Wright County Board Minutes

AUGUST 28, 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 8-21-12 Wright County Board Minutes, seconded by Eichelberg. The motion carried 5-0.
Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows: Aud./Treas. Item #4) County Ditch 19 Repair Request (Hiivala); and Aud./Treas. Item # 5) County Ditch 24 Floating Bog Update (Hiivala). Eichelberg moved to approve the Agenda with changes, seconded by Russek and carried 5-0.
On a motion by Russek, seconded by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: D. Schreiner, Admin.; C. Hohl, A. Duis, Atty.; J. Brown, IT; G. Lebovsky, P&Z; A. Chaney, T. Klaers, Sher.
2. TriCounty Regional Forensic Laboratory Report, July 2012.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, asked to reconvene the Tax Forfeiture Committee. Two cities have asked to take properties off the Tax Forfeiture list. Hiivala suggested Tuesday, 9-4-12 at 8:30 A.M. prior to the regular Wright County Board Meeting. Russek moved to schedule the Tax Forfeiture Committee meeting for 9-4-12 at 8:30 A.M. in the Auditor/Treasurer’s Conference Room. Eichelberg seconded the motion. Hiivala said the Agenda will include reviewing requests from the two cities and setting a sale date for the Auditor/Treasurer list. Norman asked Hiivala to post the Agenda by Thursday, 8-30-12. Hiivala will send it to the Administration Department. The motion carried 5-0.
Hiivala requested a Joint Ditch 14 Meeting for 9-12-12 at 7:00 P.M. in the Stockholm Township Community Center. Hiivala said the project is ready to move forward on the Ditch. If the Board approves the time and date as suggested, Hiivala said he will notify Meeker and McLeod Counties. Mattson asked when the Ditch Authority will decide to postpone requests or proceed. He asked Asleson whether this is a legal matter. Hiivala said the Ditch Authority has fielded requests and met with the benefitted property owners. They understand the size and scope of the project. They have consulted Asleson and Kurt Deter of RInke Noonan. Hiivala said the Ditch Authority is ordering the work to be done. He agreed with Mattson that time is of the essence. He assured Mattson that the 9-12-12 meeting would be an action meeting. Mattson suggested adding language regarding time limits for responding to requests. Asleson said he was not aware of any time limits per State law. He said each of the ditch requests were different. He agreed that requests should not get postponed indefinitely because farmers are affected. Hiivala said they have all the information they need to go forward. Comments from the public will be fielded at the meeting. Russek moved to set the Joint Ditch 14 Meeting for 9-12-12 at 7:00 P.M. at the Stockholm Township Community Center. Mattson seconded, and the motion carried 5-0. Hiivala said a concerted effort will be made to notify the three major landowners.
Hiivala announced that he received bids for Joint Ditch 15 received as of 4:30 P.M. 8-27-12. Eichelberg moved to amend the Agenda to add the Joint Ditch 15 Bid Opening. Mattson seconded, and the motion carried 5-0. Hiivala said they received three bids:
1) Wuetherich Excavating, Norwood, MN;
i. Base Bid, $18,450.00 at $1.75/ft;
ii.Alternate Bid, $14,256.00
2) Fyle’s Excavating, Monticello, MN;
i. Ditch 15 Cleanout $18,195.00;
ii.Opt. for trees both sides + 2,500.00, $20,695.00;
iii.Remove only trees in way - 2,500.00 (Pile; landowners burn),$15,695.00
3) Rettman Excavating, Hutchinson, MN
i. Base Bid $30,925.00 for 11,300 feet
ii. Alternate Bid + $4,500.00
Hiivala said it appears the contractors were utilizing different measurement lengths. He asked the Board to defer a decision while he confirms a standard length of feet to be included in the bid. Hiivala will then ask the contractors to resubmit their best price accordingly. Wuetherich appears to be at $1.75/ft, but Hiivala said it is important to verify that all three bidders are using the same measurements. Hiivala said he will analyze the bids and bring a recommendation for award to the County Board Meeting on 9-4-12.Russek moved to postpone awarding a bid for Joint Ditch 15 for one week until bids are analyzed. Mattson seconded, and the motion carried 5-0.
Hiivala informed the Board that the French Lake Homeowners Association has requested permission to clean out part of County Ditch 19 at their own expense. Hiivala said the Association has spoken with Kerry Saxton, Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). Hiivala presented a map illustrating the area in question, which is different from the section of repair on which the Ditch Authority is currently working. Saxton expressed concerns to Hiivala that the Association request may adversely impact the existing repair work. Hiivala said the Association cleanout work could be approved with the caveat that Saxton inspect the work upon completion. Sawatzke suggested Saxton inspect the proposed cleanout area first, provide guidelines and then inspect it afterwards. Hiivala said Saxton has talked to the Association already. The Ditch Authority does not want the Association to improve the ditch systems. Sawatzke added that they are not allowed to by law. Mattson moved to approve the French Lake Homeowner Association request to clean out County Ditch 19 at the designated site. Russek seconded, and the motion carried 5-0.
Hiivala provided an update regarding County Ditch 24. Saxton has worked with the vendor to remove the bogs. The vendor has collaborated with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR proposed that the vendor secure a $1 million dollar bond. Saxton says the bonding process will delay the project for a time; however, the vendor is working with the DNR and the project is moving forward. This is an informational item only.
Mattson clarified the claim to Towmaster for custom truck work under Unallocated Non-Highway Operations for a total of $277,555.45. Russek responded that often the equipment costs more than the truck itself. On a motion by Mattson, seconded by Russek, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.
The regular Wright County Board Meeting adjourned to convene the Public Hearing regarding the proposed Social Host Ordinance. Tom Kelly, County Attorney, said this Ordinance is not a magic bullet to prevent youthful drinking. It will, however, give law enforcement and the County Prosecutor the additional tools they need. Kelly said the State is not going to enact a uniform statute. It is currently against the law to consume alcohol under the age of 21. He said it is bad public policy to allow individuals to aid and condone this behavior. Kelly said this Ordinance would make it unlawful to promote an environment to allow such underage drinking parties to take place. Since 2007, 83 cities, with Shorewood becoming the 84th, as well as 19 counties have adopted Social Host Ordinances.
Kelly provided an overview:
Summary of Ordinance: It’s illegal to host or allow a gathering of three or more people on private or public property where the host knows or reasonably should know that minors will consume alcohol and the host does not take reasonable steps to stop it. It is unlawful to provide an environment where underage drinking takes place, without regard to who supplied the alcohol to the minors. A “knowing” host does not have to be present to be criminally responsible. Is a misdemeanor maximum penalty 90 days in jail and/or $1000 fine. Ordinance covers all municipalities and townships within Wright County.
“Reasonable Steps” include: 1) Telling minors at gathering that they can’t consume alcohol 2) Posting sign near keg/beer/liquor that minors are not allowed to consume alcohol 3) Adult supervision to monitor who is consuming the alcohol 4) Controlling access to alcohol 5) If not sure check identification of attendees to determine age 6) “Reasonable Steps” are what “common sense” would tell you under the circumstances…
- Authority…Minn. Stat. 145A.05, Subd. 1…This is the public health statute that allows County Board to adopt an ordinance throughout county to regulate actual or potential threats to the “public health.” The potential health concern addressed by the ordinance is “minor consumption” and the negative consequences associated with it. Commissioners desire to protect the health, safety and welfare of all persons within Wright County.
- Purpose…Commissioners want to discourage minor consumption and hold criminally responsible those “host” who knowingly allow gatherings where minor consumption is taking place and take no reasonable steps to stop it. It doesn’t matter if host supplied the alcohol or not. Minor consumption is harmful and constitutes a potential threat to public health requiring prevention or abatement. Abatement protects minors and general public from injuries and potential harm.
- Need…It is difficult to prove who provided the alcohol to minors. Looking for a deterrent effect by holding “knowing” host liable. At present time, if someone host a party and some individuals present are under 18 years old, we could charge contributing to delinquency. Also, if someone host a party and provided the alcohol and we could prove it, we could charge procuring alcohol for minors. However, at present time, it is legal to “knowingly” host a party for people 18 to 20 years of age, as long as they did not provide the alcohol. The ordinance would address this void and give us the necessary tool to hold a “knowing” host responsible.
- Event or gathering…Any group of three or more persons.
- Host…Means to aid, conduct, allow, entertain, organize, supervise, control or permit a gathering, whether that host is present or not.
- Residence/Premises…Any home, yard, farm, field, land, apartment, condominium, hotel/motel room, hall/meeting room, park or any other place of assembly whether public or private and whether occupied on a temporary or permanent basis and whether used with or without permission.
- Prohibited Acts…Unlawful for any person to host or knowingly allow a gathering to take place at any residence/premises/property either public or private in Wright County where alcohol is present and the person (host) knows or reasonably should know that a minor will or does consume alcohol or possess the alcohol with intent to consume and the host fails to take reasonable steps to stop it. Host is criminally responsible if he/she intentionally aids, advises, hires, counsels or conspires with or otherwise procures another to commit the prohibited act. A host doesn’t have to be present to be criminally responsible.
- Exceptions…1) Doesn’t apply between parents and their children within the parents home 2) Doesn’t apply to legally protected religious observations 3) Doesn’t apply where landlords, farmers and other property owners did not know, nor was it reasonable under the circumstances to know, that minor consumption was taking place on their property 4) Doesn’t apply to parents who are gone or at home and don’t know nor was it reasonable for them to know that minor consumption was taking place.
- Knows or reasonably should know…Provides the necessary Mens Rea (guilty mind) to hold someone criminally responsible.
- Effective Date…30 days following final passage and adoption.
Argument for Ordinance…
The state isn’t going to enact a uniform state statute.
It is against law for anyone under 21 to drink alcohol. It is bad public policy that allows individuals the ability to aid and condone such behavior by allowing/encouraging an environment for it to happen. We all know that underage drinking parties are taking place. Ordinance makes it unlawful to provide an environment where underage drinking takes place, regardless of who provided the alcohol. Minn. Stat. 145A.05, Subd. 1 allows county board to adopt ordinances to regulate actual or potential threats to public health and enacting an ordinance is in the interest of public health and public safety.
The hope is that by imposing criminal responsibility on hosts it will have a deterrent effect and reduce the number of underage drinking parties. Jurisdictions with social host ordinances have found success in reducing the number of underage drinking parties. Since 2007 83 cities and 19 counties have passed a social host ordinance.
The ordinance provides the necessary Mens Rea (guilty mind) to hold someone criminally responsible by requiring that the individual knows or reasonable should have known of the prohibited conduct taking place…”reasonable knowledge” is a fair standard…
Underage drinking (alcohol) poses important public health and public safety risks. Ordinance will benefit with issue of minor consumption. Alcohol related incidents are a leading cause of death among teenagers. This should be of concern to professionals, policymakers, parents and others who are attempting to reduce the negative consequences of underage alcohol use. Recent statistics show that 53% of underage drinkers aged 12 to 20 would drink at someone else’s home and 30% of the time they would drink in their own home with others. Underage drinking is rampant and most kids think it is their right of passage. The culture today is beer bongs, beer pong, quarters and other drinking games. Unfortunately, it appears the culture now is for kids to drink as fast as they can and as much as they can. The alcohol content we are seeing is extremely high. Binge drinking is killing people. People are walking into traffic and wandering into rivers. Underage drinking could lead to alcohol poisoning, increased injuries, sexual assaults, lowered school/job performance, DWI’s, license revocations, criminal vehicular operations resulting in injuries or death and civil liability. This ordinance would help make our county/communities safer and healthier.
If someone hosted a party and individuals under 18 were present and consuming, we could charge contributing to delinquency. If someone hosted a party and provided the alcohol and we could prove it, we could charge procuring alcohol for a minor. However, at present time, it is perfectly legal for someone to “knowingly” host a party for individuals between 18 and 20, as long as they did not provide the alcohol. Courts have ruled that a host who allows a party to happen in their home or other location and they even have knowledge of 18 to 20- year-olds consuming and who did not provide the alcohol or who did not take the alcohol away or who did not stop the party can’t be prosecuted for providing or furnishing alcohol to minors. At present time, without the ordinance can’t charge the person who knowingly host (but does not procure) an underage party if minors are between 18 and 20 years of age. The ordinance would fill this void in our laws and allow us the necessary tool to hold a “knowing host” of an underage party criminally responsible. Ordinance will not eliminate underage drinking but will help close loopholes in current laws.
We need an ordinance because it is difficult to prove who provided the alcohol to the minors. Also, issuing minor consumption tickets can be viewed by some youth as a “badge of honor” or no big deal. Unfortunately, under our system, minor consumptions are considered “payables” and don’t require court, probation or other intervention. That is why we have started the diversion program for minor consumption to address the issue at hand.
- Mere ownership of property doesn’t make one liable…have to prove owner knew or reasonably should have known of the minor consumption taking place on their property and took no reasonable steps to prevent it…
- Parents who are away and have no knowledge that their kids are throwing a party…
- Landlords who have no knowledge of underage party taking place…we will proceed against tenant…
- Farmers who have no knowledge of underage party taking place on their property…
- Conduct solely between underage person and their parents on their parent’s property…
- A gathering of two or less…you need three or more under ordinance…
- Ordinance violation alone will not result in a property owner losing their property…
COMMON SENSE should dictate prosecution and enforcement…looking for blatant violations where someone is “knowingly and willingly” hosting a gathering for minor consumption and they have no desire to stop it and even encourage it by knowingly allowing an environment for it to happen…With all the negative consequences that result from underage parties we should not “knowingly” allow that to happen…
- State office of MADD because it supports one of their missions which is to prevent underage drinking
- Wright County Attorney
- Wright County Sheriff
- Annandale, Buffalo, Howard Lake Police Chiefs
- Wright County Human Services/Public Health
- Wright County Safe School Committees
- Wright County Court Services (Probation)
- MEADA (Meth Education and Drug Awareness Coalition of Wright County)
- Safe Communities of Wright County
- City Prosecutors for Buffalo, Annandale and Howard Lake
- City of Otsego
- Connie Holmes, Mayor of Waverly, but not speaking on behalf of whole council…
- Stockholm Township
- Dave Nelson, Clearwater Township Supervisor…he believes this is government intrusion on private property and could make criminals out of those who wish to have a family barbecue…he feels the responsibility should be placed on young adults 18, 19 and 20…they are adults and should be responsible for their own actions…
(End of summary of Social Host Ordinance by Tom Kelly, County Attorney).
Kelly said “reasonable knowledge” is a fair standard to uphold. Alcohol-related incidences are the leading cause of death for teenagers. This year in Wright County a youth came to school with a .40 blood alcohol level, which is close to death. Binge drinking is killing people.
Kelly said if someone hosts an underage gathering and there are people under 18 present who consume, law enforcement are currently able to charge them with a gross misdemeanor for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. At the present time, if someone hosts an underage gathering and provides alcohol, and it can be proven, the individual would be charged with procuring alcohol for a minor. The problem with the current law is that courts have ruled that a host who knowingly allows a party with underage drinking in their home, but did not provide the alcohol, cannot be prosecuted under the legal definition for procuring alcohol. That is the void in the law. Kelly said the County Court Services Department has developed a diversion program for underage youth who have been charged with alcohol consumption to educate them regarding the negative consequences of drinking alcohol.
Kelly assured the Board and those present that law enforcement and his Office will not charge parents if they are gone and their children have a party, as long as the parents were not aware of it. The Mens Rea standard applies: The adult has to know or reasonably should have known about the underage drinking. He said the same applies to landlords. If they do not have knowledge of the party, law enforcement will not charge them or attempt to do so. Instead, efforts will focus on pursuing the tenants. Kelly said the same is true for farmers unless they know or it was reasonable for them to know. Additionally, parents with their underage children at home would not be in violation of the Ordinance.
Kelly reiterated that the gathering has to involve three or more individuals under the Ordinance. He said common sense has to dictate law enforcement and prosecution. Abuse in the system is always possible, but that is possible with any part of the criminal code. Kelly said the intent of the Ordinance is not to attack family gatherings or graduation parties. The Ordinance is designed to give law enforcement and the County Attorney Office a tool not currently available. Officials are looking for blatant violations when someone knows and willingly hosts a gathering for underage participants.
Kelly listed the organizations promoting the Ordinance, as well as comments from Clearwater Township Supervisor Dave Nelson, who states that the Ordinance is government intrusion on private property. Nelson said young adults ages 18 to20 should be held responsible for their decisions. Kelly said the Clearwater Township Board voted unanimously to oppose the Social Host Ordinance at their 8-20-12 meeting.
Kelly said the County Board feels the issue of underage drinking is a threat to public health and safety. He concluded, saying the bottom line is that it is unlawful for any person to host or knowingly allow minors to consume alcohol. The Social Host Ordinance would become effective thirty days from final passage, if adopted by the County Board.
Mitch Weinzetl, City of Buffalo Police Chief, echoed Kelly’s concerns about underage drinking. He recounted an incident in Buffalo from a few years ago when a young man took his life during a two-day party hosted by an adult. The young man who took his life was alone for an entire day before anyone discovered him. There was no law to prosecute the adult host. Weinzetl said our culture tends to view underage drinking as benign. However, Weinzetl said young people lack mature judgment. He appreciated concerns from the public regarding how the “known or reasonably known” provision of the Ordinance would be enforced. The goal of law enforcement is to find the violators.
Charlie Borrell of Woodland Township asked the age of the young man who took his life. Weinzetl responded that he was between 18 and 20. Borrell said it can be difficult to prove that the host knew someone at the party was underage. He said a 22-year-old host may deny alcohol to guests who appear too young, but often the guests bring their own liquor. Borrell said the underage drinkers should learn to bear the responsibility for their actions and pay the consequences, not the host. Borrell said he will oppose the Ordinance unless it affects people 18 and younger. Kelly responded that underage drinkers have responsibility to follow the law. Hosts should be held to a “known or reasonably should have known” standard regarding what is happening in their home. Borrell said society lacks individual responsibility and accountability. Charging the host implies that underage youth are not accountable. Borrell said 18-year-old youths are not children and they should be charged. The 22-year-old host is not breaking the law, but this Ordinance would make them criminals. He opposed the Ordinance in its entirety.
Joe Hagerty, Wright County Sheriff said there are already laws for youth under age 18, and the charge is either a Misdemeanor or Gross Misdemeanor. He said when his officers are alerted to an underage party, they talk to the people as they leave, ask questions, and follow up by issuing citations for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He said this Ordinance would affect gatherings of three or more. He said the Misdemeanor or Gross Misdemeanor charges are not a huge mark on the person’s criminal history. He is comfortable that this Ordinance would not be used to conduct a witch hunt. He said if the Mens Rea (guilty mind) evidence is weak, law enforcement won’t press charges. Hagerty said the County has held off establishing a Social Host Ordinance because it was assumed the State would pass a law. That did not happen. Sometimes talking with adult hosts of underage parties can effect change, but other times there are tough cases when it would be good to have the Ordinance. Hagerty said it will be used sparingly.
Mike MacMillan, Court Services Director, spoke regarding Safe Schools. He said underage consumption is a critical issue in schools and communities. They are looking for effective tools to address the issue. At a recent Safe Schools meeting, the vote was nearly unanimous in favor of the proposed Social Host Ordinance. The Court Services Department deals with offenders after the enforcement. An important rule for his Department is prevention. Sober Cabs, classes, Integrated Substance Abuse Program (ISAP), and alcohol testing are helpful, but the more tools there are to address this issue, the better. On behalf of Safe Schools, MacMillan said the Court Services Department supports this Ordinance. Russek said Borrell should hear some of the tragic stories told at the Safe Schools meeting.
Pat Hackman, Executive Director of Safe Communities of Wright County, said her organization has worked hard to reduce drunk driving and fatalities. Wright County is the sixth deadliest County related to alcohol. She said the numbers have dropped in recent years due to combined efforts of groups like hers, but the Social Host Ordinance would help even more. Hackman said research is clear that in all 50 states, Social Host Ordinances were responsible for reducing underage binge drinking and driving. Safe Communities of Wright County support this Ordinance. She said many adults view underage drinking as a part of growing up. Four years ago there were more than 1000 fatalities on Minnesota roads. Last year there were 368. Why was there a decrease? Hackman said more restrictive traffic laws were passed. As a result, a different social norm evolved related to drinking and driving. The Social Host Ordinance will do the same to underage drinking in homes. Hackman said there is no safe place for an underage person to drink. The human brain does not fully develop until the mid-twenties. She said that is why car rental companies won’t rent to anyone under 24. There is a strong correlation between alcohol and violence, drug abuse, sexual assault and other crimes. The Social Host Ordinance is not a silver bullet, but it does send a message that social norms in our community need to change. Hackman said the Ordinance is a huge step in that direction.
Teri Lachermeier, Community Representative At-Large, Buffalo Methamphetamine Education and Drug Awareness Coalition (MEADA), said her organization has partnered with the County Sheriff and Attorney Offices for nine years to promote the dangers of drugs and alcohol abuse. MEADA has utilized posters and postcards directed at graduating high school seniors for the last three years. She said the Social Host Ordinance is a valuable tool with which to educate the public about this important issue. She said the County leadership has integrity, and she feels strongly that they will use this tool to educate the public and improve the situation. Lachermeier said MEADA will continue their efforts as well. Lachermeier thanked the Board for considering the Ordinance.
Jeff Herr, Annandale Police Chief, mirrored previous comments supporting the Ordinance. He said one month ago the City lost a 19 year-old to an overdose of prescription drugs. Herr said the Department could have used this Ordinance during the last 22 years. He said his Department will not use the Ordinance every day, but it will be effective in educating the public. Herr said the Social Host Ordinance would be a great tool for his Department.
Tracy Vetruba, Howard Lake Police Chief, supports the Ordinance because he would like to see a reduction in underage consumption. Charles Paschke, Howard Lake City Attorney, agreed, saying the City fully supports the Ordinance.
Jill Hylla, County Health Promotion Coordinator, said her Unit has seen a drop in adults contributing to underage drinking due to increased compliance checks. She said the Social Host Ordinance would be an effective deterrent for underage consumption. The County Public Health Department supports this Ordinance.
Mattson said he has been Chair of the District Three Eleven County ATP, and the safety expert there will always say when we argue about different areas of driving, “How much is a life worth?” and nobody will say another word. One mistake-is it worth a million dollars? How much is a life worth? This Ordinance is a tool to try to say that.
Borrell spoke again, saying he wanted to make it clear that he is not for underage drinking and driving. He does not see how this Ordinance would save a life. Borrell said the Ordinance piles on unnecessary laws, as underage drinking is already illegal. Kelly responded that the Ordinance does have the potential to save a life. About a year ago in St. Michael an underage individual was consuming at a residence, got into his car and killed someone. Maybe if the Ordinance had been in effect then, the host wouldn’t have allowed the minor to consume. Borrell asked Kelly if it was illegal for the minor to consume alcohol. Kelly said yes. Borrell replied that the minor could have been charged.
Thelen asked Kelly to explain how the Ordinance related to this specific situation. Kelly said the Ordinance would address people ages 18 to 20 who consume alcohol with a knowing host, when the host does not stop the underage consumption, and even if they did not provide the alcohol. If the youth is under 18, law enforcement and the Attorney Office can prove procurement. Kelly said it is bad public policy to allow such situations. Thelen interjected that law enforcement cannot press charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor or procurement if the consumer is 18 to 20 years of age. Kelly said that is correct. The proposed Social Host Ordinance would close that gap. Borrell differed, saying there is no gap. The 18 to 20-year-olds who consume alcohol will be charged. He said the Ordinance would add responsibility to the host. The responsibility should be placed on the underage consumer.
Thelen closed the public hearing and resumed the regular County Board Meeting at 10:21 A.M.
Sawatzke asked Kelly to clarify the differences between the Wright County Social Host Ordinance and others across the State. Sawatzke also questioned why the number three was chosen for the size of gatherings that would be enforced by the Ordinance. He asked Kelly how the language in other ordinances varies from this one. Kelly said the Ordinance is not new. So far 19 counties and 84 cities have enacted Social Host Ordinances substantially similar to the one proposed today. The number three (for the size of the gatherings that would be affected) may have come from an old public nuisance law, but he wasn’t sure. The Ordinance would not apply if the gathering is comprised of two or less people.
Kelly explained that he added Section 6 (e) to the Ordinance to clarify for whom or which situations would not be considered in violation of the Ordinance. He said the vast majority of other Social Host Ordinances do not have (e) in Section 6, but stop at (d). Kelly said this Ordinance mirrors others passed in the State of Minnesota. He wants to make clear that the purpose of this Ordinance is to curtail the blatant violations taking place in Wright County communities.
Sawatzke asked if there were two 21-year-olds and one youth aged 20 3/4, would that be a violation? Sawatzke said if a father and mother were drinking with their 19-year-old, that would be okay, but if the same youth drank with his aunt and uncle, that would be considered a violation. Kelly agreed. Sawatzke asked if the number three applies to the total number in the gathering or just the number of underage drinkers. In other words, if only one were under 21, would that still be illegal? Kelly said it would.
Eichelberg said the host could be arrested in the scenario of three with only one person underage. Common sense says they would not be arrested. Kelly said under the new Ordinance, it is possible they could be arrested. He added that there is always the possibility for abuse in the system, but that’s why there is a need for the checks and balances in the criminal justice system. The Prosecutor looks at each case and determines whether there is enough evidence to win the case.
Sawatzke asked if Kelly had considered wording the Ordinance to state “three or more underage persons gathered.” That would avoid situations where only one of the three is underage. Kelly responded that he would rather let common sense dictate enforcement before changing the Ordinance prior to passage. The other Social Host Ordinances in the State utilize the same language currently in the proposed Ordinance regarding three or more in a gathering. Sawatzke said it would be possible to have twenty people and not know the age of everyone present.
Mattson moved to approve the Social Host Ordinance, seconded by Russek. Thelen said she attended the Clearwater Township Meeting when they moved to oppose the Ordinance. Their concern is that gatherings of reasonable people with good intent may be vulnerable to criminal charges, such as at a family barbecue. Thelen said that Kelly answered those concerns regarding the Mens Rea criteria. She thought the concerns of the Clearwater Township Board were not unreasonable, but that Kelly answered them effectively. She said she is in favor of the Ordinance. The motion carried 5-0. Ordinance #12-02 follows:
This ordinance prohibits any person or persons from hosting an event/gathering where alcohol is present and being possessed or consumed by persons less than twenty-one (21) years of age. This ordinance also establishes penalties for any person or persons hosting such an event/gathering.
Be it enacted by the Wright County Board of Commissioners, as follows:
Section 1. Title and Authority. The Wright County Board of Commissioners desires to protect the health, safety and welfare of all persons living in and visiting the County. The use of alcohol by persons under the age of twenty-one (21) is prohibited by State statute. This ordinance prohibits and establishes penalties for any person hosting an event or gathering where alcohol is present and being possessed or consumed by persons less than twenty-one (21) years of age. This ordinance is enacted pursuant to Minn. Stat. sec. 145A.05, subdivision 1.
Section 2. Purpose and Findings. The Board of Commissioners of Wright County intends to discourage underage possession and consumption of alcohol, even if done within the confines of a private residence, and intends to hold persons criminally responsible who host events or gatherings where persons under 21 years of age possess or consume alcohol regardless of whether the person hosting the event or gathering supplied the alcohol. The Wright County Board of Commissioners finds that:
(a) Events and gatherings held on private or public property where alcohol is possessed or consumed by persons under the age of twenty-one are harmful to those persons and constitute a potential threat to public health requiring prevention or abatement.
(b) Prohibiting underage consumption acts to protect underage persons, as well as the general public, from injuries related to alcohol consumption, such as alcohol overdose or alcohol-related traffic collisions.
(c) Alcohol is an addictive drug which, if used irresponsibly, could have drastic effects on those who use it as well as those who are affected by the actions of an irresponsible user.
(d) Often, events or gatherings involving underage possession and consumption occur outside the presence of parents. However, there are times when the parent(s) is/are present and, condone the activity, and in some circumstances provide the alcohol.
(e) Even though giving or furnishing alcohol to an underage person is a crime, it is difficult to prove, and an ordinance is necessary to help further combat underage consumption.
(f) A deterrent effect will be created by holding a person criminally responsible for hosting an event or gathering where underage possession or consumption occurs and the host knows or reasonably should know that such conduct is taking place.
Section 3. Definitions. For purposes of this ordinance, the following terms have the following meanings:
(a) Alcohol. “Alcohol” means ethyl alcohol, hydrated oxide of ethyl, or spirits of wine, whiskey, rum, brandy, gin, or any other distilled spirits including dilutions and mixtures thereof from whatever source or by whatever process produced.
(b) Alcoholic beverage. “Alcoholic beverage” means alcohol, spirits, liquor, wine, beer, and every liquid or solid containing alcohol, spirits, liquor, wine, or beer, and which contains one-half of one percent or more of alcohol by volume and which is fit for beverage purposes either alone or when diluted, mixed, or combined with other substances.
(c) Event or gathering. “Event or gathering” means any group of three or more persons who have assembled or gathered together for a social occasion or other activity.
(d) Host. “Host” means to aid, conduct, allow, entertain, organize, supervise, control, or permit a gathering or event, whether that host is present or not.
(e) Parent. “Parent” means any person having legal custody of a juvenile:
(1) As natural, adoptive parent, or step-parent;
(2) As a legal guardian; or
(3) As a person to whom legal custody has been given by order of the court.
(f) Person. “Person” means any individual, partnership, co-partnership, corporation, or any association of one or more individuals.
(g) Residence or Premises. “Residence” or “Premises” means any home, yard, farm, field, land, apartment, condominium, hotel or motel room, or other dwelling unit, or a hall or meeting room, park or any other place of assembly, public or private, whether occupied on a temporary or permanent basis, whether occupied as a dwelling or specifically for a party or for any social function, and whether owned, leased, rented, or used with or without permission or compensation.
(h) Underage Person. “Underage person” is any individual under twenty-one (21) years of age.
Section 4. Jurisdiction This Ordinance shall be applicable in all incorporated and unincorporated municipalities (city or township) within the boundaries of Wright County under the jurisdiction of the Wright County Human Services Board. This Ordinance does not preempt any ordinance adopted by a city (or township), as long as said ordinance is no less restrictive than this Ordinance.
Section 5. Prohibited Acts.
(a) It is unlawful for any person(s) to host or knowingly allow an event or gathering to take place at any residence, premises, or on any other private or public property in Wright County under the following circumstances:
(1) where alcohol or alcoholic beverages are present; and
(2) the person knows or reasonably should know that an underage person will or does:
i.) consume any alcohol or alcoholic beverage; or
ii.) possess any alcohol or alcoholic beverage with the intent to consume it; and
(3) the person fails to take reasonable steps to prevent possession or consumption by the underage person(s).
(b) A person is criminally responsible for violating Section 5 of this ordinance if the person intentionally aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with or otherwise procures another to commit the prohibited act.
(c) A person who hosts an event or gathering does not have to be present at the event or gathering to be criminally responsible.
Section 6. Exceptions.
(a) This ordinance does not apply to conduct solely between an underage person and his or her parents while present in the parent’s household.
(b) This ordinance does not apply to legally protected religious observations.
(c) This ordinance does not apply to retail intoxicating liquor or 3.2 percent malt liquor licensees, municipal liquor stores, or bottle club permit holders who are regulated by Minn. Stat. sec. 340A. 503, Subd. 1(a)(1).
(d) This ordinance does not apply to situations where underage persons are lawfully in possession of alcohol or alcoholic beverages during the course and scope of employment.
(e) This ordinance does not apply to situations where landlords, farmers, and other property owners did not know, nor was it reasonable under the circumstances for them to know, that underage possession and/or underage consumption was taking place on their property.
Section 7. Enforcement. This ordinance can be enforced by any police officer, sheriff’s deputy, or certified peace officer in the county.
Section 8. Severability. If any section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase, word, or other portion of this ordinance is, for any reason, held to be unconstitutional or invalid, in whole, or in part, by any court of competent jurisdiction, such portion shall be deemed severable, and such unconstitutionality or invalidity shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this law, which remaining portions shall continue in full force and effect.
Section 9. Penalty. Violation of Section 5 of this ordinance is a misdemeanor.
Section 10. Effective Date. This ordinance shall take effect thirty (30) days following its final passage and adoption.
Passed by the Wright County Board of Commissioners this 28th Day of August, 2012.
(End of Ordinance #12-02, Wright County Social Host Ordinance).
A Personnel Committee Meeting was held 8-22-12. Sawatzke summarized the minutes. Regarding the Health Partners rebate for Affordable Care Act’s Medical Loss Ratio, Norman explained that February 2012 was the last month of the Plan Year, and the rebate is based on the 2011 Plan. He added that the numbers related to the individual rebates are not final in the minutes because the original data included retirees and Cobra participants. Sawatzke moved, seconded by Eichelberg, to approve the recommendations and minutes of the 8-22-12 Personnel Committee Meeting. The motion carried 5-0:
A. Case Aide II, Human Services.
Charbonneau distributed a document describing the functions of the position, the State Statutes mandating truancy services, and the revenue generated (see attached). The Case Aide covers most of the truancy cases. The position interacts with schools and parents, provides education, tracks attendance and coordinates services with the goal of diverting students from future truancy and averting the need for social worker case management. The Case Aide also meets with families prior to court, shows them a video that explains their rights, obtains a brief social history and initiates case paperwork. Charbonneau reviewed 2011 truancy statistics and funding levels outlined in her handout.
Charbonneau said there are 43 schools that refer to Human Services within the ten school districts, as well as 30 online schools. Eight of the schools refer to Human Services on a regular basis. The Case Aide functions as a liaison to the schools.
Sawatzke asked how attendance was monitored for students who take online classes. Charbonneau said most have contracts with their family regarding the number of hours they will spend at school. Students are tracked by their logins and assignment completion. She said this method effectively monitors online students.
Sawatzke said he was present at a meeting yesterday where school officials praised Wright County for the effectiveness of the truancy program.
Recommendation: Authorize replacement of Case Aide II position.
B. Financial Worker, Human Services.
Antl handed out a position replacement request for the Financial Worker position in the Family Financial Unit (see attached). The vacancy occurred when a former employee resigned. Antl said the average caseload of 225 is higher than surrounding counties. She listed the position details and funding as outlined in the request. Antl added that caseloads continue to grow. She said another employee who works in the Adult Financial Services Unit, supervised by Maloney, is interested in this position. It would be a lateral move. If this position is not filled by the employee from the Adult Unit, then the open position (in the Family Financial Unit) would need to be replaced. If the employee from the Adult Financial Unit fills the position, then the Financial Worker position in that Unit would need to be filled.
Sawatzke commented that the Committee recently authorized temporary help for the Agency. Antl said that did not affect this position. She explained that cases were added to existing workers.
Recommendation: Authorize replacement of Financial Worker position.
C. Office Technician I, Recorder.
Gabrelcik distributed a document with background information on her request for authorization to hire an Office Technician I in the Recorder Office (see attached). She explained that she was not requesting that this position be filled now. Instead, she is asking for the reserved Office Technician I position to be reinstated. The last Office Technician I position hired recently transferred to Human Services.
Sawatzke asked how many staff were budgeted for the Recorder Office. Gabrelcik stated her Department is budgeted for ten employees. Due to the recent transfer, she now has seven. Sawatzke asked to clarify that Gabrelcik has eight employees currently, and that two positions remain unfilled. Gabrelcik said she is requesting the reserve position be reinstated so she can fill it quickly if business increases. She said the reserve position would be the ninth position when filled. Gabrelcik said once the newest Office Technician starts, there will be eight employees. Petersen added that the Recorder Office will then have eight positions filled and 2 vacancies. The last vacancy in the Recorder Office was filled approximately March 2011. Petersen said Gabrelcik was a good steward of her Office funds by keeping this position on hold. She added that Gabrelcik is not planning to advertise now for this position. One open position will be on hold, and the reserve position (the one being requested at this meeting) will be available, if approved, once the need arises.
Gabrelcik said the reserved position would allow her to hire quickly, since she will have already gone through the formal process with the Personnel Committee. Petersen said she did not think this position was approved as reserved. Norman said the Committee originally asked Gabrelcik to come back when her Office needed this position filled.
Sawatzke asked if Gabrelcik planned to hire the ninth position at this time. Gabrelcik said she was not. Sawatzke asked if she would fill the position immediately when the demand increases. Gabrelcik said she would, due to a State mandated 10-day turnaround requirement. Norman clarified that the action Gabrelcik seeks is authorization to fill the Office Technician I position when the Office experiences an increase in business. Petersen interjected that Gabrelcik has proven she will only hire for this position when the need is pressing, since she has held the reserve position open for a year and a half. When the last employee left to go to Human Services, Gabrelcik filled the reserve position. Peterson said Gabrelcik had eight employees and lost one for a month between the person who transferred out and the newest one, who is scheduled to start 8-27-12.
Gabrelcik said she wants to refill the ninth position if the need arises without having to come back to the Committee for approval. Eichelberg advised her to communicate with the Personnel Representatives. Sawatzke understood that Gabrelcik cannot predict the workload, but asked her if she thought she would hire for this position in the next six months. Gabrelcik responded that she hopes business will continue to increase. In addition, she needs another staff person to manage an imaging project. Eichelberg asked whether a temporary employee could be used to work on the imaging project. Sawatzke asked how long it would take to complete the project. Gabrelcik said more than the 67 days allowed for temporary help.
Norman said document numbers are up because revenues are up. The Recorder Office numbers are right on target. Sawatzke asked Gabrelcik what the current revenues are for the Recorder Office. She replied that the Office takes in more than one million dollars. The budget is $750,000. Sawatzke said the Office is a profit center. He asked that Gabrelcik not hire an Office Technician I unless it is needed.
Recommendation: Authorize replacement of Office Technician I position when workload requires.
D. Office Technician I, Auditor/Treasurer.
Gooler circulated a memorandum from Tanya West, Land Records Administrator that requests filling the vacant Office Technician I position in the Auditor/Treasurer Office (see attached). Gooler said this is a front line position that handles passports and helps with elections. The Department lost an additional front line person to work on County ditches. Gooler said the position needs to be filled due to the general election this fall and the number of absentee voters. Passports are continuously busy. Tax time is approaching. This is a revenue-generating position.
Petersen said the Office Technician I position requires a high school education and one year of experience. Peterson asked whether this position also sorts mail or performs other front desk duties. Gooler responded that it does occasionally. License Bureau employees provide relief for the switchboard receptionist, although they have also been short staffed lately due to vacations and illnesses. When the License Bureau is understaffed, they ask Tanya’s staff to assist with receptionist breaks. Gooler said the employee who relieves the receptionist also gets a break, which extends their time away from their work station.
Sawatzke asked whether the Assistant Finance Director position is the only other position vacant in the Department at this time. Gooler thought there was one more Office Technician position open. Sawatzke said he believed the other Office Technician position transferred to Ditches. Petersen clarified, saying an Office Assistant position became an Account Technician, effectively eliminating an Office Technician position and increasing the Accounting staff by one. Sawatzke asked if there were two positions open for a time. One of them received grant money to cover staff time. Petersen said there are no open positions authorized to be filled except the Assistant Finance Director.
Sawatzke asked whether the Auditor/Treasurer Department is experiencing an increase in business. Gooler said they receive a constant influx of tax payers, as well as an increase in passports. Despite the fact that there is substantial revenue-generating activity, each task consumes time. Gooler said it takes staff thirty minutes for passport requests.
Sawatzke asked for an update on the status of the remodeling project in the Department. Gooler said they made a space by the public terminals in the hall. There is also a desk top that works well. Staff uses that area for filling out absentee voting forms and other documents.
Recommendation: Authorize replacement of the Office Technician I position in the Auditor/Treasurer’s Department.
E. Communications Shift Supervisor, Sheriff.
Norman passed out copies of an email from Greg Howell with a request for replacing the Communications Shift Supervisor (see attached). The prior Communications Shift Supervisor took a voluntary demotion to fill a Civilian Communications Officer position. The Sheriff Office would like to promote someone within the Office to the Shift Supervisor position. Sawatzke asked whether there was only one Shift Supervisor. Petersen said the Sergeant is there during day hours.
Eichelberg said the Office was hoping someone from within their existing staff would step forward and apply. Brown said she has not talked with any supervisors in the Office. Position qualifications require three years of dispatch experience. The Office is focused on finding a qualified internal candidate to move into the position. Brown continued that normally the County does not post a job for one specific department. Sawatzke said this situation does not involve replacing a position but rather changing job titles between two people. He felt the Sheriff should decide in this situation.
Norman explained that if the Office did not have an internal candidate, they would have to come back to the Personnel Committee to request a replacement. Sawatzke said in that case, the County would have to lay off a position. Eichelberg asked whether the Sheriff Office could require a staff person to be the supervisor. Norman said they cannot. Petersen said the Supervisor position could be eliminated and existing staff retained at their current level. Sawatzke said he assumes this request will result in an internal position replacement. If not, the Committee will need to discuss it further.
Recommendation: Authorize Replacement of the Communications Shift Supervisor position internally.
Norman said the County received a Medical Loss Ratio rebate check from Health Partners for $74,652.60. Sawatzke asked if that is in reference to a letter employees recently received from Health Partners. Norman said it was. Sawatzke asked whether employees get a check. Norman responded that the distribution of the rebate depends on decisions the Committee makes at this meeting. Sawatzke asked for a summary of options. Norman said County options are somewhat limited. Petersen distributed a spreadsheet with details regarding the number of employees utilizing the County’s health insurance, and the percentages of premiums paid by the County and employees (see attached). Norman explained that the employer (the County) currently pays 100% of single coverage. For those with single coverage, the County should get the entire rebate. For employees with family coverage, the County currently pays an average of 65 to 66 percent of the premium. Sawatzke asked the difference in County contribution between the plans. Petersen replied that the County currently pays 62 percent for Plan 1, 65 percent for Plan 2 and 70% for Plan 3.
Norman explained that for those with family coverage, the County should receive the percentage it contributes and the remainder be distributed to the employees with family coverage. He explained that Personnel Representatives met with the Payroll Department regarding the best way to implement this rebate. Payroll staff prefers to issue an individual, one-time check. Petersen added that this would be a taxable addition to the individual employee’s income. Sawatzke said the premium was paid as pre-tax income. Brown said the rebate must be taxed. This could be considered a reduction in premiums. The Auditor/Treasurer Department felt this would be the best way to administrate the rebate.
Sawatzke said the County will have to decide how to use its portion. Norman suggested depositing it in the General Fund. Sawatzke said the Committee is not only deciding how to distribute the money, but also how to use it.
Petersen said she read the Affordable Care Act portion regarding the rebate. The County is required to pick a date. The Personnel Representatives and Norman chose the last month of the plan year, which was February 2012 (the rebate covers 2011). They calculated the number of employees with single coverage at 437 for a total premium of $329,260.66. There are 207 employees with family coverage. The total premium for this group is $294,688.90. The County has 644 employees enrolled in health insurance, for a grand total of $623,939.56 paid in premiums.
Petersen asked whether the rebate should be shared with retirees and former employees utilizing Cobra benefits. Those amounts are insignificant compared to the whole. Petersen said she did not figure these two groups in the groups mentioned in the previous paragraph. Sawatzke noticed there are two people eligible for Cobra benefits. Petersen said there are also 16 retirees accessing health care benefits through the County employee plans. Norman asked if the Cobra people are single coverage or family. Petersen replied that both retirees and Cobra clients pay 100 percent of the premium.
Norman said he feels the rebate should be reserved for current employees. Sawatzke asked Norman to explain his rationale. He agrees that families paying part of the premium should get a rebate for their portion. Norman responded that current employees were employed at the County at the time this decision was made. Those who have previously left the County would not get a rebate.
Petersen referred to page two of the spreadsheet that outlines proposed rebates for employees, itemized by Plan 1, 2 and 3. Employees covered under Plan 1 would get $77.71, those under Plan 2 would receive $63.31, and employees who chose Plan 3 would receive $42.90. Petersen added that an alternative would be to average the numbers.
Norman said it was his understanding that if an employer offers multiple plans (as the County does), the employer has to give the rebate to the employee in that Plan. Averaging would not comply with this requirement. Sawatzke said while averaging is easier, it is more equitable to calculate the rebates as the bill directs.
Norman asked for support of the methodology the Administration Department and Personnel Representatives developed. The numbers will be verified. Petersen said the two retirees and 16 former employees covered under Cobra were not included in her calculations. Brown said the County could charge them 102 percent of the premium to recoup administrative costs, but only asks them to pay 100 percent. These individuals save 2 percent every month on their premiums which amounts to more than the proposed rebate.
Brown added that the rebate is not based on County usage of health benefits, but is based on Health Partners usage statewide. She said if the rebate were based on County usage alone, there would be no rebate.
Petersen said employees in different unions may pay slightly different premiums. Employees in one union may pay $945 per month and another $942. She used $942 in her calculations. Sawatzke advised Petersen not to differentiate between unions, but use the calculated numbers for each Plan.
Norman said the County has already received the rebate check. Petersen said the employee rebates have to be paid within three months of receipt. Brown said that would be September 21, 2012. Petersen said she will not include dental premiums in her calculations and will compute a number that accurately reflects the health insurance premium for Plans 1, 2 and 3. The rebate will be distributed to employees with family coverage only, as they participate in the premium and those with single coverage do not. She will use February 2012 as the month eligibility is determined. Recommendation:
Authorize Personnel Representatives to proceed with processing employee Medical Loss Ratio rebate checks.
Based on the review of four Performance Appraisals submitted, the Committee recommends an overall rating of “Superior.”
(End of 8-22-12 Personnel Committee Minutes).
Mattson expressed thanks from he and his wife for Kelly, Hagerty, Norman, Backes and Sawatzke for their well wishes during his absence.
Bills Approved
Allina Medical Transportation $500.00
Allina OCC Med 190.00
Ameripride Services 206.65
Anoka County Corrections 25,126.00
Aramark Services Inc 12,925.90
Arctic Glacier USA Inc 899.80
Arrowwood Resort 389.24
Boyer Truck Parts 706.69
BP Amoco 3,364.76
Carefree Lawn 1,830.00
Center Point Energy 317.27
Centra Sota Coop - Buffalo 10,093.69
CenturyLink 256.61
Core Professional Services 800.00
Corinna Township 1,338.75
Custom Towing LLC 213.75
Dave Sager Plumb. & Heating 2,630.00
Dell Marketing LP 5,856.21
Design Elect. Inc-Cold Spring 1,803.50
Election Sys. & Software Inc 279.00
Federated Co-ops Inc 526.16
FirstLab 229.79
Frontier Precision Inc 149.55
H&R Const Co 2,017.92
Hardings Towing Inc 534.35
Holiday Inn - Owatonna 338.40
Hollinger Metal Edge 305.90
Howard/Jolanta 200.00
Integrated Fire & Security 3,972.50
Intoximeters Inc 414.14
Junction Towing & Auto Repair 142.14
Kelly/Lee 496.78
Lake Region Coop Oil 109.68
Linder/Jacob M 2,759.00
Maple Lake/City of 248.75
Marco Inc 1,569.26
Maresh/Wanda 103.00
Mathiowetz Construction 1,301,018.61
Matt Legal Services 200.00
Menards - Buffalo 212.09
MN Lawyer Newspaper 299.00
MN State Bar Association 377.50
North Suburban Towing Inc 134.09
Office Depot 861.58
Ramacciotti/Frank 100.00
Rand Worldwide Subsidiary Inc 825.00
Rasmuson/Anthony 214.60
Royal Tire Inc 1,646.36
RS Eden 936.49
Russell Security Resource Inc 2,442.45
Shakopee Towing 221.24
SHI International Corp 371.92
Sprint 2,196.18
Suburban Emerg. Assoc. PA 273.44
Theisen/Cynthia M 308.00
Total Printing 326.77
Towmaster 277,555.45
Verizon Wireless 805.93
Voss Lighting 320.30
Walmart Store 01-1577 969.71
Webber Recreational Des. Inc 5,087.25
Wright County Highway Dept 52,204.01
Wright Hennepin Electric 542.00
Wright Lumber & Millwork Inc 187.89
Xcel Energy 765.80
Zarnoth Brush Works Inc 632.70
23 Pymts. less than $100 1,198.64
Final total $1,737,080.14
The meeting adjourned at 10:30 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Sept. 24, 2012.

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