Wright County Board Minutes

APRIL 3, 2012
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, Thelen, and Eichelberg present.
Eichelberg moved to approve the 3-27-12 County Board minutes, seconded by Russek. Russek asked that the following correction be made to Page 5, 3rd paragraph, 1st line, change from “Change To Grow Project” to “Chance To Grow Project.” The motion to approve the minutes as corrected carried unanimously.
On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Russek, all voted to approve the Agenda as presented.
On a motion by Russek, second by Mattson, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: E. Liberato, Atty.; C. Pearson, Aud./Treas.; C. Barthel, R. Burns, M. Gasper, R. Hagel, A. Pulvermacher, W. Vogel, Bldg. Maint.; C. Mueller, R. Thompson, M. Woodford, P&Z; C. Graham, J. Hall, Sher./Corr.
2. 2011 Training Reports.
3. Approve Charitable Gambling Application Form LG220, St. John’s Church, St. John’s Education Center, 17260 Hwy. 12, Cokato MN 55321 (Cokato Twp.).
4. Approve Memorandum Of Understanding With I.U.O.E. Local No. 49 RE: Work Schedules.
5. Approve Memorandum Of Understanding With I.U.O.E. Local No. 49 RE: Wright County Fair.
6. Tri County Regional Forensic Laboratory Report, Feb., 2012, & Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes Of 11-02-11.
1. Approve Abatement, PID #109-400-000010, C&H Ag Service.
1. Approve Renewal Of Seasonal On Sale 3.2 Malt Liquor License For Clearwater Lions Club (Clearwater Twp.).
Mary Bauer, Initiative Foundation Development Officer, and Judie Rose, former Wright County Commissioner and past Initiative Foundation Board Member, presented a plaque to Wright County in recognition of the charitable investments over the past five years. Bauer read a letter from the Initiative Foundation. From 2007 to 2011, Wright County contributed $28,000 to the Foundation’s permanent endowment. The funds were doubled by a matching contribution from The McKnight Foundation. The Initiative Foundation is committed to economic growth and recovery and invests in locally owned businesses, secure quality jobs, partners with governments and non-profits, supports children and families, advances local philanthropy, and engages people from all walks of life in achieving a brighter future. The plaque honors the partnership in building a thriving community and a strong economy. In 2011, the Foundation raised more than $13.8 million to build thriving communities and a strong economy in central Minnesota. To celebrate both milestones, they commissioned a Commemorative Wall that depicts a classic downtown and 25 symbols of regional impact, along with the donor names. The plaque employs the same theme, colors, and raw clay as was utilized in the 25th Anniversary Commemorative Wall. Bauer said that the County was given a 25th Anniversary book put out by the McKnight Foundation which provides details about the Foundation. Thelen extended appreciation to Bauer, Rose, and the Foundation for all they have done in giving back to the Community. She viewed this as a worthwhile investment.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, requested approval of an On Sale 3.2 Malt Liquor License for Whispering Pines Golf Course in Corinna Township, as submitted by WPGS Acquisitions LLC (new owner) for the period of 4-03-12 through 6-30-13. Hiivala said that liquor license renewals are normally approved as part of the Consent Agenda. When there is a new license/new owner, the request for approval is placed on the regular Agenda. On a motion by Mattson, second by Russek, all voted to approve the Liquor License as requested.
Hiivala requested approval of an Annual On Sale 3.2 Malt Liquor License for Olson’s Truck Stop in Silver Creek Township as submitted by David M. Olson (new owner). Eichelberg moved to approve the License, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0.
Hiivala presented the 3-27-12 Ditch 10 Committee Minutes for approval. He said the Ditch Committee reconvened today. Hiivala asked whether those minutes and the recommendation from that meeting could be discussed today. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, stated that as there is an action item recommended, it should have been petitioned on at the beginning of today’s Board Meeting as an Agenda item. Mattson moved to approve the 3-27-12 Ditch 10 Committee Minutes, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0. Hiivala said that he will present the 4-03-12 Ditch 10 Minutes and a copy of the proposal for work on Ditch 10 at the next County Board Meeting. The minutes from the 3-27-12 Committee Meeting follow:
The purpose of the meeting was to review the engineering proposals received from Houston Engineering and Wenck for work on County Ditch 10. The proposals were reviewed and both addressed the main scope of work, that being quantifying the impact on Lake Anne if the repair work was done. Houston did not bid the alternate scope which was extending an outlet out of Lake Emma. Kerry and Joe reviewed the proposals for process of how the engineers would make their recommendations. They asked for time to review the proposals. The recommendation from the Committee was to give Kerry and Joe additional time to review the proposals. The meeting was recessed until Tuesday (April 3, 2012) at 8:30 in the A/T conference room.
(End of 3-27-12 Ditch 10 Committee Minutes)
Part of the Auditor/Treasurer’s Agenda items was to schedule a Joint Ditch 14 Committee Meeting. Hiivala has been in contact with Meeker County about scheduling a Meeting for 4-12-12 at 7:00 P.M. Hiivala stated there was a misunderstanding and it is premature to call a meeting. More time is needed to determine the scope of the repairs needed. Hiivala will contact Meeker County to inform them of this. No action was taken.
On a motion by Mattson, second by Russek, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.
Bill Swing, Information Technology Director, said the formation of a Broadband Task Force was discussed at the last County Board Meeting. He was directed to compile a list of potential members for review at today’s Meeting. Swing presented the following names for consideration: Chris Shinnick (City of Buffalo); Jennifer Wothe (City of Clearwater); Mark Weigle (City of St. Michael); Bob Derus (City of Annandale); Jeff O’Neill (City of Monticello); Dwight Hammer (Albion Township); Tom Schuveiller (Chatham Township); Nancy Kopff (Monticello Township); Tom McGreger (Public); Ted LaFrance (Wright Economic Development Partnership); Lee Kelly (Wright County Special Projects Administrator); and Bill Swing (Wright County IT Director). Swing said the first Broadband Task Force Meeting will be held on 4-18-12 at 1:30 P.M., in Meeting Room C118 at the Wright County Government Center. Russek said last week, Sawatzke asked that Larry Hance be contacted as a potential member. Swing said an email was sent to Hance but he had not been in contact with him. Swing said that the Board will be updated with information/recommendations from the Task Force. It will be an ad hoc committee that is temporary for the investigation of this topic. Per diems will not be paid. Eichelberg made a motion to approve the Broadband Task Force membership as presented and to schedule their first meeting for 4-18-12 at 1:30 P.M. in Room C118 of the Wright County Government Center. The motion was seconded by Sawatzke and carried unanimously.
Greg Kramber, Assessor, said the Assessor’s Office utilizes four retired squad cars for department use (2004, 2006, 2007, and 2008 Ford Crown Victoria’s). Kramber asked for approval to acquire an additional vehicle prior to the County Auction. He would also like to have Highway Maintenance review the existing vehicles used by the Assessor’s Office to see if upgrades are recommended. If so, any vehicles replaced will be sent to County Auction. Russek asked whether the Assessor’s Office has considered a lighter model vehicle instead of the squad cars. Kramber said he would be open to that option. They like utilizing the former squad cars as staff members are recognizable in the field because of the Wright County logo. Russek moved to approve the request of the Assessor to acquire an additional vehicle and to upgrade existing vehicles if recommended. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg. Sawatzke clarified that the motion does not authorize the purchase of a vehicle. Vehicles will be selected from those that are being sent to the County Auction. The Department has experienced savings in travel reimbursement by utilizing these vehicles instead of employees using their personal vehicles. The motion carried 5-0.
Greg Kryzer, Assistant County Attorney, brought forth discussion on procedures for enacting a permanent Slow-No Wake Ordinance in Wright County. He said last summer was unique in terms of high water and a number of lakes experienced record water levels. As a result, the County enacted an Emergency Ordinance. At that time, the County indicated they would move forward with consideration of a permanent Slow-No Wake Ordinance. Kryzer said the process has taken longer than anticipated. Those involved with the temporary Ordinance last year worked through some of the problems and deficiencies that occurred. The following procedures were adopted by the Wright County Attorney’s Office:
The Wright County Attorney’s Office has adopted the following procedures for enacting a permanent no-wake ordinance in Wright County. The purpose of this policy is to create consistency and uniformity in adopting a permanent Slow-No Wake zone for all lakes. Lakes which border Wright County will require a Joint Powers Agreement with a neighboring county. All border lakes should still follow these procedures but must understand that consideration by the Wright County Board may be delayed or postponed. Lakes located entirely within an incorporated (city) area are not eligible to be part of the ordinance.
To be part of the permanent Slow-No Wake Ordinance, lakes must meet or follow these requirements and procedures:
1. The participating lake must have an active lake association. Lakes without an active association can still petition for a seasonal no-wake zone but are ineligible for a high water no-wake zone.
2. All associations and persons interested in being included in the permanent Slow-No Wake Ordinance are encouraged to read the rules and regulations provided by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The Water Surface Use Manual can be obtained by contacting Assistant County Attorney Greg Kryzer at (office) 763-682-7340 or (email) greg.kryzer@co.wright.mn.us. The Water Surface Use Manual can also be found at http://www.co.wright.mn.us/department/attorney/usefullinks.asp
3. There are two types of slow no-wake conditions which will be specified within the ordinance. Participating lakes can select either or both of the following types of no-wake zones:
A. A seasonal slow no-wake zone from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day. This zone can be either 100 or 150 feet from shore. It will be in effect regardless of the lake elevation.
B. A high water slow no-wake zone which will place restrictions on wakes in the event of high water. This slow no-wake zone can be up to 300 feet from the shore.
4. For either or both types of no-wake conditions as specified in paragraph 3, you will need to complete or agree to the following:
For a Seasonal Slow No-Wake Zone the following items will need to be completed:
A. Establish the size of the no-wake zone. The no-wake zone can be either 100 or 150 feet from the shore.
B. Complete the DNR Water Surface Use Worksheet. This worksheet is included in the Water Surface Use Manual described in paragraph 2 above. The Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) can provide assistance in completing this worksheet by contacting Joe Jacobs at 763-682-1970. The worksheet must be reviewed by the SWCD prior to submitting it to the Wright County Attorney’s Office for possible inclusion.
C. After review by the SWCD you must submit the proposed no-wake regulations and their DNR Water Surface Use Worksheet to Assistant County Attorney Greg Kryzer for an informal review. All submissions must be filed with the County Attorney’s Office by May 15, 2012. The County Attorney’s Office is located 10 2nd Street N.W., Room 400, Buffalo, MN 55313.
For a High Water Slow No-Wake Zone the following items will need to be completed:
A. Establish the lake elevation at which you want the High Water Slow No-Wake Zone to go into effect.
B. Complete the DNR Water Surface Use Worksheet. This worksheet is included in the Water Surface Use Manual described in paragraph 2 above. The Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District (WCSD) can provide assistance in completing this worksheet by contacting Joe Jacobs at 763-682-1970. The worksheet must be reviewed by the SWCD prior to submitting it to the Wright County Attorney’s Office for possible inclusion.
C. After review by SWCD, the lake association must submit their proposed no-wake regulations and their DNR Water Surface Use Worksheet to Assistant County Attorney Greg Kryzer for an informal review. All submission must be submitted to the County Attorney’s Office by May 15, 2012. The County Attorney’s Office is located 10 2nd Street N.W., Room 400, Buffalo, MN 55313
5. After informal approval from the County Attorney’s Office, the proposed regulations must be reviewed by all of the townships in which the lakes are either entirely or partially located. To do so:
A. The lake association must contact the township clerk(s) prior to their regular township board of supervisors meeting and asked to be placed on the agenda.
B. The township must vote to either recommend approval or denial.
C. Prior to leaving the Township meeting, please ask that the Township Clerk submit a response form to Greg Kryzer in the Wright County Attorney’s Office.
6. All lakes associations and persons who have followed these procedures will be included in the proposed ordinance. The Wright County Board of Commissioners will most likely hold a public hearing and review the proposed ordinance on July 17, 2012.
7. This process will extend into the 2012 boating season. The Wright Count Board of Commissioners has the authority, in the event it is needed, to implement an emergency slow no-wake ordinance while the permanent process described above is pending.
(End of Procedures for Enacting a Permanent No-Wake Ordinance)
Kryzer is not looking for County Board approval. He wanted to provide an announcement of procedures that the County is looking at. A public hearing may be held in July. Thelen asked whether the procedures document has been forwarded to the Lake Associations. Kryzer felt it had. He said Thelen has sent it to quite a few people and that Joe Jacobs, SWCD, has been distributing copies through the coalition of lake associations. Today’s discussion will provide another method of announcement to the public. They would like as much involvement up front in an effort to avoid amendments every year. Thelen asked about the different types of no wake-ordinances. Kryzer explained there are two types. The first is a seasonal no-wake ordinance that would run from Memorial Day through Labor Day and involves a no-wake zone between 100-150 feet from the shore line. The second is an emergency slow-no wake which would be 300’ from the shore line. In that instance, they would want the Lake Association to tell the County at what level they want it to be effective. Thelen asked if the procedures are subject to change based on public input. Kryzer felt that was the case. Thelen extended appreciation to Kryzer for his efforts. A lot of work has been involved in figuring out the gauges.
Ron Elsner, Chair of the Sugar Lake Association, said the Association received a copy of the procedures as well as the DNR surface use management rules. Reading the procedures, he understands there are two decisions. The first will be to decide whether to participate in the program. The second relates to the terms of the ordinance. Elsner said having the worksheet completed by May 15th will be problematic for the Sugar Lake Association as their Board only meets one time prior to that date. He said the Lake Association could decide at their April meeting whether to participate and then they will need to discuss terms of the proposed ordinance to be submitted with their worksheet. The DNR rules reflect that language for the proposed ordinance needs to be part of the worksheet. Elsner feels this will take two meetings of the Lake Association to complete and said the earliest they could have their worksheet completed is around May 25th. He said the worksheet reflects that other information to be included is a description of public hearings held regarding proposed controls, including an account of the statement of each person testifying. Elsner said his understanding is that it is required to be submitted with their worksheet by May 15th. He questioned the process to be used if the public hearings are to be held by the Lake Association.
Kryzer said the date of May 15th is being used to get the process going. He will work with the lake associations on this deadline as needed. Kryzer said his hope was to have a permanent process in place already so the DNR could start their review. The point of having the lake associations complete the worksheet is that Kryzer does not know the details of each lake (soil types, vegetation, etc.) as the local residents do. The public hearing will be held by the County Board. Thelen suggested that Kryzer inform the lake associations that he will work with them on the May 15th deadline if needed. Elsner said that the Sugar Lake Association appreciates being part of the process. They will contact Kryzer on any clarifications they need.
John Swanson, Lake Sylvia, referenced the high water levels last year. He viewed enforcement by the Sheriff’s Office as the largest problem that occurred. Residents on the Lake were told it was because they did not have a permanent water level gauge. They worked with the DNR to enhance the gauge by stabilizing it with 17’ stakes. According to the Sheriff’s Office, that still was not permanent enough. Swanson said feedback was received from lake residents and others on use of the lake and the lack of enforcement. He serves on the water patrol for the Lake, but didn’t put in as many hours as normal because of this lack of backup for enforcement. He asked if a decision has been made on the water level gauges and how that will apply if Lake Sylvia does not get a permanent gauge. Swanson said without enforcement, there doesn’t need to be an ordinance.
Thelen said it appears they have a solution for gauges that meets the requirements set forth by the Sheriff’s Office and County Attorney. It will also involve working with the Surveyor’s Office. Kryzer said that has been part of the delay. He is looking at alternatives for gauges and should know more by May 15th, but said there should be an ordinance in place in the event of high water. Thelen said they will also work with the Sheriff’s Office on enforcement. Lt. Todd Hoffman, Sheriff’s Office, referenced comments made about enforcement last year. One of the enforcement issues involved the gauge. Enforcement was based on a direct statement from the MN DNR that their gauges were not to be used for enforcement purposes. He said it was not a problem of Wright County not wanting to provide enforcement; it was a problem with enforcement via the MN DNR’s Office. He feels they have come up with a solution in this regard.
Thelen asked Kryzer whether a lake without a lake association can implement a seasonal slow-no wake ordinance. Kryzer said that if a lake has interest in doing this, they should try to obtain a general consensus of lake residents prior to moving forward.
Kryzer said discussion today is informational and no action is required.
A Deferred Compensation Committee Meeting was held on 3-28-12. At today’s County Board Meeting, Sawatzke clarified that the Deferred Compensation Plan involves employees investing their own funds into an IRS approved retirement plan. There are no County dollars involved. About 20% of the employees participate in the Plan. Sawatzke said at the time of the meeting, it was decided that Hiivala was going to contact other counties using this Plan to clarify details and to determine whether they agree with the way Wright County is interpreting them. He asked Norman if Hiivala has done this. Norman was unsure. Norman felt the Board could approve the minutes contingent upon Hiivala’s review in getting those questions answered. If there are issues, Hiivala can bring them back to the Board. Sawatzke made a motion to approve the minutes and recommendations contingent upon review by Hiivala. If Hiivala’s review is positive, then the procedures can be implemented. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 4-0 (Mattson absent).
Roth 457 Plan.
Hiivala distributed a document entitled, “Specimen, Section 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan, Governmental Employers.” He said this is the current Plan adopted by the County (see attached). He also distributed a document titled, “The Employer’s Guide – How to administer the MNDCP Roth after-tax option” (see attached).
Norman said this after-tax Roth option went into effective 1-01-12. The County would need to modify its existing Plan in order to implement this option if approved. Yee said Valic has a short document that amends the Plan, explains the rules for Roth contributions, and requires a signature. Norman asked whether that document is comprised of boilerplate language not specific to Valic (as the County also has other providers in addition to Valic). Yee said the language is not specific to Valic and is adopted from Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules. Hiivala said if the County Board approves the Roth option, the short amendment form could be sent to all County providers to inform them that Roth contributions are now an option.
Norman said MNDCP (Minnesota Deferred Compensation Plan) is the State Plan. Sawatzke asked whether other companies would provide similar information as the MNDCP document. Yee said the MNDCP document was written by that organization, but the rules apply to all.
Sawatzke said the document mentions ING Sponsor Connect Payroll Administration, whom the County does not utilize. Hiivala agreed. He did not know the ramifications involved with providing a Roth option initially. Hiivala said withholdings from employees will go from the County to the provider. He was not sure who reports to employees regarding how much they have contributed to their Roth accounts. He believes the County will include that on employee W-2 forms. Sawatzke noted the MNDCP Employer’s Guide states contributions are entered in Box 12 of the W-2 form. Hiivala said he needs more information regarding how providing this option will affect the County.
Sawatzke asked whether anyone has requested a Roth option, and asked for a summary of the advantages. Hiivala said Theis and Dougherty contacted his office, saying their employees would like to participate. Hiivala said there are limitations to the Roth, but when combined with other options, would provide an array of services to County employees. Sawatzke asked whether the County has employees who have contributed the maximum allowable amount to their other accounts. Yee said it is possible to do so. For example, with a regular pre-tax 457(b) account, employees may contribute as much as $17,000 per year.
The Roth option, however, has varying income limits. The employee receives distributions tax-free after age 70.5, although they are not required to start taking distributions at that age. The money may stay in the Roth account indefinitely. Yee said clients have indicated they like the flexibility of not having to withdraw from their Roth before they need it. She added that having both kinds of retirement accounts (pre-tax and the Roth) gives clients flexibility to determine whether paying taxes on distributions in retirement is more beneficial than receiving distributions in retirement tax-free. Yee said each individual’s situation is different, and there are benefits to both pre-tax and post-tax contributions.
Sawatzke said if someone has a high income and they want to contribute more than $17,000 per year, they would have to invest in a Roth account. Yee said the income limit for contributing to a Roth for singles is $110,000. Households with over $170,000 in annual income are not eligible to contribute to a Roth. The Roth is designed for the average American to have another option for saving.
Thelen said the Roth option is a good idea, and recommended the County amend the Plan to include it. Norman saw no disadvantages. Sawatzke agreed, as long as Hiivala was willing to do the administrative work associated with offering the Roth option. Hiivala said the County has to be mindful of the reporting requirements.
Norman asked how employees will be informed if the County Board approves adding the Roth Plan. The existing County Plan will have to be revised. Hiivala said the Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) will have to sign the amendment along with the County.
Thelen asked about those who have accounts with other County vendors. Hiivala said Theis and Dougherty have employees who might want to participate. Norman said there has been low participation in the County Deferred Compensation program. He believes employees may get confused since the County has so many vendors offering financial products and services. Some jurisdictions have only one vendor. Thelen said it would be good to offer it to those who don’t have a Roth Plan.
Norman said the annual County Benefits Fair provides a lot of information and is well attended by employees. Hiivala added that many employees also read County Board Agendas. Norman said the County Board minutes are always on the intranet. An announcement could also be placed under the Benefits section on the intranet home page.
Sawatzke said offering a Roth option will not increase contributions to Deferred Compensation because it requires an additional payroll deduction. Hiivala said if an employee contributes to the Roth, they must get the appropriate County signature to approve a withdrawal. Yee added that the Roth imposes a ten percent penalty for early withdrawal before age 59.5. After that, the employee may withdraw funds without penalty or taxes.
Hiivala asked whether the Committee wished to consider other options. Sawatzke asked if Hiivala had any recommendations. Hiivala said the County did not permit loans from long-term savings accounts in the past. He does not have complete information yet regarding spousal rollover or the military option. Sawatzke asked whether any employees have inquired about them. Hiivala replied no, but there have been employees who have requested loans on their 457(b) funds due to emergencies. Sawatzke said they may withdraw their money. Hiivala said not from the 457(b) without terminating the account. Yee directed the Committee to Page 3, Number 6, “Unforseeable Emergency Withdrawals” for an explanation of the allowable terms. Petersen said the Plan allows for Unforeseen Emergency Withdrawals, but not loans (see Plan Page 3, Number 5).
Yee directed the Committee to Pages 16 and 17 in the Plan, Article VI - Benefits, Item 6.08 for expanded definitions of Unforeseen Emergency. She cited examples of Unforeseen Emergencies, such as being evicted from an apartment or facing foreclosure on a home. Yee said vacations or college tuition do not qualify as Unforeseen Emergencies. Another example of an Unforeseen Emergency is replacing a furnace. If the County allowed loans on their accounts, a person could get the funds. Otherwise, if the situation is not explained and does not constitute an Unforeseen Emergency, the money will not be available for distribution.
Yee said loans on Roths and other retirement accounts allow employees to get the money they need and then pay it back to rebuild their savings. Norman asked the consequences if an employee defaults on a loan. Yee said if the employee defaults after six months or more of payments, Valic will send a 1099 form at the end of the year. The loan will be deemed a default and considered a distribution for tax purposes. For example, if the balance of the loan is $4,800, that amount will be considered a distribution and will be added to their taxable income and a penalty assessed. The Auditor/Treasurer will only have to sign the loan paperwork. Yee said she will sign it as well. Valic will help the employee design a payment plan for one to five years. The Plan Administrator may recommend a loan interest rate similar to other providers, or may suggest a rate. Typically the interest rate is Prime plus one. The rate remains in effect throughout the loan period. The interest paid goes back into the employee’s account to allow savings to build.
Yee said the current County Plan states In-Service Distribution is allowed only if the employee is age 59.5 or older, and still working. No one below the age of 59.5 may take an In-Service Distribution. Sawatzke asked if that were true even in an emergency, and even if they pay the penalty. Yee confirmed that is the standard. Anyone who is terminated may move the money to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or to the new employer. That is not an In-Service Distribution because they are no longer employed at the County.
Hiivala said you cannot withdraw money unless you are age 59.5. Sawatzke asked whether someone with an Unforeseen Emergency who is under age 59.5 will have to pay taxes and a penalty for withdrawal. Yee said a recent change to 457(b) eliminated the penalty for early withdrawal for Unforeseen Emergencies or In-Service Distributions. This is only for the 457(b) Plan. Sawatzke asked her to clarify that there is no penalty for early withdrawal under any scenario. Yee responded there is no 10% penalty for a 457(b) Plan. She added that the 403 Plan formerly used to levy a penalty for any early withdrawal. The determining factor is whether the request is due to an Unforeseen Emergency or an In-Service Distribution. The Unforeseen Emergency clause is for anyone of any age with an emergency (medical bills, forestalling foreclosure, etc.). In-Service Distribution is for anyone age 59.5 or older who is still working and needs to withdraw funds. Yee said there is no penalty, but the individual will still be taxed if the account from which they withdraw is comprised of pre-tax contributions. +A 457 Roth account would have no 10% penalty and no taxes levied for early withdrawal.
Hiivala said the current County Plan permits withdrawals for Unforeseen Emergencies, as well as In-Service Distribution for employees age 59.5 and older. The third option would be loans for those under age 59.5. Yee explained that the loan option provides an opportunity for the employee to pay back the account from which they withdrew. For example, a 60 year old employee would have a choice to take an In-Service Distribution or a loan. If the employee does not care about accumulating more money in their account, they will likely choose an In-Service Distribution. If they want the option to repay the money, they would borrow on their account via the loan option.
Thelen said she thought the Committee should recommend the loan option. Norman said there would be no harm if the County has no administrative work connected with the loan option. Hiivala asked for verification that there are no requirements for the County to provide loans on retirement accounts. Yee said there are none, as the money is accessed directly from the employee’s retirement account. Norman said the application comes from Valic. Hiivala added the County signs the loan request. Yee agreed saying that provides a checkpoint. The employee notifies the Auditor/Treasurer’s Office, explains the purpose of the request and verifies their awareness of the agreement. Hiivala said this will enable anyone to take money out of their long-term accounts, and his only requirement is to sign the form as Plan Administrator.
Petersen asked Yee if she sees many loans. Yee replied that most plan sponsors allow loans. She has seen either emergencies that don’t correlate with the County Plan language, but they may be buying their first home and need a down payment. These people want the opportunity to repay the loan. Thelen asked whether the money is deducted monthly so there is no work for the Auditor/Treasurer’s Department. Yee responded yes, unless the employee comes to the Auditor/Treasurer Department and asks to stop the withdrawal. The maximum borrowing limits are usually about 50% or $50,000.
Yee said sometimes people borrow and do not repay. They can only borrow 50% of the account balance. The Committee discussed scenarios regarding employees borrowing from their long-term accounts and not repaying. Yee said all the loan paperwork outlines the consequences of loan default. In the event of default, the loan is deemed a distribution, and a 1099 form will be sent to the employee at year-end, creating a taxable event.
Hiivala summarized, saying the Committee will likely recommend Page 2, Number 3, Roth Contributions and Page 3, Number 10, In-plan Roth Conversions.
Yee said if the County only adopts the Roth for this Plan, the County may simply do a two-page amendment. If there is more than one change, Valic will create a new Plan document.
Yee addressed the In-plan Roth Conversion option. This gives employees the option of converting an existing 457(b) account balance to a new Roth account once the Board adopts the new Plan.
Hiivala asked if funds could be converted tax-free. Yee said no, the employee pays taxes in the year the funds were converted. Petersen asked if an employee had $40,000 in their 457(b) account, would they pay taxes on the conversion? Yee responded if the employee earns $40,000 per year and converts $40,000 to a Roth, at year-end they would pay taxes on $80,000. If someone were young and had a smaller account, once the conversion takes place, it won’t have a huge tax implication. If Yee makes $40,000 per year and has $5,000 in a 457(b) account, and she converts that, she will pay taxes on $45,000 for the current year. Later on in life, those funds may be withdrawn tax-free. Thelen asked Yee if an employee could do a partial conversion. Yee will check on it.
Yee said if the Committee recommends Page 2, Number 3, Roth Contributions, the County will not be required to select Page 3, Number 10, In-plan Roth Conversions. Hiivala asked if there were ramifications for the County. Yee said there were none. Petersen asked if someone had $40,000 in their Deferred Compensation account, and the County elects to allow In-plan Roth Conversions (Number 10), could the employee withdraw $5,000 every year? Yee said she needs to check on that. Yee does not give tax advice, but recommends clients see their tax expert prior to taking any actions.
Hiivala said there are no ramifications to the County to select Number 3, Roth Contributions, and it is also a tool for the provider. Sawatzke asked if Hiivala was inclined to select Number 10, In-plan Roth Conversions as well. Hiivala said he would if there were no adverse consequences for the County. Petersen asked if the County elects to allow loans, Roth contributions and In-plan Roth Conversions (Numbers 5, 3 and 10 respectively), did Yee think participation in the Deferred Compensation Plan will increase? Yee said offering the Roth option will definitely catch the interest of employees. In general, Yee said people participate more when the employer matches their contribution. She believes participation in the County Deferred Compensation Plan is low because no matching funds are offered. However, Yee said a Roth will attract more attention than the Plan is receiving now.
Hiivala reiterated that the Committee is recommending Number 3, Roth Contributions, Number 5, Loans, and Number 10, In-plan Roth Conversions. Sawatzke said he didn’t think loans will increase contributions. Hiivala said it will increase distributions. The only positive for the employee is they may take a distribution and pay themselves back with interest. Hiivala said it also allows the County to provide a benefit similar to the private sector. As long as there is no intrusion on the payroll process, Hiivala sees no reason why not to add the three options. Sawatzke said he supports the recommendation, and asked Hiivala to check with other counties to see who provides these and determine whether there are any negative issues as a result.
Hiivala said the County elected to allow Number 7, Participant’s Election to Receive In-Service Distribution. He asked whether this is the clause for the employee age 59.5 and older, for a maximum of $5,000. Yee said the In-Service Distribution is for people age 59.5 and older who are still working at the County, and is limited to $5,000. Hiivala questioned whether they may only take one distribution. Yee verified that a one-time distribution is all that is allowed. Hiivala said that information is listed in the Plan on Page 17, Article VI, Benefits, Item 6.10. Yee said that is why offering loans is a good alternative. Even In-Service Distributions are limited to a one-time occurrence not to exceed $5,000.
Sawatzke said if someone doesn’t read the Plan thoroughly, they won’t understand the In-Service Distribution only applies to those ages 59.5 and older. Petersen said in Item 6.10b, to get an In-Service Distribution, the employee has to contribute for two years ending with the date of the distribution. Yee said these rules are taken from the 457(b) IRS tax code. Petersen said this is quite a bit more restrictive. She asked Yee to clarify that an employee at age 59.5 cannot take out a lot of money without terminating the account. Yee said some 401k rules are more relaxed. Sawatzke said if someone is age 68 and still working, may they withdraw money? Yee said yes, but only $5,000. Petersen asked if that applies to someone who is age 72. Yee said if an employee is still working, they do not have to take the required minimum distribution if working past age 70.5.
The Committee decided the vendor will provide information about the changes to the County Deferred Compensation Plan to County employees.
Recommendation: Approve offering the Roth Plan option once the County Deferred Compensation Plan is amended. Allow loans and In-plan Roth Conversions.
(End of 3-28-12 Deferred Compensation Committee Minutes)
A Personnel Committee Meeting was held on 3-28-12. At today’s County Board Meeting, Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes and recommendations. The motion was seconded by Sawatzke. Sawatzke referenced Page 4, 2nd paragraph which lists the departments that currently have position vacancies. Sawatzke said Human Services and Court Services are not included in that list but there are position vacancies in those departments as well. His point is that list is not all inclusive. The motion to approve the minutes and recommendations carried unanimously:
I. Survey Technician Vacancy.
Jobe distributed copies of the Survey Technician job description, the Survey Department 2012 Organizational Chart, and the Local 49 Salary Schedule (see attachments). He introduced Mike Trunk, Senior Survey Technician. Jobe explained that the Organizational Chart is from Reorganization 2008, Option B, originally discussed at the Personnel Committee that same year. There were three vacancies pending at that time, and it was deemed appropriate to write job descriptions based on the new Chart.
The position Jobe requested at today’s meeting is Survey Technician II. One of the Survey Technician II employees is currently working only four hours a day due to a Workers’ Compensation injury claim. He works primarily in the office. The other Survey Technician II employee works primarily in the field. The third Survey Technician II position, (which also works primarily in the field) has been vacant since 2008 when the Department began rewriting job descriptions as part of the reorganization. Jobe also proposed an Assistant County Surveyor position in 2008. In 2009, the Department was instructed to fill two of the three vacant positions (Senior Survey Technician and Automated Mapping Specialist) as part of the 5% budget cutback. Jobe said they decided not to fill the third Survey Technician II position. The GIS Specialist position was eliminated to enable the Department to have two Automated Mapping Specialist II employees.
Jobe believes the new Survey Technician job description should incorporate both office and field duties. In the past, there were significant differences between the two positions.
Sawatzke asked if the job description distributed today was ever formally approved. Jobe said no, he was asked to write a new job description under Option B in 2008. Sawatzke asked if this position has ever been budgeted. Jobe said no. Norman said the recommendation of the Personnel Committee in 2008 was to proceed with drafting a job description in conjunction with Reorganization B.
Sawatzke asked whether the current position request would eliminate one of the positions. Jobe said the Department was hoping to get an Assistant County Surveyor, a Senior Survey Technician and one of the field Survey Technicians. Sawatzke said they created an additional position in the Department. Jobe disagreed, adding the Assistant County Surveyor position was never approved. Their goal was to make sure staff had the right qualifications for the positions in which they were functioning. Trunk added that the Department would like a Survey Technician I now versus a Technician II. Jobe said since the County is eliminating Technician 1 and 2 levels with the new job descriptions, the qualifications for Level 2 involve the length of time a Technician has worked at the County. Eichelberg said there was not much difference between the Technician I and II job descriptions. Trunk said the Technician II position has more experience.
Jobe referred to the Local 49 Salary Schedule. Row C includes the Survey Technician I Salary Schedule, and Row D indicates the Survey Technician II compensation level. A Technician achieves this after so many years of experience and acquired skills. Sawatzke asked to clarify that the Survey Department currently has an opening for the GIS Specialist and a Survey Technician II. Jobe said they have one opening: Survey Technician II. The GIS Specialist that is listed as vacant is being filled by an employee. In 2009, two of the three positions were filled, leaving the Survey Technician II position. Norman interjected that the Department filled the Automated Mapping Specialist II position instead of the GIS Specialist. (The chart shows two employees in the Automated Mapping Specialist II category, and the GIS Specialist as vacant).
Norman said the Survey Technician II position is one of the original 13 positions put on hold during the 2009 budget crisis. He wondered whether the Committee should take this position request in isolation of the other 12 positions. Sawatzke said that was a legitimate question. He went on to suggest perhaps the Committee should compare position openings from all Departments to determine which are most critical to the County. Sawatzke clarified that the Survey Department is fully staffed except for the Survey Technician II position, which the County Board agreed a few years ago would stay vacant.
Jobe said there is a need for the Survey Technician II position in the Department. It is common knowledge that subdivision plat review work has declined. However, Jobe wanted to acknowledge that GIS work has grown. The Automated Mapping Specialists in the Department are experts in GIS software and are not able to fulfill survey duties. Jobe said the Department has no one to help existing staff with Survey work. Even though the Survey Technician II position is listed as a field position, his hope is to find someone who can fill the needs in the office as well.
Sawatzke asked how many seasonal employees will be working at the Department this summer. Jobe said one. Sawatzke said with that additional employee, the Department would have five people who could be in the field. Jobe reminded Sawatzke that the other office position is only working half time due to a Workers Compensation injury. Jobe said the workload is there. The Department made a concerted effort to help with the budget. Jobe said a position vacant since 2008 and accumulating work has a higher priority than others.
Sawatzke said the County is drawing money from the Reserve Fund in 2012 to balance the budget. There are no extra resources. He added the County is using $500,000 from vacant positions like this one. Jobe responded that the Department is not at a standstill, but is accomplishing as much as possible. Norman said many Department Heads would like to see their vacant positions filled. Due to this situation, Norman said he could not recommend the request. He added that doesn’t mean he doesn’t think Jobe has enough work for another position.
Trunk said their request is not proposing to add new work, but to address work that has not been completed for years. Jobe clarified that the Department used to be able to manage the resources in the office as the workload shifted. However, because of the increase in GIS work, the Department has had to hire people who specialized in that area. However, those employees do not have survey training, leaving no one to back up the Survey staff.
Norman asked for a description of the Department’s top priority. Where is the strongest demand? Jobe said land survey corner maintenance. Norman asked whether the Department has to verify locations of corner posts. Jobe said the Department gets more requests than they can address. The demand is too high for the available resources. Jobe said the Survey Technician II position was intended to help with that workload.
Sawatzke said the demand for land survey corner verifications must be down since development has slowed. Jobe said requests for land survey corner verifications have increased. Norman said the vacancy in Administration means some work is not getting done as well.
Jobe said the Department has been operating without the Survey Technician since 2009. His intent is to bring the need for this position to the attention of the County Board. There is work that is not getting done. The Survey Department is required to maintain the Public Land Survey corners (PLS) established in the original government land survey from the 1850s.
Sawatzke said he felt there are no funds for this position. There are additional implications in that other Department Heads could demonstrate a need as well. He cited another Department that was short two positions, but the workload for that Department is down. Jobe said certain parts of the Surveyor workload is down, but other aspects are up. Sawatzke disputed that, saying the number and size of plats have decreased. Jobe said during the years when platting was busy, other work was not getting done. He recognizes that the budget is a concern.
Eichelberg said he would like to see a report to remind him which Departments have vacancies. Norman said there are vacancies in Administration, Auditor/Treasurer, Information Technology, Attorney, Recorder, Survey, Planning & Zoning, Building Care and Maintenance, Sheriff and Corrections.
Jobe asked when those vacancies were put on hold. Norman said 13 were on the original list in 2009. Jobe asked whether some of those original 13 vacancies had been vacant for several years prior to the cessation of hiring. Sawatzke said perhaps one or two. Norman said most were requests for new positions in the 2009 budget. They were never filled.
Sawatzke said the Survey Technician II position had never been filled. Jobe said it had at one time. Norman said there was one Survey Technician on the list of vacancies. There are two custodial positions that remain unfilled. There were five Deputy positions open, but three were dropped from the budget. Jobe said a larger Department can utilize other employees to fill in, but that is more difficult in a smaller Department like Surveyor. Norman said Administration lost 33% of their office support staff. Sawatzke said the positions were not filled primarily to save money.
Jobe said his Department has one full time Technician and one half time. Norman said that is a Workers’ Compensation issue. That position cannot be filled while the employee is on Workers’ Compensation. Jobe reiterated that he felt this was the right time to bring this position request to the Personnel Committee. He said taxpayers expect the Survey Department to do more. In addition, the GIS system is used by other Departments, such as the Assessor.
Norman suggested that Jobe consider requesting a temporary Survey Technician if the employee on Workers’ Compensation will be out long term. Jobe said he had not thought of that option, and asked how long he could employ a temporary. Norman said it depends on the union contract definition between a seasonal and a temporary employee. Sawatzke interjected that a temporary employee would only be approved if the permanent employee will be out for a number of months.
Sawatzke asked Eichelberg if he also felt the request should be denied. Eichelberg said yes. Eichelberg added that the Committee had not decided whether the Committee Of The Whole should meet to discuss all of the vacant positions.
Jobe said he would consider a seasonal worker. Workers’ Compensation is paying half the salary of the injured employee. Norman said he would check with Nolan regarding the status of the situation. Jobe suggested the Department add another intern, not necessarily a student, but an unemployed Technician. Norman said it would seem logical to add a field worker. Sawatzke said he did not want to add a seasonal worker unless the injured employee will be out the entire summer. He did not want to expand summer help, as the Committee has denied some requests for seasonal workers in other departments.
Trunk said summer help makes it possible for the Department to keep on schedule. Eichelberg said he would be willing to consider a temporary worker depending on the union contract. Norman affirmed he will talk with Nolan.
Recommendation: Request denied.
II. Performance Appraisal, Sean Riley, Planning & Zoning Administrator.
Based on the review of four Appraisals submitted, the Committee recommends an overall rating of “Exceptional.”
(End of 3-28-12 Personnel Committee Minutes)
Sawatzke moved to cancel the 5-22-12 County Board Meeting due to the occurrence of five Tuesdays in May. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0.
Bills Approved
Ag Neovo Technology Corp $138.00
Albertville Body Shop Inc 3,294.91
All Wheels Recovery 133.59
Allina Hospitals & Clinics 18,594.00
Ameripride Services 220.11
Aramark Services Inc 6,819.89
Association Of MN Counties 1,125.00
Beaudry Propane Inc 412.32
Bersie/Bruce 125.00
Boyer Truck Parts 4,397.88
Center For Education & Employ 159.00
Central McGowan Inc 211.16
CK Septic Serv. & Toilet Rent. 170.00
Construction Services Divers. 2,759.51
Consult. Radiologists LTD MN 164.52
Design Electrical Contractors 3,555.62
Eichelberg/Elmer 340.78
Elk River Municipal Utilities 119.71
Farm-Rite Equipment Inc 4,595.00
Feddema/Tom 368.50
Fingalson/Wayne 224.39
Frazier/Terry 125.00
Frontier Precision Inc 657.57
General Office Products Co. 951.38
Gould Towing 167.26
GTS Educational Events 225.00
Hickmans Service Inc 292.57
Hillyard Inc - Minneapolis 2,970.24
Interstate Battery Systems 215.57
Juncewski/Kenneth F 5,656.00
Keaveny LTC Pharmacy 6,569.46
Kramber/Greg 114.00
Kustom Signals Inc 159.83
Lano Equip. Of Norwood Inc 1,229.06
LaPlant Demo Inc 1,700.25
M & M Express Sales 330.14
M & M Express Sales and Serv. 275.30
Maple Lake Lumber Company 228.79
Marco Inc 4,450.35
Menards - Buffalo 163.87
Metro Group Inc/The 6,773.97
MN Law Enforcement Explor. 2,000.00
MN Secretary Of State 120.00
MN Sheriffs Association 260.00
Monticello/City Of 18,285.00
Morries Parts & Service Group 488.97
MSPE 330.00
Natl. Assn of Sch. Resource Off. 495.00
Norman/Carl E 17,792.00
Office Depot 819.07
Polar Chevrolet 32,717.70
Precision Prints of Wright Co 1,493.04
Royal Tire Inc 537.43
Russell Security Resource Inc 153.63
Safelite Fulfillment Inc 185.27
SHI International Corp 173.14
Source One Supply Inc 268.56
Sprint 2,188.64
Suburban Emerg. Assoc. PA 308.04
Ultramax 554.00
Voss Lighting 146.59
Walmart Store 01-1577 1,321.88
Wright Co. Auditor Treasurer 1,682.00
Wright Co. Highway Dept 163.99
Wright County Surveyor 2,128.52
29 Payments less than 100 1,331.30
Final total 167,128.27
The meeting adjourned at 9:59 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal April 23, 2012.

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