Wright County Board Minutes

JUNE 4, 2013
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Husom, Sawatzke, Daleiden, Potter and Borrell present.
Borrell moved to approve the 5-28-13 County Board Minutes as presented. The motion was seconded by Potter and carried 5-0.
The Agenda was discussed. Daleiden requested that Items For Consid. #3 be amended to include discussion on referring additional items to the Building Committee Of The Whole Meeting that will be scheduled. Daleiden moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Husom, carried 5-0.
On a motion by Potter, second by Daleiden, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: S. Klaassen, Admin.; R. Borell, Parks; T. Endreson, J. Hall, N. Lee, J. McMackins, Sher./Corr.
2. Appoint Lee Kelly, Interim County Coordinator, Effective 6-06-13. Approve Work Out Of Class Pay, Class A, Step 1, $85,527 Annual Salary.
3. O/T Report, Period Ending 5-11-13.
4. Approve Charitable Gambling Application Form #LG220, Dassel Cokato Regional Ice & Sports Center, 4852 Reardon Avenue SW, Cokato (Cokato Township).
5. Approve Charitable Gambling Applications Form #LG220, St. John’s Education Center, 17260 Hwy 12, Cokato (Cokato Township).
1. Approve Tobacco License Application For Fox Hollow Golf Club (St. Michael City).
2. Approve Renewal Of Combination On/Off Sale Liquor License for “Hitching Post At Lake Center” (Corinna Twp.).
Virgil Hawkins, Highway Engineer, said bids were opened on 5-10-13 for Contract #1307, Township Signing Project (SP 086-070-005). The Engineer’s estimate was $1,261,180.00. The following bids were received:
Bidder; Total Bid
Safety Signs; $1,011,200.00
A&H Contracting LLC; $1,148,360.00
Highway Technologies; $1,290,124.50
Global Specialty Contractors, Inc.; $1,546,723.50
Hawkins said bids came in about 20% under estimate and 27% under budget. Hawkins recommended awarding the bid to Safety Signs, Inc. in the amount of $1,011,200. Project funding is with Federal HPP Funds 80% ($808,960.00) and local Township funding of 20% ($202,240.00). Townships have been invited to attend a preconstruction meeting scheduled on 6-12-13. The project includes replacement of township signs with reflectivity standards and will remove signs which are not needed. Hawkins said there will be about 50% fewer signs in the townships because of this project. The Highway Engineer is coordinating the project on behalf of the townships. Hawkins viewed it as a collaborative process to help the townships to improve safety and meet federal requirements. Potter moved to award the bid to Safety Signs, Inc. in the amount of $1,011,200. The motion was seconded by Daleiden and carried 5-0.
Hawkins said quotes were opened on 5-17-13 for the 2013 Rumble Strip Project (SP 086-070-007). The Engineer’s estimate is $35,415.20. The following quotes were received:
Bidder; Total Bid; Percent Over/Under Estimate
Diamond Surface, Inc.; $19,851.85; 43.95% Under
Penhall Company; $37,136.64; 4.86% Over
Hawkins recommended awarding the bid to Diamond Surfacing, Inc. in the amount of $19,851.85. Project funding is through a Federal Safety Grant of $17,866.67 (90%) and the local levy of $1,985.19 (10%). The amount of $5,047.50 of local levy dollars has been budgeted for this project. Daleiden moved to approve awarding the bid to Diamond Surfacing, Inc. The motion was seconded by Borrell and carried 5-0.
A Transportation Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 5-21-13. At today’s County Board Meeting, the following correction was made to the Minutes: Page 7, last sentence should read, “Husom said that Wright County will strive to maintain the status quo in terms of funding and the MET Council won’t control Wright County’s federal funding” (Husom). Borrell referenced the mailbox policy and asked that Hawkins continue to research better mailbox designs as they are made available. Potter moved to approve the Minutes as corrected. The motion was seconded by Husom and carried unanimously:
1. Introductions
Chairperson Sawatzke called the meeting to order and introductions were made.
2. Update on Jurisdictional Meeting with MnDOT
Hausmann attended the most recent meeting with MnDOT where suggested jurisdictional changes in roads/highways across the state were discussed after a recent study conducted by MnDOT. The roads/highways in question are those that are either state-owned or county-owned roadways, and perhaps have a functionality that has changed in recent years or in the time since they were first established. Some of these roadways will be recommended to be turned over to the state from the counties and some will be recommended to be turned over to the counties from the state. There are two such roadways in Wright County that will be considered as candidates for turnback to the county. TH 241 is one of them, which is essentially a dead-end state highway that ends at a Wright County highway. The purpose of this highway probably fits the function of a county highway, but taking it over would result in great expense through the years in order to maintain its four-lane concrete status for this several-mile stretch. The other highway in question is TH 24 north of TH 55, on the east side of Annandale, where it intersects with CSAH 6. On the surface it makes sense to become a county highway, but this portion of TH 24 has twice as much traffic as CSAH 6, so one consideration would be to work with the City of Annandale to take over a portion of TH 24 on the east side Annandale and Pleasant Lake. The county would turn a portion of TH 24 into an extension of CSAH 39, and the state would take a portion of CSAH 6 and extend it to TH 24. Hausmann emphasized that these actions are a long way away from happening, and this is not about funding, but is rather about theory. There would likely be huge costs with these changes. The current CSAH 6 north of TH 55 could become a state highway, and all that would need to be changed would be the signs. The state has recently spent money on TH 24 too, with improvements in the past few years. Hausmann’s information is just a quick discussion on what was talked about at the recent meeting, and there be other meetings in the future. Sawatzke asked if the state has the authority to require the county to take back roads against its will, and Hausmann said that they would not force the county to do that. He is not sure if they have the authority or not. The county considered turning back two roads to two different townships last year, but because the townships did not want them, the county declined to follow through on its original intent. Sawatzke said that he is more in favor of the idea of swapping one road for another. TH 241 is in real good shape now, but it will cost more in the future to take care of repairs, and that money will have to come from other roads that are in need of repair. Hausmann said that the roads we get back from the state will potentially be our most expensive roads that will require care. Hawkins said that this will be a very long process, perhaps years, and this is just the beginning of the process. He and Hausmann will be attending meetings in the future and keep the Board informed. This is the first in a long process for MnDOT, and they do not want to get caught off guard.
3) Request for Wright County Representative to Serve as Board member for I-94 Coalition
Hawkins said he received an email from Steve Bot of the City of St. Michael with a request that there be a representative from Wright County to serve as a board member for the I-94 Coalition. Potter indicated that the Wright County Board had already acted on this request and he was to be the representative from the Board. Though Potter is the appointed member, other staff members are welcome to attend meetings.
4) Discuss Updating Highway Department Policies
Hawkins explained that there are several Highway Department policies in place that are probably due for revisions, or at least review. They are:
A) Transportation Funding: The Highway Department funding policy for cities over and under 5,000 is one such policy. In the past, the county has covered 100% of the township costs for approved projects and has used a funding policy for cities. He handed out a collection of a few other counties’ policies so that the commissioners could get a sense of how other counties handle their funding requests. The last update in Wright County’s policy was made in 1993, and there are a lot of things that were not addressed at that time but which have since come into play, such as roundabouts. Some cities in Wright County have been in contact and have expressed their interest in the updating of this policy. Hawkins said that Wright County would invite administrators and staff from the various cities to review the policy and to make suggestions regarding possible changes. Potter said that he met with Wright County city administrators, and this was definitely the highest priority on their list, and they would like to see it freshened up. He would like to have a meeting and include the cities and townships for their input. There was some discussion whether policies from other counties should be sent out with an invitation to a meeting so that they can all get a good idea of how Wright County’s policy compares with others. Husom asked if there were deficiencies in the current policy, and Hawkins said that it needs some updating based on current practices and transportation innovations that have surfaced since 1993. Roundabouts are not addressed in the current policy and they are an item of negotiation, but they probably should be in the policy. Information for distribution could include the current policy and a history of how certain items have been handled in the past. Hawkins said that his staff would like the policy updated because certain items aren’t addressed. He is not necessarily suggesting a change in the funding policy, but he would like input from everyone, and Daleiden agreed that after 20 years an update is probably due. Wright County pays more than some other counties do for certain items, and he said that it would be a good thing for cities and townships to see this. He would like to try and get the cities to provide input and buy into the county policy and be more of a partnership. Hawkins doesn’t think that the cities would necessarily expect Wright County to pay more than they already do. Sawatzke said that they probably will want us to, but they need to be cautioned with the fact that Wright County pays more than a lot of other counties pay right now. The County Board isn’t necessarily thinking of paying a larger share. Daleiden reiterated that it needs to be looked at least every 20 years. Sawatzke said that the county will have less money to spread out if they pay more than they are already agreeing to pay, and then everyone one will expect everything to be fixed. Daleiden said that presenting cities and townships with this information will help them see what other counties are doing, and some questions will be answered before a meeting ever takes place. He added that perhaps some areas could be cut back, too. It’s a matter of starting to look at it, addressing it, and getting the cities and townships to come together as a partner with the county. Sawatzke commented that the cities and townships already work well together now. Potter said that getting the information out there to everyone might help avoid confusion or disagreements, and this would be all inclusive for everyone. It would be a policy they could buy into. Sawatzke said that he would want everyone to know that coming in doesn’t mean the county will pay more to some and less to others. He would like to see what everyone thinks. Potter commented that this is part of the process. Hausmann said that no matter what Wright County does, staff will try to have some previous projects for everyone to see different policy changes would have affected these projects and will have some comparisons from county to county to see how Wright County compares with others. There is no guarantee that changes will be made, but they will be willing to discuss it. Sawatzke asked how Wright County compares to other counties, and Hawkins said that it really depends on the project and the areas, such as urban storm sewer, retaining walls, etc. Wright County might be paying more compared to Stearns County, because cities pay 100% R/W costs in Stearns County for construction, but cities pay 100% of R/W in Stearns County. This is time to be revisiting this policy because of different items such as bike trails, street lighting, and changing population of cities over and under 5,000. Potter said that one good reason to bring this up is to refresh the policy to make sure the people understand where the county stands and why. Borrell offered a scenario whereby one city might have the same needs as another but happens to have a better result from negotiating a payment, and that is one reason it would be good to have a policy in place to ensure fairness. A policy will help everyone see how the process is followed, and everyone will have the opportunity to see this. Sawatzke said that it would be good to be able to compare how other counties are funding projects, and it would be good to see how previous projects come out on this policy. Potter suggested that the County Board authorize the sending of the current funding policy to cities and townships, and they can discuss it and can come back to the county to discuss it further on a set date and time. Husom suggested giving a time frame of a month, six weeks, or several months, which would be reasonable and fair in order to give them time to thoroughly review this with their own city and township staffs. Daleiden said that the process could be quite involved, so three months would probably be a reasonable time frame. Hawkins said that information could be sent out with a request that cities and townships review it, and then a public meeting could be held late summer or early fall at the courthouse on a Tuesday after a regular Board meeting. Hawkins said that he will draft a letter and send information along with the existing policy and will send a future notice for a public meeting. Potter said that they will then have the opportunity to look at it, talk about it, and discuss it further when the meeting is held. Daleiden said that it might be possible to save some time for the staff in the future if a new policy is implemented. For things not specifically addressed in the current policy, past practices can be outlined, and Hawkins said that these would be addressed.
RECOMMENDATION: It was the recommendation of the TCOTW that Hawkins compile a summary of Wright County’s transportation funding policy (including comparisons to several other nearby counties and past practices of Wright County), send this to the cities and townships, and also send a letter indicating that Wright County is looking for input on and discussion about the funding policy, and that a public meeting will be scheduled late summer/early fall for purposes of receiving input about possible changes to this funding policy.
B) Mailbox Policy: Currently, Wright County has a policy in place that requires county residents who receive rural mail on a county highway to install an approved “swing-away” mailbox style post. New ones are put up, at county expense, to replace current ones when a reconstruction project or pavement preservation project affects the current mailbox post. There is nothing in place at this time for urban design. Sawatzke said that he didn’t feel a required swing-away would be necessary for urban residents, as the plows do not travel as fast in the urban areas and people’s homes are closer to the posts and they often prefer something more attractive than the standard swing-away. Meyer said there was an incident on CSAH 36 where two mailboxes were damaged by an errant motorist and the homeowners repaired the posts in a non-conforming manner. He had to notify them that they were required to replace them (at their expense) with conforming, standard mailbox posts. Conversations with homeowners are not always easy, because they sometimes don’t like having to replace the mailbox post, at their own expense, with a post that is not of their choosing. If they don’t comply with county policy, a right-of-way violation is issued, which involves the County Attorney’s office, which can result in several times more expense to the homeowner than just replacing the mailbox post. Husom commented that it is to the advantage of the homeowner, but she understands how it might not be pleasing to them. Hawkins said that the intent for the conforming swing-away mailbox posts is for safety so that it swings away from the post in the ground rather than go through a windshield if a car hits it. The force of flying snow from a snowplow can also cause the mailbox to swing away, but the post is usually preserved because it is not in the path of the blade. One attendee made the comment that she received permission to move hers to a township road because her mailbox had been thrown aside a number of times by the force of the plowed snow. Borrell commented that he didn’t think the county should require residents to put up mailboxes that don’t work well. Husom said that a problem can appear when people put up large concrete or stone posts that introduce a greater level of liability, both to the homeowner and to the county because it is located in the right of way. Meyer said that the Highway Department is looking for direction, and Hawkins added that this is why the policy needs to be updated. If a dangerous post gets installed, it becomes a roadside hazard and the county and homeowner alike could be liable if someone is injured or if damages are incurred. Hawkins said that he would like to update for best practices, though this is not so much a problem for the urban areas. Sawatzke commented that he does not think a policy is necessary for urban areas in the city limits, and Hawkins said that these swing-aways don’t work with sidewalks, anyway. There was further discussion about the types of poles/posts that are federally approved and how they need to conform to other “break-away” signs that are placed in the right of way. Hawkins said that the Federal Highway Administration did crash tests, and the current mailbox posts are the ones that are approved for safety, and the Highway Department has to go by what is approved. There are two elements of the mailbox post, the top half and the lower half, and the top part is designed to swing away so that it won’t go through the windshield of an errant vehicle, and state and federal laws dictate what materials are required for this. A comment from an attendee indicated that the boxes don’t always sit perpendicular to the roadway, and Meyer said that the addition of newspaper or advertising boxes can throw the balance off kilter, too. Sometimes these are put in with separate posts and are in the way of the snowplows that come through. Hawkins said that the department will come back with some suggestions for the County Board to review, and they can determine at that time whether or not they prefer to make further changes and recommendations.
C) Sign Maintenance Policy: Hawkins will bring Wright County’s Sign Maintenance Policy before the County Board at a later date for discussion on whether or not changes should be made to this. A number of different types of signs have been installed that are not included in the current policy, and the inclusion of them can be discussed at a future time.
Potter asked if the current right-of-way policy could be discussed, and Daleiden said that he would like to see purchases for right of way budgeted ahead of time so that property owners aren’t forced into condemnation because of lack of time for negotiating. He feels that it makes more sense to do it a year ahead of time rather than under the gun. Hausmann said that right-of-way visits are just now beginning for the CSAH 12 construction project, which is scheduled for the 2014 construction season. An Open House is scheduled to be held here tomorrow evening from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The design of the project is getting to the point where Mark Johnson, Right-of-Way Agent, will be contacting landowners this summer and fall to begin negotiations for the purchase of right of way. Moving forward with eminent domain might be a possibility because of the time crunch. Daleiden said that it would be nice to have an extra year ahead of time to solve a lot of concerns. Hausmann said that 95% of the landowners settle ahead of time and avoid condemnation, but eliminating eminent domain would help. Daleiden said that perhaps there would be a way to set up a budget fund so that this work could be done ahead of time, but the amount would be uncertain. Sawatzke said that it’s not like there isn’t money to work with, but Hawkins said that federal dollars can’t be used on right of way (without a lot of hoops to jump through). The right-of-way money budgeted comes from state aid or local levy dollars, but the design has to be approved by MnDOT before offers can go out. If it is a federal project, right of way can’t be acquired until the design is approved. Daleiden asked for a budget figure that would be necessary in order to get the right of way purchased further ahead of time.
5) Discuss County Website Serving as “Official Website” for Purposes of Transportation and Maintenance Project Legal Notices (Post Advertisement for Bids, etc.)
Hawkins said that it would be helpful to use the Wright County website as an official, approved advertising site, which would help eliminate some delays that waiting for a weekly deadline can cause. The official county paper could still be used, but posting on the county website would help with getting earlier bid dates, and as a result, would result in earlier project start dates. The Howard Lake Herald (HLH) is the official paper, and this is determined by bids at the beginning of the year; and it would still be used, but putting the ad on the website will help get the word out earlier. Daleiden said that putting it on the website would probably open up the exposure as many people don’t get the HLH, although Sawatzke said that some contractors get the paper just for the purpose of reviewing the ads for bid. Hausmann said that combining the benefits of opening the bids at the Wright County Highway Department (rather than at a County Board meeting, already approved by the Board) and posting an ad earlier on the county website could help save two and a half weeks of the construction season. Borrell said that it would be good to put it on the County Board agenda with a link so that the general public could access the information ahead of time, or more than three or four days ahead of time, which is what is generally available now for information about County Board meetings. Any decision to consider the county website as an official advertising site will have to be discussed at the beginning of the next business year, which generally begins at the first Tuesday meeting in January.
RECOMMENDATION: It was the recommendation of the TCOTW that the County Board approve the Wright County website as an “Official Website” at the first County Board meeting of 2014.
6) Discuss/Set Date for Spring Road Tour
The Engineering staff put together a list of suggested road tour site visits that would take about six hours. Included are things that would be of current interest, such as upcoming construction projects, projects currently underway, and future projects. We would like to get the board members’ input to see if they wish to have anything added to the road tour and to talk about a date that would work for everyone. A lunch stop will be made at Beebe Lake Park, and the Beebe Lake trail project can be reviewed that will be constructed from CSAH 19 along CSAH 34. A visit will be made to the CSAH 3 construction project, which is Wright County’s first concrete paving project with a 30-50 year design rather than 15-20, which is the typical life of a bituminous surface. The sub-grade is the key on what type of pavement will work, and this area is ideally suited for concrete, in addition to the fact that concrete prices were virtually the same as the up-front bituminous prices, with a much longer life for concrete. Grand Castle Estates, a development site in Buffalo Township, will be visited to look at the results of the bituminous paving project that will be part of the 2013 Overlay project. The investor is paying for most of the improvement, but both Buffalo Township and Wright County will share in the cost that exceeds $100,000, and the current total is estimated at approximately $160,000 if the choice is made to upgrade to Option 2 (patching and overlay). Hawkins will be in touch with Buffalo Township officials to discuss the upgrades Option 2 before a decision is made. The work on Grand Castle could be completed by the end of June, but it will depend what the schedule of the overlay contractor is. The tour was set for Wednesday, June 26 to begin at 8:00 a.m. from the Public Works Building.
7) Region 7W UZA Update
Hawkins explained that this update is purely informational and no action is required. He distributed a short summary and a map of the area affected. Following the 2010 census, the urban boundaries controlled by the Met Council were expanded into the higher population density area in the northeastern portion of Wright County. This affects only transportation planning and is not related in any way to the Met Council’s Sanitary Sewer/Waste Water Treatment Division. A technical group has been formed by Region 7W, which is the planning agency for Wright County, and there have been three meetings so far, with another one coming soon, to review and formulate recommendations for addressing the expanded boundaries into Region 7W. They want to come up with a memo of understanding (MOU) for the Met Council, who doesn’t want to come into Wright County but who is mandated by the federal government to do so. After that, a policymaker group would ensure that the recommendations are adequate for local acceptance/approval. Hawkins reviewed the map showing the boundary changes. He said that the results of the 2010 census are what spurred this on. Hausmann explained that any urban area over 50,000 must have a planning organization, but as Wright County is contiguous to the area served by the Met Council, we are unable start our own planning area. All steps taken for future planning will be very cautious steps. Hawkins said that the Met Council has no desire to make Wright County part of their organization, but they are required by law to have to include a portion of Wright County because of the growth in population. Hawkins said that the northeastern portion of Wright County is required, according to law, to be included in the Met Council’s transportation planning regardless whether Wright County takes steps to negotiate an agreement that the planning remain with 7W or not. Regardless if Wright County negotiates exclusion for planning, that northeastern portion will be still adopted by the Met Council as mandated by law. Sawatzke asked if Wright County can negotiate to keep planning activities as status quo, and Hawkins said that they can but it still needs to be shown on the original map as part of the new urban boundary of Met Council transportation planning area. Hausmann said that if Wright County does not include our projects in the Met Council transportation plan, we will not be eligible for any federal funds within the planning area. MnDOT decides what projects they want to do in the area, but it has to be in the plan. He explained that the Met Council has been in operation since the 1960s in order to have a uniform planning of transportation so that there is a unified connection, and that is what Wright County has to deal with. Sawatzke said that we want to stay with 7W, because we don’t get anything from the Met Council. Our political clout is greater there and we can get some of our gas tax dollars back. Hawkins said that Wright County has been very fortunate in Region 7Was we have received a lot of federal dollars, including for CSAH 6 near Annandale and CSAH 19 in St. Michael. If Wright County does nothing, then we most likely won’t be able to get any money as we would be competing with the metro area projects. Borrell said that he doesn’t want to submit to the Met Council, and Hawkins reiterated that we would like to continue submitting our transportation planning to 7W. We would be writing up an agreement with the Met Council to keep our planning/federal funding with 7W. Anderson asked when this was first determined, and Hawkins said that this came about because of the shift in population density and the 2010 census. Anderson asked if there is any leeway to forming our own transportation planning group, and Hawkins said ‘no,’ because Wright County is contiguous to the Met Council’s area, Wright County is not allowed to have its own planning group. Borrell said that we don’t need another level of government, and Hawkins said that this is what we are working to avoid. We would like to keep another level of government out by working the way we have been. The next meeting is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, June 19 in St. Michael. Borrell asked if you had to join the Met Council to get more money, and Hawkins said that he thinks there is a time period to define the boundaries or they will automatically go into effect and Wright County will lose control of its transportation planning if they don’t stay with 7W, because its priority will be lost in the metropolitan area. Hausmann said that the point of the agreement with the Met Council is to minimize the control of the Met Council over Wright County. They don’t want Wright County, and Wright County wants to stay with District Three. Hawkins said that though the staff is skeptical and the other communities (Sherburne, Elk River, Otsego, Albertville, and St. Michael) want to keep things the way they are, Wright County needs to stay engaged and be at the table. Wright County has averaged about $1 million/year in federal aid, and the other 12 counties in 7W would probably be happy if Wright County turned this money down and went with the Met Council for planning. Anderson said that the stipulation is that in order to get federal funds, we have to use a planning council. The state created the Met Council, and the Met Council apparently accepted this planning role. Somewhere along the line there is a need for a planning agency, but rather than get a new one, the one in 7W should be used. The Met Council was created by the state, and now some new agencies are needed. Daleiden said that we still have to deal with highways, not mass transit. We aren’t really giving them anything. Anderson said that he votes against going with the Met Council. Daleiden asked what we do at this point, nothing? Do we go to the table and tell them how we are going to do it? This is the way we insist it be done? If we don’t do anything, they’ll take over. Potter said that you have to be at the table in order to be able to make your point. He said that Wright County wants to control its own destiny, and does not want to be part of the Met Council’s transportation planning and would rather be part of 7W’s transportation planning. Sawatzke said that he would love to have an agreement to have our own area, but this is up to the Legislature, and only the Legislature can expand the boundaries. The Legislature created the Met Council and the boundaries. This doesn’t necessarily put the Met Council in Wright County. The population area has expanded, but the Met Council has not. Hawkins reiterated that if Wright County does nothing, it will come under the control of the Met Council and Wright County will get “out-metroed.” Wright County has fared very well by being in the 7W with 13 counties. The Met Council will include Wright County’s plan in its plan because it has to. Hawkins said that the affected communities, including Wright County, have until 2014 to create an MOU with the Met Council, and the deadline could be clarified at the next meeting. Husom said that Wright County will strive to maintain the status quo in terms of funding, and the Met Council won’t control Wright County’s federal funding.
8) Discuss Sweeping in Cities
Meyer explained that Wright County currently contracts out for sweeping its county highways that are located in various cities. Daleiden had inquired whether it could be an economical consideration to allow the cities to do all of the sweeping in each respective city and then have the cities bill back the county. Meyer said that he prefers to maintain control of the schedule and save on the administrative costs that would result if the cities were to include the county highways and then invoice the county.
(End of 5-21-13 TCOTW Minutes)
A Building Committee Meeting was held on 5-22-13. Two sets of Minutes were drafted as two items were referred from the County Board and one was referred from the Human Services Board. Today, both sets of minutes were reviewed. Sawatzke said the set of Minutes that were referred to the Human Services Board for approval were referred back to the County Board. This is because Budget 100 will be used to fund the remodel, which the County Board has authority over. Sawatzke referenced the recommendation of Item II, Discuss Uses of the Former Jail, and asked the purpose of discussing moving the License Bureau. Daleiden said Motor Vehicle needs more room, as does the Information Technology (IT) Department. This would allow the public to conduct business at Motor Vehicle in a more convenient location (entering through the former Jail door). Daleiden said it is unclear at this point whether this is feasible and will depend on what the structural engineer and architect come up with. Sawatzke voiced concern on moving the License Bureau. He said the Motor Vehicle Department was initially located in its current location so that the public could enter the east doors. He referenced security and access issues and Borrell’s Agenda request today to refer Government Center Security to Committee. He asked for statistics on volume of business for the License Bureau. Daleiden stated that figure is 85,000 for last year. He did not have data on previous years for comparison. These figures may increase if the County would streamline the process and provide a more convenient location for the public. Sawatzke responded that the public may be accessing these services via the computer. Sawatzke said he would like this issue referred to the Building Committee Of The Whole for more discussion. Daleiden stated this is one of the items that he was suggesting to add to that Meeting Agenda (as part of Items For Consid. #3). More data from the structural engineer and architect should be available for that Meeting. Sawatzke said the County did remodel the former Jail reception area for the Bailiff’s Office a couple of years ago.
Daleiden made a motion to approve the Item III recommendation to reconfigure the Third Floor Reception area, Option 1, with funding from Budget 100, Site Improvements (see 5-22-13 Building Committee Minutes-Human Services Board below). The motion was seconded by Borrell and carried 5-0.
Daleiden moved to approve the two sets of 5-22-13 Building Committee Minutes but not the recommendations. The motion was seconded by Potter and carried 5-0. Both sets of Minutes follow:
5-22-13 Building Committee Minutes (County Board)
I. Climate Air Contract.
Hayes responded to two questions from Board members regarding why the County pays one bill to Climate Air for maintenance and another for repairs. Daleiden has also asked Hayes whether local vendors were given opportunities to bid on this contract. Daleiden asked how often the process was reviewed.
Hayes said the County has two large buildings with many components. In the past, the Board realized the need to do preventive maintenance. The County began soliciting bids in 1991 in search of a company with the capacity to look at each component four times per year. The County had previously entered into a contract with one company after 1989 that did not work out well. Climate Air won the bid in 2000 for commercial heating, cooling and temperature control services for County buildings. Hayes said their ability to do preventive maintenance is critical. Every key system component must be checked.
Buskey said the Government Center (GC) has ten air handlers and eight boilers. The Human Services Center (HSC) has 14 furnaces. Hayes said the contract with Climate Air is primarily for preventive maintenance services. Full coverage was not necessary as Buskey and Hatfield are able to perform some repairs. The goal was to find a backup vendor in the event one was needed in the future. The most recent bid occurred when the Law Enforcement Center (LEC) was built. Hayes said Adolfson & Peterson Construction coordinated the bid process, which Climate Air won. The goal was to contract with one vendor who had the expertise to care for all County buildings. Hayes said an important element was installing a digital control system. The County desires that the GC controls would be compatible with the LEC controls. Hayes said both the digital control professional and engineer at Climate Air are the best he has encountered. They have worked with the County on many projects, including the Federal stimulus program for more than $400,000 in 2009.
Hayes said all projects under this program demonstrated payback of less than five years, and some were as low as one year. County energy usage decreased. Hayes said the County could bid the contract again, but does not have to right now. Currently the LEC has large electric bills in the amount of approximately $40,000 per month. Climate Air is addressing that issue at this time. Hayes did not want to interrupt their work. Hatfield concurred that Climate Air is currently working on reducing LEC electric bills.
Hayes explained that there is no other company in the County able to perform the functions of which Climate Air is capable. There are other companies outside the County, such as Honeywell, with similar expertise. Hayes said Climate Air has the professionals qualified to meet the needs of the County.
Daleiden said the service contract for the LEC is $8,528 per year. Hayes said the service contract for the Government Center (GC) is about $34,000. Climate Air maintains all the filters and belts for the GC. Hayes said it is a more complex building than the LEC. Hatfield maintains the filters and valves at the LEC. The HSC contract is about $8,000, and the Public Works Building is $9,000. Hatfield added that Climate Air can correct problems at the LEC from a remote location, which allows for quick and easy repairs.
Daleiden asked why Buskey does not change filters at the GC. Buskey said Climate Air changes the filters when they are checking out the heat pumps. Often Climate Air finds the pressure is off or belts are failing. In those events, Climate Air makes the repairs at that time.
Daleiden asked whether Climate Air replaces air filters quarterly. Buskey said they do. In fact, Climate Air completes a lengthy checklist for air handlers and dampers. They utilize a laptop for a sensor check. They replace or repair items as needed, and inform Buskey. Potter commented that the GC is a more complicated building. Buskey said it is very different than the LEC.
Hayes said effective improvements were made with the stimulus funds. Buskey said the Old Kewanee boiler was 37 years old, and was replaced with two Fulton hot water boilers several years ago. Potter asked whether there were any other items that needed attention. Buskey responded that the towers are getting old and starting to leak. He explained there are two old steam boilers in the GC steam room. The legs ceased to function on the old boilers and had to be welded. Buskey would like to replace them with one Fulton boiler. The cost would be about $40,000.
Daleiden asked whether the heat is steam versus hot water. Buskey said they are hot water at the GC and humidifier and steam in the penthouse enclosure on the roof and the former Jail.
Hayes said Buskey repairs and replaces equipment at the HSC as it breaks down. Buskey said there are 14 old furnaces that cost more to fix than replace. Daleiden concurred, saying newer furnaces are more efficient.
Hayes said he would not rule out another bid, as long as a different company has expertise comparable to Climate Air. However, he did not want to make a switch now until Climate Air reports back with ways to reduce energy costs at the LEC. Daleiden said he broached the issue because he received questions from constituents about it. He asked what software the County uses. Hayes said the name is Reliable, and it requires substantial training to use, although it is not proprietary. Another company could bid for the contract.
Potter said his questions were answered as well. Hayes suggested Potter refer people with such questions to him, and he would be happy to talk with them.
Hatfield commented that the County often receives valuable engineering advice from Climate Air free of charge for which other companies invoice.
Daleiden clarified that Climate Air is looking into seasonal operation during cold months. He asked whether Hatfield would run the electric heat pumps to subsidize the boiler. Hatfield said the boiler would only operate in the heating season. He said there is an option for a gas fired heat pump, but it has not been on the market for ten years to provide reliable data. Climate Air did not want the County to invest in a system that may not work in the long term. They suggested other methods. He reiterated that a gas-fired option would only be an option to subsidize during the heating season.
Daleiden said the electric bill is lower in summer. Hayes said the monthly bills still hover around $30,000. Daleiden said the pricing from Climate Air is not too high.
Recommendation: Informational item only.
II. Discuss Uses Of The Former Jail.
Gentles informed the Committee of the need for more records storage for Court Administration. Daleiden said there is storage available that is not being utilized in the
basement under the former Jail offices. Gentles asked whether shelving would be added. Daleiden said the basement area with bunks could be used as shelves. He thought the old Jail location would work well due to its proximity to the elevator. Hayes commented that a secure perimeter must be maintained when inmates are being held for court. Daleiden said after 3 P.M. all the inmates are usually gone.
Gentles said she was not making an official request at this time. Hayes asked whether Gentles is renting off site storage space. She replied that she rents space that is not for Court files. Daleiden offered to show her the location he described. Gentles asked how secured the location is and whether it would allow easy access to records. Daleiden said the area could be padlocked. Gentles asked if there were other record storage needs for the County. Kelly said the County is gradually transitioning to electronic document storage, but there are still a significant number of paper files.
Daleiden said the advantage of storing documents in the basement versus the ground level is that there are no weight restrictions. Gentles asked about water. Daleiden asked about potential uses for the former Jail area. Potter said the space should be utilized. Gentles said Court Administration has a lot of boxes and open files stored in the Record Center in a cage. Daleiden said this area is ideal for items not often needed to reference. Gentles said her Department stores documents by the year. Their intent is to store files in the basement that do not need to be accessed frequently. Her staff does two basement runs per day to retrieve files. Daleiden asked how long records are retained. Gentles said many are stored permanently.
Daleiden said documents from the 1960s to 1980s are less likely to be reviewed. Gentles said they are moving documents from 2006 to the basement area at this time.
Potter asked regarding the type of shelves Gentles preferred. She said they have some in the basement that are 12 inches deep and 7 feet high. Hayes said they are heavy duty.
She prefers open shelving versus boxes. Daleiden asked about shelving in the former Sheriff office. Gentles said she hasn’t looked at that type of high density shelving. Potter asked if it could be moved. Hayes said there are two systems in the former Sheriff office that are movable and could be moved. Gentles said it may be hard to level them. Kelly agreed. He was not sure if the floor was built to accommodate the extra weight. Daleiden said those files would be in the basement.
Hayes said Court Administration needs secure access to the former Jail basement location. Gentles said there are not many confidential documents stored in the basement. Daleiden suggested using a padlock and key. Potter said the only staff that has access to that area currently is the Sheriff Office and Building Care and Maintenance. Gentles said the area needs to be more accessible than a lock and key allow.
Potter asked whether Gentles needs 24/7 access. Gentles responded that her staff has extended business hours for staff. That should be sufficient for the basement storage area. Potter said it would take special clearance for Court Administration to access the area. Kelly said that he did not believe there are any card key readers in the former Jail basement area. Gentles said her Department is slowly transitioning to electronic document storage, but that is a long way into the future. There are currently no plans to archive documents. They are scheduled to start imaging in August of this year. There are no plans to image documents prior to that date. She will draft a proposal and talk to her staff. Their first preference is to relocate and consolidate, but she realizes space is at a premium. Daleiden offered to meet with Gentles today to show her the former Jail basement area.
Potter asked if the shelves in the former Jail area are still usable for basement storage. Daleiden suggested they look at them. Potter said it makes sense to utilize them. Daleiden suggested evaluating the site to see if it will work. He considered it an ideal space for Court Administration records storage, as it is open and dry.
Kelly said by allowing use of this space, the Board may set a precedent that could generate more requests. There is a need for consistency. Dick Norman, County Coordinator, informed him that an outside entity has requested to store books at the GC. He asked if Potter and Daleiden were open to that practice. Daleiden said he is if the room is not being utilized by the County or Courts. Kelly said the organization would be rotating their stock of books every six months. Daleiden said it depends on how much accessibility they need and how much staff time it takes to accommodate them. It should not be a daily occurrence.
Potter said his first priority is the County. Otherwise, everyone outside the County or Courts will clamor for space at the GC. Kelly echoed his concern.
Daleiden said if the Motor Vehicle Licensing Bureau (MVLB) moved to this location, the back parking ramp lot would be available for clients, and eliminate the need to go through security. Potter suggested making the back door for employees only. Daleiden said it could work for the MVLB, as they need more space. He said the Information Technology Department (IT) also needs more space. Daleiden said they would be killing two birds with one stone. Gentles asked if Daleiden was referring to the area where Booking is now. Daleiden said he is, but that he has another idea for the Sheriff Office. Gentles said the number of people leaving the GC would be significant if the County built a Courts building.
Potter said that may happen in less than seven years. Bond Council will meet with the Board to see how this can be accomplished by replacing the current bond with another one.
Potter said it is up to the Building Committee to see how to best utilize existing space. Part of the plan in 2004 was to eventually relocate the Courts. The timing must coincide with the bonds. Hayes asked when the Courts will be getting a new judge. Gentles said they have six now, and have since 2009. Court case filings are not currently trending up. Hayes asked if it would be years before Gentles thinks that will change. Gentles replied that the trend appears to have leveled out. The increase slowed in the early 2000s.
Potter did not want to spend money remodeling to Court specifications when the plan is to move Courts out of the GC. Gentles said repurposing Courts space is expensive. Potter said he would rather plan ahead to build a building that would last fifty years or more. Gentles understood that the County has a lot of expensive decisions to make. Potter said the State Demographic Center says Wright County will be the second fastest growing county in the State in the next ten years. The County’s proximity to the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area dictates continual growth. Potter said the Board should take the role of visionary planners for the County. He added they should not micro manage, but plan for the future.
Daleiden said they realize something needs to be done to resolve the Court Administration storage issues. He believes it is possible to do so. He said the first priority should be to focus on solving internal needs for storage.
Kelly said the Board may receive requests from other Departments for storage space, such as the Attorney Office and Veterans Services. Human Services is beginning the process of transitioning to electronic document management. Potter said the Recorder is also starting that process. Daleiden added that the Attorney Office is as well.
Gentles said it is important to maintain the imaging systems currently in place. Potter asked Kelly to put discussion about storage needs for other Departments on the next Building Committee Agenda. He added that they will look at storage areas in the basement to evaluate what space is available and potential ways it could be reconfigured. Gentles said there may be access issues in the former Jail basement area. Daleiden said the area is secured. They will make sure it remains as secure as possible. Kelly said the area is partitioned off. Daleiden said the area he had in mind for Court Administration looks like a barracks type of cell. He thought it would work well for this purpose. Potter suggested Gentles look at the space.
Daleiden said the next step is to get an estimate from an engineer and architect to determine the cost to create lunchrooms, enlarge the MVLB and IT office areas. His idea was to convert the former Jail cells on the first floor of the Jail into a lunchroom. The existing lunchroom could be used to accommodate enlargement of the IT Department. Hayes said that location may be inconvenient for employees who have fifteen minute breaks. He added that lunchroom space at the GC has decreased significantly over previous years. For example, what is now Courtroom 6 and part of the Administration Department used to be a lunchroom. Daleiden said an employee suggested the former Jail cell area as a potential lunchroom. Daleiden thought it could be converted at minimal cost. The area has windows and a restroom.
Hayes asked whether Daleiden wanted an architect to do a study. Daleiden said no. He would like someone to give an estimate. Potter preferred that a structural engineer evaluate the space and provide reconfiguration facts and costs. He felt studies take too long. Daleiden agreed that there was no need for a study. Hayes asked if they had a company or person in mind. Daleiden said they should get a couple of estimates. Hayes clarified that Daleiden is asking for a professional to look at the spaces and give a cost figure. Daleiden said he wants to know a ballpark cost to convert the space.
Potter asked Hayes to get a few proposals and bring them to the Board. Hayes suggested that staff accompany the professionals in addition to Daleiden and Potter. Daleiden said he was initiating action on the project and will step back. Hayes reiterated that staff involvement was important. Potter said the project has to get started. He prefers being proactive versus managing by crisis. Daleiden asked Hayes to get a number regarding reconfiguring the former Jail holding area to make it more accessible, and to convert the other areas into a lunchroom. Kelly asked whether the Auditor/Treasurer is on board regarding moving the MVLB. Daleiden said he spoke with him and he is in favor of the move.
The MVLB has three computers at the counter. The Monticello location has five, which he believes shortens the average time a customer spends there compared to the MVLB. Hayes said often there isn’t a line at the MVLB. Additionally, customers may renew license tabs online. Daleiden said the County doesn’t receive any revenue when customers buy their tabs online.
Daleiden said the professionals contacted should be structural engineers and architects. If they are not structural engineers, he does not want to utilize them. Hayes said he knows engineers, but does not know if they will do the space part of the estimate. The space aspect is critical and the structural analysis will be secondary. Hayes said the space usage calls for the services of an architect.
Daleiden said the structural engineer will need to determine whether the reconfiguration will work. Potter said the engineer and architect must work together. Hayes asked if they were thinking of moving the Jail function out of the area, or would they remain adjacent to the MVLB. The Jail recently took more space in the first floor of the GC. Daleiden said he was thinking of relocating them by the elevator. Gentles said they interact with the public. Hayes asked whether Daleiden has spoken with Captain Patrick O’Malley, Jail Administrator. Daleiden replied that he has talked to everybody. Potter added that they want to include more people in the discussion. Hayes suggested that Daleiden not be the person to solicit bids, but instead leave that to County staff. Daleiden agreed. Potter said their intent was simply to get the project going.
Quoting statistics, Daleiden said last year 68,415 people utilized the MVLB. An average of 600 people visited the County Holding Office in 2012. The daily average is 28. In January of 2012, there were 696 visitors, with a high of 48 and a low of 16 visitors per day.
Hayes commented that if the former Jail space is activated, they will need to fix a roof leak over the basketball court area. Daleiden asked why the County would need to roof that open basketball court section. Hayes wondered whether the existing beams would support a metal roof that would support snow loads. Potter said if they put on a new roof over the basketball court and the leak was eliminated, they would know the problem was solved. Hayes said they could work on the solving the leak first before building a roof. Potter suggested using colored water to see where the flow is coming rom. Hayes said he would investigate it. Daleiden said a new roof may be needed.
Hayes said the DLR Group, who conducted a past study on the GC, advised that it would cost two or three times as much for the County to remodel versus build new. If the plan is to convert the former Jail area, DLR provided a design to put the Judges chambers in that area with four courtrooms. However, Hayes said it did not answer the concerns about secured hallways. It also required adding an elevator.
Potter said that would not be productive. Gentles said the Courts need flexible spaces, as needs change. Hayes said a new Courts building would probably require 12 courtrooms. Gentles said the smart way is to build with a larger footprint than the current six judges
and staff currently occupy.
Potter said past practice has been to continuously build additions. Problems with aging infrastructure remain. Daleiden asked if the old Jail space was torn down, would that extend to the Quad area. Potter thought only the former Jail area would be involved. Daleiden referred to the DLR design and discussed options with Hayes. It was decided that the indoor exercise area would be there permanently, which means they can plan for the long term. Hayes suggested relocating the MVLB to the first floor of the former Jail area. Daleiden agreed.
Hayes said MVLB staff is very concerned about security. They want a Bailiff present on Thursday evenings when their hours are extended. Daleiden referenced areas on the DLR plan where security would be located. Hayes said access is good with this design. The door could be card keyed so that the public would not have access to secured areas. Daleiden said a security guard could be present as an alternative. Potter said the MVLB staff want a deputy on duty, although other bureaus do not have full time law enforcement present. He suggested that adequate space be provided for staff to interact with customers. Hayes commented that cameras were positioned and monitors displayed so the public is aware they are on camera. Daleiden said a small percentage of customers will require access to the rest of the GC. Hayes said time does not permit a thorough discussion at this meeting. Daleiden reiterated that they need to know the cost. The design does not need to be exotic. He envisions a few walls and windows removed to create the lunchroom. An important consideration is that the structure is sound enough to handle the amount of people utilizing the area. Potter prefers moving ahead with a can-do perspective. Hayes said the County must meet all handicap standards and codes. Daleiden said the basement is off limits for a lunchroom due to limited accessibility. The first floor of the GC is ideal for storage because it is accessible. Potter wants to resolve these issues.
Kelly will respond to the outside party inquiring about storage space at the GC and inform them that the County is only taking internal requests at this time.
Recommendation: Request Hayes to obtain quotes regarding relocating the Motor Vehicle License Bureau and the first floor GC lunchroom. Refer Departmental space needs to the next Building Committee meeting.
III. Request To Reconfigure Third Floor Reception Area (HS Board).
(End of 5-22-13 Building Committee Minutes-County Board)
5-22-13 Building Committee Minutes (Human Services Board)
I. Climate Air Contract (County Board).
II. Discuss Uses Of The Former Jail (County Board).
III. Request To Reconfigure Third Floor Reception Area (HS Board).
Schwartz said the third floor Human Services Financial Services (Agency) area does not accommodate the large number of clients using their facility. That number will increase later this year as implementation of the Affordable Care Act begins. Schwartz distributed a document entitled “Request For Building Remodel on 3rd Floor Annex,” along with drawings showing two alternative designs.
Schwartz said “remodel” implies more reconstruction than is being requested. She described the current front reception work area as a “fishbowl” because client data could be compromised if someone views an employee’s computer screen. Hayes received quotes on various configurations of the room that would allow the Agency to utilize much of the existing module furniture in the new design. Schwartz referred to the Request document for a list of issues that require resolution.
Schwartz discussed both options. Option 1, with a total cost of $3,829.76, provides a large main entry for clients by the elevators so they can easily see where to go. Option 1 also enlarges the client seating area and places them conveniently near the bathrooms. This Option also eliminates the “fishbowl” effect for staff housed in the reception area cubicle. With this design, staff would be situated in the corners of the reception enclosure with their backs to each other. Two staff currently located in the corners would be sitting across from each other but with their own work space. The large office adjoining the reception area is used as an intake office. Clients are currently seated immediately outside this office. Staff occupies that office and screens clients within hearing range of other clients. Antl said clients sit outside her door as well. Data privacy is a real concern. Schwartz said clients are asked questions such as household composition and bank account information. She prefers Option 1. Staff that are currently stationed in the enclosed reception area often become distracted. She feels this Option will alleviate that problem.
Schwartz does not like Option 2, and describes it as unworkable. The total cost would be $2,943.63. The plan would take out windows and insert fabric walls. The Agency request is based on information received from Interium and Cheri Nelson for electrical and wiring quotes. The goal is to complete the remodeling project prior to October before the influx of clients begins.
Daleiden asked if they have enough chairs. Antl said they will need more. Daleiden said there should be chairs at the Government Center the Agency could use. Schwartz said she will take a look at the inventory. Currently clients sit face to face in the lobby. They will change the arrangement so clients sit back – to – back for greater privacy. She said the quote includes the cost of installation. It will take some time for the Information Technology Department (IT) to unhook and reattach equipment. Schwartz hopes the downtime does not last more than one day.
Potter clarified that Option 1 is preferred. Hayes asked how this would be paid. Schwartz said they plan to ask the County to pay for it. Potter asked if the site plan is in the budget. Kelly thought it could be put under Site Improvements 100-6605.
Daleiden asked whether the County could utilize some of the new money. Schwartz was not sure if the Agency would be reimbursed for expenses such as new chairs for the workers. Daleiden said it is worth a try, since the redesign is to accommodate the Affordable Care Act. Schwartz said if that is the case, the Agency would not purchase new chairs until after October 1, 2013. Daleiden said the Agency should implement this before then. He asked about the kiosk. Schwartz said it is in their budget to acquire one. She said the new design will enable them to place the kiosk in the lobby area where front desk staff can monitor it. Under the current configuration, the kiosk would have to be placed in the elevator lobby.
Antl said a review of the site yielded concern that computer screens at the desks of reception staff are still visible from some angles, even though they all have guards on them. Potter agreed data could possibly be compromised.
Schwartz said the Financial Services Division pays $14,000 for rent. Daleiden said perhaps that information should be updated. The Federal government would possibly increase the reimbursement to the County for the program services provided. Schwartz said her Division is figuring 2014 budget numbers at this time. Daleiden asked that Kelly find out what Stearns, Sherburne and Carver Counties charge their Departments for rent.
Recommendation: Authorize Option 1 to be presented to the Human Services Board with funding from Budget 100 – Site Improvements.
(End of 5-22-13 Building Committee Minutes-Human Services Board)
Gloria Gooler, Auditor/Treasurer’s Office, presented the claims listing for approval. As a follow up to questions at least week’s Board Meeting, Gooler provided information on two claims. The first related to a claim to 2nd Wind ($443.75) for repair of exercise equipment. She said the funding source for the initial purchase of the exercise equipment was the Sheriff’s Narcotic Seizure funds. Therefore, this fund is being utilized for the repairs. Expenditures from the Seizure funds are not subject to the Board’s approval; those claims are paid on an Auditor’s warrant. Therefore, this bill is not being presented to the Commissioners for approval. Lt. Todd Hoffman, said an opinion was provided in 2005 by the County Coordinator that one treadmill should be purchased out of Budget 201 and one out of Seizure Funds. Sawatzke responded that he was a member of the Owners Committee that was formed when the Law Enforcement Center was constructed and furnished. It was his understanding that the purchase of exercise equipment was not to come from standard County funding. Gooler said the second claim in question last week was to MN Monitoring Inc. ($1,000) for missing equipment. Mike MacMillan, Court Services Director, stated that an individual misplaced the monitoring equipment and has been criminally charged for the loss. MacMillan said they have researched insurance riders for equipment replacement but did not pursue this because of the associated deductible. A charge is implemented for electronic home monitoring and this charge is more than the cost to lease the equipment. He did not foresee any negative to the County. MacMillan may establish a contingency fund through the Budget process for the future. Gooler said the claim to MN Monitoring is included in the claims listing. Daleiden moved to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit, for a total of $1,542,375.50, 115 vendors, and 185 transactions. The motion was seconded by Potter and carried unanimously.
Borrell requested a change to the 5-14-13 County Board Minutes. He referenced page 5, 5th paragraph, line 4, which reads, “Borrell moved to grant Woodland Township the right to replace a culvert as requested with approval by the SWCD Office reviewing the plans and the work after it has been completed.” Borrell said it was not the intent of his motion to include approval by the SWCD. This comment was made by Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, at the Meeting and it was not accepted as a friendly amendment to the motion. The culvert has been replaced and all work has been done. He said it goes against his philosophy to have the SWCD looking over the Township’s shoulder when they are taking care of a culvert on their road. Sawatzke said Hiivala did suggest that Saxton look at the work that was being completed. He was unsure whether the other Board members thought Hiivala’s suggestion was part of the motion. Daleiden said the Township did contact the SWCD. Borrell said this repair didn’t really need to involve the County. Sawatzke said that the County was involved as it is part of the County’s drainage ditch. Daleiden moved to change the selected sentences to read, “Borrell moved to grant Woodland Township the right to replace a culvert as requested. Auditor/Treasurer Bob Hiivala said it should be done with approval by the SWCD District.” The motion was seconded by Potter and carried 5-0.
Borrell requested the Board schedule a Building Committee Of The Whole Meeting regarding Government Center Security. He referenced the discussion earlier in today’s Meeting on possibly moving the location of Motor Vehicle. He said if access is going to be part of that discussion, then the Board needs to discuss security. In response to discussion on metal detectors at the front and back entrances to the Lobby, Lt. Todd Hoffman stated that the Sheriff is responsible to provide security for the Courts corridor. The security was moved to the front and back doors of the Lobby based on a request from the County Board and Administration.
Daleiden moved to schedule a Committee Of The Whole Meeting for 6-10-13 at 10:00 A.M., seconded by Borrell. The motion and second were withdrawn because of a schedule conflict. Potter moved to schedule a Building Committee Of The Whole Meeting for 6-20-13 at 9:00 A.M., seconded by Borrell, carried 5-0. The Agenda will include Government Center Security and Costs for Structural Engineering and Architect. It was the consensus that the Sheriff and Court Administration (Court Administrator and/or a Judge) should be invited to this Meeting.
Daleiden moved to schedule a Committee Of The Whole Meeting for 6-10-13 at 11:30 A.M., seconded by Borrell, carried 5-0. The Agenda will include Camera Upgrade for the Board Room, Streaming of Board Meetings, and Board Minutes. Administration was directed to provide copies to the Board of the State Auditor’s position on Meeting Minutes.
Borrell moved to schedule a Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting on 6-17-13 at 9:00 A.M. The motion was seconded by Potter and carried 5-0. The purpose of the Meeting will be to discuss the County Coordinator position.
A Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 5-28-13. At today’s County Board Meeting, Borrell moved to approve the Minutes, seconded by Daleiden, carried 5-0:
1. Discuss County Coordinator Position.
The Committee met today to discuss the options, advantages and disadvantages between switching from a County Coordinator position to a County Administrator position. Asleson referred to the information distributed on 5-27-13 (See Attached). The County can choose between a County Coordinator, County Administrator, Elected County Executive or County Manager. Asleson stated the County could not choose to have the Auditor/Treasurer in this position due to the job already being a combination. Also if the County wishes to choose the Administrator position, it would need to be brought to the people for a vote. Norman stated the County could not choose a County Manager. Ramsey County is the only county in Minnesota with this position and it is due to them having a different County charter.
Daleiden asked Bigelow to state the advantages of having a County Administrator. Bigelow stated the main difference between a Coordinator and an Administrator is that the Department Heads would report to the Administrator instead of to the Board, whereas with the Coordinator, the Department Heads report to the Board. Daleiden stated the Board would be able to give the Administrator more decision making power which would eliminate simple decisions coming to a Committee, such as replacing carpet. Bigelow stated the County might also have trouble finding a candidate from another County for the position if it stays as a Coordinator because it is a step down from Administrator.
Asleson stated that within the Administrator Statute, there is a paragraph that states the Administrator will be the head of the County and will be responsible for the County and the agencies. Asleson stated to him, it means that a Coordinator would be more of a conduit, where the Administrator would actually have the general authority over the County. Husom agreed with Asleson stating that it makes sense to have the Department Heads report to the Administrator and then the Administrator would come to the Board if needed. She believes it will help streamline items/issues rather than issues getting delayed until another Board/Committee meeting.
Daleiden questioned what Norman would have done differently if his position would have been an Administrator rather than a Coordinator. Norman stated that the reporting relationship would have been different and he would have had more authority to approach people who were not following the policy. Norman also said the performance evaluations would have been done by him instead of the Board. There can be a disadvantage to having the Board complete the performance evaluations. If there is a low amount of communication between the Board and Department Head, it would be hard for the Board to decide if the Department Head has been doing their job.
Borrell stated that as an elected official he favors the Coordinator position because he feels the Commissioners are able to be more hands on than with the Administrator position. Sawatzke questioned if the Administrator position would help streamline the County. Norman stated he is not expecting the Committee to make a decision today on which position to choose. He stated that Dave Unmacht is a consultant who was once an Administrator and is available to speak with the Committee about the advantages and disadvantages. Norman plans to request Lee Kelly be appointed as the interim Coordinator at the 6-4-13 Board Meeting. Sawatzke questioned Norman about his salary. Norman stated it was $112,861 annually. Sawatzke does not believe there would be a shortage of applications for the open position. Norman stated that there might not be a shortage of applications, but there might be a shortage of qualified candidates.
Sawatzke has concerns switching to an Administrator position. He believes the County should hire someone into the Coordinator position and wait a couple years before making the switch. He would like to know that the person who will be in charge can handle the responsibility. Sawatzke also stated he would feel more comfortable hiring someone from within the County. Daleiden stated bringing in a new Administrator is no different than bringing in a new CEO of a company. The Board would be hiring someone to run the County such as a CEO would run a company. Daleiden stated he believed a clean break for the County would be better and he likes the idea of the Administrator handling simple items. Sawatzke stated that items were brought to the Building Committee at the request of Commissioners who were on the previous Board. Former Commissioners Eichelberg and Mattson preferred knowing what work was being done in County facilities so it was required that all requests go before the Building Committee.
Sawatzke stated that if the Committee was going to make an informed decision on this subject, they would need to know all sides of it. He suggested bringing in a Commissioner from Wabasha County because they recently switched from a Coordinator to an Administrator and are having difficulty adjusting to the change. Wright County is the fastest growing county in Minnesota and Sawatzke would like to make sure the Committee’s decision is a wise one. Norman stated that if the Committee chose to stay with the Coordinator position and if they like the job Kelly does as interim Coordinator, the Committee could choose to appoint him. Sawatzke believes it would be best to follow the normal posting/advertising procedure and Kelly could apply for the position.
Borrell stated that he does not agree with the Administrator position. He would like to see that the County stays with the Coordinator position because otherwise it takes power away from the people. Borrell stated that right now as a Commissioner, he could call the Highway Department and say that he has an issue with a certain road in his District. The Highway Engineer would then go and fix that road. Borrell stated that with a County Administrator, he would not be able to go directly to the Department Head with an issue. Instead, it would have to go through the Administrator. Sawatzke stated that was not the case and that Borrell could still contact the Department Head directly. Daleiden spoke with several Department Heads and they agree with the idea of having a County Administrator. One major reason is because the Department Heads would no longer be required to go to a committee to request open positions be filled. The positions would instead be brought to the Administrator for consideration. Sawatzke stated the reason open positions are brought to the Personnel Committee is because the prior Board decided five years ago that all positions should be discussed prior to hiring. Norman stated that until 2009, the Departments Heads could post and hire up to step three on the salary schedule. Husom stated the County should be able to trust their Department Heads and know that if they are hiring someone, it is because that position is needed.
Borrell stated concern about having a County Administrator. Norman stated with the Administrator position the Board would be consulted by one person rather than the fourteen Department Heads. Potter questioned how long Kelly would be interim Coordinator and stated he would like it to be no more than three months. Norman stated that the Board could leave the interim open ended. He suggests six months maximum. Norman also stated that if the Board did choose to hire Kelly as the new Coordinator or Administrator, they would need to make sure his current position, Special Projects Manager, would be filled.
Borrell stated that he would like to speak with Commissioners from counties that have completed this change. Sawatzke stated that Pine County recently tried to make the change from Coordinator to Administrator. The change did not go well and Pine County ended up in court requesting that the County be split in two. Potter stated that Pine County had other issues other than the change over. Borrell questioned why the Committee wanted to change a system that works well already. Potter stated that the Committee needs to look at the changes over the last 20 years and how any of their choices will affect the next 20 years. Daleiden questioned if Norman had a side by side chart explaining the differences between the Administrator position and the Coordinator position. Norman said he would try to find one. Sawatzke stated he would still like to bring people in to help answer the Committee’s questions.
Norman stated he believed the worst thing the Committee could do is make a quick decision. He agrees with the Committee taking their time and getting answers to their questions. Sawatzke is concerned with hiring a person outside the County and giving them power to tell Departments what they can and cannot do. Norman reminded Sawatzke that the Administrator would not set the budget and stated it would be done through the Board and the Auditor/Treasurer. Husom questioned if they could set up a meeting with other Commissioners within the next few weeks. Potter stated he would like that and suggested the Committee get all the information they can. Sawatzke suggested the Committee try to find a speaker who is for the Administrator position and one who is against the Administrator position so that both sides are heard. Daleiden stated the Committee should end the meeting so they can to gather information on the advantages and disadvantages of the Administrator position and schedule another meeting in about a month. Sawatzke stated he agreed with Daleiden.
(End of 5-28-13 Committee Of The Whole Minutes)
Sawatzke recognized the retirement of Richard Norman, County Coordinator, and his outstanding achievements during his 30 years of service. He was hired as the Executive Secretary to the Board and later the State Statute was changed to County Coordinator. He cited some of the areas that Norman has directed including Central Purchasing, Personnel Director, Labor Management, Union Negotiations, Building & Grounds Maintenance, Loss Control, and Insurance issues. Norman was thanked by each Commissioner for his dedication and years of service.
Bills Approved
Aramark Services Inc $6,621.58
Bankers Advertising Co Inc 467.69
Cenex Fleetcard 426.81
Centra Sota Coop. - Buffalo 34,495.20
Centracare Clinic 136.85
Chamberlain Oil Co 1,366.13
Clearwater Recreation LLC 553.69
Consolidated Container Corp 1,170.02
Cub Foods 229.07
Eckmaahs & Associates LLC 2,556.50
Election Sys. & Software Inc 11,168.75
Elk River Municipal Utilities 119.22
Ernst/Debbie 153.50
Forestry Suppliers Inc 159.43
Gabriel/Cathleen 100.00
Glunz Constr. Septic Service 130.00
Granite Electronics 261.81
Hard Rock Screening LLC 57,178.13
Harris Computer Systems 771.08
Intereum Inc 2,062.07
Interstate Battery Systems 220.06
Jahnke/Chris 181.50
Kustom Signals Inc 405.80
Law Enforcement Targets Inc 786.34
Marco Inc 5,513.76
Mathiowetz Construction 1,395,253.02
Menards - Buffalo 321.60
Midwest Landscapes Inc 1,629.84
MN Counties Computer Coop 1,427.46
MN Monitoring Inc 1,900.00
MN Supreme Court 762.00
Morries Parts & Service Group 526.25
Mountain Stream Sports & Ap. 618.80
Northern States Power Co 567.36
Office Depot 2,828.81
Performance Office Papers 222.73
Precision Prints of Wright Co 267.19
Ray Allen Mfg Co Inc 316.98
Setter/Randi 100.00
Shred Right 301.02
Streichers 1,186.76
Suburban Emergency Assoc. 256.59
Total Printing 384.75
Transcend United Tech. 2,613.11
W D Larson Companies Ltd 673.48
Waste Management-TC West 800.11
Wright County Highway Dept 754.82
27 Payments less than $100 1,427.83
Final total $1,542,375.50
The meeting adjourned at 10:08 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal June 24, 2013.

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