Wright County Board Minutes

SEPTEMBER 19, 2017
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Husom, Vetsch, and Daleiden present. Commissioners Potter and Borrell were at an Economic Development Conference and arrived later in the Meeting. Commissioner Daleiden chaired the Meeting.
Husom moved to approve the Minutes, seconded by Vetsch. Lee Kelly, County Coordinator, said the County Board recessed into Closed Session at the conclusion of the last Board Meeting. There were no action items from the Closed Session that need to be brought to a public forum. The motion carried 3-0 to approve the Minutes as presented.
The following changes were made to the Agenda: Add Consent Item G, “INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, Refer To The 9-27-17 Personnel Committee The Request To Hire An IT Position Above 12% Of The Beginning Hiring Range” (L. Kelly); Change the Auditor/Treasurer’s 9:02 A.M. Agenda Item to read, “Schedule Public Hearing In November For Joint Ditch 15 and County Ditch 13 To Accept The Viewer’s Report From The Redetermination Process” (Hiivala). Vetsch moved to approve the Agenda as amended. Husom seconded the motion and it carried 3-0.
Husom moved to approve the Consent Agenda as amended, seconded by Vetsch. The motion carried 3-0.
1. Approve/Authorize Signatures On Law Enforcement Contracts: Albertville, Maple Lake, Otsego, South Haven, St. Michael
1. Position Replacement:
A. Facility Manager
1. Position Replacement: A. Land Records Administrator 2. Acknowledge Warrants Issued Between 9-06-17 & 9-12-17
1. Refer to the 9-27-17 Technology Committee:
A. Office 365 Status and Governance
B. Continued ERP Discussion C. Project Portfolio Status
1. Request Authorization To Hire One Deputy Due To The Increase In Contract Hours For Montrose and Waverly
1. Authorization To Reclassify One Vacant Account Tech Position To An Office Tech II Position
1. Refer To The 9-27-17 Personnel Committee The Request To Hire An IT Position Above 12% Of The Beginning Hiring Range
Schedule Public Hearing In November For Joint Ditch 15 And County Ditch 13 To Accept The Viewer’s Report From The Redetermination Process
Hiivala said Joint Ditch 15 will involve McLeod and Meeker Counties. He recommended separate meetings for each of the Ditches. It was the consensus to lay this item over to next week so all Board members can be present when the date is set.
Approve August Revenue/Expenditure Budget Report
Hiivala presented information through Open Gov. Revenues, expenditures, and overtime are on schedule compared to budget. Vetsch moved to accept the August Revenue/Expenditure Report, seconded by Husom. The motion carried 3-0.
Schedule Committee Of The Whole Meeting To Hold Public Hearing Regarding The Rezoning Petition Of Advanced Disposal Inc.
On a motion by Vetsch, second by Husom, all voted to schedule the Public Hearing for 11-15-17 at 7:00 P.M. The Meeting will be held at the Government Center in the County Board Room.
Adopt Resolution Approving 2018 TZD Grant Authorizing The Sheriff’s Office To Administer & Sign Said Grant
Chief Deputy Hoffman said this is an annual grant that is used toward reducing the number of fatal accidents in Wright County. The amount of the supplemental grant is $27,300 and no match is required. Husom moved to adopt Resolution #17-43 approving the 2018 TZD (Toward Zero Deaths) Grant authorizing the Sheriff’s Office to administer and sign the Grant. The motion was seconded by Vetsch and carried 3-0 on a roll call vote.
Adopt Resolution Accepting Regional Inspection Plan
OHare referenced the Wright Regional Water-Related Equipment Inspection Program 2017 Plan and said it is different than what was presented on 6-27-17 when Ordinance 17-1 was adopted. Changes were made to the Plan based on input from the DNR. The DNR’s main concern relates to the removal of the Conservation Officer reference from the Plan in its entirety, as a Conservation Officer cannot enforce a County Ordinance. Changes were also made to the signage portion of the Plan as requested by the DNR. A public open house, held on 8-23-17 in Annandale, had about 150 attendees. OHare said the public comment received from that meeting, as well as what was received electronically, has been posted. That totals over 750 pages. The Program Evaluation section includes additional detail. OHare said the largest change is in response to the scope section of the 7-18-17 DNR letter. A section was added on what is expected of lake users. The last few changes relate to the monitoring requirements outlined in a document from the DNR and were added nearly verbatim.
Husom commented that although she did not read all of the comments, they were overwhelmingly in favor of the plan. The pilot is being watched by other Minnesota counties. A recent Star Tribune article on efforts to stop or slow down AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) was referenced. She said people have put a lot of time and money into research which has been going on for about a year.
Husom moved to adopt the resolution accepting the regional AIS Inspection Plan but then withdrew her motion as additional information was provided by OHare. OHare said one slight change in the Plan may occur due to Lake Pleasant having Eurasian Milfoil, as the Plan reflects Pleasant Lake is free of AIS.
Bob Meyer, DNR Assistant Commissioner, said Commissioner Landwehr wanted to make sure the County is aware that through Statute, the DNR is transferring to the County all legal, financial, and administrative responsibilities. He wanted to make sure the County is aware it is taking on all of the risk and requirements of the Plan. Some of the things outlined in Statute include inspection stations not creating traffic delays for the public, and no reduction in the capacity or hours of operation of the public access or fees that discourage use. The DNR wants to make sure the County is aware of what they are getting into and assuming all responsibilities for the Plan.
Meyer referenced comments that have been made from both sides of this topic. One comment is that infested lakes are being protected, as boats are being inspected prior to entering into infested water bodies. The public has questioned why boats are not being inspected prior to entering lakes that are not infested. Meyer said they will monitor the program over the next month and into next season. It is a daunting challenge but one the DNR is excited to see the County take on. They will work with the County on this program.
Husom said this program supports Statute and what is on the DNR website. Boaters are responsible to inspect watercraft after leaving a lake. Meyer replied that education is key. This will impact all docks, boat lifts, swimming platforms, and anything that is water-related equipment that will need to be inspected prior to entering a water body.
Vetsch asked for a point of contact for public questions. OHare said that questions can be directed to her regarding the Plan. Some questions may be referred to the DNR. She added that any new dock lifts or water related equipment should be inspected prior to entering the water. Inspection is not required for equipment that is stored along the shoreline and has not left the immediate area.
Public comment was then taken.
Reverend Mark Nordell, Lake Sylvia, commended the Commissioners for the work done and the support given to the lake associations. He thanked the Board and the DNR for moving forward. Nordell looks forward to having the decontamination station available next year.
Jim Kutzner, President of Clearwater Lake Property Owners Association. Kutzner spoke in favor of the Plan. Clearwater Lake has ramped up their efforts this year. Clearwater Lake Association is not a part of the Plan but is concerned with AIS. They hope to be part of this program in the future.
Kendall Kubasch, Howard Lake. Kubasch said he reviewed the documents but still had questions.
• Kubasch asked when the project will be reviewed to decide whether to continue. OHare stated the current Plan will be through October 31, 2017. A short report will be completed immediately after, with a more extensive report prior to 2018. It will be up to the DNR whether the program will operate in 2018 and whether there will be requested changes.
Kubasch asked what data is being gathered and how that is quantified to determine whether the program is successful or not. OHare emphasized this is a logistical pilot to figure out if this regional inspection program will operate. The focus will be on whether there are backups during high traffic times, can they trace the seals back to the accesses, violation percentages, and return rate of seals. These are a few of the items they will track. OHare said the primary goal will be whether the logistics of the Plan work (operations, staffing, and efficiencies). Those primary goals will reflect whether the pilot is successful or feasible. More detail is included in the Plan.
Borrell joined the Board Meeting at 9:36 A.M.
Vetsch said using September and October as a benchmark for data collection may not be a good representation of the average traffic flow. He suggested June, July and August as a better benchmark. OHare responded that a goal is to work through the pilot prior to Memorial Day so they can identify things which may need change.
• Kubasch referred to the public meeting held in Annandale. Residents attended with the idea that Commissioners and the DNR would be represented and there would be questions and discussion. That did not happen. He referenced the amount of people present at the Board Meeting today from the lake associations to support their cause. He said there is not good representation today for those who want other questions answered. .
• Kubasch referenced science and said any experiment requires a control group. He suggested use of historical data on the number of boats entering these lakes, if that data is available. It could then be compared with future data to see whether people are electing to go to other lakes because of the checkpoint. He did not feel a control group has been identified to see the change in impact.
• Kubasch asked about utilizing local law enforcement as the DNR will not be enforcing the Plan. Chief Deputy Todd Hoffman, Sheriff’s Office, viewed it as a statewide issue and not just a local issue. The Program will shift the responsibility away from a State agency whose sole purpose is natural resources and switches it to local law enforcement. Hoffman is unsure whether local law enforcement is adequately equipped as the Program hasn’t been started. He thought there were better ways of enforcement instead of using public safety licensed law enforcement officers. For example, the Parks Department could issue citations for ordinance violations. Hoffman said local ordinances do create potential issues for local law enforcement. There are expectations from the lake associations on enforcement efforts for AIS and the high water level ordinances. He hoped that during this initial phase things such as time, enforcement, and expectations of the public are considered. Hoffman restated that the County is taking on AIS for the State of Minnesota through the pilot. Daleiden responded that the pilot will show what works and what does not.
• Kubasch thought the focus should be on boaters exiting infested lakes. The money would be better spent on treatment and suggested using one of the lakes as a pilot in that fashion. OHare said they were advised by the Attorney’s Office that exit inspections would not hold up in court. That is the reason they are not included in the Plan. She hopes people will clean their boats following what is outlined in Statute and become responsible stewards of Minnesota waters. As far as treatment, she viewed Lake Koronis as the best example of treatment efforts for Starry Stonewort. There is funding from the Initiative Foundation for this project but there is not much funding available for treatment.
Aaron Sandquist, South Haven. Sandquist disagreed with Husom’s statement that this Plan is overwhelmingly supported. He reviewed the 750 pages of comments and there is not overwhelming support for this initiative. He referenced the Initiative Foundation funding. It is his understanding that funding comes from the Outdoor Heritage Fund which is to protect, restore and enhance fish and wildlife habitat. Sandquist said the logistical aspect of this plan does not do justice to the Outdoor Heritage Fund.
Sandquist read the article in the Star Tribune which addressed the issue of not being inconvenienced. He said there are a lot of inconvenient options that would do a lot more to stop the spread of AIS and those are being overlooked in favor of a more convenient plan that saves money for taxpayers and others. Sandquist urged the Board to revisit this and look for better plans that would stop the spread of AIS.
Daleiden asked Sandquist for an example. Sandquist suggested exit inspections at Lake Sylvia 100% of the time. He said that is currently being done in an informal way through watercraft inspectors. He questioned if equipment could be set up and paid for, and asked how that is legally different than what is being done now. Another suggestion would be to implement a pilot program on Wright County lakes that do not have invasive species to see whether it is effective in stopping the spread of AIS. Sandquist did not support using a plan just because something is better than nothing.
OHare said exit inspections could be done at Lake Sylvia and the decontamination unit could be placed there. However, she viewed that location as more inconvenient for boaters coming from other lakes that want to be decontaminated voluntarily. The courtesy decontaminations will open for all lakes in Wright County. She added that there are not enough decontamination units to place at exit points of lakes.
OHare stated although choosing lakes that don’t have AIS would be an option, they can’t put whether they become infested on the shoulders of this plan. Lake Koronis had Starry Stonewort potentially 3-5 years before it was detected. Just because a lake is under the plan, it doesn’t mean the plan wasn’t successful.
Bob Meyer, DNR Assistant Commissioner, has been involved with AIS efforts for many years. Studies were completed on a statewide inspection program and it proved to be very expensive. He viewed this effort as a group of people trying something different. The DNR is willing to work with the County to see what can be learned. If the County approves the Plan, the DNR will do so as well for the remainder of this year’s boating season. He expects the DNR will receive a 2018 Plan request this winter which can be reviewed and changes made based upon what has been learned. The plan could potentially run for half of a year. He viewed the pilot as more of a compliance inspection program as it is currently against the law to transport aquatic macrophytes or invasive species.
Meyer said the County will be monitoring the transient boater population and water related equipment for compliance with State law. The key is to determine how to protect the waters of the State while not inconveniencing users and lakeshore property owners. The DNR is willing to work with the County on moving forward. He said all have the same goal of protecting waters in the State of Minnesota.
Borrell referred to a letter from the DNR outlining things the DNR will not tolerate. For example, a 2.5 hour wait at the inspection site is unacceptable to the DNR. Borrell asked for options if the line becomes long such as those in line are allowed to bypass the inspection or a cursory inspection.
Meyer responded that the County’s Ordinance requires inspection prior to watercraft entering those water bodies. State statute requires adequate staffing to minimize wait times and to provide adequate hours of operation at inspection stations. An option would be to provide more people at peak times. Technically, without an inspection those people would be in violation of the County’s Ordinance. Borrell said the County may need to look at that part of the Ordinance to include language to address that potential. OHare said their evaluation process will be detailed and evaluated monthly.
Commissioner Potter joined the meeting at 9:57 A.M.
Chris Hector, President of Greater Lake Sylvia Association. Hector said the current DNR protocols for ramp inspections and required decontaminations allow for a 15-minute exception to delay a boater. The same standards apply with this Plan. In the guidance area of the DNR plans, it says to use best judgement and sets a time limit. A triage would be used at that point to get people through the lines and on their way. DNR Assistant Commissioner Bob Meyer said the DNR’s guidance recommends a delay or reasonable wait time, including travel time to the inspection station, of no more than half an hour. This will be evaluated and different protocols may need to be developed based on the information.
Commissioner Daleiden called for further public comment. Hearing none, discussion was resumed by the Board.
Borrell questioned the process used for changes to the Ordinance. Greg Kryzer, Assistant County Attorney, said any change to the Ordinance would require a public hearing and 10 days published notice. His recommendation was to approve the Plan for 2017 and any changes to the Ordinance could be presented during the winter. Borrell said he understands that inspectors are now using discretion on inspections and he feels it is wise if they have that latitude. He asked whether the Ordinance allows for that latitude. Kryzer said it comes down to the discretion of the inspectors who have been certified through the DNR. Borrell said is there is a long line, he understands they completed a more cursory inspection.
Borrell asked about the decontamination process and whether that is part of the Plan. Daleiden said that is a separate issue. OHare said the DNR needs to update their decontamination guidelines. Borrell stated he will support the Plan but will bring the topic back if it is not working.
Assistant Commissioner Bob Meyer restated that the plan before the Board is for the remainder of this boating season. They anticipate another application for 2018 which will be evaluated at that time. He thought the DNR would bring this back to the County Board for their approval. Commissioner Landwehr feels it is important that there is a public record of the acceptance and willingness to assume the liability and financial authority for this program. At that time, the proposal will be evaluated and discussions will include timing and dates, etc. The vote today would be for the remainder of the 2017 boating season.
Potter moved to adopt Resolution #17-44 accepting the Regional Aquatic Invasive Species Inspection Plan for East and West Lake Sylvia, Lake John, and Pleasant Lake. The motion was seconded by Husom and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
The Board Meeting recessed at 10:15 A.M. and reconvened at 10:22 A.M.
At today’s County Board Meeting, Husom made a motion to approve the Minutes and recommendations. The motion was seconded by Potter. Regarding the interview process that will be set up for the Ditch Coordinator Position, it was the consensus that two Commissioners will be involved. The motion to approve the Minutes carried 5-0. The Minutes follow:
I. Ditch Coordinator Position
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, distributed a document entitled, “2017 Staff Request” to illustrate the cost of wages and benefits to the County for this position (see attachment). He will encourage Department Heads and Managers to complete this form whenever they wish to illustrate the financial impact of position changes when presenting requests to the Personnel / Employee Relations Committee.
Hiivala said the Ditch Coordinator job description was reviewed and points were determined. Hiivala budgeted two months of salaries for the rest of 2017. Since no supervision is required, the Grade was set at 13. This position is not an engineer, but must understand the vernacular of surveyors and engineers.
Hiivala said there is a possibility that the future Ditch Coordinator could potentially start on 11-01-17. As previously discussed, the cost of this position is going to be split 50 percent to the County and 50 percent to the County Ditch System. He will ask the County Board for direction in the future regarding how costs related to this position will be allocated.
There was discussion regarding whether the County Commissioners wish to be involved with the interview process. Schawn Johnson, Human Resources Director, said they may be involved, as long as they are present at all interviews. Hiivala said he will ask the Commissioners to take part with second interviews.
Recommendation: Authorize advertising the Ditch Coordinator Position.
II. OTI To OTII Reclassification (HHS)
Christine Partlow, Health and Human Services Business Manager, requested permission to convert one Office Technician I (OTI) position to an Office Technician II (OTII) in the Fiscal, Technology & Support Unit that includes servicing the front desk. She distributed a document entitled, “Convert an OTI to an OTII in HHS – Fiscal, Technology & Support” (see attached). Over the last few years, ten OTI positions have been hired. Partlow said as soon as an opening occurs in another area, the OTI positions apply and are quickly promoted. From 2015 to 2017, the average time period that OTI personnel lasted in this area was 5.5 months. By that time, the OTI positions have just completed training, but not probation.
Partlow said the average vacancy is about sixty days, during which time work is shifted to other staff. There is about a $2.35 per hour pay differential. Partlow hopes that raising the position to a higher level will encourage staff to stay. There are five OTI positions at the front desk. Only one would be converted to an OTII. She hopes the potential OTII would create longevity and continuity at the front desk, and stay three to five years. The OTII would train new OTI staff and monitor work flow. Schwartz said it would be good to have someone with seniority on hand to deal with difficult people or situations. Johnson said he prefers to post positions both internally and externally to get the best candidate.
Recommendation: Approve reclassification of one Office Technician I position to an Office Technician II position in the Health and Human Services Fiscal, Technology & Support Unit.
(End of 9-13-17 Personnel/Employee Relations Committee Minutes)
Adopt Resolution Accepting The Findings Of Fact, Conclusions & Order For The Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) & Request A Negative Declaration For An Environmental Impact Statement
Kelly stated that at the 9-12-17 County Board Meeting, action was taken to adopt the Findings of Fact, Conclusions and Order for the Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) and to request a negative declaration for an Environmental Impact Statement for the Knife River/Naaktgeboren Gravel Pit. However, a resolution was not adopted and is required so it is being presented again to formalize the action in the proper format.
Vetsch moved to adopt Resolution #17-45 accepting the Findings of Fact, Conclusions and Order for the Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) and to request a negative declaration for an Environmental Impact Statement for the Knife River/Naaktgeboren Gravel Pit. The motion was seconded by Potter and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
1. AMC Fall Policy Committee, Breezy Point. Potter serves as Chair of the Transportation Policy and Infrastructure Committee. As next year is a gubernatorial election, there will not be a push with the legislature. He said the transportation plan is a continuing and ongoing process. This year will be more consensus building and information sharing. Vetsch also attended the Fall Policy Committee Meeting. He attended the General Government portion. Enbridge and the public utilities evaluations were discussed. It appears Enbridge may receive substantial money back and northern counties are getting more than their entire levy returned. Vetsch said it will be important to follow legislators in St. Paul and to be involved. Also discussed were dark stores and the trend to put minimum evaluation contracts in place on new box stores.
2. Buffalo City Council Meeting. Potter and Husom attended the Meeting regarding the new location of the Courts building at the Justice Center. The CUP and PUD were approved by the City Council. There will be questions related to sewer and water that will be addressed.
3. MEADA. Husom attended a meeting on 9-13-17. A $500 grant was approved for two schools for mentorship programs, Humphrey Elementary School (K-4) and Winsted Elementary School (K-4). A presentation was made by Court Services on Drug Court. There are 11 participants with felony level offenses. The next scheduled Drug Court is 9-21-17 at 1:30 P.M. Discussion included drugs and alcohol being amongst the top five issues of various categories in State Health. A potential grant is being looked at for an opioid prevention program.
4. Public Works Labor Management. Husom attended the last meeting. She said 140,000 tons of hot mix this year has been put down compared to a normal year of 80,000 tons. The prices are coming in good for salt but there is not a contract yet.
5. Meetings – Week of October 10th. Daleiden referenced the cancellation of the 10-10-17 Board Meeting due to five Tuesdays in the month. He noted that there is a HHS Board Meeting on 10-09-17 and Committee Meetings on 10-11-17. He said this topic should be discussed at the next Board Meeting.
6. Rural Association of MN Counties. Borrell had conversation with Dan Larson, Executive Director of the Rural Association of MN Counties. Previously, Wright County could not be a part of this group due to population but now that requirement has been dropped. The seven-county metro area is excluded. An invite letter will be sent to the County Coordinator. Borrell would like Board support to join that organization.
The meeting adjourned at 10:45 A.M.
Published in the Herald Journal Oct. 20, 2017.