Wright County Board Minutes

MAY 12, 2015
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 5-05-15 County Board Minutes as presented. The motion was seconded by Husom and carried 5-0.
The following item was petitioned onto the Agenda: “9:30 A.M., 1) Proclamation for Law Enforcement Week, 2) Sheriff Awards” (Kelly). Husom moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Daleiden, carried 5-0.
Daleiden requested that Consent Item A, “Authorize Signatures On Wright Choice Lease Agreement for 2015-2016” be removed for discussion. On a motion by Daleiden, second by Borrell, all voted to approve the remainder of the Consent Agenda:
Extend Employee Personal Leave
Approve Charitable Gambling Application, Dassel Cokato Regional Ice & Sports Center, 4852 Reardon Ave. SW, Cokato MN 55321 (Cokato Twp.)
1. Position Replacement
A. Social Worker
Position Replacement:
1. IT Manager - Systems Development
PERRY A. MARQUETTE (Marysville Township) Approve Request To Rezoning General Agricultural (AG) to Agricultural-Residential (A/R) to the County Board because it complies with the Land Use Plan Map and the Township approves.
Discussion followed on Consent Item A, “Authorize Signatures On Wright Choice Lease Agreement for 2015-2016.” Daleiden referenced the Lease Agreement, Item 5, Card Key Access, which reflects that “All participants in the Program will be required to use the main entrances to the Wright County Government Center and shall pass through Security.” He suggested the Agreement be changed given the metal detectors are located at the Court entrance. Lee Kelly, County Coordinator, stated that past practice has included participants being routed through the metal detectors in the Courts area. He will verify if this is the current practice and amend the Agreement if needed. Daleiden moved to authorize signatures on the Wright Choice Lease Agreement for 2015-2016 to include any amendments as identified by the Coordinator. The motion was seconded by Husom and carried 5-0.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, requested approval to amend Personnel Policy 506 BUSINESS RELATED EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENT, Section 506.05 REPORTING. The first sentence in the Section will be amended to read, “When travel is completed, employees are to submit completed travel and expense reports within sixty (60) days, unless further restricted by department.” Item A, Mileage, will read, “”Document date, purpose and location, including total miles traveled to and from the conference, workshop, seminar, or meeting site.” Hiivala said departments can adopt a more stringent reporting policy. IRS rules regulate that the County adopts a 60-day policy. Daleiden moved to approve amending Personnel Policy 506 BUSINESS RELATED EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENT, Section 506.05 REPORTING, as presented effective 7-01-15. After further discussion, the effective date was amended to 7-15-15. The motion was seconded by Borrell.
Hiivala stated that neither the State Auditor nor the IRS require odometer readings. By declaring the date, location, and purpose it places the responsibility on the supervisors to make sure mileage reimbursement requests are reasonable. There is also the affirmation from the employee reflecting that it is a true record. Hiivala said the County does not have the resources to verify mileage. The form can also be streamlined if odometer readings are removed. Hiivala said the County’s audit firm has expressed caution; however, his response is that the County will be able to provide the date, purpose, location and affirmation by the supervisor/department head that the reimbursement request has been reviewed for reasonableness. Daleiden questioned whether language should be added for submittals after 60 days. Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, said his impression of the IRS bulletin is that if the County does not implement the 60-day reimbursement requirement, the County will be required to reimburse employees under the taxable portion of their payroll check. He was unsure whether the County would be penalized by the IRS if there are a few people that miss the 60-day timeline. The motion carried 5-0 to approve the changes to the Personnel Policy, with an effective date of 7-15-15.
The claims listing was presented for approval. Daleiden referenced a claim on Page 4, MN Counties Computer Cooperative ($250), under the Auditor’s Office for Paymate Training. Hiivala explained this relates to staff training that work with the payroll system. On a motion by Borrell, second by Daleiden, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit, for a total of $294,717.75 with 209 vendors and 330 transactions.
Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, requested approval of a resolution recommending to the Minnesota Commissioner of Revenue conveyance of PID #215-060-000010 to the Trumpeters Pass Homeowners Association, Inc. by quit claim deed. The subdivision, located in Rockford Township, includes 6-7 large lots. The outlot was originally to be a common area for the Association but the developer did not follow through on conveyance to the Association. Associated fees include a $25 State fee and recording costs. A resolution of support is required from the County Board in order to send the request to the State. In response to a question on taxes that apply to the outlot, Asleson stated that the Assessor’s Office will sometimes zero out the value on common lots in associations, and that cost is added to the other parcels in the Association. On a motion by Borrell, second by Daleiden, roll call voted carried 5-0 to adopt Resolution #15-20 recommending conveyance of PID #215-060-000010 to the Trumpeters Pass Homeowners Association, Inc.
Sean Riley, Planning & Zoning Administrator, presented a recommendation of the Planning Commission for the following rezoning:
Alvin D. DeRuyter & Linda K. Peterson, (Buffalo Township), Planning Commission finds the criteria in Section 614.2 (3) of the Zoning Ordinance are met, the Plan will meet the requirements for common open space as regulated in 614.9, and the Township Board has approved. Therefore the Planning Commission recommends that the County Board approve the rezoning to A/R and establishment of a Rural Planned Unit Development District for a maximum of 6 lots in accord with the outline development plan reviewed.
Riley distributed a map of Hidden Prairie Reserves (parcel being discussed) and Grand Castle Estates, a development to the south. Discussion followed on the existing road. Riley said normal procedure would be to extend the road into the new development, resulting in the road no longer being dead ended. The Township has approved allowing one lot to access off the existing road. Riley is working with the Township on whether they desire the road to tee or whether a cul-de-sac should be platted for future development. He believes the Township is comfortable with the existing situation. Temporary cul-de-sacs are often put in on dead end roads with the idea that if an area develops in the future, the road would be continued. Given the parcel is marginal with wetlands and drainage, he felt it unlikely that the road will extend to 60th St. All lots in this Planned Unit Development will exit onto 60th St. with the exception of the most southerly lot. Daleiden asked whether the County has an ordinance pertaining to the blacktopping of a new road. Riley responded that if a new road is built for a subdivision, it needs to be blacktopped unless a township waives that requirement. He said 60th Street is an existing easement Township Road. The action is to allow driveways to exit onto 60th Street, so it will not require blacktopping.
Borrell made a motion to approve the rezoning to A/R and the establishment of a rural Planned Unit Development District for a maximum of six lots in accord with the outline development plan reviewed. The motion was seconded by Husom.
Discussion followed on the lots, which range in size from 3.5 to 6.3 acres. Sawatzke referenced the wetland that lies to the south in Grand Castle Estates and asked whether there is an outlot that is south of outlot B in Grand Castle Estates. Riley responded there is not. Sawatzke asked if there was an outlot created. He said there is but it is not reflected on the exhibit. Sawatzke referenced land near the westerly line. Riley said that is owned access to the outlot to deter trespassing. Riley is working with the Attorney’s Office to assure that the outlots are deeded properly. The motion carried 5-0.
Sheriff Joe Hagerty said National Police Week is May 10-16, with Law Enforcement Day being observed on May 15 to honor officers that died in the line of duty. There will be a memorial held in St. Paul on the south end of the Capitol property that day. Daleiden moved to adopt Resolution #15-21, proclaiming May 10-16, 2015 as Law Enforcement Officers Week in Wright County. The motion was seconded by Borrell and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Sgt. Ryan Ferguson and Sheriff Joe Hagerty presented awards as part of the Wright County Sheriff’s Office Awards Ceremony:
• Brett Riske-Citizen Award of Merit. Nominated by Deputy Mark Olson. Riske assisted with an accident where a driver was trapped and in need of extraction. Riske went above and beyond to help a stranger, placing himself in a dangerous position during a blizzard and without clothing appropriate for the conditions.
• Kristina Hook-Citizen Award of Merit. Nominated by Deputy Josh Hinton. When Hook’s mother became unconscious while behind the wheel, she maneuvered the vehicle to prevent a crash and also from causing injury to children near a bus stop.
• Capt. Patrick O-Malley – Commendation Award. An inmate in the Jail threatened to take his life. Capt. O’Malley took control of the situation and negotiated with the inmate for several hours. He maneuvered himself into close proximity of the inmate and was able to restrain him so that he did not harm himself.
• Deputy Ricky Fischer – Commendation Award. Deputy Fischer was recognized in two situations for possessing the skills to investigate suspicious activity involving two local businesses. In both cases, the suspects were quickly arrested, ultimately returning stolen property.
• Deputy Josh Tester – Commendation Award. Deputy Tester received recognition for initiating a traffic stop on two separate vehicles in a 24-hour period that later resulted in the arrest of the occupants for burglaries that had been committed just prior to his contact.
Sawatzke said residents of Wright County support and respect their law enforcement personnel and extended appreciation for the service provided by law enforcement. He said this may not be the case in other parts of the country and it is unfortunate, not only for those experiencing it but for all law enforcement. Sheriff Hagerty said one bad officer can ruin it for many. That is why the bar is set high in Wright County for hiring law enforcement personnel.
Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator, presented a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) between Wright County and the City of Monticello creating the Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park Joint Powers Authority. The purpose of the Agreement is to “exercise those powers jointly to acquire, own, plan, design, improve, manage, operate and maintain the Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park.” The document has been reviewed by the Advisory Council, the attorneys for both entities, and the Wright County Risk Manager.
Tim Dahl, Risk Manager, said Item 18 of the JPA, Liability, is still being reviewed to determine who should provide coverage and the extend of that coverage. Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust’s (MCIT) legal team is reviewing the Agreement. It is Dahl’s understanding that the JPA will create an entity. The partners of this entity need to be protected under the MN tort cap threshold. It will need to be determined if the coverage will be through MCIT or the League of Minnesota Cities. Not all activities in the Park are covered by MCIT. Dahl said it is not as easy as the League covering the City’s activities and MCIT covering the County’s activities. Dahl’s goal is to provide solutions on what the recommendations will be. It appears a JPA may be entered into which would create an entity. It will then be defined how that entity moves forward. He did not envision a separate board. Decisions would continue to be submitted to the City Council and the County Board if so desired. There will be one insurance provider and it will need to be determined who will facilitate the insurance coverage.
Daleiden desires a solution that will protect interests in the best way possible. If that requires a JPA with the Bertram Chain of Lakes Board overseeing it that is what will need to be done to protect the liability for the City and County. Dahl will continue to work with Asleson and Mattice on the contractual language to make sure there is protection and to achieve the desired goals. Potter asked Borrell if he is comfortable with the JPA. Borrell had previously expressed concern with the content. Borrell met with Mattice last week and feels the JPA covers most issues.
Sawatzke said at the last Bertram Chain of Lakes Advisory Board Meeting, there were suggested changes to the JPA relating to the definition of initial period and termination language. Mattice did not recall receiving input on those items. Sawatzke asked that prior to bringing the JPA back for approval by the County Board, Mattice should contact the person who took notes at the Bertram Advisory Board Meeting to obtain clarification on the items brought up at the last meeting. Relating to termination, he thought the language was already addressed. Regarding the initial period definition, Sawatzke would like to know the length of the initial period and who is responsible for what. He thought the JPA could reflect the County will take care of the passive areas and the City will take care of the non-passive areas. The campground is considered passive so that would fall under the County. Dahl said the challenge is covering all risks. Sawatzke said the language in the JPA allows for change in the future if desired. Sawatzke thought there was an overall general acceptance of the JPA language by the County Board except for the areas mentioned. Potter said the JPA is in draft form. He requested that Commissioner Sawatzke’s questions and the insurance detail be addressed prior to bringing the JPA back for approval. This was provided as an informational item.
Mattice said that as part of the 8-19-14 County Board Meeting, Mattice was authorized to apply for grant funding for Phase 9 acquisition of Bertram Chain of Lakes Park. Grant recipients for FY 2016 have been notified, and Wright County was awarded $1 million in Park Legacy Funds. Over $27 million in grant requests were applied for from 51 local government agencies for projects in Greater Minnesota, with $3.9 million available in funding. It is anticipated the local match contribution for Wright County, including appraisal and closing costs, will be $205,000. This purchase leaves approximately 240 acres remaining to be purchased to complete the acquisition of the Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park. To date, including this grant award, nearly $8.4 million in grant funds have been secured. If approved, acquisition will be scheduled for 2016. Mattice said by signing the grant agreement, the County is indicating the local match is secured. The purchase is included in the Capital Improvement Plan but the Board will need to decide where the funds will come from in the 2016 budget. Daleiden made a motion to approve the recommendation from the Bertram Chain of Lakes Advisory Council to accept the Park Legacy Grant funding for Phase 9 acquisition at Bertram Chain of Lakes Park. The motion was seconded by Sawatzke.
Husom asked about the process for determining property value and expressed concern with the amount being spent for 50 acres. Mattice said the process includes hiring an independent appraiser. Part of that is because of the size of the project and how it ties in with the entire scheme. Depending on funding requirements, two appraisals may be needed. With Legacy Grants, only one appraisal is required. Mattice anticipates ordering the appraisal in January and that will determine the purchase price. The original appraisal on this property occurred in 2008. In 2011, an updated appraisal was completed. Sawatzke said the County paid a little less than the original appraisal. He recalled that when the original agreement was signed, the appraisal placed the value at $21-$24 million. The property was acquired at $20.5 million. The YMCA originally had a purchase agreement in hand for $34.5 million from a developer and included some contingencies, such as being annexed into the City and conditions associated with approvals for various things. It was impacted by the recession in 2008. Sawatzke said at that time, there were sales completed for $35,000/acre for land that was developable into the City. He said they are looking in the $20,000/acre range for the Bertram property, which includes lakeshore property.
Daleiden referenced the Park Legacy Grant Program Requirements, which reflects that a recipient of Parks & Trails Funding must display signs with the logo developed by the Commissioner of Natural Resources. Mattice said signs are being installed in the Park and along the roadways. The YMCA will pay for a portion of the signs. Husom referenced Item 14, Termination, which reflects that the State may immediately terminate the grant agreement with or without cause, upon 30 days written notice to the grantee. She asked whether the project will cease if the State decides to terminate the grant. Mattice said that language typically applies to development grants. He did not feel this would be seen with an acquisition grant. Mattice said the Agreement includes a clause that this would not occur once the purchase agreement and grant have been signed. The motion carried 5-0.
A Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 5-05-15. At today’s County Board Meeting, Sawatzke provided some history on the Tri-County Crime Lab Funding Formula. He said the first time he recalled the Wright County Board accepted the funding formula based on population was about a year ago when the Lab became accredited. At that time, the Board expressed their disagreement with the funding formula going forward. Sawatzke said the County Board agrees that the Crime Lab does a good job. There is also general agreement that the BCA Lab does more timely work than in the past. Some may dispute whether it is as timely as the Tri-County Crime Lab. In addition, the BCA does not perform all of the work that the Crime Lab does.
Sawatzke said the statistics are clear that from a user’s standpoint, the cost for the use of the Lab’s services is not consistent with population. Sherburne County pays close to what is being charged based on population; Wright County pays less than what is being charged based on population; and Anoka County uses more than what is being charged based on population. He stated the argument could be made that Wright County is subsidizing Anoka County based on usage. Husom referenced the $100,000 Anoka County expends for two staff. It is unknown how much Anoka County’s usage is compared to their cost. Sawatzke said that Wright County pays 23% based on population and is using in the range of 11% to 16%.
Sawatzke said at the end of the Committee Of The Whole (COTW) Meeting, it was recommended that Wright County “present the 60 percent population-/ 40 percent usage-based funding formula to the Tri County Regional Forensic Laboratory funding work group.” He referenced the County Board minutes of the last time the funding formula was discussed. The intent was for the Wright County Board to send notice to the other two Counties that they wanted action by a certain date; otherwise, notice would be given on the County’s intent to leave the organization. Kelly stated that was correct. Several months ago, the Board wanted it conveyed to the other players that if resolution is not seen on the funding formula, Wright County would discuss leaving the organization as of 6-30-15. Kelly said the County Board has cancelled their 6-30-15 County Board Meeting, so he plans to place this on the 6-23-15 Agenda. Although he has not received an update, but thought Sheriff Hagerty and Scott Ford, Regional Forensic Laboratory Director, heard the message coming out of the 5-05-15 COTW Meeting.
Sawatzke asked whether anyone has mentioned this to the Anoka and Sherburne County Boards. He asked Sheriff Hagerty at the COTW Meeting whether he would view an inequity if this were occurring with one of the other member counties. Sawatzke said Sheriff Hagerty did not dispute that suggestion. Sawatzke is unsure whether the request for a more equitable funding formula is being denied or whether it is even being discussed. Husom said that was her concern. When this was before the Wright County Board previously, the next steps were not discussed.
Sawatzke thought that when the Board passed the most recent JPA amendment, that is when the per capita funding formula was included and was also when a message was sent that Wright County didn’t find the formula acceptable. Kelly said that was correct. Following that meeting, he contacted both Ford and the Anoka County Sheriff. At that time, they conveyed to Kelly that they had just gotten the DNA accreditation and that the funding would be looked at in the future. Around that time, Kelly also had conversation with the Administrators from Sherburne and Anoka Counties. At that time, they didn’t express any alarm to Kelly. Potter said the Board would like Kelly to follow up with the Administrators so their elected officials can be informed that this is being discussed.
Sawatzke said Wright County is in a strong position, as there is an alternate for services through the BCA. That alternate may not be able to provide 100% of the services that the County is currently paying $300,000 for, but he thought it would be at about 80%-90% at no additional cost. Husom said the funding formula committee met to find the best formula they could. She did not realize Wright County had paid all of these years based on population without an agreement. Sawatzke said up until one year ago, it was not in the JPA.
Sawatzke said he attended the very first meeting of the Joint Powers Board. At that meeting, he raised the question of how funding will be divided. The response of the Sheriffs was that it had been decided to fund the Lab based on a percentage of population. Sawatzke responded that did not make sense because of usage. He was told six years ago that he should wait to see how the numbers play out. The first time the funding formula was included in the JPA was a year ago.
Husom said that at the August, 2014 Crime Lab Meeting, she conveyed that the funding formula needed to be discussed. Prior to that, minutes reflect that the funding formula would be looked at six months after being DNA accredited. Sawatzke said that all of the proposals have nothing to do with usage, and the real component is the amount it is used. Husom said it is unknown what the cost would be if Wright County was involved in managing or owning the Facility. Husom said a fair funding formula needs to be agreed upon, but is unsure whether numbers will increase if the $100,000 that Anoka County funds is added to the formula. Sawatzke responded that Anoka County agreed to the $100,000 employee cost from the beginning. Those are Anoka County’s employees working on Anoka County’s items. Wright County already has staff that work with fingerprinting. Husom said Wright County has an excellent lab but they can’t complete some of the forensic pieces that the Crime Lab can. Potter added that if the JPA is dissolved, Anoka County owns the building. He agrees with Sawatzke that usage should be part of the formula. Husom agreed and said they need to come up with a fair formula. She would like Wright County to remain a partner in the Tri-County Crime Lab. She provided information on success stories resulting from work completed by the Tri-County Crime Lab. Sawatzke said the BCA is still processing some cases for Wright County.
Borrell pointed out that Wright County is spending over $300,000 for Tri-County Lab services and the other 80+ counties in the State are using the BCA. He said Hennepin County pays $400,000 to have four extra people working at the BCA to prioritize some of their jobs. He said if Wright County would pay for one of them, he thought they could get their cases processed readily. Borrell asked that Kelly be directed to contact the BCA to arrange a tour. This would allow the Board to review offered services and also send a message to Anoka and Sherburne Counties that Wright County is serious about this. Borrell referenced Sawatzke’s comment about a consensus at the 5-05-15 COTW Meeting on the split funding formula. Borrell said at the meeting he conveyed it was against the split funding formula. Stating the recommendation was that of the majority of the Board would be correct.
Daleiden made a motion to approve the 5-05-15 COTW Minutes, seconded by Sawatzke. Sawatzke said in a given month that he reviewed, four DNA items were sent from Wright County to the BCA. Wright County could hire a person and pay $100,000 to the BCA, but that person would have a lot of free time. Wright County could also go in with other counties to hire a person. Borrell thought Kelly should check on a BCA tour. Sawatzke said with approval of the minutes, notice will be sent to the other Counties that Wright County expects some type of action, or the Board has set a timetable to leave on 6-30-15. There was consensus that Kelly will contact the BCA on a possible tour. Borrell indicated that he will vote against the motion as he feels the offer is overly generous. The motion carried 4-1 with Borrell casting the nay vote. The 5-05-15 COTW Minutes follow:
I. Tri-County Crime Lab Funding Formula.
Hagerty said for the past five years they have been looking at funding formulas at the request of the Wright County Board. He provided a timeline of past meetings. Hagerty said he brought up the funding formula again at the 12-02-14 Tri County Regional Forensic Laboratory (TCRFL) meeting. (The TCRFL serves Wright, Sherburne, and Anoka Counties). A work group was established, comprised of the three County Sheriffs, Ford, and Anoka Assistant County Attorney Bryan Frantz. On 12-12-14, Hagerty hosted a meeting at the Government Center with former Wright County Sheriff Gary Miller, Commissioner Christine Husom, County Attorney Tom Kelly, Chief Deputy County Attorney Brian Asleson, Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Dave Miller, Captain Todd Hoffman, and County Coordinator Lee Kelly. Hagerty said former Sheriff Miller gave a historical summary of the TCRFL. He explained that the catalyst to establish the Laboratory was due to a backlog of cases at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).
Hagerty said County residents expect crimes to be solved quickly. In addition, all three Counties are experiencing significant growth. The three sheriffs who were initially involved with the TCRFL are now retired. Hagerty said the members of TCRFL worked in consultation with the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office, who now serves all three counties. Hagerty said the decision was made to explore legislative funding, which was ultimately successful. The population-based funding formula was established by the TCRFL and agreed upon by all three County Boards at that time.
Sawatzke disputed that the population-based funding formula was agreed upon by the three county boards. He said the Wright County Board at that time was advised to try the population-based formula and see how the numbers played out. Sawatzke said they never formally approved the formula. It was temporarily accepted with a commitment to review the results in a year. Sawatzke said he is the only person on the current County Board who was at that meeting. Sawatzke said he stated a need for a funding formula, but the three sheriffs said a population-based formula had already been established. He said he asked what would happen if one county used more TCRFL services than the others. Sawatzke said he was told again to wait to see how the numbers played out. Hagerty said the historic information he is providing was drafted by former Sheriff Miller.
Hagerty said other options were discussed at the 12-12-14 meeting, as well as population formulas to determine costs of instrumentation and staffing. They discussed calculating usage figures on the amount of materials a county uses, such as drug testing kits. Wright and Anoka Counties have solid evidence collection teams that screen prints and items prior to submission. Hagerty said when a crime occurs in Wright County, Deputy Olson collects the evidence, and is an expert at identifying fingerprints. The Sheriff’s Office can send a latent print to the TCRFL for confirmation.
Hagerty said other potential users or partners with whom they would like to build relationships include other counties, and corporations such as Target. He has broached the subject with Washington and Dakota Counties.
The TCRFL met on 1-12-15 and discussed funding formula options, including:
• Population Density (people per square mile);
• Crimes, with Part 1 regarding the more serious crimes (crimes against persons), and Part 2 relating to thefts, criminal damage to property, and smaller crimes;
• Crimes most likely to use laboratory services;
• Number of licensed officers in each county;
• Potential legislation on implementing court fees upon conviction;
• Potential grant funding;
• Target Corporation as a possible TCRFL user; and
• Supplies usage.
On 1-13-15, Hagerty said the three TCRFL sheriffs met with St. Cloud Chief of Police Wm. Blair Anderson. The St. Cloud Police Department had a laboratory in the past. They recently sent a DNA sample to the TCRFL on an arson, and received a three-day turnaround.
Hagerty said the TCRFL currently has 14 employees. Two employees, including a latent print position and a property technician, are compensated by Anoka County.
Hagerty said the TCRFL also met 1-20-15. Three police chiefs from Wright County also attended: Patrick Budke from Buffalo, Dave Thompson from Howard Lake, and Jeff Herr from Annandale.
Hagerty said Budke resisted using the TCRFL before it was fully accredited. Since the accreditation, the Buffalo Police Department has begun sending cases to the TCRFL, with a number of successful resolutions.
Hagerty said Frantz, Ford, Hoffman, D. Miller, and the three county sheriffs met as a TCRFL committee on 3-12-15 to discuss funding. The funding committee met on 3-20-15 and determined that the current formula is the most fair. Wright County usage is increasing. On 4-1-15, a vote was taken at the TCRFL meeting by the members to follow the recommendation of the work group and remain with the population-based formula.
Ford said the funding work group asked him to reach out to other regional forensic laboratories with population-based funding structures. He sent out requests and received two responses, one from the Northern Illinois Regional Forensic Laboratory, and the other from the Northern Colorado Regional Forensic Laboratory. Their size and funding budgets are similar to the TCRFL. The Illinois laboratory funding mechanism is based on population. The Colorado laboratory takes a share of the population, a five-year average of Part 1 crimes, and the number of licensed officers to get a percentage to arrive at per partner.
Ford said he came up with several options for the TCRFL. The first option uses the current population-based funding mechanism, and structured it similar to the Northern Colorado laboratory’s formula. Ford took a five-year average of Part 1 and Part 2 crimes. Part 2 crimes are a large portion of the services utilized by the County and its partners in the TCRFL. He also added in the number of licensed officers for 2015.
Ford said he ran those numbers and talked with Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart, who said he felt if the funding mechanism changed, Anoka County would want to put the current position that Anoka County funds fully back into the pool for other counties (currently Wright and Sherburne) to share. After Ford recalculated the numbers, the share for Wright County decreased by about $6,000, Sherburne County went down by about $2,000, and Anoka County’s share increased by nearly $100,000. That is the comparison between the population-based funding formula versus the option Ford described above. He said the numbers did not change significantly for Wright or Sherburne Counties.
Sawatzke asked why the TCRFL was not considering a funding mechanism based on usage. He stated that the work is more likely driven by the number of items sent to the TCRFL, and not how many people reside in the County.
Ford responded that in talking with the three sheriffs involved with the TCRFL, as well as the funding work group and the advisory board, the concern was that law enforcement may be discouraged to submit cases to the TCRFL due to cost. If the TCRFL were to charge based on usage, some may hesitate to submit cases when budgets are tight. The work done at the TCRFL has helped the partners make great headway catching those who have committed auto thefts and burglaries. Sawatzke said when services are free, people demand more than they ought to because they don’t have to pay for them.
Sawatzke said in November of 2013, Wright County paid 23 percent of TCRFL costs, but only used 11.1 percent. Sawatzke said Anoka County paid 61 percent, but used 75.6 percent. Ford asked how Sawatzke calculated the numbers. Sawatzke said he calculated based on the number of requests received. Wright County sent 44 items out of 398, or 11.1 percent for one month.
Sawatzke gave further examples based on his calculations: In August of 2014, Wright County paid 23 percent, but used only 14 percent. Anoka paid 61 percent and used 70 percent. Sherburne paid 16 percent and used 16 percent. The most recent report was for March of 2015, when Wright County used 14.6 percent, Anoka used 70.3 percent, and Sherburne was close at 15 percent. He understands why Sherburne County has not commented much about the funding, as their payment to usage ratio is pretty accurate. However, Wright County appears to be subsidizing the other counties. Sawatzke reiterated that his numbers are based on requests received. He is not claiming that his calculations are 100 percent accurate, but feels they provide a good representation of the situation.
Sawatzke said usage ought to be a component. He said it doesn’t have to be the only factor. A 50/50 ratio of population- to usage-based would be an improvement. The current system is not fair to Wright County. The Anoka County population has a higher crime rate. They also have greater usage per person than Wright County. If the counties all had the same population and crime statistics, then perhaps the population-based funding would be more equitable.
Husom said Anoka County also provided $100,000 for two employees, which compensates for at least some of the difference. Ford said Olson screens out a lot of cases that other agencies send to the TCRFL. Sawatzke said Wright County should not subsidize other counties that send more cases than necessary to the TCRFL.
Hagerty said the County is a partner, and not a user. The County is reaping the rewards now. The turnaround times are improved. The Sheriff’s Office is solving auto theft crimes that previously weren’t solved. These perpetrators are very likely to be involved in drug crimes, assaults, and robberies. The faster the Sheriff’s Office can identify them, the sooner law enforcement can get them into custody. Hagerty said he hates to jeopardize their crime-fighting efforts. He said Wright County residents feel safer than most other citizens nationwide. The County has more than $1 million invested in the TCRFL. Hagerty said the fact that the City of Buffalo is using the laboratory is significant. The County is submitting DNA samples. The turnaround on Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) blood and urine samples is two weeks, which is faster than the BCA, although they do good work as well. Hagerty said it’s a question of volume.
Borrell said the BCA is an option. Their former issues are mostly resolved, and turnaround has improved. He compared it to waiting five minutes to get a free ride to St. Paul versus buying a car for $10,000. Hagerty said the Sheriff’s Office gets a much faster turnaround with the TCRFL. He said a faster turnaround translates into apprehending a criminal before he or she commits another crime. Hagerty said his job is public safety, and this is the tool he needs.
T. Kelly said the TCRFL did an awesome job recently regarding a missing body. As the chief prosecuting attorney for the County, he is very impressed with their work. T. Kelly said he has no complaints, but only kudos for the TCRFL.
Borrell said he agrees with Sawatzke. He recommends working with the BCA if the TCRFL is not willing to change the funding to a usage-based formula. The County is in the power seat. Husom countered that the time element is critical. It costs money to incarcerate someone, as well as jail and court-related expenses. Borrell said turnaround from the BCA has improved. Husom said it does not compare to the TCRFL.
Sawatzke agrees with Borrell that the County is in the power seat, since the BCA is an alternative. He asked when the TCRFL was built. Hagerty said about 2008. Sawatzke asked L. Kelly to provide the Wright County Board minutes from that time period that reflect when he first asked questions about funding. He said he was told a few years later to see how the numbers looked. Sawatzke asked how many years he has to wait for this information. Sawatzke said he was told seven years ago that this would be addressed if it becomes an ongoing issue. He said it has become one.
Husom asked how much the County’s cost would increase if the TCRFL decided on a different formula and Anoka no longer contributes the extra $100,000 for the two positions. Hagerty said it is not only the $100,000. The facility could easily have belonged to Wright County instead, and then he would have 14 more employees to oversee. Borrell asked for confirmation that the County spends about $300,000 per year on TCRFL costs.
Hagerty said there are certain lower-level crimes that the BCA can’t due because of volume. He explained that the current process of extracting fingerprints is simpler with DNA swabs. The Sheriff’s Office sends the DNA to the TCRFL, and receives the report in short order. Hagerty said perpetrators are not usually first-timers. Anyone incarcerated is now swabbed, so a DNA record exists of repeat offenders. The TCRFL enables the Sheriff’s Office to get criminals off the street more quickly. Hagerty said the TCRFL services aid crime prevention. He would rather be a partner in the TCRFL than a user. He does not want to wait for the BCA. He reiterated that the BCA won’t do swabs for cases not related to a homicide.
Borrell said for the amount the County spends on the TCRFL, evidence from lesser crimes could be taken to a private lab. Perhaps the County could also work with the TCRFL on a cost per service basis.
Sawatzke said the County sent 4 cases to the TCRFL in March of 2015. Anoka had 26 or about 7 times as many as the County. However, Sawatzke said, Anoka only paid three times for the DNA services. He did not see the parity between what the County is using versus what the County is paying. He did not understand why Wright County is paying more than the other counties.
Hagerty said the County has two votes. Sawatzke said Wright County has all the votes. There’s a clause that says after a certain number of months, if not treated fairly, the County may cease to be a part of the process. He thinks the TCRFL partners will understand and agree. The County is paying 50 to 100 percent more than usage, and has done so for six or seven years. He said it is only reasonable for them to understand that Wright County won’t continue to do that indefinitely.
Potter suggested tweaking the formula so that the percentage for usage increases to 25 or 33 percent. If that’s not an option, then he said Sawatzke has a strong argument. Sawatzke said he is not demanding that the County pay only 14 percent. Borrell said that was his preference. Sawatzke said he seeks more parity than exists presently.
Sawatzke said his recollection is that if the TCRFL doesn’t make more equitable changes to the funding formula by a certain date, the County Board could serve them notice of its withdrawal from the Joint Powers Agreement. L. Kelly said 6-30-15 is the opt-out date. Hagerty said he confirmed with the TCRFL that there is an opt-out clause in the Joint Powers Agreement. However, he would hate to see the County exercise it. Borrell said there are other labs. Hagerty said the cost of ongoing crime is more expensive than the TCRFL services.
Sawatzke said he thought the other counties would agree that the current situation is not fair. Hagerty said the work group decided that the population-based formula was equitable. Sawatzke said the reports show that Wright County continually uses less than the population in services. Hagerty said Wright County does more evidence collection than Sherburne, has more deputies, and a strong evidence team. Sawatzke disagreed with Hagerty, saying Sherburne used more services than Wright County in every single report. The numbers between Sherburne and Wright County are close, but Wright County is paying nearly 50 percent more on every single report.
Ford referred to the success stories attached to each monthly TCRFL report. During the past five months, Sherburne has two, while Wright County has highlighted many more successes.
Husom asked what percentages Sawatzke would consider equitable. Sawatzke said a percentage based on usage would be the fairest option, but he would compromise with a 50/50 usage- to population-based ratio. Other ratios were discussed. Sawatzke said the other counties won’t agree to a 100 percent usage-based formula because it will cost them more.
Ford said it is very difficult to set an annual budget when the costs are a moving target. Daleiden said they would determine the budget, and the revenue is usage-based. Each county would pay X percent of the budget.
Husom said the assessors gave the TCRFL a very high rating. Now that the entity is processing DNA, there will be more requests, and subsequently more revenue. All the partners will benefits, and that should reduce the amounts each pays. If another county or city wants to partner with the TCRFL, they will have to buy in. Husom said the TCRFL will continue to grow. The TCRFL will process cases the BCA won’t, such as DNA from a stolen vehicle. Husom said victims want reparation, and this will help get offenders off the street faster. She said she would agree with a combination of population and usage-based formulas.
Sawatzke said the TCRFL partners should be reminded that the Board moved to discuss pulling the County out of the TCRFL on 6-30-15 if the funding formula does not change. Ford said it would help the TCRFL funding work group if the Committee provided specific suggestions on a revised formula. Borrell said it should be 100 percent usage-based. Sawatzke said that would be ideal, but he would compromise. Potter suggested starting at 25 or 33 percent. Daleiden agreed the number should be based on a percent, such as 75 or 50 percent population-based, and the remainder usage-based. There was continued discussion regarding percentages. L. Kelly said the County pays the TCRFL between $325,000 and $350,000 per year.
Husom said it is extremely important that the County remain a partner with the TCRFL. She is impressed with the results reported by the Sheriff’s Office. She believes the usage numbers will increase in the future. The accreditation for DNA is a huge accomplishment by the TCRFL. If they change the formula to one weighted more heavily on usage, the County may pay more. Husom expressed concern about losing the $100,000 for positions at the TCRFL that are currently funded by Anoka County. She did not think the funding formula should be 100 percent usage-based.
Potter said the County Board moved to withdraw from the TCRFL if the funding formula is not changed. Sawatzke asked L. Kelly to remind Sherburne and Anoka Counties of that reality, and to provide minutes from the meeting when the motion was made regarding the 6-30-15 deadline. Potter said if no other formulas are proposed by 6-30-15, the issue can be brought to the Board for discussion. Husom asked if the Committee would provide TCRFL with a proposed funding formula. Several ratios were discussed. Asleson suggested that staff evaluate the numbers and provide TCRFL with a proposal.
Daleiden recommended a 60 percent population-/40 percent usage-based formula. Borrell said that was too low. Sawatzke said that although he preferred a higher usage percent, he would consider a 50/50 split. Daleiden said the formula could be adjusted in the future as needed. Asleson said he assumes there will be additional partners in the future.
Husom concurred with Daleiden’s recommendation regarding proposing changing the funding formula to 60 percent population-/40 percent usage-based. Borrell said he would agree if the County Board sticks to this ratio. His concern was that Sherburne and Anoka County will counter with a lower usage rate.
Potter confirmed that the consensus was to propose a 60 percent population- / 40 percent usage-based funding formula to the TCRFL partners. He directed TCRFL staff to calculate the estimated future costs.
Recommendation: Present the 60 percent population-/ 40 percent usage-based funding formula to the Tri County Regional Forensic Laboratory funding work group.
(End of 5-05-15 COTW Minutes)
Borrell presented a draft resolution opposing new State legislation mandating 50’ buffer strips. The legislation would require buffers to be in place by 9-01-16 or within one year of new perennial waters designated by the Commissioner of Natural Resources. The resolution would oppose any mandate that does not fairly apply said regulation to all properties, urban and rural, adjacent to perennial waters of the State that are not open to public access. The resolution proposes that property owners subject to a mandate for buffer strips be compensated for loss of their property rights by permanent or perennial payment from the governing authority. Borrell said the draft resolution is patterned after a resolution adopted by Meeker County. He said it would be good to send the resolution to the Governor, indicating that Wright County is not opposing the buffer strips but rather opposing the legislation as it is currently worded without compensation.
Borrell moved to adopt Resolution #15-22 opposing new State legislation mandating 50’ buffer strips. Daleiden said property owners will still be able to utilize the land. Borrell responded not in an effective way and the land is being restricted. Sawatzke seconded the motion. Sawatzke said there are too many unanswered questions. Sawatzke said if everything has to be paid for, then at some point things are not going to be able to be done as it will not work financially. A reasonableness standard needs to be applied. The report received from the SWCD reflects that about 98% of properties are in compliance with buffer strips. That may indicate that people feel it is reasonable or they wouldn’t be doing it. If 98% of people do it on their own, it may be the right thing to do. With the proposal, 100% would be compensated when 98% are already doing it. Possibly the 2% that aren’t doing it are being unreasonable, or their properties are different and don’t demand buffer strips. There may also be areas where less than a 50’ buffer is adequate. The motion carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Advisory Committee/Advisory Board Updates:
1. Central Minnesota Legal Services. The Law Library is hosting a workshop/family forum at the Government Center (Room 120) on 5-13-15. Family Law will be held at 3:00 P.M. and Probate and Estate Planning will be held from 5:00-7:00 P.M. Contact Stacie at 320-403-1051 to register.
2. Husom has attended various meetings relating to safety including Safe Schools in Buffalo and Annandale, Safe Communities of Wright County, and Safe Harbor. She stated that crashing a vehicle at 60 mph without wearing a seatbelt equates to falling from the 12th floor of a building. The Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement will run from May 18-31 so she encourages everyone to wear seat belts. Methamphetamine use is up amongst youth. Wright County has 3 beds at Lino Lakes and 9 are filled. There have been 5 suicides in Wright County in the last week.
3. GRRL. Potter said Karen Pundsack was hired as the new Director. She has been serving as the Interim Director.
Bills Approved
A-1 Marine $137.97
Ag Neovo Technology Corp. 135.00
Albertville Body Shop Inc 642.80
Allina Health Systems 510.36
Annandale Advocate Inc 325.00
Aramark Services Inc 7,594.73
Assurance Fire Protection Inc 220.00
Brock White Co LLC 308.58
Buffalo Auto Value 172.57
Buffalo/City of 58,981.85
Cameron/Tim 150.00
CDW Government Inc 2,288.77
Center Point Energy 240.21
Centra Sota Coop. - Buffalo 19,167.72
CenturyLink 152.21
CenturyLink 699.42
Climate Air 21,428.30
Commercial Door Systems Inc 165.00
Commissioner of Transportation 368.75
Community Lawn Care 247.00
Cottens Inc 2,452.58
Delano/City of 2,447.20
Dell Marketing LP 10,798.51
Design Elect. Inc-Cold Spring 203.03
Diers/Carter 402.50
Fishnet Security Inc 1,308.00
Fleetpride 821.25
Franklin Township 732.80
French Lake Township 466.00
FS3 Inc 480.00
Gabriel/Cathleen 100.00
Gale-Tec Engineering Inc 3,353.75
Glunz Construction Septic Serv 130.00
Gopher State One Call 261.50
Grainger 351.34
Green Interiors 450.00
Greene Espel PLLP 5,816.82
Greenview Inc 297.60
Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation 125.00
Helena Chemical Company 4,809.11
Herc-U-Lift 530.21
Hiivala/Robert 237.00
Hillyard Inc - Minneapolis 4,047.03
Holiday 13,485.79
Howard Lake/City of 988.40
Interstate Automotive 125.00
Intoximeters Inc 1,700.00
Jack’s of Cokato Inc 127.41
Janet Shaddix & Associates 310.20
Jerrys Towing & Repair 370.00
L3 Communications Inc 153.00
LaPlant Demo Inc 332.50
Loberg Electric 238.00
Lube Tech ESI 552.08
M & M Express Sales and Serv. 198.74
M-R Sign Company Inc 200.83
MACA 185.00
Maple Lake Township 595.60
Maple Lake/City of 892.40
Marco 2,959.78
Marco Inc 586.00
Mcleod Co. Auditor-Treasurer 14,991.70
McNamara Inc/B 18,530.00
Menards - Buffalo 102.84
Mend Correctional Care LLC 21,829.33
Mid-America Business Sys. 2,751.60
Miller/Richard 125.00
MN Counties Computer Coop. 250.00
Montrose/City of 1,240.60
Moore & Moore Advantage 300.00
MSC Industrial Supply Co 313.94
North Star Awards & Trophies 208.25
O’Ryans Conoco Marathon 155.00
Office Depot 5,848.87
Precision Prints of Wright Co 188.00
Progressive Handling Inc 1,320.86
Purick/Ryan 200.00
Ratwik,Roszak,&Maloney 566.24
RCM Specialties Inc 4,099.29
Russell Security Resource Inc 579.10
Ryan Chevrolet 470.99
Select Account 1,493.70
Sherwin Williams 269.49
Sprint 3,025.44
St Croix Recreation Co Inc 631.00
St Michael/City of 5,657.00
State Supply Co 136.46
Summit Companies 6,430.50
Thrifty White Pharmacy 1,810.18
Titan Energy Systems 1,682.82
Total Printing 475.00
Uniforms Unlimited 1,147.50
USA Safety Supply Corporation 471.58
Veolia Environmental Serv. 11,773.51
Verizon Wireless 432.79
Warning Lites of MN Inc 1,206.00
Waste Management of WI-MN 2,503.35
Waste Management-TC West 471.73
Waytashek/Patsy 154.50
Wright Hennepin Electric 230.85
Xcel Energy 110.10
Zep Sales & Services 657.35
30 Payments less than $100 1,317.09
Final total $294,717.75
The meeting adjourned at 10:42 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal June 8, 2015.