Wright County Board Minutes

The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Husom, Vetsch, Daleiden, Potter and Borrell present.
Borrell announced the passing of former County Commissioner Judie Rose. The Board expressed condolences to her family and close friends.
Vetsch moved to approve the Minutes, seconded by Potter. The motion carried 5-0.
Husom moved to approve the Agenda as presented. Potter seconded the motion and it carried 5-0.
Potter moved to approve the Consent Agenda, seconded by Husom. The motion carried 5-0.
1. Approve & Authorize Signatures - wRight Choice Lease Agreement 2017-2018
1. Approve & Authorize Signatures - Interlocal Contract For Cooperative Purchasing
2. 2017 Auction Recap, Informational Only
3. Authorize Signatures On Post Health Care Savings Plan Documents - 49ers, Courthouse 320, Non-Union Department Heads, Non-Union Exempt and Non-Exempt
1. Acknowledge Warrants Issued Between 8-24-17 and 8-30-17
1. Position Replacement: A. Deputy
Approve A Plat “White Birch Acres 2nd Addition” (Franklin Township)
Potter moved to approve the Plat, seconded by Daleiden. The motion carried unanimously.
Approve Order Transferring Property To ISD # 877 (Rockford Township)
Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, said the request is to attach a .26 acre parcel of land (PID #215-000-053212) located in Rockford School District to a 1.36 acre parcel of land (PID#215-000-053100) located in Buffalo School District. The result would be that the entire parcel would be in the Buffalo School. Potter moved to authorize the Auditor/Treasurer to sign the Order transferring the property to ISD #877, seconded by Daleiden, and carried 5-0.
Informational Item: Memo From The Minnesota Deputy Registrar’s Association (MDRA) Regarding Their Driver And Vehicle Services Division (DVS) Computer System Upgrade
Becky Aanerud, License Bureau Supervisor, provided an update to the Board on the difficulties Minnesota License Bureaus have experienced with the recent State computer system upgrade for the motor vehicle license and registration system. Prior to the rollout of the upgrade on 7-24-17, several letters were sent to the Department of Public Safety from the Deputy Registrars Association citing issues of concern with the upgrade. The response from the State was that they were working on the issues raised. Aanerud contacted Legislators on the implementation concerns and the Legislators followed up with the state. She understands they received a similar response.
Aanerud said at one point the entire system stopped. Renewals were the only thing they were able to process and the fees did not come back correctly. Problems have since occurred with license plate processing and the inability to process tax-exempt vehicles. The State has asked that plate requests be sent to them. That results in the County losing out on the filing fee which is a source of funding for the License Bureau.
There have been problems associated with license tab renewals sent to the State. Patrons can obtain a 60-day temporary or pay $11 and get duplicate tabs from the Wright County License Bureau. License tab renewals can be done by mail to the Wright County License Bureau or via the drop box located at the entrance of the Government Center (north side). Requests will be processed and mailed the same day.
Aanerud said there will be a Deputy Registrars Meeting in two weeks where this topic will be addressed. Generally the State sends representatives to those meetings. Borrell asked whether the Sheriff’s Office has been informed of the license tab renewal problem. Aanerud said they have. Travelers should realize that other states may not be aware of the license tab renewal problems in Minnesota.
Aanerud thanked the Bailiffs for the customer service assistance they have provided.
The Minutes were corrected as follows: Page 1, 3rd paragraph, 1st sentence should be changed to read, “The remittance fee is $1,225 plus attorney fees estimated at $2,000-$3,000.” On a motion by Husom, second by Potter, all voted to approve the Minutes and recommendations of the Committee. The Minutes follow:
I. Request for H1B Visa Sponsorship For Highway Department
Highway Engineer Virgil Hawkins said he has a foreign national employee who is currently working as a Highway Technician 1 under a student visa. He is a great employee, and is overqualified for the position he currently holds. In order to retain him as an employee, the County needs to sponsor him for an H1B Visa. There is a fee involved.
Human Resources Representative Lori Pawelk said the employee has to apply for the visa. He already has Optional Practical Training (OPT) status. The H1B Visa would be for five years.
The remittance fee is $1,225 plus attorney fees estimated at $2,000-$3,000. Hawkins said the County is paying this person below the minimum wage required to obtain the H1B Visa. His pay would have to be increased by about 50 cents per hour. Hawkins said that will present no internal problems, as the other Highway Technicians are higher in the pay range than this employee. Pawelk said the employee’s compensation is in the union range.
Daleiden asked what happens if the employee leaves County employment. Hawkins said the visa is good for six years. He has at least a Bachelor’s degree, and wants to work for ten years in the United States before going back to his home country to start a business. Pawelk said the employee is grateful for his experience with the County. Hawkins said there will likely be promotional opportunities within the Highway Department for which he could apply. Pawelk said there are never any guarantees regarding how long a new hire will stay with the County.
Hawkins said the sponsorship fee is a one-time expense. Pawelk said it sets a precedent. She added that the employee’s OPT status is good for four years. He needs to know that the County will sponsor him and help him through the application process. Hawkins said he is a great addition to his staff.
Recommendation: Approve Request for H1B Visa Sponsorship for Highway Department.
II. Life Insurance Change (Ochs)
Human Resources Director Schawn Johnson distributed a document entitled, “Wright County Life Insurance Request for Bid Proposals Highlights” (see attached), and read the overview and background information. He said the best proposal was from Minnesota Life. They proposed a ten percent decrease in basic life insurance rates (from .15 / $1,000 to .13 / $1,000), for a total savings of $2,001.60 over the 2017 rates. The supplemental life insurance rates would remain unchanged. The rates are guaranteed for three years. Other changes are noted in the attachment.
The document also outlines the terms proposed by the competing vendors, Madison National and Voya Insured by Reliastar Life Co.
Recommendation: Approve Three-Year Life Insurance Provider Contract With Minnesota Life.
III. GIS Specialist Position
GIS Coordinator Alek Halverson said they interviewed nine candidates for this position. The top candidate is requesting 27% higher than the minimum range, which is $24.04 per hour. The minimum for the job classification is $18.97, and the top is $26.56.
Daleiden asked about the qualifications of the second candidate. Halverson said the top candidate has the most experience. All the other candidates have experience in the private sector, less related experience, or very little. The first candidate has experience in the public sector, and currently works for the South Dakota Department of Transportation.
County Surveyor Steve Jobe said the top candidate was the only one who could work up to speed quickly. He is performing duties at the level of a six or seven-year employee. Halverson said he currently uses the same software the Surveyor Department utilizes. The candidate is also well versed in reading legal descriptions, deeds, and searching for records.
Jobe said the minimum wage range is probably a little lower than the market. Even with the proposed starting range, this person would still be the lowest paid position on the Surveyor staff.
County Coordinator Lee Kelly and Johnson said they were in favor of the increase, given the level of the candidate’s experience. Jobe said he would contact the candidate regarding the Committee’s recommendation to hire him at the requested range, and submit the background check before the weekend. The item will be submitted to the 9-05-17 County Board Agenda.
Recommendation: Approve hiring GIS Specialist at 27% above the minimum salary range.
IV. Performance Appraisal – Steve Jobe, Surveyor
Recommendation: Based on three performance evaluations received, the Committee recommends a rating of “Meets Expectations.”
(End of 8-30-17 Personnel Committee Minutes)
1. Highway 25 Coalition. Potter attended a meeting last week where information was provided on the status of projects including the river crossing. He will forward information received to the Commissioners.
2. Crime Lab. Husom attended a Crime Lab Meeting in August. Anoka County is changing their phone system to include new phone numbers for staff. The monthly lab success story was provided which includes information on the successes of the Lab and turnaround time. The National Forensic Science Week event will be held at the Regional Crime Lab in Andover on 9-27-17 from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM. A change in the funding formula for member counties will be implemented on 1-01-18. Funding will change to a 60/40 formula (60% population / 40% usage). Husom noted that funding for 2018 will be based on 2016 data.
3. Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council. Husom attended a meeting on 8-16-17. Some of the goals for 2017 are training with other departments and more State funding. Code Red is complete and Everbridge is on the website.
4. Central MN Mental Health Meeting. Husom and Vetsch attended the meeting. CMMHC will move forward with a new Board structure based on passage of a resolution of support by the four member counties. Counties will be involved in the process of selection of community members to serve on that Board. It was stated that Dr. Lee is looking for candidates who have contact with corporate and private donors, and for professionals in the mental health field.
5. Nuclear Drill. Husom and Vetsch participated in the event held on 8-29-17. They encouraged other Board members to participate in future drills as a means of back up in the case of an actual event.
6. Bertram Advisory Committee Meeting. Vetsch attended a meeting on 9-01-17. A noxious weed, the Spotted Knapweed, was found in the Northeast corner of Bertram Park. It is felt the weed can be controlled and contained and may take a couple of years to eradicate. The larger concern is Bur Oak Blight, a leaf disease that kills trees within 3-6 years, which is nearing the Park. Bur Oaks make up the majority of trees in Bertram Park. The situation will be monitored.
The meeting adjourned at 9:37 A.M.
Published in the Herald Journal Sept. 29, 2017.