Wright County Board Minutes

APRIL 10, 2012
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, Thelen, and Eichelberg present.
Russek moved to approve the 4-03-12 County Board Minutes. The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried unanimously.
Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows: Lt. Todd Hoffman, Sheriff’s Office, Item 3, “Information On Upcoming Drug Take Back In St. Michael” (Hoffman). Eichelberg moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.
On a motion by Russek, second by Mattson, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda as presented:
1. Performance Appraisals: N. Flesher, J. Gagnon, J. MacLeod, J. Scheierl, Sher./Corr.
2. Set Closed Meeting On 5-08-12 @ 10:30 A.M. RE: Classification Study Negotiation Strategy.
1. Approve Renewal Of Annual On Sale 3.2 Malt Liquor License For Cokato Town & Country Club (Cokato Twp.).
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, introduced discussion on approval for demolition of a structure on tax forfeit property located at 701 Elm Street in Monticello (PID #155-500-101413). A fire occurred at the property last summer and the request is to approve tearing a building down. Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, said Statute reflects that “the county auditor, with the approval of the county board, may provide for the demolition of any structure on tax forfeited lands… if the demolition of the structure… will aid in disposing of the tax-forfeited property.” Asleson said the County was first contacted by the City on this property because the lawn was not mowed and because of the expenses the City incurred. The Monticello Fire Department arranged for small practice burns in the building to allow for training, including arson training for the Sheriff’s staff. The Fire Department is proposing to have a practice burn in a week to ten days. Costs associated include $4,200, Safe Air Systems, for asbestos removal and $8,750, Brad Fyle, for removal of debris after burning, including permits. The City will require the County to remove the foundation and septic tanks. This may make the property more saleable. Expenses will be covered by the Tax Forfeit Fund and recouped through the sale of tax forfeit property. Asleson said the property has been vacant for at least 1.5 years and includes an out building. Sawatzke is familiar with the property and agreed it has not been maintained for the past couple of years. Mattson asked about whether the controlled burn will occur due to dry conditions. Asleson said the Monticello Fire Chief indicated the burn may be delayed due to dry conditions. The Fire Chief will work with the DNR to gain approval, but Asleson said it may occur because of the Fire Department being on site. Asleson requested approval to demo the structure and buildings. Mattson moved to approve the demolition, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.
Hiivala presented the 4-03-12 Ditch 10 Committee Minutes. At today’s County Board Meeting, Hiivala explained that the Ditch 10 Committee reconvened on 4-03-12 to review engineering proposals received for a hydrological study of Ditch 10. Copies of the bids were presented today: Wenck Associates, Inc., $11,954 (base bid) plus $7,612 (alternate); and Houston Engineering, $11,600 (base bid). Houston did not bid on the alternate. The alternate relates to studying the feasibility of incorporating the outlet of Lake Emma into the Ditch 10 System. Russek said the Committee recommendation was to award the proposal to Wenck Associates, Inc. He supported this and said Wenck completed the TMDL Study on Lake Ann. He said most of this study is associated with the impacts on Lake Ann and Lake Emma. If the decision is made to proceed with the Alternate, Wenck Associates, Inc. already has provided a proposal. He felt it would give Houston Engineering a definite advantage if they were allowed to bid on the Alternate at this time. Mattson moved to approve the minutes and to award the engineering proposal to Wenck Associates, Inc. The motion was seconded by Russek. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, said the funding source should be indicated. He questioned whether the motion includes accepting the alternate bid. Russek said the motion is for the base bid. The proposal for the alternate will be presented for approval at a later date if it is decided to proceed with that portion. Sawatzke indicated the funding source will be the Ditch 10 Fund. The motion carried 5-0. The 4-03-12 Ditch 10 Committee Minutes follow:
The purpose of the meeting was to review the engineering proposals received from Houston Engineering and Wenck for work on County Ditch 10. Joe Jacobs gave the committee and update on the review process. After consideration both companies are qualified for the service and the process used is the same. Consideration was given to past County experience with companies. The recommendation from the Committee was to go with Wenck.
(End of 4-03-12 Ditch 10 Committee Minutes)
Hiivala suggested setting up a Ditch 10 informational meeting for Ditch 10 benefitted property owners and Lake Ann residents. Hiivala introduced Jeremy Schultz from Wenck Associates, Inc. Hiivala said the Auditor’s Office would notify benefitted property owners on Ditch 10 of the meeting and would direct the SWCD to contact Lake Ann residents. Thelen asked if the informational meeting is part of Wenck Associates, Inc. bid. Hiivala said it is not. Wenck Associates do see the benefit of obtaining input from the benefitted property owners. The work is estimated to be completed in the next six weeks. Schultz said there will be no additional costs associated with holding the meeting. Mattson moved to direct Hiivala to proceed with setting up the informational meeting with property owners. The recommended date will be brought back to the next County Board Meeting for approval. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0.
On a motion by Mattson, second by Russek, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.
Lt. Todd Hoffman, Sheriff’s Office, requested approval of a Federal Supplemental Boat & Water Grant in the amount of $8,875. The Federal supplemental grant provides additional funding for boating safety patrol hours on lakes and rivers in an effort to reduce accidents. Matching funds are not required. Sawatzke moved to approve the Grant, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0.
Lt. Hoffman requested approval of a MN Annual County Boat and Water Safety Grant in the amount of $24,029. This is an Annual State Grant used for boat and water patrol and the award is based on a DNR formula based on water usage in the County. Matching funds are not required. Eichelberg moved to approve the Grant, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.
Lt. Hoffman said a prescription drug take back event will be held at the Crow River Senior Center in St. Michael on 4-30-12 from 9:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. The Senior Center is located in the St. Michael City Hall. The event is being sponsored by the Wright County Sheriff’s Office, the Crow River Senior Center, and the City of St. Michael. This is an opportunity for St. Michael residents and the surrounding community to bring back unwanted prescription drugs. The Sheriff’s Office will facilitate disposal of the prescription drugs. This was provided as an informational item.
A Budget Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 3-27-12. At today’s County Board Meeting, Thelen asked Hiivala to post the graphs included with the minutes on the County website for the public. Russek moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0:
Hiivala distributed a Year End Budget Review for 2011. He summarized the contents of the report (see attached) which included charts, graphs and spreadsheets to illustrate revenue sources and expenditures for County Departments. Hiivala explained that Page 2 contains a summary of the budget originally adopted and presented on a cash basis.
Hiivala directed those present to Page 3, entitled “All Funds,” which combines all funds together. This page contained two pie charts, one entitled “Where it came from” and the other “Where it went.” Taxes generated 46% of revenue, while 5% came from State General Purpose Aids. He highlighted this section, which includes County Program Aid and Market Value Credits.
Hiivala said Personnel comprised 55% of expenditures, 10% for Highway Construction, 8% for Human Service Programs, and 8% for Rent Repairs / Maintenance. He listed the remaining items as shown on the chart.
Hiivala said Pages 4 and 5 break down the General Fund at a macro level, showing the gross revenues, expenditures and net for every County Department. Overall, Hiivala said the County came in short of revenue by $1,165,470.56 due to the loss of the Market Value Aids and County Program Aid. However, Hiivala said County expenditures also came under budget by $3,489,945.52. Total actual revenue for the County in 2011 was $49,984,532.44, and total expenditures were $47,660,057.48, giving the General Fund a positive net of $2,324,474.96.
Hiivala turned to Pages 8 and 9 of the report that contained four charts related to the General Fund alone. The first two pie charts showed revenue streams and expenditures. Taxes generated 55% of County income, with Fees bringing in 16% and Miscellaneous / Licenses drawing 12%. State General Purpose Aids made up 6% of County revenue. The remaining sources of revenue were also in the single digits.
Personnel comprised the bulk of General Fund expenses at 67%. Rent/Repairs were 12%, and 4% went to Appropriations to the Historical Society, Regional Library, Soil and Water Conservation District, and other entities. Hiivala listed the remaining expense categories, which were all in the single digits.
The Budget To Actual bar graphs on Page 9 illustrate the most significant loss of County revenue was from State General Purpose Aids. Hiivala said the County receives Market Value Credits and County Program Aid after levies are sent, so there was little the County could do to alleviate the situation. Hiivala said Interest and Contributions also declined, coming in under budget. The bulk of County investments are in money market and checking accounts, where interest rates decreased from 2% to .12%.
On the Expenses bar graph, the Personnel category shows the most substantial savings, which includes wages, benefits and insurance.
Pages 10-11, Budget Summary, Analysis of Revenues By Category / By Department, go into more detail. Hiivala drew attention to the State Grant column. For the Information Technology (IT) Department, Hiivala said the County received $221,512.05 in State Grants, but there was no budget for that, as the 800 MH grant was received after the budget was set. This additional revenue improved the bottom line.
Under State General Purpose Aid, the only place the County entered County Program Aid and Market Value Credits was under Department 100 (Unallocated) line item. The County experienced a loss of $1,648,279.72. Hiivala said State Shared Revenue under Department 100 (Unallocated) fared better than anticipated by $112,615.27 on indirect cost allocation reimbursements. The County provides indirect services to grants, and this is a reimbursement for those expenses. Under Interest and Contributions (under Unallocated), the County came in short of expected revenues by $412,543.56. Hiivala said that is not addressed in the 2012 budget, but may need to be discussed for the 2013 budget. Under Miscellaneous Fees, dividends from the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust (MCIT) were greater than expected at $418,937.10.
Hiivala directed the Board to Pages 12-14, Budget Summary, General Fund, Analysis of Expenses By Category /By Department, which groups expenses into categories. Again he pointed out the IT section. Under Capital Outlay, Hiivala said IT was $164,122.53 over budget. He explained that is where the funds for the 800 MH Radio grant were spent. The previous spreadsheet showing Analysis of Revenues By Category indicated IT received a State grant for $221,512.05. Hiivala said the grant reimbursed the County for some of the operating costs, with a gain of $57,389.52. On a cash basis, Hiivala said the IT Department went over budget. When we present our financial statements, all Departments over budget for expenses are highlighted. He said normally the County does not amend the budget. In this case, the IT Department will disclose the over-budget expense on the financial statement due to the 800 MH grant. He suggested the Board amend the budget for the IT Department for one year on a specific grant basis. The Board could then take that amendment out in subsequent years.
Hiivala said under Department 100 (Unallocated), the County turned back $637,769.20 under the Personnel line item, which sets aside funds for categories such as salary and wage adjustments, Step increases, and benefit contributions.
On Page 13, Department Line Item 111 (Maintenance), the County turned back $120,634.42 under Supplies, and Department Line Item 250 turned back $171,963.27 in the same category.
Under Wages, Personnel costs in the Sheriff Department turned back $733,540.07. Hiivala said half of that was due to insurance, and the other half was due to unfilled positions. Corrections also turned back $249,101.27 in Personnel costs due to insurance and vacant positions.
Hiivala referred to Page 6, Budget Summary, Department Net Summary for Road & Bridge. Revenue was less than projected by $345,697.33, primarily due to the loss of County Program Aid and Market Value Credits. Expenses were higher than projected by $428,069.43.
Turning to Page 15, Hiivala discussed two pie charts that provide a visual of revenue streams and expenditures for Road & Bridge. Nearly half of revenue (45%) came from State Allotments, and another 40% was generated from Taxes, with 4% from State General Purpose Aids. Going forward, Hiivala said the County should not experience any further unallotments. Almost half (49%) of expenses went toward Highway Construction, 22% for Highway Maintenance and 19% for Personnel.
Page 16 shows bar graphs illustrating the Road & Bridge Budget To Actual Revenue and Expenditures. Under the Revenues graph, Hiivala said the State Grants bar should be corrected to say State Allotments. The revenue is driven by projects the Department starts and completes.
Since the graph depicts expenses on a cash basis, the Construction bar in the graph at the bottom of Page 16 shows Construction expenses exceeded the year before, but this is most likely due to spending funds that had not yet been utilized from the previous year. Hiivala referred to the Analysis of Revenues By Category / By Department on Page 17 for Road & Bridge under Unallocated, State General Purpose Aids. He said Road & Bridge lost $420,249.21 due to the loss of Market Aid Credit and County Program Aid.
Thelen asked Hiivala to clarify that Road & Bridge was over budget in the amount of $345,697.33. Hiivala responded yes, for Expenses. He added Road & Bridge was under budget in revenues due to the loss of $420, 249.21 in County Government Aid (see Page 16 under State General Purpose Aids).
Hiivala said Human Services absorbed the loss of Market Value Credits and gained revenue by $136,332.64 over budget, as shown on Page 7. Although expenses also increased, they remained under projected figures by $184,035.08.
Pages 19 and 20 contain charts and graphs illustrating Human Services revenue and expenses. Federal Grants comprised 37% of Department revenue, while Taxes brought in 35% and 4% from State General Purpose Aids (County Program Aid and Market Value Credits). Personnel costs made up the majority of Human Services expenses at 58%, with Programs taking 32%.
Hiivala said the Revenue bar graph on Page 20 shows Human Services did better than expected with Federal Grant reimbursements, although the State General Purpose Aids declined from the previous year due to the State balancing their budget.
On the Expenses graph at the bottom of Page 20, Hiivala said Human Services incurred extra Program Expenses over the previous year tied to Federal Grants the Department received. However, the Department came in under budget on Personnel costs.
Hiivala said Human Services offers many programs. The three major Divisions are Income Maintenance, Public Health and Social Services. Hiivala said he grouped revenue data by these Divisions and not Programs.
Human Services lost $506,116.14 in 2011 due to unallotment of County Program Aid and Market Value Credits.
Hiivala referenced Page 23, Human Services, Analysis of Expenses By Division / By Program to show the expenses of each (Income Maintenance, Social Services, and Public Health).
Mattson asked whether it was possible to demonstrate the revenue each Human Services employee generates. Russek said that data is in State and Federal grants, and is not included in this Year End Budget Review. Hiivala said an analysis was done when the County went into the budget process, and included data regarding expenses by program such as wages and benefits. Hiivala said they should be able to track revenues to that data. He did not have that information with today’s presentation.
Hiivala referenced Page 24, entitled 5 Year Financial Data. He said this spreadsheet shows the County turned back $3,059,588.32 in 2007, compared to $2,324,474.96 on a cash basis in 2011. He will not make any recommendations regarding how the County should allocate the surplus until financial statements are compiled. Hiivala said the County adopted a fund balance policy, and should adhere to it to the best extent possible. Russek said the County took $500,000 from the surplus last year, so perhaps funds should be transferred back. Hiivala said the County is using more than a million dollars of fund balance in the 2012 budget.
Hiivala said Page 24 shows trending cash over the same five year period. Mattson asked about the Gravel Tax and whether townships & municipalities are receiving their share. Hiivala said this represents the County’s Reserve Fund balance after the Gravel Tax has been given to townships, municipalities, and Road & Bridge. The remaining amount is for post closure activities.
Thelen asked about the negative balance of $25,129.80 for Nuclear Power. Hiivala replied that is typical of categories where the County spends the money first and gets reimbursed by a grant later. He said the County has done this in the past. Even though Nuclear Power is not a budgeted department, he will address this during the budget process.
Hiivala reviews the County investment policy annually with the Board at a meeting such as this. Pages 25 and 26 indicate the liquidity of the County’s portfolio. The County has approximately $52 million invested, with just over $17 million in liquid money market accounts and checking. Hiivala said the pie chart on Page 25 shows the Maturity Range Summary of County investments. The yield to maturity keeps dropping and is driving investment income down. Page 26 shows in which sector the funds are invested. The County has cash, Certificates of Deposits, money market accounts and mutual funds.
Hiivala said Pages 28 and 29 demonstrate the projected cash flow of the County’s investment portfolio. He utilizes investment tracking software to help him anticipate revenues. These pages do not show returns from the checking account, which yields low interest at the moment. He projects a return of $1,064,886.99 if he can hold the securities. In this economy, Hiivala said the government often calls bonds and reissues them at lower rates.
Hiivala said all County Departments did well in 2011 and were diligent about adhering to budgets and addressing revenue wherever possible. The County absorbed the loss of State Aid and investment income. He remains positive about trends in supplies. Capital outlay was held in check. The County budgets for necessary items and spends judiciously. He commended the Departments for doing a great job.
Hiivala said he will convene a meeting to discuss ways to address the surplus. However, since the County adopted the policy mentioned previously, he does not yet have a recommendation. He summarized by saying the County managed the year in a positive way. He does not expect as large a turn back in 2012 as the County received in 2011.
The Commissioners thanked the Department Heads and employees for a job well done.
Hiivala said he will distribute statements to Department Heads to use as a management tool to track changes and help expedite the budget process. Thelen asked whether Hiivala will set a Committee Of The Whole meeting to discuss the budget process. Hiivala said Norman and he will discuss that and other ideas. There is an official Budget Committee with two Commissioners on it. Norman and he have talked about working with Departments and have the Budget Committee review the smaller budgets. Hiivala said he would like to see Human Services presented in three sections and Road & Bridge in two sections, as it would be easier to note details when numbers are broken down. He will work with Norman on this matter.
Hiivala said the State could still unallot more funds in 2012, but the County has no risk of losing Market Value Credits.
Recommendation: Hiivala will submit a formal recommendation at a future County Board meeting.
(End of 3-27-12 Budget Committee Of The Whole Minutes)
The meeting recessed at 9:27 A.M. and reconvened at 9:30 A.M. Commissioner Thelen closed the regular meeting for a Public Hearing relating to redistricting.
Greg Kryzer, Assistant County Attorney, presented a draft resolution adopting the Redistricting Principles for Commissioner Districts. He provided an overview of the Principles that outline the guidelines that must be followed for redistricting and outlined the Federal and State election requirements:
•Item 3 relates to contiguous districts. He said this is one of the largest issues.
•Item 4 relates to Commissioner Districts being as equal in population as practical. There can be a 10% deviation between districts under Statute. The only reason a deviation over 10% would be allowed is if the under 10% figure cannot be attained.
•Item 6 reflects that precincts shall not be divided and all commissioner districts shall be bounded by precinct lines. Kryzer stated that precinct lines were set by cities, townships, and other municipalities on April 3rd.
•Item 7 reflects that commissioner districts must account for all “islands” of township territory which were created through municipal annexations. These “islands” shall be contiguous with the township where they are located unless the township creates a separate precinct for each “island” identified. Kryzer stated that this is another large issue. There are various areas throughout the County which have these islands created by annexation.
•Item 8 reflects that communities of interest shall be preserved.
Commissioner Thelen asked for public comment. As none was received, Thelen recessed the Public Hearing at 9:36 A.M and reconvened the County Board Meeting.
Sawatzke moved to adopt Resolution #12-25 adopting the Redistricting Principles for Commissioner Districts. The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote:
Redistricting Principles for Commissioner Districts
1. There shall be five Wright County Commissioner Districts with a single Commissioner for each District. The Commissioner Districts shall be numbered in a regular series, beginning with Commissioner District 1 in the northern most corner of the County and proceeding across the County west to east, north to south and end in the southeast corner of the County.
2. The Commissioner Districts shall not be drawn with either the purpose of effect of denying or abridging the voting rights of any United States citizen on account of race, ethnicity, or membership in a language minority group and must otherwise comply with the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1973-1973aa-6.
3. Commissioner Districts shall consist of convenient, contiguous territory structured into compact units. Contiguity by water is sufficient if the body of water does not pose a serious obstacle to travel with in the district. Commissioner Districts with areas that connect at a single point shall not be considered contiguous.
4. Commissioner Districts shall be as nearly equal in population as is practicable. No Commissioner District shall vary in population more than ten percent from the average for all Districts in the County, unless the result forces a voting precinct to be split. A majority of the least populous Districts shall contain not less than a majority of the population of the County.
5. Political Subdivisions shall not be divided more than necessary to meet constitutional and statutory requirements.
6. Precincts shall not be divided. All Commissioner Districts shall be bounded by precinct lines.
7. Commissioner Districts must account for all “islands” of township territory which were created through municipal annexations. These “island” shall be contiguous with the township in which they are located unless the township creates a separate precinct for each “island” identified.
8. Where possible in compliance with the preceding principles, communities of interest shall be preserved. For purposes of this principle, “communities of interest” include, but are not limited to, groups of Wright County citizens with clearly recognizable similarities of social, geographic, political, cultural, ethnic, economic, or other interests. Additional communities of interest will be considered if persuasively established and if consideration thereof would not violate applicable law.
9. Commissioner Districts shall not be drawn for the purpose of protecting or defeating an incumbent. But the impact of redistricting on incumbent officeholders is a factor subordinate to all redistricting criteria that the County Board may consider to determine whether proposed plans result in either undue incumbent protection or excessive incumbent conflicts.
(End of Redistricting Principles for Commissioner Districts)
At 9:37 A.M., Commissioner Thelen recessed the County Board Meeting to continue with the Public Hearing on redistricting.
A 2012 Wright County Commissioner Redistricting Map was provided releasing census block information based on the established rules. Hiivala stated that the Survey Department compiled this data into colored maps that depict which precincts must remain together based on the rules. A blank map template was created to assist with the process of creating commissioner district boundary maps. The Redistricting Maps can be found on the County website at www.co.wright.mn.us (link to County Commissioner Redistricting from the main page of the website). Hiivala asked that anyone submitting maps for consideration should fill out the population table on the map. Maps will not be reviewed if they exceed the 10% population deviation by district.
Thelen referenced the 10% population threshold and inquired whether exceeding that figure would only be done in the case where they would desire to split a precinct. Hiivala said a precinct cannot be split. He stated that he already has maps which meet the standard criteria that the Board must follow.
Mattson asked why the City of Buffalo has one precinct that is not included with the other City of Buffalo’s precincts. Hiivala said the precinct is not bound by non-contiguous property and it has enough boundary area that it could be placed with Chatham Township or the City. It is not tied to any other precinct. As the commissioner districts are established, they need to remain contiguous. Municipalities had to establish their own boundaries.
Russek asked Hiivala if he knew the status of the appeal to the State on opposing two precincts in Maple Lake Township. Hiivala said an appeal was sent to the State and notice was received that it was denied. Therefore, there are two certified precincts in Maple Lake Township. Russek said that will be inconvenient for the Township as they will have two sets of ballots based on the Legislative Districts. Hiivala said that is correct. There is one certified polling place where two precincts will vote. The ballots will be sorted at the end of the evening. It will be an extra burden on the Township and will cost extra as well. There will also be additional ballot styles in the election.
Staff and the public can submit to the Auditor’s Office maps on suggested commissioner districts. Colored maps will be generated by the Survey Department on maps submitted to the Auditor’s Office by 4-13-12 that meet the criteria, including not exceeding the 10% deviation in population. Suggested commissioner district maps can be submitted to the Auditor up to 5-01-12 but colored maps will not be generated after 4-13-12. Hiivala said staff has developed ten maps that meet the criteria that must be followed for redistricting. He suggested making those maps available to the public. He did not want to prejudice those maps which will be submitted. However, he said due diligence was paid in drafting up potential maps. It would prevent maps being submitted that are duplicate of what has already been generated. The maps are labeled Option 1 through Option 10; however, the number does not reflect any order of preference. Hiivala referenced three of the ten maps.:
Option 1. This map includes all commissioner districts within the standard deviation of less than 10%. It would place Thelen and Sawatzke in the same district. It would place Mattson and Russek in the same district.
Option 5. This map includes all commissioner districts within the standard deviation of less than 10%. It would place Thelen and Sawatzke in the same district. It would place Mattson and Russek in the same district.
Option 7. This map includes all commissioner districts within the standard deviation of less than 10%. This map would place Mattson and Russek in the same district. Thelen and Sawatzke would be placed in separate districts.
Hiivala said all ten maps drawn up by staff place Mattson and Russek in the same district. The other maps, Options 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, and 10, reflect slight variations in movement of Maple Lake Township Precinct 2 and Hanover Precinct 2. After discussion, it was decided that the ten maps should be published on the County website at www.co.wright.mn.us (link to County Commissioner Redistricting from the main page of the website). This will allow members of the public to review the maps and provide possible options. Sawatzke said he reviewed the ten maps and came up with the same alternative districts as staff.
Leander Wetter, Rockford Township, asked whether the County is considering seven commissioner districts. Sawatzke said with seven commissioners, the deviation in population figures between districts would not be within 10%. Sawatzke asked Hiivala if he looked at that during his analysis. Hiivala responded that he stopped exploring seven districts based on the way Otsego established their boundaries.
Commissioner Thelen asked for further public comment. As none was received, she closed the Public Hearing at 9:52 A.M. and reconvened the regular Board Meeting. The County Board will meet as a Committee Of The Whole on 4-17-12 at 10:30 A.M. in the Commissioners Board Room to continue discussions on redistricting. Public comment will be received at that meeting.
Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, requested the Board set a Bid Opening for 5-15-12 at 9:30 A.M. for the CSAH 3 Reconstruction Project (SAP 086-603-017, Contract 1202). The project involves the reconstruction of CSAH 3 from the south County line to the south limits of the City of Cokato. This is a rural two-lane highway that will have concrete surfaced travel lanes and paved shoulders that will meet State Aid design standards. CSAH Regular State Aid Funds have been identified as the funding source for this project. An Alternate Bid is being accepted for the McLeod County Concrete Overlay Plan (SAP 043-602-027), funded by McLeod County. McLeod County would like a two-mile concrete overlay extension into their County to connect with their existing concrete highway. Fingalson said because the Wright County Board Meeting of 5-22-12 is canceled, the recommendation is to award the bid at the 5-15-12 County Board Meeting subject to approval by McLeod County. Fingalson said that even though there were no Federal funds involved with this project, a cultural resource study was required. The Corp of Engineers is feeling pressure from State historical people on these types of projects. The study has been completed and has been forwarded to the Corp of Engineers. The cost of the study was $21,000. Fingalson hopes the Corp will not require further analysis. A home on one of the farmsteads could be a candidate for the National Register of Historical Places. Russek moved to set a Bid Opening for the CSAH 3 Reconstruction Project for 5-15-12 at 9:30 A.M. The motion was seconded by Mattson. Russek asked why the Corp is involved with a historical home. Fingalson said this is because some of the artifacts are located in wetland areas and the Corp approves wetland permits. This case involves the historical people placing pressure on the Corp as it is tied into the wetland permit. The motion carried 5-0.
A Transportation Committee Of The Whole (TCOTW) Meeting was held on 3-26-12. At today’s County Board Meeting, Mattson moved to approve the minutes and recommendations, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 5-0. The minutes of that meeting follow:
Chairperson Thelen called the meeting to order and introductions were made. Mattson asked that an item (Solicitation of Enhancement Projects) be added to the agenda for discussion purposes only.
1. Turnback Issues Involving Corinna and Silver Creek Townships Fingalson commented that this topic was discussed at the last February 15, 2012 TCOTW meeting, and both townships had representatives present at that time, too. He said that it is the proposal of the Wright County Highway Department that three segments of roadway (a segment of CR 123 and CR 143 in Silver Creek Township and a segment of CR 123 in Corinna Township) be turned back to the respective townships after overlays are completed during the 2012 Overlay Program. These segments have been identified, based on a couple of jurisdictional studies, as roadways not meeting a county function. Fingalson explained that once this designation is made, the roads are usually scheduled to be turned back right after improvements have been made. In this case, the 2012 Overlays will be done on roads in the area that include both CRs 123 and 143. Fingalson said that it is key that a recommendation be made today, and then ultimately a decision tomorrow at the County Board meeting, because these segments tie in with the contract award for the 2012 Overlay project that includes these segments as an alternate. Fingalson, Hawkins, and Meyer of the Highway Department and Commissioner Thelen met with both township boards last week at their regular township meetings to attempt reaching an agreement regarding the proposed overlays and turnbacks.
Silver Creek Township: Langenbacher said that initially Silver Creek Township had a number of issues regarding the work that they would like to see done on CR 123 and CR 143 and were thinking in terms of accepting money (in the amount of the overlay bid for these segments) and of then proceeding with a grading project. However, after further discussion, Silver Creek Township Board has decided that they would like to have the County mill and overlay these roads and maintain them for two years, at which time Silver Creek would then officially take them over. In the meantime, Silver Creek would enter into an agreement with Wright County to take back the 2.46 miles, which would make them immediately eligible for Town Road Account money, amounting to about $1,500/year. Fingalson interjected that both Townships indicated that they felt these roads belonged on the township system, and Silver Creek is driving over it in the winter anyway to get to their township road segments. Silver Creek did have some concerns about the condition that the county would leave the roads in, however, they will be given to Silver Creek in the condition that would meet the county standards for a comparable road in the county. Wright County wouldn’t be adding wider shoulders or eliminating all snow traps if they remain as county roads, and these improvements won’t be made if it is turned over to Silver Creek either. He added that Corinna Township indicated that they would be willing to take a segment of CR 123 back only if the County contributed $340,000 in addition to the amount designated for the overlay. Fingalson distributed a list of the routine maintenance costs [Attachment A] that were expended on both CR 123 and CR 143 for the past three years, as requested by Russek at the previous TCOTW meeting when this issue was discussed. Staff also prepared a listing of the turnback candidates [Attachment B] that Wright County has dealt with in the past 20 years, along with those that it will be dealing with in the future.
One of the options talked about at the previous meeting was to have the mill and overlay done and then turn the segments back to the Townships. Another option was to pay the Townships the amount of money that it would cost to do the overlay, which would be based on actual costs from the bid opening that was held a few weeks ago. Still another option would be for the County to retain ownership of the road, which Fingalson strongly discourages. He said that this is an opportunity to take these road segments off the county system as they don’t belong on it. The County could proceed with the entire Alternate #1, and then proceed with a public hearing to officially convey the segments back to the Townships. The County would be responsible for maintaining these segments for two years after the turnback, unless the Township(s) agreed to begin the maintenance immediately. There is nothing in the statutes that requires the County to do anything more than they have proposed to do. Thelen mentioned that one of the options mentioned previously was to hold back improvements until 2014 when CSAH 7 (in this vicinity) is scheduled for an overlay. Fingalson said that this would just delay the decision. The bids are in and there is little likelihood that 2014 prices will be cheaper than today’s bids. Russek asked what the life expectancy of a mill and overlay is, and Fingalson said that CR 123 was last overlaid, without milling, about 17 years ago. Over that time span, the road has received regular maintenance attention, including sealcoating. It is not in the best shape now, but it has lasted as a serviceable road for almost 20 years. Throughout the years, the road has had some heaves and bumps that show up in the spring, because this road was not uniformly constructed with the same materials. This could be addressed with a complete regrading, but the County does not have the money to do that. Fingalson said that what the County is proposing for CR 123 is the same that was done for CR 117 in 2011, and he certainly expects a life of 15+ years with sealcoating and crackfilling maintenance. A mill and overlay is proposed for CR 123, and this is better than doing just an overlay.
Langenbacher said that he wanted to make it clear that the County will overlay the roads and that they will be turned over immediately to the Township so that it can collect money from the State Town Road Account. Fingalson said that this is the best way to handle it, because Silver Creek can collect about $1,500 per year, which no one else would get, and the County has agreed to do the maintenance for two years. Hawkins said that the Township and County can enter into a formal agreement for this and then a public hearing might not be necessary. He said that Knife River (low bidder) is planning this overlay as its first project of the year and will be ready to go as soon as weight restrictions come off this spring. Weather permitting, work could begin in May. Overall, the contract has 15 miles, including portions of CSAH 2 and CR 128. The entire job could take a month or a month and a half, depending on what’s awarded. An agreement would be in place with Silver Creek before work is started.
Corinna Township: Carlson said that CR 123 is in very bad shape and has cracks that are quite big. It was built in the 1930s, and the Township would like this road to be like every other township road so that it is in good shape and easy to maintain. The Township did receive a quote for regrading work, and it came in at about $450,000, not including engineering, right-of-way acquisition, or other miscellaneous costs. Corinna Township is asking for $380,000 in cash, which is the amount budgeted for the overlay, and an additional $300,000 to help with the costs of reconstruction of this road. It would be willing to finance the County over 10 years, at $30,000/year with no interest. This would require the Township to reprioritize some of the projects it currently has on a schedule. Carlson said that he understands what the County wants to do to the road, but in the eyes of the Township, that is the minimum. Fingalson said that from a County perspective, a mill and overlay is what the County would do if the road were to stay on the County system. He is concerned that if the County agreed to Corinna Township’s terms, this wouldn’t be fair to Silver Creek Township who has agreed to take the road back without additional money. Carlson said that the road in Silver Creek is in a lot better shape than in Corinna. Fingalson agreed with this, but he said that its condition is why it is scheduled for improvements. There are other roads on the County system that are in as poor condition as CR 123. CR 117 was in poor condition and was overlaid without regrading, and this road has five times the traffic of CR 123. Carlson said that Corinna’s proposal is to receive the money designated for the overlays and to receive an additional $300,000. They feel that they are stepping up to the plate by putting up more than a match. The maintenance really wouldn’t change that much, and the Township’s numbers aren’t any better than they would be for the County. Carlson did say that Corinna would be willing to take over the maintenance right away if the Township and County can come to an agreement. Thelen suggested meeting halfway, which would be less for the County than if it keeps it. In addition, it wouldn’t have 17 years of maintenance. She said that Wright County could save money by looking at this offer as a legitimate good faith offer instead of just giving it back to Corinna with only an overlay. She wouldn’t want to make her citizens pay the total cost of making this a viable road but would like to spread it around the county. Thelen said that she has spoken with a number of commissioners from other counties, and they said that they fix the roads before they turn them back. Fingalson said that this is what Wright County does also, and he doubts that there is any County that regrades a road before a turnback. Wright County plans to mill and overlay before the turnback, and this meets the letter of the law. He understands the concept of meeting halfway, but this would benefit only Corinna and it wouldn’t be fair to Silver Creek. Thelen said that she values fairness, and no other road has been this bad. She said that she would like a public hearing to be held before revoking the road. Fingalson said that he felt that if Silver Creek is willing to take the road back with a signed agreement, the requirement for a public hearing could probably be waived. In the past, many agreements for turnbacks have waived the public hearing, and some Townships/Cities have even waived the two-year maintenance on the road. If Corinna is not willing to sign an agreement to waive the hearing, then a public hearing would have to be held and would have to be recorded verbatim. Thelen asked if a public hearing would be required only if the Township did not want the road, and Kryzer said that a public hearing could be held even if the Township does not insist upon one.
Russek said that he doesn’t feel that more should be done for one township than another and added that he would agree to milling and overlaying the road, giving it back to Corinna, and then have the County maintain it for two years. There have been numerous turnbacks over the years to both cities and townships, and Russek does not see any reason to change procedures or practices at this time. Eichelberg asked about other turnbacks on the schedule and wondered if there were any similarities between them and those discussed today. Fingalson said that the candidates on the list will be proposed for turnback when work in that area is scheduled, which could be ten or more years from now for some areas. Hawkins added that there is no timetable other than the current Five-Year Plan. Fingalson pointed out that CRs 112 and 133 in Woodland Township are revocation candidates in 2013. Eichelberg commented that if something different is agreed to regarding the turnback(s) discussed today, a new precedent would be set and this would complicate things. Thelen asked how many roads have needed the same level of work as does CR 123 in Corinna, and Fingalson said all of the roads need a certain level of work, it just depends on how much of an improvement is being proposed. He added that there have even been some segments taken off the county system that didn’t involve any improvements. Fingalson said that nothing more than a resurfacing has ever been done on a turnback, and that regrading of a turnback candidate has never been done by Wright County. Thelen asked if they needed it, and Fingalson said that, ideally, it would be nice to do, but it won’t happen because there isn’t enough money. Ideally, it would be nice to have a shoulder on CR 123, but it is Wright County’s responsibility to complete the same work that Wright County would do if it were to remain on the county system. CR 123 was resurfaced in 1955 and 1976, sealcoated five years later, resurfaced in 1995, crackfilled in 1998, and sealcoated in 2000. Only roads higher on the system are scheduled for regrading. CSAH 33, for instance, with way more traffic than CR 123, should be rebuilt, but this is not possible so it has to be resurfaced instead, even though we have federal money to help finance this project. Ideally, it would nice to rebuild all the roads, and Wright County has come a long way and reduced the number of restricted roads in the spring, but there isn’t money at this time to do more than is being proposed. Russek added that milling and overlay is exactly what Wright County would be doing if it weren’t going to be turned back. Thelen said that she understands that it would be nice to have all roads improved, but some are in really bad shape and she wanted to know if any other roads were as bad as CR 123 when Wright County gave them back. Hawkins said that there were several in worse shape, including a segment of CR 117 that was given back to the City of Monticello and CR 114 along Lake Pulaski that was given to the City of Buffalo. The City of Buffalo wanted Wright County to make improvements and include bike paths, but Wright County resurfaced it and gave it to the City. Thelen said that there are still a couple of choices, to give it back or to keep it and pay maintenance on it over 15 years. Even with an overlay, the road would still be in tough shape in three to five years. Another possible option to save some money for everyone in the county would be by meeting Corinna halfway and getting that road fixed. That way, neither the Township nor the County would be paying exorbitant costs. If Wright doesn’t give it back, there will be maintenance costs plus another overlay in 15 years.
Dearing said that he talked to an engineer and was told that in order for CR 123 to be a nine-ton road it should have two-foot shoulders and a 3:1 in-slope. Without those two features, it couldn’t be more than a five-ton road. Hawkins said that CR 123 is a 10-ton road except during spring restrictions, and a lot of truck traffic uses it now. Carlson said that without regrading and with truck traffic, the sides will push out. Hawkins said that the newly surfaced structure will meet nine tons, and the roadbed has been there since 1930. Fingalson said that there will be a better structure after the overlay, and this road has not been posted other than during spring restrictions. There are others, including CR 117, that have been posted throughout the year before improvements were made. Russek said that there is more than five times the traffic on CSAH 30 than there is on CR 123, and CSAH 30 doesn’t have shoulders either. The same is true for CSAH 13, and both of these roadways have been there for years. When you tear them up, you make them worse than they were. The roadbed has been established for years, and he doesn’t see it falling apart all of a sudden.
Carlson asked Kryzer whether setting a precedent would determine future decisions, or if every case could be considered on its own merit. Kryzer explained that there are some legal situations where equal protection and equal application of the law apply, such in planning and zoning instances. However, there are factors, including passage of time and various conditions, which help determine different outcomes for similar situations. When dealing with highway issues, it becomes more of a political issue with the County Board and not really a protection or legal issue. Sawatzke asked if it might be possible to take a look at the road at the conclusion of this meeting. He said that he doesn’t think the road needs shoulders, although he doesn’t dispute Corinna’s desire to have them. People have different concepts of what is acceptable, and he is well familiar with CR 117. It doesn’t have shoulders and has a number of snow traps, but it has a decent surface. Considering the limited resources, it is not possible to construct eight to 10 foot shoulders without giving up something else in the program. He is not saying that CR 123 is a good road, but he would like to take a closer look. Carlson agreed that a closer look might be of benefit, but he added that at this time it is harder to see the damage from the frost. He asked that the commissioners look at this transaction from Corinna’s standpoint in terms of what they would like to leave for the future caretakers of this road. Corinna Township officials like to be proactive with their roads and don’t leave them in bad shape. They want to get them up to a higher standard. Sawatzke said that Wright County has limited resources, and Thelen said that she would like the committee members to consider Sawatzke’s suggestion to view the road. Russek proposed that Wright County make the same improvements that it would make if this road were kept on the county system. Mattson said that he agrees that a mill and overlay and two years of maintenance is what should be done, and the pavement preservation resulting in a brand new surface will cost $340,000 of local levy money. The cost for resurfacing CR 123 and CR 143 totals $872,000 for this work in two townships. He said that he would agree to giving Corinna Township $340,000, but they are asking for more than that. Wright County can only do what they have money for. Thelen said that Wright County would be paying more over time to mill and overlay this road again in the future, and meanwhile, it may revert to what it looks like now in just three to five years. In order to make it last, some underlying work should be done, which will save money in the long run. Otherwise, it will just have to keep being fixed and will cost more money. Mattson said that CSAH 5 used to be one of the worst roads in Wright County, but after it was milled and overlaid, it is now a super highway. Fingalson said that he understands that it would nice to meet the Township halfway, but there are just too many other priorities ahead of this, unless some significant changes are made to the budget. Thelen suggested that Wright County take advantage of Corinna’s offer to get a bond and pay it back over time, and she referenced some unexpected money that Wright County had received from the State. Fingalson said that Wright County did receive more State Aid money than expected, but that doesn’t help with this project since these are county roads, not CSAHs. As he said before, this Board represents the county and not the townships. He feels that giving the road to the township, after proposed improvements are made, is the right thing to do. As far as driving the road, he said that Wright County has the video logs and they can be viewed from the current meeting room, which is the next best thing to being there. Wright County has until April 6 to award the bid. Kryzer clarified that the recommendation made today would only be to accept or not accept the alternate. No decision has to be made on the turnback issue. Russek said that he would recommend that both alternate bids be accepted. Sawatzke said that this would commit the County to overlaying the road. Fingalson said that the next step for the Board would be to set up a hearing. In the meantime, the overlay would begin. Thelen expressed her concern that this would leave no option for negotiations with the Township(s). If the road were overlaid, the opportunity for a regrading would be lost. Could the work be delayed if the bid is accepted? Hawkins said that he has posed that question to Knife River, and Knife River agreed that quantities could be reduced after acceptance of the alternate. Thelen wanted to know if work could be delayed until after a public hearing, and Fingalson said that all alternates could be awarded tomorrow and then that portion in Corinna Township could be removed. Some county maintenance would be required, but he is not sure that this is desirable because all agree that this road is in bad shape. Thelen said that maybe once the commissioners hear from the public they would decide to fix it to a better condition. Fingalson said that the Corinna Township Board has done a great job of identifying the shape of this road, and Sawatzke said that he doesn’t dispute what the Board says. If you have more people speak to this issue, they will probably all say the same thing. Sawatzke asked if there is any middle ground on what needs to be done with this road, and Fingalson said that an overlay is a fine improvement. Hawkins added that Wright County’s work is to maintain the surface, and Sawatzke asked if there are certain areas with bad soils that could be improved. Fingalson said that he had talked to the Corinna Township Board members about that, but the consensus was that instead of a partial regrading, they wanted wider shoulders for the whole roadway. Carlson said that there are not culverts in certain approaches to allow the water to drain properly, and that’s where the heaves in the road come from. He talked to another firm, and they recommended that eight inches of bituminous be taken off, or even all of the bituminous be taken off, and then laid back down as a base with an additional 3.5” overlay on top of that. There are some areas where this could be done and maybe do the shouldering after the fact, but the Board doesn’t want to do that. Everyone agreed that the road in Corinna is in worse shape than the road in Silver Creek. Kryzer asked if Knife River could be convinced to extend the time period for an award until after a public hearing, but Hawkins said that they are eager to begin work and have already compromised by agreeing to decrease quantities if work for the alternate is changed. Thelen said that she would like to see if there’s a way to negotiate something before the decision is made to begin the work. Mattson said that the commissioners did set a budget for this coming year, and it is very tight. Work on CSAH 35 west of CSAH 7 for $500,000 was denied because of budget constraints. He would like to stay within the budget.
Carlson said that Corinna would be willing to take the money in the budget for this year and then accept an additional $300,000 from Wright County over the next 10 years with no interest. They will be putting a lot of money into it also, and this will take it off the County books, too. He understands that Wright County’s budget is tight, but so is Corinna’s. This turnback proposal has taken them by surprise. Fingalson commented that it has been his experience that the whole idea of public hearings is to have discussion about these roads, and there has already been significant discussion, both at the Township meetings and at the TCOTW meetings. He is not sure what will change by having a public hearing. Thelen said that this would be an opportunity for the public to say what they want as far as getting the road back. Eichelberg asked Meyer if there is another way to address the drainage issues, and Meyer replied that when the drainage issues are outside the realm of the right of way, it becomes much harder for the County than the Township to address. Carlson agreed that it is easier for the Township to deal with this instead of the County.
Thelen asked for a summarization and a recommendation, and Russek said that the people who drive this road now would be the same people who would drive it if the County fixes it up. If the County overlays this road and turns it back, it’s not going to change the use of this road. The same people will be driving it. Russek said that he recommends awarding the bid tomorrow, do the overlays in the alternates, and then turn the roads back. Hawkins said that this project was bid early in the year, and good bids were received. Wright County has a verbal agreement with Silver Creek on its portion, so the alternate could be awarded tomorrow, work could be done on all but the Corinna portion, and if it gets too late to do Corinna this year after the hearing, it could be done in 2014. This way, Wright County could take advantage of the good bids and get Silver Creek’s portion done. Knife River has already agreed that prices won’t go up if the quantities decrease. Meyer asked if there is a possibility that this project wouldn’t get funded in the future, and in the meantime, there would be more costs with the maintenance. Carlson said that Corinna Township would like this year’s budget money plus extra to help get it fixed up. The public hearing probably won’t bring forth any new information, so it really won’t be a factor in the decision. He prefers to get this done on a timely basis. Sawatzke commented that the next time overlay work is scheduled for this area is 2014. The road could be overlaid, and then the County Board could decide to make the Township take it back or could decide to keep it. The Board will have to decide what is more appropriate. Langenbacher said that he would like to clarify Silver Creek’s reason for accepting this road back, which is not because the board members are happy with it but because they feel it is the best deal they’ll get. They would like to have improvements made also, but they feel that a mill and overlay is the best they will get.
Fingalson said that as a member of the TCOTW, he supports Russek’s recommendation of awarding the contract tomorrow, doing both alternates, and then turning the road(s) back. He doesn’t want to delay this decision or make a decision that would require more maintenance. He thinks that doing this work will not be less expensive in the future, and he thinks that the project should proceed. Eichelberg asked if Knife River agrees and the Silver Creek portion is done, would Corinna agree to take the overlay money, and Dearing said that Corinna wants $680,000, and not just the overlay money. Eichelberg said that he would go along with both Russek and Fingalson, and that a delay would not solve anything. There is no more money this year or next to do more. The maintenance after a mill and overlay is less than it would be if it were left ‘as is.’ Mattson said that he agrees with Russek, Eichelberg, and Fingalson, and he would like to move forward. The bids can be accepted and the overlays can be done. The County Board will have to decide, at a later time, on the turnbacks.
[After a more thorough reviewing of the current Minnesota State Statute and consulting with another attorney from the County Attorney’s office regarding the requirement of a public hearing in the event of a road turnback to a Township, it was determined (due to an amendment added in 1994 dealing with Townships) that a public hearing is required before any turnback can become official, regardless whether or not the Township disputes the decision of the County.]
RECOMMENDATION: It was the recommendation of four members (Russek, Eichelberg, Mattson, and Fingalson) of the TCOTW that Wright County accept the low bid, including both Alternate #1 and Alternate #2, for the 2012 Overlays, as submitted by Knife River Corporation on March 6, 2012, and that work begin as soon as Knife River is ready to commence the project. Any decision regarding the turnback of CR 123 and CR 143 to either or both Corinna Township and Silver Creek Township will be addressed at a later time.
2) I-94/CSAH 19/CSAH 37 Project in Albertville – Status Report given by City representatives. Kruse stated that he was happy to share good news with the TCOTW that the I-94/CSAH 19/CSAH 37 Project in Albertville will begin soon. Nafstad said that there had been a lot of interest in this project by bidders, with six companies bidding, with the low bid from Eureka Construction coming in under the engineer’s estimate. The good news for the County is how the County/City participation agreement reads, which dictates that if bids came in under the estimate, the savings would be prorated back to the County. Originally, $1.64 million was the maximum amount that the County agreed to contribute. The low bid was $6.65 million, which is 11% lower than the engineer’s estimate of $7.45 million, saving the County $177,000. The amortization schedule [Attachment 3] is programmed at 1.28% and is played out over 20 years, with two payments due to Albertville each year. The savings, because of the low bid, will almost cover the amount of interest for 20 years. Nafstad said that the State is reviewing the bid, and Albertville is hoping to award the bid at the April 2nd meeting with construction beginning in May. Utility locates will be done in April, and the City is optimistic that construction will be completed by November 15, hopefully before Black Friday of Thanksgiving week. Fingalson said that the proposed agreement drawn up by the City was essentially approved by the Wright County Board in February, but with an added reference that the County would receive an invoice from the City for the payments due twice a year. Also added to the agreement was a requirement for a ‘statement of construction’ that is required from the Wright County Highway Department by the auditors. These additional references will be added to the agreement. Nafstad commented that this is a big project for the City, and he thanked Wright County for helping make this happen. The City held a public hearing to explain how this is going to work, and Nafstad said that not one negative comment was made. A number of parties will be affected, but this is a good project and will have a very positive outcome. On behalf of Albertville’s mayor and its council, Kruse thanked the County Board and Highway Department staff for working with the City. The project is a culmination of eight years of planning, and it has turned out well. Anytime work is done on the State and/or Federal system, there is a lot of heavy lifting for the local people. He thanked the Board for their financial support and other help and will be sure to invite them to the ribbon cutting as soon as a date is established so they can all celebrate this success together. Fingalson commented that without the leadership of the City of Albertville, this wouldn’t have happened. They have been patient throughout the long process, and it is great to see this become a reality. He said that the agreement is already approved and just needs signatures. Fingalson said that the auditors have requested that payments for a debt service project should come out of a budget that is not tied to the operating budget of the Highway Department, so this can be discussed at budget meetings. Kruse announced to the TCOTW that Nafstad (who now works for Bolton & Menk, Inc.) will become the Public Works Director for the City of Albertville, effective April 6.
3) Solicitation of Enhancement Projects (This was added to the agenda by Dick Mattson, for discussion purposes only.) Mattson explained that the Region 7W Transportation Policy Board he chairs to discuss and award funds to projects with federal funds got a little heated up at the last meeting because of how things have changed with the rating system. He said that the mayor of Monticello was quite upset with how the candidates were graded by the Region 7-W Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) at their meeting to determine rankings of projects. There were also concerns about the recommendations from the TAC about the enhancement projects. It was this action of the TAC that prompted Mattson to send a letter (as Policy Board Chair) to the TAC members.
Fingalson said that the 7W groups (TAC and Policy Board) deal with four different types of projects: Road/Bridge, Railroad-Highway Grade Crossings, Transportation Enhancements, and Public Transit (buses). Three years ago the TAC established an Enhancement Subcommittee to provide funding recommendations to the TAC. At the TAC level, there are four county engineers (Benton, Sherburne, Stearns, and Wright), plus city engineers for all cities over 5,000, because they have their own state aid system. The group also includes transit representatives, like Chad Gessell of River Rider Heartland Express. MnDOT is also involved, and this group comes up with a recommendation of how to allocate the money available for that budget year (2016). There is a ranking system for the technical projects so that when the projects are submitted they know what the number is going to be. That ranking system was modified a bit this year, so that instead of using a numerical system, there is a ‘high,’ ‘medium,’ and ‘low’ ranking that can be chosen for the various project factors. Prior to three years ago, there wasn’t any kind of committee that reviewed the enhancement submittals and made a recommendation to the TAC what should be chosen. It was up to the TAC to rank them. There is a requirement that 10% of this federal transportation money has to be used statewide for enhancement projects, but there is no requirement that enhancement money has to be spent specifically in each region. In fact, one year there was no enhancement money awarded in the 7W Region. Before the TAC begins ranking projects, they review the rankings and recommendations that have been determined by the various County Boards in the region and the Enhancement Subcommittee. In the instance of Wright County and to what Mattson is referring, the Wright County Board ranked the Cokato project above the Annandale project. In addition to those two projects being submitted from Wright County, the City of Monticello also submitted a project for enhancement funds. The City is able to do this because its population is over 5,000 and it has its own state aid system. The Enhancement Subcommittee and the TAC felt strongly that the Monticello project be recommended over either Annandale or Cokato, because Monticello met the criteria better and had more regional significance. Because neither Fingalson nor Hawkins were able to sit on the Enhancement Subcommittee this year, Fingalson recommended that Marc Mattice (Wright County Parks Administrator) sit on this group, because he is very knowledgeable about regional trail systems. Members of this committee, including a representative from the DNR, the Sherburne County Public Works Director John Mentor, City of St. Michael Engineer Steve Bot, and a representative from MnDOT found that Monticello’s enhancement project ranked higher than either Cokato’s or Annandale’s. The TAC is responsible for ranking both road and bridge projects and enhancement projects. Though the Monticello project ranked above the other two enhancement projects submitted, the TAC felt that the road and bridge project submitted by Monticello to improve the intersection of TH 25 and CSAH 75 in downtown Monticello was not worthwhile for what it would gain. Part of the improvement would be to add turn lanes, which would primarily benefit the TH 25 system. MnDOT just got done milling and overlaying that roadway last year, and they did not see the need for that improvement at that time. Fingalson said that a big concern of the TAC was that if MnDOT doesn’t think it is a priority, why should money be used for this when there are other worthwhile local candidates. Nafstad said that there is a relatively small pot of money available to improve the local system, and this project seemed to benefit the MnDOT system, which has its own funding source. The TAC has been loyal to projects with the highest regional significance, the least amount of money associated with right of way costs, and traffic improvements that focus on mobility and capacity.
After Mattson’s letter was sent, a suggestion was made by Fingalson and other TAC members for the TAC and the Policy Board to get together so that they are on the same page. The TAC is trying to do the best they can from an engineering and technical standpoint based on criteria. If something different needs to be done at the TAC level, members need to know what it is that they should be doing differently. Both groups will be meeting in June, and perhaps these meetings could be combined as part of a joint meeting to discuss this. Mattson said that he wanted the Board to hear this explanation of what is going on, or otherwise it is a waste of time and per diem if recommendations are not followed. Fingalson said that Annandale and Cokato both went up against tough competition in Monticello, which has an impressive proposal. Mattson said that he thinks that Monticello should be at the County Board meeting to present their projects when the other cities present theirs. Thelen asked if there is any point of the County Board giving a recommendation. Fingalson said that such a recommendation may not be needed, now that we have an Enhancement Subcommittee. There should be great clarification so that everyone is on the same page to know what is being sought. Nafstad explained that both Cokato and Annandale came to the County Board meeting because they need the County to act as their sponsor. Monticello, being over 5,000 in population, doesn’t need the County as a sponsor. Hawkins added that cities of 5,000 can submit on their own, but cities under 5,000 need to have the County as a sponsor. Thelen said that if a city doesn’t have a regional system in its vicinity, then the rating will always be low. Fingalson said that this is not a black and white issue, and it does need some more tweaking. Mattson said that now he will be able to explain to Annandale and Cokato what happened. Fingalson said that he didn’t even know that Monticello had a project until just before the TAC meeting. He thinks that this needs to be talked about and clarified. Monticello did get approved for an enhancement project (trail system up to Montissippi Park), but it was their road and bridge submittal that got denied on a five to four vote of the Policy Board.
(End of 3-26-12 TCOTW Minutes)
Bills Approved
Allina Hospitals & Clinics 108.67
American Tower Corporation 11,183.59
Ameripride Services 299.55
Anderson/Dirk 125.00
APEC Industrial Sales & Serv. 605.26
Apollo Glass Company 725.35
Aramark Services Inc 13,198.78
Asplin Travel Plaza/Kirk 108.00
Bankers Advertising Co Inc 4,286.44
Buffalo/City of 60,505.59
Center Point Energy 330.96
Centra Sota Coop. - Buffalo 1,128.94
CenturyLink 203.37
Climate Air 2,961.62
Consulting Radiologists Ltd 167.20
Cottens Inc 2,857.48
Crop Production Services Inc 1,435.00
Croteau Plumbing 454.95
Determan/Karen 177.00
Envirotech Services Inc 3,312.34
Fitterer/David C 2,404.00
Forensic Polygraph Inc 300.00
Globalstar USA 118.24
Glunz Construction LLC 125.00
Hillyard Inc - Minneapolis 1,858.64
Holiday 20,072.27
Kramber/Greg 288.00
LaPlant Demo Inc 162.50
Larson Companies LTD/W D 641.20
Lawson Products Inc 535.05
M-R Sign Company Inc 2,918.95
Marco 6,019.72
Marco Inc 679.14
Marties Farm Service 146.28
Menards - Buffalo 164.77
MN County Attorneys Assoc. 125.00
MN Dept. Of Labor & Industry 554.75
MN Dept Of Transportation 21,761.39
MN Recreation & Park Ass’n Inc 100.00
Mobil Satellite Technologies 839.88
Morries Parts & Service Group 435.05
Motorola Inc 12,994.98
Mumford Sanitation 129.87
North American Salt Co 68,073.38
Nuss Truck & Equipment 1,073.76
Office Depot 311.59
ORyans Conoco 170.00
Performance Office Papers 332.51
Ramada Plaza Suites Fargo 218.80
Russell Security Resource Inc 1,407.66
Ryan Chevrolet 129.55
Safelite Fulfillment Inc 180.93
SHI International Corp 6,717.48
Stoll/Brian 155.50
Suburban Emergency Assoc. Pa 133.79
T & S Trucking 14,238.00
Traffic Control Corporation 940.50
Triplett/Keith 570.00
Trueman Welters Inc. 149.99
Utility Truck Services 433.62
Waste Management-TC West 2,280.73
Woodford/Michael 106.50
Wright Co. Journal Press 101.48
21 Payments Less than $100 908.07
Final Total $276,183.61
The meeting adjourned at 10:11 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal April 30, 2012.

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