WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
JULY 19, 2011
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, Thelen, and Eichelberg present.
On a motion by Thelen, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the 7-12-11 County Board Minutes.
Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows: Consent Item A5, “Refer To Ways & Means Committee Discussion RE: Drainage Tile Issue, Collinwood Park and Adjacent Drainage” (Mattson); Consent Item A6, “Approve & Authorize Signatures on Memorandum of Agreement, Teamsters Courthouse Unit, Donation Of Vacation Time For Employee” (Norman). On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Mattson, all voted to approve the Agenda as amended.
On a motion by Mattson, second by Thelen, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda with the two additions:
1. Performance Appraisals: K. Willis, Atty.; K. Crandall, C. Davis, IT; A. Fashant, P. Fladung, J. Hartmann, W. Locke, P. Mackie, R. Mossman, Sher./Corr.
2. O/T Report, Period Ending 7-08-11.
3. Approve Law Enforcement Contracts With Clearwater, Hanover, Maple Lake & Waverly.
4. Approve/Authorize Signatures On Memorandum Of Understanding With Teamsters Local No. 320, Courthouse Unit RE: Electronics Collection Day.
5. Refer To Ways & Means Committee Discussion RE: Drainage Tile Issue, Collinwood Park and Adjacent Drainage.
6. Approve & Authorize Signatures on Memorandum of Agreement, Teamsters Courthouse Unit, Donation Of Vacation Time For Employee.
1. Approve Signatures On Maintenance Agreement For The Otsego River Levee (Parcel 1).
1. Approve Annual On Sale Beer License Renewal For “Osowski’s Flea Market” (Monticello Twp.).
2. Approve Tobacco License For Kwik Trip #681 (St. Michael City).
D. COURT SERVICES
1. Refer To Building Committee Discussion RE: Continuation Of Rental Agreement Between District 877 and Wright County for wRight Choice Program.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented the June Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines for review. At 50% of the year, he said that overall budgets are right on (at about 45% of revenues and expenses in the General Fund). Richard Norman, County Coordinator, said that the next set of Guidelines will reflect corrections to the Building Care & Maintenance Budget. Upon review, it was found that claims to Center Point Energy were charged against the Utility Services Line Item and should be charged to the Fuel For Buildings Line Items. Hiivala said payments are funded as departments code them. Changes do occur that are not brought forth to the Board. This one was significant, so it was pointed out. On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Mattson, all voted to accept the June Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines.
Hiivala stated that every year, the Auditor’s Office receives several requests from people who want to buy/trade gold or jewelry. The requests never follow through to the point of asking for a license. The Auditor’s Office now has a request for a license for a person in Otsego. An application fee is not included in the Auditor/Treasurer’s Fee Schedule. State Statute 325F.733, Subd. 2, says each applicant shall pay to the treasurer of the county a license fee in an amount determined by the board of county commissioners of the county to be necessary to cover the expenses of administering this licensing function. Sherburne County charges $20 and Ramsey County charges $200. Hiivala recommended setting the fee at $20 to cover the cost of issuing the license. Norman referenced the Statute language and asked whether a public hearing is required. Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, said many statutes indicate that the board can set a fee after a public hearing is held. The other catch all Statute, Chapter 373, says if the County is providing services a fee can be set after a public hearing. However, this is not services, it is just paperwork. The person applying is buying/trading gold or jewelry and must hold onto it for 14 days before resale. After review of the Statute, Asleson does not feel a public hearing is required. Mattson asked about background checks for those that apply. Asleson said he would have to review Statute language but will follow State law in this regard. Sawatzke moved to set a Precious Metal License Fee of $20, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0. This fee will be added to the Auditor/Treasurer Fee Schedule.
Laid over from the 7-12-11 County Board Meeting, discussion was resumed on the appeal letter from the City of Delano relating to the outlet fee and conditions on County Ditch 34. Asleson presented an amended Order which outlines the communications addressing the City of Delano’s letter and supports the $20,000 outlet fee. Asleson said the revised Order contains findings that flesh out the factual situation that the Ditch will be handling more water from the industrial park once developed and shows a history of the City’s request. He referenced Item #2 on the last page reflecting that the funds that the City pays can be used for repair work for future redetermination of the Ditch. Eichelberg moved to approve the amended Order, seconded by Mattson. Asleson said the following changes will be made to the amended Order: Page 1, 2nd paragraph, noting that the County Board has reconsidered the matter at its meetings of July 12 and July 19; Page 3, Item 7, add a sentence reflecting the amount the City paid and when. Eichelberg and Mattson accepted these changes to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
The claims listing was reviewed. Mattson referenced the purchase of three Crown Victoria cars on Page 11 ($65,590.92) out of the Sheriff’s budget. He said that at today’s meeting, the Board will look at approving requests for hire through the Personnel Minutes and then later discuss internet services for Ney Nature Center. He felt these things should be discussed during the August budget sessions. He had concern with potential lay offs. Mattson moved to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0.
Greg Kryzer, Assistant County Attorney, requested a Closed Meeting for discussion of pending litigation, Mathiowetz Construction, Inc. v. Wright County. Thelen moved to schedule the Closed Session for 7-26-11 at 10:30 A.M. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0.
The State Board of Appeal and Equalization was held in Elk River on 6-16-11. Greg Kramber, Assessor, presented the 2010 State Board of Appeal and Equalization results. This is the ninth consecutive year Wright County did not experience any changes. Kramber said this speaks well of the work completed by staff. He distributed information reflecting compliance and how Wright County compares to other jurisdictions. This was provided as an informational item.
A Personnel Committee Meeting was held on 7-13-11. At today’s County Board Meeting, Sawatzke said that at the time of the Committee Meeting, the State had not worked out their budget. It is not necessarily worked out at this time. The programs through Human Services are almost all State and Federal programs. He said it may be hard for the County Board to take a position on whether to continue to fill positions when the State does not have a budget in place. Mattson said he felt that everything should move through the budget process, which is just about to start for 2012. He thought position replacements should be delayed until after the budget hearings. Sawatzke said the Senior Clerk position in Court Services was referred to the first meeting in October. The Board could consider doing the same with the position of Case Aide, if it opens up. Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes and recommendations with the exception of the Case Aide position. If that position opens, then the request for replacement should not be presented until at least the first Personnel Committee Meeting in September. That will be after budget sessions. The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried unanimously. The minutes of the meeting follow:
I. POSITION OPENINGS.
A. Social Worker.
Thimell distributed a handout (attached) describing the request to hire a Social Worker in the Adult Services Unit and the associated State and federal reimbursement for the position. The position is currently a combined waiver and adult protection position.
Thimell said the position is vacant and she would like to fill the position as soon as possible due to the revenue that is being lost. There will also be a position within Adult Services that will be vacant for three months starting in September.
Sawatzke referenced discussion at recent Human Services Board Meetings on the impact the State shutdown may have on various areas in the Human Services Department. He understood some counties may have sent lay off notices. At the meeting, the Human Services Director said he indicated to employees that may have seen a reduction in work to consider vacation or voluntary leave without pay. Sawatzke said either at that meeting or another Human Services Board Meeting that a presentation was made on proposed cuts and impacts on programs. He asked how the Social Worker position sits in relation to the fact that the State is shut down and there are unknowns related to funding.
Thimell explained that the position works with waivers, alternative care grants, and adult protection and vulnerable adult investigations. The waivers have been determined as a core essential service and are continuing. Although there is no legislative funding for the vulnerable adult investigations, they must be completed. Sawatzke asked whether there is an agreement between the Governor and Legislature on this type of grant. Thimell said that any funding through MMIS, where medical assistance is billed through, will be covered. Payments may be delayed. Thimell stated that 11 of the 12 Social Workers work with waivers so there is cross training. Social Workers are carrying case loads of 80, which is a high waiver case load. The current opening carries 59 because of VA investigations. Eichelberg felt he could support the request as it has been ruled an essential service. Sawatzke said he would support the request as well.
Recommendation: Authorize replacement (see additional discussion on this position under Item B, Financial Workers).
B. Financial Workers (2).
Schwartz distributed handouts (attached) reflecting the request to replace two vacant Financial Worker positions. One opening relates to a resignation effective 7-12-11. The other relates to the promotion of an employee from Financial Worker to Financial Assistance Supervisor in the Food Support/Health Care Unit. There is also one person on a leave until October.
Schwartz stated that caseloads have increased dramatically with 1000 more cases than last year in health care alone. Generally, Financial Worker positions are recouped at a minimum of 70% reimbursement (20% State and 50% Federal). The remainder is County funded. These are mandated services. The remaining 21 Financial Workers are carrying caseloads of about 300. Cases have increased by 200 since last month which equates to half of a full-time equivalent.
Sawatzke again referenced discussion at recent Human Services Board Meetings on the impact the State shutdown may have on various areas in the Human Services Department. He asked Schwartz if she were present at the meetings when the Human Services Director talked about employees using vacation and voluntary leave without pay as a way of easing the reduction in workload. Schwartz stated that this meeting was the first she has heard of this. She was unsure of the workload in Social Services but said their area is very busy and she anticipates the volume will increase. Schwartz said maybe the Director was conveying options in terms of if the State is shut down long term where services might have to be prioritized. Norman said that at the last Human Services Board Meeting, a handout was reviewed reflecting programs and what are considered to be non-essential services. He understood that staff in non-essential areas would be moved to work in areas that are essential for the short term. This included some Social Workers. Norman said the conclusion the Human Services Board came to at their last meeting was to work off of the Director’s Plan for the short term. Updates will be provided at each Human Services Board Meeting. The conclusion drawn was that the real analysis will be completed once the budget is set at the State level. Both the Governor and the Legislature have proposed significant cuts in Health and Human Services but the true impacts are unknown at this time.
Schwartz said a lot hinges on medical assistance. The GMAC Program was closed so people were shifted to the Federal Program. There are almost 200 more health care cases since last month. The closing of programs will increase cases. Some child care centers in the County have closed as they have not received their State payments. Those workers are applying for programs through the County. Norman said the County will need to perform a critical analysis of position openings in areas of the Legislature’s proposed budget that show significant cuts to program areas. Otherwise if the cuts remain, the County may end up hiring for positions that could be laid off in the future. Schwartz said there are proposed cuts to consolidated funding which is used to pay Central Minnesota Jobs & Training. Sawatzke referenced data received from the County Auditor (attached) reflecting cuts in County Program Aid and MVC. The anticipated total unallotment/reduction provided by the Auditor/Treasurer is $2,613,372. Sawatzke said these numbers may be speculative and was unsure where the Auditor/Treasurer obtained the data.
Sawatzke suggested that discussion on filling the two Financial Worker positions should be referred to the Human Services Board. He felt that filling of the Social Worker position should be referred there as well. He thought a more global discussion should be held on not only these positions but other positions within Human Services. Discussion followed on programs. Norman said the State has a $5 billion budget deficit. The County can’t continue to keep bailing the State out. Antl stated that the County also can’t let down the people of Wright County. Sawatzke said these are State and Federal programs, not County programs. At some point, the Federal government may walk away from these programs due to the debt. Schwartz stated that the people come to the County for these mandated services, not the State and Federal government. Sawatzke said as times become tougher, it places Commissioners in a more difficult position as they must also answer to constituents. He felt further discussion at the Human Services Board is warranted.
Recommendation: Forward request to replace the Financial Worker positions (2) and the Social Worker position to the 7-25-11 Human Services Board Meeting.
C. Property Appraiser.
Kramber requested approval to fill a Property Appraiser position that has been vacant since 7-01-11. The position provides services for Buffalo Township and Franklin Township and performs manufactured home assessments. The County holds assessment contracts with Buffalo Township for $10,000+ and with Franklin Township for $15,000+. The current contracts are for two years. The County bills about $400,000 in assessments for manufactured homes per year (not levy dollars). The position is fully funded through the two contracts and assessments. Kramber stated that he listened to the discussion with the other positions requested today and is hearing that workloads are becoming increasingly difficult due to the economic times. The Assessor’s Office used to have 15-20 tax court petitions per year and there are now 140. Staff also assists local appraisers. The Assessor’s Office has been impacted in recent years with Green Acres changes and staff assists with meetings to educate the public on those processes.
Sawatzke asked whether there are any statistics relating to parcels per appraiser. Kramber said the International Association of Assessments recommends 3,500 parcels per appraiser. It is typically easier to perform assessments in a city versus a township. Townships deal with more ag properties. In a city, 60 assessments may be completed in a day. In a township, maybe only 4-5 assessments are completed in a day. The open position does assist with permits in the City of Buffalo to help alleviate the workload of the person who completes assessments in Buffalo. Kramber said through the budget process, their office has utilized temporary help and overtime over the past five years. With the current workloads, he stated they should have at least one other appraiser in the office due to litigation and the complexity of the appraisals. In the past, the office dealt with growth. Now they are dealing with the same amount of parcels and also appeals. The Assessor’s Office has worked with the County Attorney’s Office on tax appeals and there has not been a trial in Wright County for the past couple of years. They have been able to support the valuation placed on most properties. Sawatzke said his observation in recent years is that the Assessor’s Office has experienced as much or more pressure than any other office.
Recommendation: Authorize replacement of position.
D. Senior Clerk, Court Services.
E. Probation Agent.
F. Case Aide, Court Services.
MacMillan stated that the Senior Clerk position will become vacant on 7-28-11 because of a retirement. The Probation Agent position became vacant last week. Case Aides are eligible to apply for the position of Probation Agent if they are capable and qualified. The process involves MacMillan recommending to the Judicial Bench that the Aide be moved to the position of Agent. Otherwise, applications are accepted from outside applicants.
Norman asked whether Probation Agents are State or County employees. MacMillan said the Court hires and selects the Agent for Board approval. If a Case Aide is qualified for the position, the process involves advertising internally. The Judicial District approves the recommendation and then it is brought to the County Board for approval. MacMillan said that because of the position the Board has taken on position openings, he was presenting the request before hand. If approved, he would offer the position internally and those that qualify would apply. MacMillan would then make a recommendation to the Bench. In the interest of savings, he would bring the Probation Agent in at the lowest step and hire an entry-level Case Aide. Norman again asked whether Probation Agents are State or County employees. MacMillan said they are considered State employees for the purposes of hiring and firing; they are considered County employees for pay equity reasons.
Sawatzke asked how many employees are in the Court Services Office and how many positions are vacant. MacMillan said there are 30 employees and no vacant positions. Sawatzke asked MacMillan to prioritize the three positions presented today. MacMillan said the Probation Agent positions are always the priority. MacMillan said the workload in the Court Services Office has been consistent and the revenues have remained stable. Their office has not been affected by the State shutdown. Grant funding and caseload reduction or reimbursement have not changed and are not projected to change. Revenues are at $400,000 on probation fees. Sawatzke asked whether the probation side of the budget has been approved. MacMillan said it has not but he has seen the figures and the reductions appear to be small. This can be covered by fees and other changes. Sawatzke asked if the reduction in crime has reduced workload. MacMillan responded that the workload in the programs Munson works with has increased. The adult side may be down slightly but a new Diversion Class was added.
Sawatzke said that Human Services is working with the same staff members as three years ago. One Supervisor position has been removed. Their case loads are up 50%-80%. Sawatzke said his point is that in Court Services, the same staff members are working with the same case loads. Sawatzke felt this was an opportunity for Court Services to share in the pain that the Board has applied to the other departments. MacMillan said he felt that had already shared by cutting their use of temporary help and overtime over the past few years. Sawatzke said Court Services has actually benefitted by not having anyone leave. As time has passed, the Board has scrutinized positions more closely. Sawatzke said if Court Services has 30 employees, his perspective was that for the time being they could get by with 29 employees. The 30th position will be in the mix but held open. MacMillan said that Case Aides and Agents are funded positions and are billed per offender. Sawatzke said there will still be the same number of offenders so there won’t be any loss in potential revenue. MacMillan said the impact of a reduction in staff has not been analyzed so that would have to be determined. All offenders will still be served. MacMillan said the cuts proposed by the Legislature appear to be less than 2% in funding for Court Services.
Sawatzke asked MacMillan which of the three positions he would choose to lay over to October. MacMillan responded that it would need to be the Senior Clerk. However, the clerical staff members provided him with a list of 20 items that need to be accomplished. He was fearful of clerical staff not being able to provide enough support. There will be 7 clerical staff to support the Office. Sawatzke said he would be more uncomfortable with the decision if the office had 3 clerical staff and they were being asked to be reduced to 2 or 1 clerical staff members. Sawatzke explained that the County Board receives requests for filling positions and they must face the public with their decisions. Over and over, he is asked how many employees have been laid off in Wright County. People are expecting the County to be leaner. MacMillan said Wright County has the 82nd lowest tax rate in the State. Sawatzke said that was 5 years ago. MacMillan felt the departments have lean budgets. He said he also receives negative comments from the public as well. He likes to promote the positive things that are being done. Sawatzke said in the last 2-3 years, Wright County had one of the highest levy increases. MacMillan said that does not mean residents are getting taxed that much. Sawatzke said part of the shift has been to commercial and agricultural land. Some agricultural landowners have experienced a 60% increase in their property taxes.
With regard to the Case Aide position, MacMillan asked that replacement be approved at this meeting. Sawatzke said to be consistent with what they have required of other departments, MacMillan will have to come back to the Committee at a future date with a request to replace that position. This is because the position is not vacant at this time so it cannot be acted upon. Sawatzke also viewed this as a money saving strategy.
Recommendation: Authorize replacement of the Probation Agent position. Lay discussion on the Senior Clerk position over to the first meeting of the Personnel Committee in October. If a Case Aide is promoted to the Probation Agent position, then that position request for replacement must be brought forth at a future Personnel Committee Meeting.
II. Performance Review, Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator.
Based on the review of five Performance Appraisals, the Committee recommends an overall rating of “Exceptional.”
(End of 7-13-11 Personnel Committee Minutes)
Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator, said Wright County has worked with HKGI to develop a County-wide Trail and Bikeway Plan. Grant funding was received through SHIP or Live Wright, which is a State-wide health improvement program. Greg Ingraham and Lil Leatham from HKGI presented an overview of the Plan. The goal is to create a comprehensive plan and guide for future County trail and bikeway development and help foster opportunities for active living. The request of the County Board today is to review and adopt the Wright County Trail and Bikeway Plan, as part of the County Transportation Plan and as a feature of the County Parks and Trail System. The process started last fall when a trail and bikeway evaluation was completed. The group then met with the County Board and Parks Commission. Partner input meetings were held with cities, townships, and the DNR. Open houses were held in Buffalo and Albertville. An online questionnaire was completed. This led to the draft Plan. A meeting was held with the County Board and Parks Commission in May to review the draft. It was then presented for community review in June, 2011. The Parks Commission has reviewed the final draft being presented today. The following summarizes the public input received:
• People want to use trails for walking, biking and hiking.
• They would like scenic, off-road paved trails in nature-in parks, along rivers and lakes.
• Trails should connect to nearby regional parks and trails.
• Improvements should be made to on-road bicycle safety and create loops.
• County trails should be connected to regional, city and township systems
The Plan includes off-road trails, wide shoulders, bike lanes, and greenways. The Plan recommendations and policies include:
• County commitment to creating a trails and bikeway system over time and with partners.
• Create trails and bikeways along natural resources: The Mississippi and Crow Rivers and around area lakes.
• Add hard surface trails in County parks (bituminous or aggregate).
• Continue to construct paved shoulders on any new roads and during reconstruction of County State Aid roads with +1,000 average daily vehicle trips.
• Add regional trail and bikeway connections to the Luce Line Trail, the future Crow River Trail proposed by Three River Park District and a future connection to the Lake Wobegon Trail.
• Designate a network of bike routes. •Create trailheads at key locations.
• Improve wayfinding by adding route signage and providing maps on-line and at trailheads.
• Consider cost sharing with cities for regional trails on County roads located within municipal boundaries.
The changes to the draft Plan reviewed in May include:
• Added a recommended regional trail along TH 55.
• Expanded Maintenance and Liability Practices.
• Revised (softened) Cost Sharing Policies.
• Refined the Priorities and Action Plan.
• Expanded Trail and Bikeway Standards.
Ingraham said the recommendation for a regional trail along TH 55 came from the City of Buffalo. He said that would largely be a Mn/DOT project. Thelen said the City of Buffalo adopted their Plan at last night’s City Council Meeting. One of the planners at that meeting said there was no trail planned along TH 55. Thelen questioned whether the draft County Plan was modified. Ingraham said the City requested a regional trail along TH 55 so it was changed in the County Plan. Thelen is a member of the State-wide Health Improvement Plan in Wright County, Live Wright, and is happy to see these results and the collaborative effort with the cities.
Thelen moved to adopt the final Wright County Trail & Bikeway Plan (Pathways to Active Living), seconded by Eichelberg. Russek felt trails are good but would like to see them utilized more than they are. Transportation funding is being lost and being used toward trails. He felt the funds would be better spent on roadways where motorists travel to work than for recreational trails. He thought the County should proceed carefully on where trails are placed so that they are well utilized. Ingraham said if there is a complete trail system, more people will utilize the trails. The goal is to make sure that the trails built in the future are those that people want to use. Russek referenced the CSAH 17 trail that connects the Luce Line to a trail that connects to Lake Rebecca Park. He rarely sees anyone use the trail and thought it was totally under utilized for the amount of money spent. Thelen responded that she lives near Ney Park and often sees people walking, biking and running. She feels the Lake Wobegon Trail is great for the communities located along the Trail.
Mattson referenced Page 15 of the draft Plan reflecting placing trails on County roads. He referenced the trail built along CR 12. At the time of that project, the County Board was told they couldn’t have trails on roadways. Now the County Board is being told this can occur. That could have saved over $500,000 with the CR 12 project. He questioned the liability to the County for an off-road trail versus a trail on the shoulder of a road. Ingraham explained they are trying to create a network with a combination of on-road bikeways and trails. There is a cost difference between on and off road trails and bikeways. A fair number of bicyclists do not feel comfortable riding on the street, even if there is a bikeway. Off-road is still preferred but they will need to be placed strategically. He said liability is not a question as bicyclists have a right to be on every road. Mattson referenced the Wright County Trail and Bikeway Questionnaire and Results. He said only 1% of Wright County residents participated in the survey so he did not feel it should be included in the Plan. Ingraham said it was a voluntary, web-based survey that was supplemented by meetings. Having 300 people participate in the planning effort was a fairly large response plus input was received from cities as well. The survey was not a large part of the decision making process. Mattson asked if the Board approves the Plan, whether the County is done with financially contributing or will there still be expenditures each month. Mattice stated that the County will not be contributing further toward the Plan. Mattson asked whether Mattice will come forth with any other requests for funding. Mattice said requests would be for implementation. The Plan has been completed and the funding was through the SHIP Grant.
Sawatzke referenced the web-based survey which was completed. This reflects that about 11% of those surveyed plan to use trails for commuting or errands. That leaves 89% of trail usage for recreation, exercise, and social experiences. Sawatzke referenced the proposed trail along TH 55 and said that trail would probably not be used for recreation, exercise, and social experiences. Ingraham said some would use it in that way. There would not necessarily be a continuous trail along TH 55. It would be a key piece in a loop. Several people in the County talked about the ability to have longer loops. Another consideration is that if Mn/DOT rebuilds a section, they will not voluntarily put a trail in if it is not in the County Plan. Sawatzke said his point is that only 11% use trails to get somewhere, the other 89% use it for recreation, exercise, and social experiences. He did not think trails should be placed on busy roads when they don’t provide for these experiences. People may be less inclined to use the trail and so it is viewed as though its purpose has failed. Ingraham said it is not necessarily a failure. Without the busier corridor connections, there is not continuity of trails in the County. He said the 11% figure for transportation purposes is a fairly accurate figure (seen in other communities as well).
Sawatzke referenced funding of trails. He felt the draft Plan puts the County in a situation where cities may request cost sharing from the County for trails located within cities. He pointed out that the County is responsible for trail funding outside of city limits and did not feel cities would assist with that funding. He said the pressure for trails comes from the cities because of population, yet the County is responsible for the majority of the funding. He said the County needs to be cautious on trails. Before a trail is built, it needs to be determined whether people will use it. Sawatzke referenced the Luce Line Trail which Russek stated is not used very much. Sawatzke referenced the off-road trail (not paved) along CR 12. Half of the people still use the shoulder of the road. Ingraham said the Luce Line Trail is not paved but it is on a separate corridor (not parallel to the road). He felt trails provide more flexibility and ability to use if they are paved. Sawatzke again referenced the language in the draft Plan that invites cities to ask for a cost share on trails. Ingraham said the language reflects cost sharing is a consideration but not an obligation. Sawatzke said the County recently received a request from a city in his District for funding assistance. They were told that the County has not funded trail connections and trails within cities and that the County would not assist with their request based on this past practice. Now, the Plan would suggest that the County is inviting requests for funding assistance. Sawatzke was unsure that the County would have funding available for this. Ingraham said the Plan changes the timing of the request. In order for the County to consider the request, the city must present the request at least three years in advance. That would be a fair amount of time to determine if funding is available. Ingraham said they see this as a 20+ year Plan. It will be resource based so implementation is much more likely to occur if there is funding available through grants, partnering, etc.
Sawatzke referenced Page 23, Item 1, “Wright County will consider cost sharing with cities, on a project by project basis, for regional trails and bikeways on County State Aid Highways and County Roads that are located within municipal boundaries.” He did not feel the language in the Plan should set the County up for these types of requests. Ingraham responded that the population and tax base are primarily within that area and did not view this as a city versus County thing. Sawatzke said the County and cities are all on the same team but there are limited resources.
Mattson stated the North Fork Greenway should be dropped. The Plan outlines this as linear green space for conservation and trail along the North Fork of the Crow River, and is envisioned as a long-term (+100 year) project to create a signature legacy feature in Wright County. The Greenway would be a preserved natural resource corridor along the River with paved and natural surface trails. Mattson said the North Fork flows through his property and has flooded 90% of it. He didn’t feel the time should be wasted on this effort. Ingraham said this would not be a continuous trail. He understood that flooding will occur in the wetlands and river. The trail will have to be moved out to the road in some areas. Russek said the South Fork of the Crow River is the same way. A trail could not be built due to low land.
Sawatzke referenced Page 23, Item 1a. He suggested removing the language “located within city boundaries.” Therefore, the revised 1a would read:
“Regional trails and regional bikeways as designated in the Wright County Trail and Bikeway Plan on County State Aid Highways and County Roads may be eligible for cost sharing. The County may also participate in cost sharing with the State or Federal government on regional trails or regional bikeways.”
Sawatzke referenced page 24, Item 7, and possible changes to the draft relating to funding for trails and bikeways with County CIP funds. He questioned whether the Plan should say this will be funded on an annual basis as part of the County’s CIP. In the past, funds have been approved on a project-by-project basis. Sawatzke suggested Item 7 be revised to read:
“Funding for trails and bikeways could be part of the County CIP. These funds could be supplemented with cost share funds, grant funds and other funds for use on trail and bikeway land/easement acquisition, construction, improvements and repair. The CIP funds can also be used in matching grants. Beside allocation of funding inclusion in the CIP this is important for coordination between departments, allocating matching funds for and applying for grants in advance of need, etc.”
Sawatzke referenced Page 23, Item 1b, relating to cost sharing requests. He did not feel language should necessarily be included in the Plan that would invite people to present cost share requests. Thelen said a cost share is occurring with the Bertram Chain of Lakes project and that does not marry the County to a cost share. She felt sometimes there is a good reason for cost sharing. Sawatzke said this would be a change in policy. Thelen asked what the County’s policy is. Sawatzke said cities fund portions within city limits. Thelen said this does not require the County to change. The language reflects that requests can be initiated by the County, a city, or another governmental agency. Mattice said the draft at one time included a funding percentage and that was taken out. He said the purpose of the language is so that a time frame is provided to anyone who may present a request for cost sharing. That way, the request is presented three years ahead instead of two months ahead of when it is needed. He said there are times when communities request assistance with grants for projects. The draft would allow the County Board to direct the Parks Administrator or County Engineer to assist in applying for grant funds or to budget within the County CIP any approved cost share. The suggestion first was to remove Item 1b. After further discussion, Sawatzke recommended leaving Item 1b in the document.
Sawatzke referenced page 23, Item 1, and suggested removing the language “that are located within municipal boundaries.” The revised 1 reads:
“Wright County will consider cost sharing with cities, on a project by project basis, for regional trails and bikeways on County State Aid Highways and County Roads. Priorities for potential cost sharing are to be based on the Implementation Plan, Priorities and Action Plan contained in Chapter 5 of this document, public good and availability of funds.”
Thelen and Eichelberg amended the motion approving the Plan to include the changes as outlined above to Page 23, Item 1; Page 23, Item 1a; and Page 24, Item 7. Item 1b on Page 23 will be left in the document. The motion carried 4-1 with Mattson casting the nay vote.
Russek brought forth discussion on internet service for the Ney Nature Center. He suggested this might be something to add because of the programming held at Ney Park through the Parks Department. Mattson said that once this service is expanded, more requests will come in (such as outlying shops, etc.). He felt it was an expense that was not needed. Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator, said the only way to access internet services at Ney Park is through an air time card with a laptop. Mattson asked how many years Ney Park has been operated. Mattice said it was built in 1994. The programming offered was expanded and has been very successful. They currently use a laptop as it is easier for power point presentations. Discussion to obtain internet service for Ney Park came about when the Leadership Team Retreat was being planned and it was learned that the service is not available. Mattice said an air time card is $14/month and can be used for the programming offered in the winter. That service could be canceled in the summer months. He estimated a cost of $60/month for high speed internet. Russek said he told others he would bring the request forward for consideration. The consensus of the County Board was not to proceed with internet service at Ney Park.
Norman presented a draft Budget Committee Of The Whole Schedule for the 2012 Budget process. After consideration, Sawatzke made a motion to establish the Budget Committee Of The Whole Schedule, amending the draft by rescheduling the 8-17-11 meetings to 8-15-11. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0.
The regular Committee Meeting dates are the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month. Sawatzke suggested that there only be one Committee Meeting date in August due to Budget sessions. Sawatzke made a motion to establish one Committee Meeting date of 8-17-11, and to cancel the Committee Meeting dates of 8-10-11 and 8-24-11. Eichelberg seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
AERCOR Wireless Inc. 5,744.53
American Tower Corporation 10,805.40
Annandale/City of 1,127.40
Aramark Services Inc. 5,911.24
Arctic Glacier Inc. 357.24
Buff N Glo Inc. 225.00
Buffalo Floral & Landscap 160.00
Buffalo Township 810.40
Bureau of Criminal Apprehe 350.00
Center Point Energy 891.39
Centra Sota Cooperative - E 4,238.69
Central Hydraulics Inc. 158.13
Climate Air 633.02
CMI Inc. 173.66
Corporate Payment System 159.83
CSI Distribution LLC 1,935.10
Dell Marketing LP 7,089.79
Design Electrical Contract 790.50
Edens Group 325.00
Elk River Ford 65,590.92
Ernst General Construc 26,403.58
Fibernet Monticello 359.80
Gale-Tec Engineering Inc. 3,319.00
Galls Inc. 728.52
Gopher State One Call 177.10
Gould Towing 177.41
Hardings Towing Inc. 518.35
Herald Journal Publishing 717.64
Hillyard Inc. - Minneapolis 1,698.03
Interstate Battery Systems 125.63
Junction Towing & Auto Rep 125.04
Karels Towing 323.83
Knife River 1,425,048.92
Knife River Corporation - No 370.32
Lana Nguyen 200.00
McQuay International 654.00
Mini Biff LLC 533.12
MN Assn. of Assessment Pers 275.00
MN Department of Labor & In 926.85
Monticello Auto Body Inc. 358.03
MTI Distributing Inc. 113.90
Neopost Inc. 555.15
Office Depot 1,236.68
Royal Tire Inc. 159.58
Russell Security Resource 567.13
Ruttgers Bay Lake Lodge Inc. 955.50
Safelite Fulfillment Inc. 310.86
St. Croix Solutions 4,447.59
Superior Striping Inc. 275.00
Toms Towing Service 197.71
Victor Township 629.40
Watchguard Electronic Ho 105.00
West Group Payment Center 835.80
Wright Hennepin Electric 203.39
20 Payments less than $100 946.20
Final total $1,592,869.03
The meeting adjourned at 10:17 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Aug. 8, 2011.