer satisfaction level. Daleiden said for the County to spend $36,000 on each failing shower is ridiculous, especially on those showers that have never been used.
Allina Health System $388.50
Ameripride Services 110.43
Anoka County Corrections 466.00
APEC Ind. Sales & Services 1,598.71
Aramark Services Inc 6,826.23
Arrowhead Scientific 157.70
Berg/Stephen L 570.00
Black Box Resale Services 371.00
BP Amoco 2,464.60
Brock White Co LLC 480.94
Calico Industries Inc 476.59
Carver Co. Attorney’s Office 300.00
Cenex Fleetcard 771.35
Center Point Energy 375.84
Central Fire Protection 287.00
Chamberlain Oil Co 3,628.90
Climate Air 1,396.55
Comm. of Transportation 2,084.74
Contech Construction Product 7,987.40
Craguns Lodging/Conf. Center 2,111.50
Creative Forms & Concepts 1,209.83
Dave Rasset Landscaping 11,300.00
Delano Rental Inc 112.70
Dingmann Marine & More LLC 187.41
Frontier Precision Inc 101.44
Granite Pest Control Services 269.05
Helena Chemical Company 881.30
Information Systems Corp. 462.23
Integrated Fire & Security 1,341.28
Junction Towing & Auto Repair 657.28
King Com Cable Networking 5,810.00
Knife River Corp. - N. Central 105.81
Kustom Signals Inc 474.30
L3 Communications Inc 3,395.83
Laplant Demo Inc 501.58
Marco Inc 7,616.26
Menards - Buffalo 132.27
Metro Group Inc/The 14,465.45
Midwest Protection Agency Inc 801.04
MN Elevator Inc 4,240.00
MN Sheriffs Association 625.00
Monticello Towing LLC 149.63
Neopost Great Plains 381.54
North American Salt Co 3,700.84
Office Depot 1,607.34
Office of the Secretary of State 360.00
Omann Brothers Inc 587.14
Overhead Door Company 145.35
Pam’s Auto Inc 133.59
Precision Plumbing & Heating 185.00
Precision Prints of Wright Co 376.20
SHI International Corp 210.54
SRF Consulting Group Inc 9,460.26
State Supply Co 136.95
Synergy Graphics 6,967.04
Tennant Sales and Service Co 247.69
Titan Machinery 212.30
Total Printing 350.76
Vance Brothers Inc 2,453.80
Walmart Store 01-1577 865.49
Wright County Highway Dept 557.58
Xcel Energy 812.70
23 Payments less than $100 $1,000.57
Final total $134,042.48
The meeting adjourned at 9:54 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Oct. 21, 2013.