Wright County Board Minutes

OCTOBER 24, 2017
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Husom, Vetsch, Daleiden, Potter and Borrell present.
Husom moved to approve the Minutes, seconded by Potter. The motion carried 5-0.
Daleiden moved to approve the Agenda. Vetsch seconded the motion and it carried 5-0.
Daleiden moved to approve the Consent Agenda, seconded by Husom. The motion carried 5-0:
1. Approval Of 2018 Wright County Non-Union Benefit Contributions
1. Approve/Authorize Signatures On Law Enforcement Contracts, City Of Montrose
1. Authorize Attendance, Minnesota Drainage Workshop, 11-30-17, Arrowwood Conference Center, Alexandria
1. Authorize Attendance, Greater MSP Annual Meeting, 11-13-17, St. Paul
1. Authorize Attendance, Make It. MSP Summit, 10-27-17 @ 12:15 PM, Minneapolis
1. Acknowledge Warrants Issued Between 10-11-17 & 10-17-17
1. Position Replacement:
A. Deputy
Schedule Special Assessment Hearing For 11-28-17
Greg Kryzer, Assistant County Attorney, requested approval of a resolution setting a Special Assessment Hearing for 11-28-17 at 9:30 AM relating to the public health cleanup at 193 42nd St. NW, Montrose MN. Cleanup relates to a septic system compliance inspection at a cost of $535.00.
Husom moved to adopt Resolution #17-50 setting the Special Assessment Hearing for 11-28-17 at 9:30 A.M. for 193 42nd St. NW, Montrose MN. The motion was seconded by Potter and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Approve Resolution Of Final Acceptance For 2016 Pavement Preservation Contract & Authorize Final Payment Of $25,000
Potter moved to adopt Resolution #17-51, Resolution of Final Acceptance for the 2016 Pavement Preservation Contract and to authorize final payment of $25,000 to Knife River Corporation-North Central of Sauk Rapids, MN, Contract #1601. The motion was seconded by Vetsch and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Approve ADA Pedestrian Facilities Transition Plan for County Highway Rights of Way
Minnesota Counties are required to approve a transition plan to comply with Title II of the American with Disabilities Act for facilities within the County highway rights of way. MnDOT indicates future federal funding may be withheld from counties that are not in compliance with this Act. Hawkins said a public hearing was held and there were no public attendees. The law has been in existence since 1993 but many agencies haven’t enforced it. Improvements will be completed as part of reconstruction projects over a period of many years. The estimated cost if done separately would be $3-4 million. Some of the rural locations will never have a need because they will not have a sidewalk or trail.
Potter moved to approve the ADA Pedestrian Facilities Transition Plan for County Highway Rights of Way. The motion was seconded Daleiden and carried 5-0.
At today’s County Board Meeting, an overview of the minutes was provided. Vetsch moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Husom. Vetsch noted that more research needs to be done on how to bill medical assistance through Trailblazer. Borrell said he voiced his concerns at the COTW. Once concern is purchasing additional buses, as there are buses he sees without passengers and opposes the recommendation based on that. He said transit has run for many years without a cost to the County. This will now cost the County $700,000 and he said he can’t support that.
Daleiden clarified that the $600,000 in reserves remains and could get refunded to the County. It is designated for operations until WCAT is reimbursed by the State. As reserves build at Trailblazer, there is a possibility that the money could be received sooner. If Trailblazer goes defunct, the funding is returned to Wright County as the money is strictly for operations. With regard to buses, Vetsch said there is a funding opportunity that will be gone in the future. He suggested being proactive on the level of service at the start and to maximize WCAT’s contribution year one. Potter said Trailblazer has reports on ridership for every shift. He thought the empty buses could relate to shift changes. Vetsch said the key point is that Trailblazer banked about $180,000 in excess operating revenue over the past two years. There is an expected 240,000+ rides this year. Borrell was informed that the ride counts for aides may not be calculated properly. Vetsch will look into this further. The motion carried 4-1 with Borrell casting the nay vote. The minutes follow:
Vetsch said there have been numerous meetings with the Wright County Area Transportation (WCAT) Board. He referred to the initial version of the Wright County Area Transportation Joint Powers Agreement (attached). WCAT will review this draft, provide input, and return the second version to the County Board by November.
Vetsch said the Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) would give Wright County 50% of the weighted voting power for the WCAT Board. WCAT currently has two seats on the Trailblazer Transit Board. According to the JPA, a Wright County representative, appointed by the County Board, would fill one of them.
Wright County would pay 50% of the WCAT Board’s unfunded operating expenses and capital expenditures in 2018. In 2019, the County would pay 60% of the same expenses, 70% in 2020, 80% in 2021, and 90% in 2022. Each City would pay a proportionate share of the WCAT Board’s remaining unfunded operating expenses and capital expenditures, with a total cap of $100,000 for each year. The pro rata share for each City would be based upon the number of rides originating in the City during the prior year as compared to the total number of rides originating in all of the Cities during the prior year (the “Ride Share”). During 2022, or at such earlier point in time as agreed by all member governmental units, a transition plan would be agreed upon to govern WCAT going forward.
Vetsch said he wants to see how the first year fiscal transition goes. It’s possible the full transition to Wright County could be done within two years.
There was discussion regarding how much individual cities and WCAT as a whole have contributed. Vetsch said the challenge is finding a way to determine equitable contributions between entities. Vetsch said the State funds 85% of the operation, and 5% comes from ridership. That leaves 10% to the local share spread out between the cities. He said everywhere else in the State, regional transportation is managed by counties, and not cities.
Borrell said Trailblazer charges more for rides than River Rider did. Vetsch said Trailblazer provides more services.
Husom said there is a high demand for public transportation.
Vetsch said Risk Manager Tim Dahl had indicated it may be February before insurance could be put in place. Dahl said WCAT is a legal entity composed of cities, but is not insured. If WCAT continues to operate, he recommends that the County insure it. The process takes time. He is exploring insurance through the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust (MCIT) and the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC). Budgetary information and bylaws need to be provided to the carrier. Dahl said WCAT could possibly be dissolved in two to five years. If regional transportation then becomes a County function, there will be no need for additional coverage for WCAT, as current County insurance would take over. This could be stipulated in the JPA.
Borrell asked why the complete transfer of WCAT to the County couldn’t take place right away. Vetsch said the members of WCAT have invested a lot of effort and money in regional transportation. Asleson said a legal agreement is required to take over a legal entity. In this instance, the County would be taking over an entity that does not have insurance.
Husom suggested moving forward using 2018 as a transition year to iron out the details by 2019. Vetsch said WCAT members want to be involved over the next few years to assist in planning for future service needs, such as additional buses.
Potter said there are two different Joint Powers Agreements: One with WCAT, and one with Trailblazer. The transition to the WCAT JPA will allow time for details to be worked out. A new JPA between Trailblazer and the County won’t happen quickly. This is a critical year for transit with pending funding cuts. Potter said the transition should be done correctly so that both WCAT and Trailblazer are on board to ensure that an optimum level of State funding is received. Vetsch said if the County has a good service base for 2019, funding should be good for five years. Potter said WCAT should have at least 20 buses by 2018 (up from the current fleet of 14) to demonstrate to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) that there will be sufficient service for riders in the future. If that isn’t achieved, the County’s transit funding could plateau for years.
Vetsch said even with an 85 % subsidy, there are still costs to operate the regional transit system. WCAT needs $600,000 as the local share of operating expenses by 1-01-18. He explained that the money is a reserve account for expenses, and earns interest. Potter asked for an estimate of additional expenses that may be needed. The State requires 25% of the operating budget to be placed in an account. Enter said the money has to reside with Trailblazer.
Health & Human Services Director Jami Goodrum said her Department is currently paying a premium for Medical Assistance rides for clients. Her Department does not have the time to arrange rides or bill Medical Assistance for small transportation providers. She said Health & Human Services supports a more robust transportation infrastructure.
Vetsch said the JPA would dissolve by 12-31-22. Potter said if things go well, this could easily be done sooner. Vetsch asked the other Commissioners whether they were comfortable allocating the $600,000 to WCAT on 1-01-18, even though there may be no insurance coverage until February. Dahl said the biggest risk is a liability claim, such as misappropriation or discrimination. The worst case would be an uncovered claim, in which case the entities would have to agree on sharing any incurred costs. Although the individual entities within WCAT are insured, the entity comprised of the group would not automatically be covered.
Vetsch said ideally the WCAT Board will vote on the JPA in November, the member cities will vote, and then the County Board. After that, it will be sent to Trailblazer for their approval.
Potter recommended that the Board authorize $600,000 in a reserve account for operations, plus $100,000 additional as necessary for 2018. County Coordinator Lee Kelly said the money will be pulled from reserves, as the 2018 budget has already been set. The consensus was that Potter and Vetsch will serve as liaisons to WCAT.
1. Authorize allocation of $700,000 to WCAT for 2018 ($600,000 in a reserve account for operations, plus $100,000 additional as necessary);
2. Potter and Vetsch will work with WCAT as representatives of the County Board; and
3. Move forward with the current draft of the Wright County Area Transportation Joint Powers Agreement, with modifications as necessary.
(End of 10-19-17 Committee Of The Whole Minutes)
Lee Kelly, County Coordinator, said in past years one single committee date has been set for the months of November and December.
On a motion by Daleiden, second by Husom, all voted to set 11-15-17 and 12-13-17 as Committee dates for November and December, noting that the other regularly scheduled committee dates are cancelled.
Kelly said the salaries of the Attorney, Auditor/Treasurer, and Sheriff (elected officials) are set annually by Statute. In addition, the minimum salaries of the three positions must be set for 2018 as it is an election year.
Potter moved to schedule a Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting for 11-21-17 at 10:30 AM. The motion was seconded by Vetsch and carried 5-0.
On a motion by Potter, second by Husom, all voted to set the meeting for 11-14-17 at 1:30 P.M. The Commissioners have drawings for review, based on a 20-year period. Commissioners discussed that 5 years is too short of a payback period. Daleiden asked for a comparison on current versus proposed square footage for departments. Vetsch asked for clarification on what “staff support space” relates to in the drawings. Kelly said some of the space is currently unassigned and could include conference rooms, break rooms, or janitorial space, etc. That will be discussed further as they move into the schematic design phase. The motion carried 5-0.
1. I-94 Coalition. Potter attended the meeting in Rogers on 10-19-17. Discussion included the Washington Fly In and efforts to network with assistants to Congressman Jason Lewis. The City of Maple Grove indicated that the Hwy. 610 extension to Hwy. 55 was included in the Wright County transportation plan adopted in 1994 and 2004. The City asked that the study maps be updated and included in case the Legislature does something with funding.
2. Corridors of Commerce. Potter said it appears that MnDOT and the State Legislature is looking to release Corridors of Commerce funding in a lump sum instead of smaller amounts over a 4-year period. This is good for I-94 because of the $71 million cost for the St. Michael to Albertville project. MnDOT will proceed with public input for screening criteria as required by the Legislature. Also discussed were the freight application updates and transportation/economic development updates.
3. Economic Development Partnership. Potter met with the group in Waverly. As there was not a quorum, no business was conducted. The EDP has a video on their website relating to what makes Wright County great. Potter suggested the video or a link be added to the County’s website. Potter said the EDP plans to raise private funding for MSP membership to address Borrell’s concerns about use of public funding. MSP membership dues are paid through 7-01-17. The City of Buffalo recently became a member of the EDP.
4. AMC District 5 Meeting. Potter attended the meeting in Center City where several presentations were made, including one on jail accreditation in Sherburne County. Potter provided a Wright County update at the meeting. Wright County has the highest preliminary levy increase for 2018 compared to others in the District, but also has by far the highest growth. The 2019 AMC Annual Meeting will be held in Bloomington. The Legislative Session starts on 2-20-17 and will be a short session. Legislative previews will be held on 2-28-17 and 3-01-17.
5. Annandale Safe Schools Meeting. Husom attended the meeting last week. Enrollment is up and they are off to a good start. Safe Schools Meetings are in their 20th year. Husom viewed this as a great way to provide input from all schools.
6. Law Library. The Law Library set their budget for 2018. Staff has been working with BKV on furniture configurations for the new location at the Courts Facility. Husom conveyed appreciation to attorneys who volunteer to provide legal assistance to those who may not be able to afford an attorney.
7. SWCD Tour. Borrell attended the tour on 10-18-17 which included soil erosion basin projects, one of which is located by Cokato Lake Campgrounds. That project helped to alleviate flooding problems. The group also toured the limestone filtration system at Mink Somers Lake. The system provides a 90% reduction in phosphorus. Borrell noted that the system cannot handle increased capacities such as during large rain events.
8. Website Redesign. Daleiden met with a small group on the redesign of the website. Public survey responses were reviewed. Top searches include the Jail, employment, and the GIS Beacon program. The new website will be designed to be app-friendly with phones and tablets.
9. Pelican Lake. Daleiden was in contact with Fred Bengtson, DNR, on the status of the water levels at Pelican Lake. The DNR started outletting in December, 2014, and this summer removed about 2’ of water. The lake level is at about 950.9’. The DNR plans to drop the lake level an additional 4’ to 946.0’ over 2-3 years. The lake will naturally return to 950.7 over time and will be maintained at that level. Improved water quality is being seen. About 160 vehicles were observed in this area for the waterfowl opener, which is an increase from what has been seen in the past.
10. Monticello Nuclear Power Plant. Vetsch toured the facility about 1.5 weeks ago with legislators. Xcel Energy will be completing a survey from 2019-2022, and report in 2022 the future of the plant. Options including lobbying for a license extension or closing of the facility. Vetsch said it is important to look at the number of people Excel employs and the energy produced. The plant will be at its 60-year mark in 2030. Other energy companies (not Excel) have extended plants out 80-90 years. Discussion followed on the use of nuclear energy as it compares to other sources. Potter encouraged a tour of MISO (Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator) which manages a large portion of the bulk electric system in the central and upper Midwest.
11. Monticello Safe Schools. Vetsch attended a recent meeting and met Dr. Michael Favor, the new Monticello School District Superintendent. Vetsch said Favor will be a great addition to the Monticello School District.
The meeting adjourned at 10:04 A.M.
Published in the Herald Journal Nov. 17, 2017.