Wright County Board Minutes

MARCH 19, 2013
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Husom, Sawatzke, Daleiden, Potter and Borrell present.
Daleiden moved to approve the 3-12-13 County Board Minutes as presented. The motion was seconded by Potter, and the motion carried 5-0.
Norman said Claims were not included in the Agenda, and should be added to the Auditor/Treasurer’s items. Daleiden moved to amend the Agenda by adding Claims. The motion was seconded by Husom, and carried 5-0.
On a motion by Potter, second by Daleiden, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda.
Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, requested the Board approve abatement of penalties for 2011 real property taxes on Property Identification (PID) # 107-020-000121 and PID # 107-500-132205. Asleson provided a brief history. The two parcels are the site of the bowling alley in Delano, and have been the subject of three years of tax appeals contesting the valuation of the property for tax purposes. A settlement was recently negotiated regarding the valuation for purposes of taxes payable in 2010, 2011, and 2012. The settlement is contingent upon the owners gaining approval of an abatement of penalties paid in connection with the 2011 taxes.
Asleson said under the provisions of MN Stat. Section 375.192, the County Board may grant abatements of valuation, taxes paid, penalties and interest “as the Board deems just and equitable.” Requests for abatement of penalties and interest must have the support of the Auditor-Treasurer. In this instance, both Bob Hiivala, Auditor-Treasurer, and Greg Kramber, County Assessor, agree with this request.
Asleson stated that the Board may grant abatements under the Statute for only the current year and two years prior. For the two prior years, abatements may only be granted for clerical errors or because the taxpayer failed to file for an abatement or adjustment “due to hardship, as determined by the County Board.”
Asleson said in this case, the 2011 tax appeal was filed by the previous owner of the property. The previous owner abandoned the property in August 2011 without paying any of the 2011 property taxes. The current owners, who held a mortgage on the property, paid the 2011 taxes in full on 11-30-11, once they had a deed in lieu of foreclosure from the previous owner. Included in the 11-30-11 payment was a total of $2,931.80 in penalties, the amount Asleson is requesting to have abated.
Borrell asked whether all the back taxes will be paid except the penalty. Asleson said that was correct. He added that the 2012 taxes are paid as well. Before the County began discussions with Bob Zahler, a partner in the bowling alley business, the 2007 and 2008 taxes were paid. The current owners were reluctant to pay the 2011 taxes while the possibility still existed that the prior owner who abandoned the business would come back and claim it. As soon as the current owners obtained possession of the property, however, they wanted to bring the taxes current. Asleson said all taxes are paid at this point. Sawatzke asked if the interest was paid as part of the penalty. Asleson said there is no interest that he is aware of. The 2011 taxes were unpaid. The penalty amount was added once the October 15th tax payment deadline was passed. Asleson said interest did not begin accruing until after 12-31-11. This is the amount the owners were penalized for not paying property taxes on time.
Daleiden asked whether the business is currently open. Asleson said it is to the best of his knowledge. The former owners took over the business again in August 2011, a few weeks before the onset of league season. They resumed control of the business and became fully involved in its operation.
Daleiden asked if this abatement does not preclude the owners from contesting 2013 taxes. Asleson responded that the County has already negotiated tax valuation for this year. He explained that when the County receives a tax appeal, three or four years are settled at a time. In this case, the property value remained level and reductions were fairly nominal. Kramber felt confident about the assessed property values. The actual total refund on the taxes for three years is around $9,000. The $2,900 penalty is over and above the tax amount.
Borrell moved to approve the abatement of penalties for 2011 real property taxes on PID # 107-020-000121 and PID # 107-500-132205. The motion was seconded by Potter, and carried 5-0.
A Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 3-13-13. The recommendation of the Committee was to approve the three position replacements. Potter moved to approve the 03-13-13 Personnel Committee Minutes and Recommendations, second by Borrell. The motion carried 5-0:
A. Fiscal Manager, Human Services
Kieft said the current Fiscal Manager, Larry DeMars, is retiring at the end of March. Kieft distributed an organizational chart for the Human Services Department (Agency) and the job description for the position (see attachments). Kieft said the job description accurately reflects the position duties. However, the organizational chart does not illustrate the level of leadership DeMars has exhibited over the years. Kieft added that DeMars has developed a strong Unit. DeMars has also acted as Director in the absence of the Human Services Director. Kieft said this position touches every aspect of the Agency. DeMars has been a valuable resource for him, and will be difficult to replace. Kieft requested both internal and external postings. DeMars is currently on Class J on the Non-Union Salary Schedule.
Sawatzke asked whether this position was impacted by the Classification Study. Kieft said it was not. Kieft said DeMars is at the top of his salary range, or about $20,000 above Step One compensation. Sawatzke asked whether Kieft was going to restructure the organization as part of the process, or wait until he appraised the skills and experience of the new person before initiating changes. Kieft replied that DeMars’ retirement presents an opportunity to re-evaluate the organizational structure. However, he was not requesting any changes at this time. Kieft wondered whether it made sense to designate a Deputy Director in the future. All office support staff report to the Fiscal Manager. Kieft said alternatively, these positions could be placed under the supervision of various Units within the Agency. That would reduce the amount of employees under the Fiscal Manager’s supervision, and would change the position from a Manager to a Supervisor position.
Sawatzke said at one time, the Social Services Manager became Acting Director in the Director’s absence. After that, the Fiscal Manager (DeMars) performed in that capacity. Sawatzke said Kieft will decide who is best qualified to hold the position of Acting Director. Kieft responded that any Manager may assume Acting Director responsibilities.
Norman said prior to 2009, when the Board froze several unfilled positions, an Assistant Finance Manager position was created in the Auditor/Treasurer Department. The intent of that position was to consolidate accounting functions throughout the County organization. Currently there are accounting functions in Human Services and the Highway Department. Norman asked the Committee to remember the original purpose of the Assistant Finance Manager position when the Auditor/Treasurer asks to fill it in the future.
Kieft said he discussed the Fiscal Manager position with DeMars. The Fiscal Officer position currently under DeMars’ supervision would be someone who could potentially function within a County-wide accounting pool. Norman said accounting functions would not necessarily move to a different office location, but would have a direct reporting relationship to the Auditor/Treasurer Department.
Sawatzke said the Fiscal Manager is the head of that Unit, and performs Supervisor and Manager functions similar to the Public Health Nursing Director. Sawatzke asked the difference in responsibilities between a Manager and a Supervisor. Kieft said a Manager oversees a Unit (several teams of employees), and a Supervisor leads one of those teams.
Kieft said most county Fiscal Managers have a great deal of experience. There are complex revenue streams and cost reporting requirements in Human Services, which makes it difficult to hire someone with general accountant experience. Kieft prefers someone with transferable expertise. He is not familiar with the current job market. He said there may be one or two internal applicants. Kieft referred to the Minimum Qualifications on Page 3 of the job description, including a four-year college or university accounting or related degree, five years of accounting experience with an emphasis on technology, and two years of supervisory experience, preferably in a Human Services Agency. Kieft said a technology background is very important. He summarized by saying they are looking for an accounting person with government and supervisory experience.
Recommendation: Authorize replacement of Fiscal Manager position in Human Services.
B. Sign Technician, Highway
Hawkins requested authorization to replace a Sign Technician position which has been open since July, 2010, due to a workers compensation issue. Prior to 2010, the Highway Department operated one sign truck with two full time employees for most of the year, and added an additional sign truck with two temporary employees in the summer. Last year temporary staff filled the open position. Hawkins hoped that, pending Committee approval, the position could be filled permanently.
Sawatzke listed the Highway employees who work on Sign Maintenance: Cordell as Supervisor, one full time person, two summer workers and the person hired for this position. Husom asked how temporary positions are filled. Hawkins said last year a temporary employee worked for 120 days. Husom said after 120 days they would start to accrue benefits. Sawatzke asked whether the Union prohibited hiring temporary staff for more than 120 days. Norman said the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the AFL-CIO, Local 49 allows a term longer than 67 days compared to the terms specified in the Public Employers Labor Relations Act (PELRA).
Cordell said safety issues are a factor when a Sign Technician works alone. If a Sign Technician were injured, no one would be there to help. Additionally, when one is sick or on vacation, there is no one to fill in. He added that getting two summer crews for sign maintenance is imperative given the number of signs on County roads.
Hawkins asked whether he will need to bring a request to the Personnel Committee to fill a Highway Maintenance position if one transfers to the Sign Technician position. Sawatzke affirmed that Hawkins would have to present his request to the Personnel Committee for a Highway Maintenance worker.
Recommendation: Authorize replacement of Sign Technician position.
C. Deputy Sheriff, Sheriff
Norman said Howell notified Personnel in December, 2012 about the need to fill this position. There was no Personnel Committee in January, 2013, and since no representative from the Sheriff Office attended the February Personnel Committee meeting, the item was laid over until today.
Sawatzke asked whether any background information was available. Norman said this position replaces a Deputy who resigned effective 1-02-13. Sawatzke said there are three open Deputy positions in addition to this one that have not been filled for about three years. Originally there were five open Deputy positions. Former Sheriff Miller said there was not enough activity in the County to warrant filling those positions. Sawatzke said a year or two later, Miller traded two Deputy positions for an Information Technology position, leaving three Deputy positions unfilled.
Recommendation: Authorize replacement of Deputy Sheriff position.
(End of 3-13-13 Personnel Committee Minutes)
Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator, requested approval of a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) between Wright County, the City of Monticello, and Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC) for a Single-Track Mountain Bike Trail in Bertram Chain Of Lakes Regional Park. Mattice said the MOU expires 12-31-13, as MORC works on a calendar year. MORC is an offset of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). MORC helps establish and design sustainable park trails. Mattice said MORC leaves no ecological footprint. The trails are only two to three feet wide. Mattice said the trail design process will go through the County Parks Commission, and Bertram Chain of Lakes Advisory Board. Mattice said the MOU has been reviewed by the Bertram Chain of Lakes Advisory Board and the County Attorney’s Office. MORC provides the County with contacts, including a dirt boss and a trail steward who works with Mattice on planning and design. There will be an open house on March 28, 2013 from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. at Monticello City Hall regarding the partnership between MORC, the City of Monticello and the County. This is an opportunity to review preliminary trail plans and to receive public input on the planning process. Mattice said they are working with MORC to generate sensitive trail design and manage maintenance issues. He added that there are limited mountain bike trails in the County parks system.
Husom asked whether MORC will be responsible for volunteers and maintaining the trails so the County will incur no extra costs. Mattice said that the County is responsible for coordination, but MORC volunteers will be doing the routine maintenance. There will be some administrative workload for the County. There may also be some County labor involved. For example, Parks staff may assist if there is a large tree snag that MORC volunteers are unable to safely take down.
Sawatzke asked Mattice to confirm that current staff, schedule and tools will be utilized for this project at no extra budgetary costs. Mattice said that was correct. Sawatzke asked what other parks the County has with mountain bike trails. Mattice said mountain bikes are allowed at Stanley Eddy Memorial Park Reserve. However, those trails are not sustainable for mountain bike use. Consequently, a lot of mountain bike enthusiasts will not go there. He said Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park would be the only park with a narrow bike trail.
Daleiden asked Mattice to explain sustainability. Mattice said there are many trails that go straight down slopes and are not sensitive to land formation and plant communities. This sustainable trail system alleviates erosion and has less impact than trails that are designed without consideration of topography and landscapes. In addition, it takes less maintenance, there are fewer washouts and gullies and is in general more environmentally friendly. Daleiden asked if MORC works throughout Minnesota. Mattice said they do, and their last project was at Three Rivers Park at Elm Creek. It’s a very well designed and maintained system. He spoke with Bo Carlson from Three Rivers Park District about MORC. He recommends the organization and would use them again. Mattice reiterated that MORC is a volunteer organization. The County would not pay them any consulting or other fees.
Husom asked whether mountain biking is allowed at Lake Maria State Park. Mattice said it is not. Daleiden moved to approve the Memorandum Of Understanding Between Wright County, the City of Monticello and Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists. Potter seconded, and the motion carried 5-0.
There was a Parks Commission Meeting on 3-11-13. They recommend another special waterfowl hunt for veterans with disabilities in conjunction with Wright County Pheasants Forever at Robert Ney Regional Park in 2013. Last year’s event was the first of this kind for the County Parks system, and was successful. Mattice would like to build on that success. The County partnered with Four Points Retrievers Club, Hasty-Silver Creek Sportsmen’s Club, Pheasants Forever and County Veterans Services. He said it was a fun event enjoyed by all. It was gratifying to see the smiles on the faces of the veterans. Since the waterfowl hunt would be held in a County Park and the Parks Ordinance prohibits hunting, the Board must give permission for this special event. No date has been set. Mattice said it will probably be scheduled on the second weekend of waterfowl season. The Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service establish the season later in the year.
Husom moved to approve the special waterfowl hunt for veterans with disabilities at Robert Ney Regional Park, seconded by Daleiden. Sawatzke said he attended last year’s event after the hunting activities.
He affirmed that the whole day was a huge success. Last year there was a raffle. This year Parks may have to initiate that process again to accommodate the number of interested people. The motion carried 5-0.
Mattice moved to an informational presentation of the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Coalition Strategic Plan (GMRPTC Plan). There are two reasons behind creation of the Plan: 1) To support the 25-year Parks and Trails Legacy Plan; and 2) To support Legislative requirements established during the 2012 session. Mattice said the Parks and Trails Legacy Plan came after the November 2008 elections when citizens of Minnesota voted for a 3/8 of 1 percent sales tax to go to clean water, parks, environment, historical and cultural endeavors. Out of that vote came the 25 Year Parks and Trails Legacy Plan. It is a Statewide plan including Metro Parks and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The goal is to show positive results to the citizens of Minnesota. Mattice said key concepts of the Legacy Plan state that the Greater Minnesota Parks System plays a major role in providing park experiences in Minnesota, and that Legacy funds should be distributed in a reasonably equitable manner. The GMRPTC Plan must build an interconnected system accessible to all Minnesotans. Mattice said the legislative requirements could not stand alone, so the GMRPTC Plan integrated the Legacy Plan requirements in order to become implementable and a valuable part of the decision making process.
The Strategic Plan was adopted by the GMRPTC in October of 2012. The GMRPTC is a nonprofit organization made up of 80 counties and municipalities outside the Metro area. Not every jurisdiction is a member. Over the past year, a series of workshops were held to gain valuable feedback from various regions of the State. In addition, protocols for collecting and evaluating facility data, visitor counts and user origin studies were established and tested.
Mattice said prior to this, Greater Minnesota had no history of comprehensive planning as a complete system, although there were some individual plans. The Legacy Plan, as well as the 2004 Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCMR) report, cited the need for a more systemic approach to planning parks and trails in Greater Minnesota.
During the development of this Plan, Mattice said it was noticeable that Greater Minnesota understood the responsibilities necessary to undertake such a process. Greater Minnesota needs to become the third leg of the stool in Statewide Parks and Trails planning. The DNR and Metro Parks and Trails (for the Seven County Metropolitan Area) are organized under State Statute.
Mattice said the Plan identifies an organizational structure including a Board of Directors, a Statewide Regional Parks and Trails Planning Committee, and Regional Planning Committees to provide local priorities and establish review processes. Currently, Mattice said the GMRPTC applies for Legacy funds through the DNR. The DNR has criteria based on Statewide needs. Mattice said Greater Minnesota Regional Parks priorities may not align with Statewide priorities. The Plan positions the GMRPTC as the funding authority, creating local controls rather than Statewide controls which currently exist. Mattice said Regional Parks have different needs and priorities than State Parks.
Mattice emphasized that there will be many challenges ahead since there is a limited history of investments in Regional Parks and Trails in Greater Minnesota, every region of the State has different priorities, and it will take time to coordinate and implement the Plan. Building a regional system will take a disciplined approach focusing on quality outcomes that are relevant to regional needs. Mattice said the starting point is to evaluate potential Regional Parks and Trails. The 2005 LCMR Report and a University of Minnesota Inventory Report said there are 115 to 130 Regional Parks in Greater Minnesota. Mattice said that statement is not true when strong criteria and evaluation measures are applied.
The GMRPTC Plan has detailed classification and evaluation criteria based on the Legacy Plan definitions. It establishes a consistent approach to criteria rating that will focus on what is manageable and what is most important. Mattice discussed evaluation criteria for a Regional Trail, a Natural Resource-Based Regional Park, and a Special Recreational Feature Regional Park. He mentioned that the City of Sandstone has an ice-climbing wall that draws visitors from as far as Chicago and other areas. It is a smaller park but is regionally significant because of its unique features, and it fills a gap in recreational opportunities.
The GMRPTC Plan also identifies the relationship necessary between the DNR and Metro Parks. The GMRPTC Plan calls for quality outcomes with real impact, ensuring reasonable balance, fairness and equity across regions and consistent rankings. The hope is that the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Coalition will become a Commission. Currently, Greater Minnesota Regional Parks are not recognized at the State Capitol. Mattice said the GMRPTC needs to move forward with this Plan to be considered for the use of Legacy Plan and other public funding sources.
Mattice said the GMRPTC Plan will also create a Statewide web-based Information Management System for Regional Parks and Trails which includes mapping, site inventory, and grant-related information focused on transparency and complete system plans and maps.
The GMRPTC Plan also set the framework to establish answers to more questions such as the economic value of Regional Parks and Trails and defining the optimal level of service. Part of the GMRPTC Plan establishes a Board of Directors and a Commission-based structure so the GMRPTC can acquire and maintain regional control of funding sources. Mattice said this is a very dynamic Plan and will require the buy-in of all jurisdictions to be successful.
Mattice moved to a letter he drafted from the County Board to the State Legislative Delegation requesting their support for Parks & Trails Legacy Funding and a bill establishing the GMRPTC. Husom asked when the GMRPTC was formed. Mattice said approximately 2008. Prior to establishing the GMRPTC, Mattice said those involved were part of the County Parks Supervisor Association. He explained that there were no membership dues or bylaws. They primarily discussed grants and funding, park design, management issues and best practices. Members of the group saw a need to become a formally recognized organization to enable them to compete with Metro Parks for funding.
Husom asked whether the GMRPTC is formally established. Mattice said it is, and has all required bylaws and articles. Husom asked when the GMRPTC will officially transition from a Coalition to a Commission. Mattice said that depends on the legislative session. House File 1065 and Senate File 1021, the bills that form the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks & Trails Commission, are now before the State Legislature. The bills allow funds to be appropriated to the GMRPTC. Mattice said that currently out of Legacy Parks and Trails funds, two and a half percent goes to the DNR to operate the Greater Minnesota grants program. He believes those funds would be used to form the GMRPTC.
Sawatzke asked Mattice to clarify that the Legislature and the State formally recognize Metro Parks as an organization, but there is no such formal legal recognition for Outstate Parks. Mattice said that is correct. Sawatzke said the County is seeking Statutory recognition that Greater Minnesota exists as a parks system, similar to the Seven County Metro Parks System. Since currently a formal organization for Greater Minnesota does not exist, the DNR makes those funding decisions.
Daleiden commented that the GMRPTC allows regions to work independently, but together for the benefit of Greater Minnesota. Mattice said each region will have representation on the 13-member GMRPTC Board of Directors. He added that the GMRPTC is not abandoning the DNR, but will still work with their representatives who are present in every region. Daleiden said the DNR has less interest in Regional Parks than State parks.
However, Daleiden said Regional Parks have more amenities for local people than State parks. Mattice agreed, saying Regional Parks are designed to accommodate local interests and needs. State parks are large, they have unique biological communities, tremendous natural resources, and offer great recreational amenities. Regional Parks offer passive recreational opportunities that people want closer to home. Sawatzke said people may drive 40 to 50 miles to a regional park, and 200 to 300 miles to a State park.
Husom asked the makeup of the 13-member GMRPTC Board, including the number of Metro and DNR representatives. Mattice replied that there are no Metro Parks representatives on the Board. There will be 10 representatives from Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) Districts and three from the DNR, although that could change. Husom asked who the representatives are from the AMC Districts. Mattice said county commissioners, someone appointed within the AMC District, possibly a retired individual, but no professionals. He said professionals do sit on the Regional Planning Committee to guide the discussion. Daleiden asked Mattice to clarify that by professionals he means parks professionals. Mattice said the GMRPTC Board of Directors will change once it is formally established. Currently the Board of Directors consists entirely of seven parks professionals, including him, who initiated the Coalition. The purpose was to guide the Coalition and move it forward to a formal Commission status.
Daleiden said formalization of the GMRPTC will equalize the funding for Greater Minnesota Parks. Mattice said the GMRPTC will be officially recognized. Members are frequently asked who they are and what parks they represent. Borrell asked whether it wouldn’t make more sense to exclude representation from Metro Parks on the Board. Sawatzke said parks superintendents want to control funding. Husom said Legacy funding criteria is very broad, including parks, libraries, cultural organizations and others. Daleiden said there are four categories of Legacy funds. Mattice said 14.25 percent of the Legacy Funds goes to Parks and Trails of Regional and Statewide significance. Sawatzke said that creates nearly 40 million dollars per year. Mattice said more than 19 percent goes to arts and cultural entities, 33 percent to habitat projects controlled by Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (much of which is funneled to the DNR), and 33 percent is for clean water projects. Borrell asked if Legacy funds were repealed and Greater Minnesota lost those funds, would GMRPTC cease to exist. Mattice did not think so. He said there are Federal funds for parks, as well as the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund generated by the State lottery. He said it would still be necessary to continue to plan cross-jurisdictionally.
Mattice explained that the Legacy Fund is a 25-year fund started in 2008. Sawatzke said citizens would have to vote on renewing the Legacy Fund in 2033. Husom said it is constitutional. Mattice said the Legislature would have to vote to include this on a ballot for 2033. Sawatzke said the Legislature could raise a sales tax.
Mattice said the goal of the GMRPTC is to gain more local control. Borrell asked if Mattice was seeking a motion. Mattice said Item Four on his Request for Board Action is a letter he drafted for Board Chair Sawatzke to sign, if approved by the Board. The letter addresses the recommendation of the Park and Trail Legacy Funding Committee and the GMRPTC regarding funding levels for the DNR, Metro Parks and Greater Minnesota Parks. He said the first funding split in 2009 dedicated 86 percent of Parks and Trails Legacy Funds to be divided evenly between the DNR and Metropolitan Council. The remaining 80 counties were allowed to compete with Metro counties for the remaining 14 percent. There was a grant program that included Greater Minnesota and Metro Parks for 14% of Parks and Trails Legacy Funds. Mattice said Greater Minnesota got 80 percent and Metro Counties got 20 percent. Sawatzke interjected that Greater Minnesota ended up getting 11.5 to 12 percent in the first year. Mattice said Metro Parks ended up with about 50 percent for their portion.
Mattice said they have competed against Metro interests and made great strides. In the last Biennium, the GMRPTC received 20 percent allocated exclusively to Greater Minnesota. Last year the Legislature grew tired of the battle over these funds. A Legacy Funding Committee was created, of which Sawatzke was a member. There were three representatives from Metro Parks, three from the DNR and three from Greater Minnesota. Discussions were difficult but respectful, and they drafted a funding split proposal to the Legislature. Mattice said it was put in the Governor’s budget but is facing a beating in the current legislation session. He said local legislators need to know the County supports the Legacy Funding Committee recommendation of 40 percent DNR, 40 percent Metro and 20 percent exclusive to Greater Minnesota.
Sawatzke said the population of Greater Minnesota represents 47 percent of the State, and on average pays 47 percent of the sales tax. He said Greater Minnesota would like to see at least 20 percent of that revenue. The DNR gets 40 percent, the majority of which is spent in 80 Outstate counties. Sawatzke explained that is why those involved felt a fair allocation was half the funding the Metro receives.
Mattice said the second part of the letter to legislators discusses the GMRPTC. He was at the State Capitol on 03-12-13 and met with legislators for Parks and Trails Day. Potter moved to support the letter to County Legislators regarding the Parks and Trails Legacy Funding Committee recommendation and advocacy for a bill establishing the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission. Borrell seconded, and the motion carried 5-0.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented the 02-26-13 Ditch Committee Of The Whole Meeting Minutes. Hiivala said Houston Engineering representatives Chris Otterness and Brian Fischer were among those present, as well as members of the Information Technology, Survey, and Auditor/Treasurer Departments, and Connie Holmes, Mayor of the City of Waverly. Hiivala said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss how Houston Engineering may be able to assist the County with ditch record modernization. Houston demonstrated the Core Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Decision Support Systems (DSS) software for modernizing and maintaining Wright County Ditches. Hiivala read portions of the Minutes. The information gathered was given to County Information Technology staff to evaluate and formulate a recommendation.
Hiivala said the County has been awarded $50,000 in grant money for modernizing County Ditch records. The goal is to enable benefitted land owners a way to access ditch information in an easily understood format. Houston Engineering will come back with a revised proposal. Borrell moved to approve the 02-26-13 Ditch Committee Of The Whole Minutes. Daleiden seconded, and the motion carried 5-0.
Hiivala presented minutes from the 02-13-13 Drainage Committee Public Hearing Meeting Regarding County Ditch #10. Kurt Deter from RInke Noonan conducted the meeting, including the following five Agenda items:
1) Presentation of Engineer’s recommendation on the repair;
2) Additional repair requests;
3) Discussion on potential legacy funding for quality improvements;
4) Discussion on the pros and cons of redetermination;
5) Discussion on a separate project draining water out of Emma north through Twelve Mile Creek.
Joel Toso, Engineer with Wenck Associates, identified thirteen areas needing repair and cleaning. Deter said County Ditch 10 has not been redetermined. The proposed repairs would be based on the existing role. If the County did redetermine, that would require a three to five year extension.
Hiivala read excerpts from the minutes. Hiivala said the citizens on County Ditch 10 received information on proposed repairs and provided input on additional areas. Those present discussed redetermination, but the cost was prohibitive. The recommendation was to go forward with repairs as proposed.
Hiivala said County Ditch 10 could be extended one mile. Borrell clarified that Hiivala meant County Ditch 10 could not be extended more than one mile per year. Hiivala agreed. Borrell pointed out the misspelling of Soil and Water Conservation District staffer Kerry Saxton’s name. Hiivala will have the minutes corrected. Borrell said the minutes mention the highest estimated assessment of $1,206.00 for work getting done this year. Hiivala said that was the largest assessment for individual parcels for work that is getting done. Borrell said it states on the bottom of Page 3 “as regards to the redetermination.” Hiivala said that is not correct. To clarify, he said an individual may pay more than $1206.00 if they have more than one parcel. Hiivala reiterated that he would have the minutes corrected. Borrell moved to approve the 02-13-13 County Ditch 10 Public Hearing Meeting Minutes as corrected. Husom seconded, and the motion carried 5-0.
Hiivala said an informational meeting regarding County Ditch 38 was held on 02-13-13. He read portions of the minutes. Borrell moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Daleiden. Daleiden clarified, and Hiivala affirmed that County Ditch 38 was being redetermined. The motion carried 5-0.
Hiivala requested approval for a new precious metal license for American Liberty Gold & Coin LLC (Monticello City). He said they have paid the appropriate fee, and the Board has the authority to grant the license. Daleiden asked whether the County has conducted a background check on the applicants. Hiivala said not to his knowledge. Daleiden said he read about issues with another jurisdiction about people buying precious metals and encountering problems. He would like background checks to be done on applicants for licenses such as these if State Statute allows. Daleiden was not sure of the licensing requirements. He said applicants for these licenses should be held to a higher level of scrutiny.
Sawatzke asked if the County has that authority. Asleson said there is no local ordinance. He thinks under State law that applicants must submit to a criminal background check. He is not certain about this type of license. Asleson said he would check with Gloria Gooler, Office Manager I, Auditor/Treasurer’s Office. Potter moved to lay the item over until next week, seconded by Daleiden. Sawatzke asked if this is a first-time applicant. Hiivala believed it was a new applicant. Borrell asked if the license expires in one year, or whether it is open-ended. Hiivala confirmed the license is for a one year term. Sawatzke said another option would be to approve this license application and investigate the issue in the future. Borrell said if the Board heard bad reports, then renewal of the license could be denied in the future. He was comfortable with either decision (lay over until next week or approve at today’s meeting). Sawatzke said he felt Daleiden raises a good point. Borrell said the Better Business Bureau could be contacted at the very least. Sawatzke asked Hiivala to inform the applicants of the delay. The Board will have more information regarding the requirements next week. The motion carried 5-0.
The Board recessed at 10:05 A.M. and reconvened at 10:15 A.M. for the Employee Recognition Ceremony. Sawatzke said each year the Board recognizes employees for individual and group achievement. This is one of the meetings he and his fellow Commissioners truly enjoy. The recipients of the 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 Year Service Awards were announced. Genell Reese, Director of Veterans Services/Civil Defense was given a 35 year Service Award. Bill Cordell, Senior Engineering Technician for the Highway Department was given a 40 year Service Award.
Sean Riley, Planning & Zoning Administrator, presented the Individual Achievement Award to Barry Rhineberger, Assistant Planner, for his dedicated effort on a lengthy scanning project. Riley said about seven years ago, the Planning & Zoning Department decided to record building permits electronically. The Department did not have the equipment to accomplish this. However, the budget allowed them to contract with a private firm. The work was completed and they had to accommodate the records being offsite for a long period of time. The Department also invested in a batch scanner to scan all permits from that time forward. Once Planning & Zoning staff learned how to operate the scanner, it was discovered other documents could be scanned as well. Riley said a number of employees contributed to the process over the years, and he appreciates them as well. However, there were thousands of files from the Board Of Adjustment and many other miscellaneous files that needed to be scanned. He said a large percentage of these files are used daily by staff. Looking back, Riley said he was not sure the original plan included using the batch scanner to this degree. Since that time, the County budget changed. They had to work with the equipment they had and get projects done with Department staff.
Riley said scanning a document involves many steps. First, Rhineberger broke the task down by township. Then he removed staples and duplicate data within individual files, and placed the documents in a logical order. He placed the documents on the scanner by Property Identification number (PID). The scanning process involved a computer, software, and scanner. After scanning, Rhineberger re-filed the paper files. Township after township, section after section, and eventually the project was done. The project required countless hours. As a result, all documents are accessible electronically. Staff may now retrieve documents via the computer when answering questions. Documents may be quickly emailed. Building permits are easily viewed electronically. The amount of time saved by Planning & Zoning staff is immeasurable, benefitting both staff and taxpayers. Riley said the Planning & Zoning Department is able to present a better level of service. He complimented his team and thanked them for providing an environment for individuals to shine. Riley said today acknowledges Rhineberger and his efforts to accomplish a big project, saving the County dollars in the process and allowing staff to operate more efficiently in the future. Riley said he was pleased to present Rhineberger with this award today.
Rhineberger thanked Riley for nominating him for the Individual Achievement Award. It was an unexpected honor. Rhineberger said the project was just part of his job. He saw it as an opportunity to make the Department more efficient. He echoed Riley’s comment that the Planning & Zoning staff is second to none, thanked them for allowing him to continue working on the project while they shouldered the rest of the workload.
Greg Kramber, County Assessor, presented the Group Achievement Award to the Assessor Office Staff, including Randy DesMarais, Tony Rasmusson, Conrad Anderson, Dawn Anderson, Jim Borrett, Melissa Janzen, Edie Kloss, Danielle Lee, Wanda Maresh, Terry Morrow, Wally Peterson, Chase Phillippi, Tom Praska, Lori Thingvold, and Keith Triplett.
Kramber said during the last five years, the Assessor Department staff was forced to administer major legislative changes that greatly impacted the County due to the high volume of agricultural properties and their proximity to the Metro Area. The legislative changes were so dramatic that the cost of administration alone exceeded $250,000 in the first year. During this time, the Department sent five mailings to each agricultural property owner, held public meetings with more than 400 people in attendance, and met at the homes of agricultural property owners to enroll them in programs that replaced the Green Acres program. Kramber said he testified before legislators at the State Capitol three times. They used every resource possible to get land owners the required information. All this work was done in addition to fulfilling statutory requirements on evaluating and classifying 65,000 properties per year in one of the most troubling economic times in history. The classification challenge alone would be worthy of an award. Kramber thanked each of his staff for a job well done.
Sawatzke said he has received a great deal of positive feedback from County residents regarding the assistance and personal treatment they received from Assessor staff. Based on that input, Sawatzke said the public certainly recognized their efforts. He congratulated and thanked the Assessor Department staff for their efforts.
Individual Honorable Mention recipients (nominated for Individual Achievement Award) included Olga Strobel (Information Systems Specialist-Human Services), Allen Wendorf (Custodian-Building Maintenance, LEC), and Jody Gagnon (Office Technician II- Sheriff Office).
Group Honorable Mention recipients (nominated for Group Achievement Award) were members of the Peer Review Group in Human Services (Jennifer Droneck-Fink, Ryan Hartneck, Molly Hayen, and Stacy VanCura).
The Board also acknowledged the Awards and Review Committee members (Chris Brazelton, Julie Gutknecht, Lee Kelly, Cindy Poirer, and Michelle Sandquist).
Sawatzke thanked all staff who nominated an employee or group of employees, as well as the Awards and Review Committee and Barb Petersen, Personnel Representative, who coordinated the entire event.
The Board revisited Item 4: Auditor/Treasurer, Approve Application For New Precious Metal License For American Liberty Gold & Coin LLC (Monticello City). Gooler said she did not know if the Board’s decision to lay this item over until next week would be a problem. She said there are less than six precious metals licenses in the County. The industry is governed by the State Department of Commerce. In the past the Auditor/Treasurer Department had someone from State Law Enforcement talk to them about license requirements. Gooler said there are no statutory clauses that she is aware of that require a criminal background check. Sawatzke asked if the County has the authority to require a background check for this type of license. Gooler said that is a legal question. She said a 3.2 malt liquor license requires compliance checks that are normally performed in conjunction with the Sheriff Office. She said the question needs more review. Sawatzke said based on Gooler’s feedback, he recommends the Board approve the license application request. Borrell asked if the Board needed a motion to bring the item back to the table. Norman said yes, since the original motion was to lay the item over until next week. Sawatzke said he would feel better about laying the item over if the County had not already approved other applications of this type. Borrell moved to rescind the motion to lay over the Application for a New Precious Metal License For American Liberty Gold & Coin LLC (Monticello City). Potter seconded, and the motion carried 5-0.
Daleiden asked Gooler to clarify a prior statement that the applicants are required to have a scale. Gooler said the State Department of Commerce, Weights and Measures Division, requires special types of scales. The scales need to be checked, but there is a gray area regarding who checks the scales. Daleiden asked who enforced the six prior applications approved by the County. Gooler said she does not know as she only processes the paper application. Sawatzke said he thought the State had someone in charge of Weights and Measures. Gooler said that is the person who spoke at the Auditor/Treasurer’s Office. He indicated the need to have certain things in the application to make available to the State. She said the County application includes those items.
Sawatzke asked if a citizen contacted the County regarding someone not using correct weights, does the County have a State contact with whom to file a report. Gooler said she thought the Sheriff Office is aware of this situation as far as theft of jewelry. Sawatzke agreed. People go to those places to sell stolen jewelry. Husom said it frequently happens at pawn shops.
Asleson said he looked at the statistics a few years ago. There is a requirement that precious metals licensees keep property for a certain period of time before selling it. He will look at the Statutes again and email the Board regarding his findings. The Board can look at the information and decide whether it should be brought up at a future meeting. Potter said he would appreciate the information from the Attorney Office. Borrell asked Asleson to also check with the Sheriff Office to see whether they have some means to make sure people cooperate. Borrell moved to approve the new Precious Metals License for American Liberty Gold & Coin LLC (Monticello City). Husom seconded, and the motion carried 5-0.
Hiivala addressed the January Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines. Sawatzke said they received those via email. Hiivala said his office distributed the February Guidelines as well. The Board could approve the January Guidelines at this meeting and February’s on the Agenda for next week. Norman said the Auditor/Treasurer’s Office verified that the Regional Crime Lab amount of $61,000 was the County’s share. Sawatzke asked if that was a quarterly figure. Norman said it was for one month. Husom asked whether there was a lot of activity during that month. Norman said most of the expense was for supplies and equipment purchases. Sawatzke asked if the fee was supposed to be twelve equal monthly installments. Norman said it was not. Sawatzke said he will continue to talk further about inequities in that organization. He said the County pays far more than the value of services received. Potter moved and Husom seconded a motion to approve the January Expenditure Guidelines. The motion carried 5-0.
Hiivala said a Budget Committee Of The Whole Meeting was set at a previous Board meeting for 03-28-13 at 6:00 P.M. He asked if the Board wished to change the meeting date to 04-11-13 due to religious holidays and other possible conflicts on the 28th. Sawatzke said the meeting of 03-28-13 was already published. Borrell said there would also be a conflict with the Planning Commission meeting set for 04-11-13 in the Board Room. Sawatzke said the Budget Committee Of The Whole Meeting has been published in several places. Hiivala said the 28th works with his schedule. There was a consensus to keep the date of the Budget Committee Of The Whole Meeting at 03-28-13, 6:00 P.M.
Hiivala said the next item is a request by Jim Braegelmann for Board approval to clean the portion of County Ditch 34 that runs through his property. Hiivala said Braegelmann is not seeking to assess any other landowners. Sawatzke said the cleanout should be done in a manner approved by the Wright Soil and Water Conservation District. Borrell moved to approve the request, seconded by Potter. The motion carried 5-0.
The claims listing was discussed. The following questions were asked:
1. Daleiden referenced a listing on Page 28, Beaudry Propane ($2,776.61) for Landfill Post-Closure. Sawatzke explained that anytime someone dumps certain types of solid waste in the landfill, they pay a Statutory Surcharge, which is put into a specific Statutory Account and only used for certain purposes (such as Landfill Post-Closure). Hiivala said those charges were utility bills for the Compost Facility. Daleiden asked how many people work at the Compost Facility. Sawatzke replied that one person is posted there. Daleiden asked if an employee is there all the time. Sawatzke said there is one full time person on-site.
2. Daleiden referenced Page 28, Windstream, ($221.03) for telephone charges. He asked Hiivala if Windstream is used for both telephone and Internet services at the Compost Facility. Hiivala said he thought so. Daleiden said the cost seems high for one building and one person. Sawatzke asked if the cost covered three months of service. Hiivala said $114.15 is for fax and DSL service, and $106.88 is for telephone service. Borrell asked if those amounts were for one month’s service. Hiivala confirmed those charges covered one month.
Daleiden asked what functions the employee performs at the Compost Facility. Sawatzke said the employee is extremely busy. The facility is open to the public on Tuesdays from 9:00 A.M. till 3:00 P.M., Thursdays from 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M., and one Saturday per month. The Compost Facility accepts various types of materials and items. Sawatzke said when the Facility is open, there is literally a car dropping off items every few minutes. The employee deals with the public when they drop off hazardous and problem materials, organic waste, tree debris, appliances, and takes in curbside recycling for some businesses. When the Compost Facility is open to the public, the employee is directly providing service to them. When the Compost Facility is not open, the employee processes the dropped off materials. Sawatzke suggested Hiivala have the employee give a report with statistics regarding the amount of materials the Facility takes in and the number of people served. Potter asked whether the employee is required to report any of that data to a State agency. Sawatzke said the employee is continuously taking in material that he has to package in safe containers and process appropriately. Some materials are incinerated. The employee also batches paint in five gallon pails for resale. The employee also determines whether an item is unopened and is still valid to resell. Sawatzke reiterated that the Compost Facility employee is very busy.
3. Daleiden referred to Page 31, Historian, ($1.16) for telephone charges at the Historical Society.
Hiivala said the telephone bill is prorated. It is part of a larger bill. Daleiden asked how long it takes an employee to enter six items. He also asked who the Historian is. Sawatzke explained the item refers to the Wright County Historical Society and Heritage Center. Hiivala explained that a formula is entered into the software that automatically calculates the cost per Department or entity. The resulting amount is their share of the entire bill for County facilities. Potter said he asked a staff member in the Auditor/Treasurer’s office about this last week. He said the person explained that the program is in place to automatically allocate an amount based on the formula. Hiivala said his Office gets a device
list from each Department. The software program prorates the costs. Sawatzke said that assumes the formula is accurate. CenturyLink provides full service in addition to long distance. He referred to the line indicating the cost of $6 allocated to Commissioners for their telephone use per month. Sawatzke said the County has negotiated efficiencies with bargaining power, and if the program is accurate, the County is getting a good deal.
Daleiden moved to approve the claims, subject to Audit, in the amount of $178,333.28, with 191 vendors and 352 transactions. Potter seconded, and the motion carried 5-0.
Bills Approved
Abrahamson/Brian $251.50
Advantage Emblem Inc 297.16
Allina Hospitals & Clinics 20,066.64
Ameripride Services 425.49
Annandale/City of 375.00
Aramark Services Inc 6,607.97
Barnes Distribution 431.85
Beaudry Propane Inc 2,776.61
Bluetarp Financial Inc 147.37
Bob Barker Company Inc 463.29
Boyer Truck Parts 1,357.28
Brock White Co LLC 32,039.20
Brooklyn Park/City of 800.00
C Walker Trucking 7,760.00
CDW Government Inc 2,861.97
Center Point Energy 17,810.05
Centra Sota Coop - Buffalo 8,128.20
CenturyLink 7,428.66
Chamberlain Oil Co 176.22
Consulting Radiologists LTD 334.63
Corporate Payment Systems 593.20
Dell Marketing LP 3,376.66
Design Elect. Inc-Cold Spring 470.00
Edocument Resources 300.00
Elert & Associates 6,185.00
Emergency Auto. Tech Inc 233.00
Envirotech Services Inc 606.33
Fastenal Company 255.28
Fibernet Monticello 359.80
Fred Pryor Seminars 256.00
Grainger 733.93
Greenview Inc 863.22
Hillyard Inc - Minneapolis 2,618.89
Holiday 124.04
Integrated Fire & Security 1,341.28
International Code Council 225.00
Interstate Automotive 160.31
Interstate Battery Systems 475.38
Johnson Larson Peterson PA 100.00
Keeprs Inc 557.88
Kustom Signals Inc 405.80
Laplant Demo Inc 1,669.33
MACPZA 225.00
MATSA Conference 100.00
McLeod County Auditor 1,661.41
Menards - Buffalo 218.31
MN Dept. of Labor & Industry 442.50
MN Law Enf. Explorers Assoc. 2,000.00
MN Office of Enterprise Tech. 1,150.00
MN Sheriffs Association 387.00
Motorola Inc 1,434.35
Nat. Public Safety Info Bureau 169.00
North Star Awards & Trophies 233.90
Office Depot 2,451.56
Pts of America LLC 3,684.00
Ramacciotti/Frank 100.00
Rebecca Loftus 186.48
Rinke-Noonan 1,174.00
Royal Tire Inc 1,054.15
Russell Security Resource Inc 755.82
Ryan Chevrolet 359.42
Schneider Corporation 3,372.00
SHI International Corp 106.23
Snowplows Plus 449.94
Sub. Emergency Assoc. PA 178.79
Transcend United Tech. 400.00
Verizon Wireless 6,803.30
Weighing Systems & Services 1,259.55
West Payment Center 1,065.26
Windstream 292.67
Wright Hennepin Electric 212.69
Zacks Inc 319.14
Zee Medical Service 118.10
Zep Sales & Services 879.07
Ziegler Inc 11,405.00
26 Payments less than $100 1,235.22
Final total: 178,333.28
The meeting adjourned at 11:03 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal April 8, 2013.

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