WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
NOVEMBER 12, 2013
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Husom, Sawatzke, Daleiden, Potter and Borrell present.
Husom moved to approve the 11-12-13 County Board Minutes as presented. The motion was seconded by Potter and carried unanimously.
Daleiden moved to approve the Agenda as presented, seconded by Borrell, carried 5-0.
On a motion by Potter, second by Borrell, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Reappoint Commissioner Mark Daleiden To The Wright County Community Action Board Of Directors.
1. Refer To Personnel Committee To Discuss Transition In The Assessor’s Office.
1. Approve Renewal of 2014 Tobacco License For CL Gentile, Inc. DBA Geez Sports Bar & Grill (City Of Albertville); Lantto’s Store, Inc. (Township Of French Lake).
Steve Berg, Emergency Management Coordinator, presented for approval a draft resolution and letter of commitment for funds for the Hazard Mitigation Plan Update Project. The Hazard Mitigation Plan was completed in 2009 and is due to be updated every five years per mandates by FEMA & HSEM. An update is due in 2014. In order to be eligible for grant funding in 2014, the paperwork must be submitted soon. The anticipated timeline for the project is 18 months, starting in 2014.
Berg explained that bids were received from two companies:
Beck Disaster Recovery; $44,600
Berg stated that four consulting companies were contacted but he only heard back from two formally. Beck Disaster Recover was the company that originally completed the County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan. In 2009, some of the counties who used other vendors had their Plans returned by FEMA for additional work. Wright County’s Plan was submitted and approved in less than a month. Berg recently checked with other counties who utilized SEH and understands that they were unhappy and it ended up costing more than originally thought.
Project costs are estimated at $42,890 to $52,541 with a Federal share of 75% and a local share of 25%. Berg said if the County accepts Beck Disaster Recovery’s bid of $44,600, the local match would be about $13,700. Berg is estimating that the County may have to fund $5,000-$7,000 above and beyond those costs. Part of the match can be made up of work performed by County staff. Costs incurred by cities and townships can also be included in the match amount (not reimbursed to the cities and townships). Berg’s salary is funded through the Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) so he is required to document time spent between Emergency Management and the Hazard Mitigation Plan. Berg said that the additional $5,000-$7,000 is based on whether the County receives what the State is estimating the County’s expenses to be.
Berg said the original Hazard Mitigation Plan had a $24,700 flat fee. There was no match with the associated grant. Beck Disaster Recovery completed the Plan for Wright County. Sawatzke said it doesn’t seem that an update should cost more than the original Plan. Berg stated that Stearns County updated their Plan for about $40,000 and there were few changes. The Plan went back and forth to FEMA. Berg supported proceeding with Beck Disaster Recovery at the $44,000 cost because Wright County has a history with them.
Daleiden stated there are so many different Plans that must be followed if there is a natural disaster. He viewed it as duplication and a waste of money. He asked why there is not just one Plan that covers everything. Berg said he would favor one Plan but FEMA requires different Plans. There will be an additional Plan required with the EMPG. Berg said this involves Federal funds mandated through FEMA and the State administers the grant through Homeland Security Management. Husom referenced the County’s COOP (Continuity Of Operations Planning) Plan and said that is designed to address what is done in an emergency and is more tailored to staff. Berg said the COOP Plan was implemented based on pandemics and how government will be continued during a situation where there is loss of staff. Functions are prioritized, 24/7 operations are addressed, and lower priority items are prioritized in order to continue operation. All of these Plans are supplements to the Emergency Operations Plan, which is followed during a disaster. The Hazard Mitigation Plan addresses how to reduce or mitigate the effects of a disaster. It does not prevent the County from obtaining funds from the Government if a disaster would occur. It would prevent the County from obtaining funds for mitigation purposes. Sawatzke asked what criteria the Federal government uses to administer funding for the Hazard Mitigation Plan update. Berg stated the Federal government applies a formula to the bids received (75/25 split).
Discussion returned to the cost for the update of the Plan. Sawatzke wanted to know why it would cost so much more to update the Plan than the original Plan cost. Daleiden stated it should be easier to do the second time. Borrell asked whether the update could be done with staff. Berg said that would not be a possibility without more staff. Sawatzke asked if the County would be reimbursed by the Federal government in that scenario. Berg said the funding would be on the same match based on total expenses. Borrell referenced the update to the Stearns County Plan which did not change much. He said Wright County may be able to update its Plan as it probably will not change much. Berg said Stearns County’s Plan did not come out well and had to be re-worked after being sent to FEMA. Sawatzke said Wright County’s Plan would still be at 85-90% of where it started. Husom asked for a reason for the large increase in cost. Berg responded that the proposal from Beck Disaster Recovery is a detailed, 12-page report. The proposal from SEH basically included a figure. Daleiden said he would like to see the paperwork received on the bid from Beck Disaster Recovery and possibly invite them to a future Board Meeting to explain it. In response to Daleiden, Berg said the grant application must be submitted by the end of 2013.
Daleiden moved to table discussion on the Hazard Mitigation Plan Update Project until the next County Board Meeting. The motion was seconded by Potter. Husom questioned whether the item should be tabled until Beck Disaster Recovery can come in to a Board Meeting to explain the cost increase. Daleiden said he would like to see the backup information from Beck Disaster Recovery’s bid or they could be invited to a Meeting. Berg stated the County would incur travel expenses for Beck Disaster Recovery as they are located in Indiana. It was the consensus that Berg will forward the bid to the Board members for review. Sawatzke asked Berg whether there are any other companies he could check with to find out if there is interest in updating the Plan. Berg said he could check back with the two companies that did not respond. However, he has left messages with them twice and they have not responded. Borrell asked whether the issue will be laid over for two weeks. Potter said he would like that amount of time to review the information. The motion carried 5-0.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, asked the Board to reapprove the Summary of Fact and Findings regarding the location of County Ditch 38. The Ditch Viewers are completing the assessment of benefits on the System and are looking for a statement from the County on the location of the Ditch. Public Hearings will be held subsequent to work completion by the Viewers. The Public Hearing will solicit comment on location of the Ditch. Hiivala said that Ron Ringquist said the County should establish the Ditch to the extent that they think it will be. Land can always be removed as benefited acreage, but it is harder to add it in given the Public Hearing process.
Three maps were reviewed. One was included with the Board packets. Just prior to the start of the Board Meeting, two additional versions of the map were distributed. The third differs from the second as it outlines the parcels. The third version was used for purposes of discussion.
The map outlines the original location of the Ditch from 1918, the 1969 Redetermined Area, and what the County will provide to the Ditch Viewers as benefited acreage. Hiivala said there is land south of Hwy. 12 that is excluded because it involves a meandered body of water. The out lots surrounding that land are being shown as benefited acreage.
Borrell stated he did not want the original map used at all as it is not accurate (the map distributed with Board packets). Borrell said the map does not show the lowland south of Hwy. 12. He asked Hiivala whether records show if that was ever a benefited land. Hiivala said in discussing this with the Surveyor, that area was defined as a 220W or meandered body of water. The blue shaded area of the map reflects the original Ditch 38 Benefited Acreage. The area identified by Borrell was not included in the original benefited acreage but is surrounded completely by benefited acreage. Borrell said he baled hay on this land as a child and as an adult. He said it was not a body of water until the tile was broken. Hiivala questioned the Surveyors on why this parcel was not included and that was the answer he was given. It was based on the legal description of Ditch 38. This was not included in the area defined on the map as the original Ditch 38 Benefited Acreage from 1918. Sawatzke asked whether the land is owned by the State. Borrell said the State took it over in the last 10-15 years.
Sawatzke said that originally could have been part of the benefited area. A possible reason why it may not show as benefited currently is that the benefit was kept with the private property and not transferred with the public property when it was sold. Borrell said this item should be laid over for one week to determine if the land is benefited. If the State is not included as a benefited landowner sharing in the costs of repair, then it will make it difficult for the remainder of benefited landowners on the system. Hiivala asked Borrell if he would like the area shaded blue to expedite this. There will be public hearings to determine where the benefit of the Ditch system is. The map is a starting point so the Viewers can start their work.
Borrell again referenced the land owned by the State. He said the area could not be used for tillable land. Even when the water is running as it should be, the land fills with water and then drains. Sawatzke said it is possible that, as of today, that area is not on the benefited rolls. When a property is sold, that is when it is decided what land has benefits. He said they could have inaccurately or knowingly decided that this property should not be benefited property on the Ditch. He asked whether the property records would show this. Hiivala said he asked the Surveyor to map out the legal description of the Ditch. He understands all of the government out lots were mapped out and identified as benefited lands. Hiivala said to expedite this process, it could be called a benefited land and the hearings could be held. The DNR will have the historians come out and discussion will occur on where the Ditch is legally established. Hiivala said that per Borrell’s request he will label that as benefited land. He referenced the map and said that all parcels highlighted in yellow are the current Ditch 38 Benefited Parcels. Borrell asked whether the parcel south of Hwy. 12 is included in the benefited acreage. Hiivala said it is not. They will include that in the benefited area to be reviewed by the Viewers and it will be determined what benefits belong there.
Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, said they are trying to give direction to the Ditch viewers. When drafting the original Summary of Fact and Findings, the wetland area of Section 3 was referenced. When it was revised this time, the language was revised to reference the north half of Section 3. Asleson said the language could include everything south of Hwy 12 in the north half of section 3. That would be an area that the County is asking the Viewers to look at in the terms of determining the benefited acreage of the Ditch. Borrell said if there is work completed on the Ditch, the State should help pay for it. Asleson stated they are not differentiating from the original benefited acreage and the 1969 list used for assessments. The County is asking the Viewers to look at the Ditch 38 watershed and report back to the County on their findings. Asleson said there will likely be more than one public hearing on this. Sawatzke questioned why the County is pointing out parcels. He felt this would be the job of the Ditch Viewers, and they all agree that the map is flawed. That is why the redetermination is being completed. Hiivala said the County is reacting to a request of the Viewers to identify where the Ditch exists. Land can always be removed. Hiivala told Borrell that the parcel owned by the State is currently not paying any benefits. He anticipated that more parcels will be outlined in yellow once this process is complete and it could include this parcel.
Borrell asked whether the State’s land was included in benefited acreage at some point. Hiivala said that the 1918 legal description established the Ditch south of Hwy. 12 including that body of water and all areas around. In 1969, a redetermination was completed which removed land south of Hwy. 12 from paying assessments. It is unknown why. What is being looked at today is reestablishing the land south of Hwy. 12, under the railroad tracks, and then north. They are asking the Viewers to determine the benefits based on that. This would be considered a starting point.
Daleiden made a motion to approve the Summary of Fact and Findings regarding the location of County Ditch 38. The motion was seconded by Husom. Hiivala will highlight the map including the one omitted parcel in the shaded blue area. Borrell said with that stipulation, he will vote in favor of the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
On a motion by Potter, second by Husom, all voted to approve the claims in the abstract, subject to audit , for a total of $571,932.09, with 269 transactions and 190 vendors.
Greg Kramber, Assessor, requested the Board ratify a contract with Xerox for CAMA. On 11-29-11, the Board approved ratification of the Xerox Tax and CAMA Contracts. The Contract allowed the County to keep the current versions of programs for the next five years (through 2016). On 2-26-13, the Board approved ratification for a new version of the TAX Program, utilizing new technology and extending the Contract through 2020. Kramber asked the Board to ratify the contract with Xerox for the CAMA System. The System is being developed using new technology and will be fully integrated with the TAX System that the County has already committed to. After meeting with Bill Swing, Information Technology Director, and Hiivala, the consensus of that group was it would be advantageous to use the same vendor for these systems. Kramber said he wanted to select the best CAMA vendor to make the best decision for the County, and that is the reason there is a delay in bringing this forward. Kramber said if the decision to ratify is made by 12-01-13, the County will realize a 10% discount. The cost was estimated at $250,000 so that would bring the cost to $225,000. The County would also receive a 10% reduction on the TAX System Contract of about $22,500.
Kramber said the current CAMA System is being rewritten. The County has utilized this vendor since about 1996, although the business had various names. He anticipates the conversion from the current to the new system to be smooth. If the County tries to convert with another vendor, there may be some difficulty unless the County has an in-house Information Technology person to assist with the process. Sawatzke questioned the budget for CAMA. Kramber said through the Capital Improvement Process, $300,000 was budgeted for one year of the CAMA System. Hiivala said those were the anticipated figures. The total package was estimated at $300,000 for CAMA and $300,000 for the TAX System. Kramber clarified there will be about a $225,000 total cost for CAMA for the two years. There will be an ongoing support and maintenance contract as well for about $12,000 per year. That will be brought forth during the annual budget process.
Kramber said one of the largest savings with these systems relates to being a part of a cooperative with other counties. Some counties who are doing this on their own are spending about $1 million on a similar type product. Through a consortium, resources are pooled and a tremendous savings can be realized. Kramber said the Contract will be between the consortium and the vendor. There may be one document which will require a signature at a later date. Sawatzke asked whether $225,000 is the exact cost. Kramber said the Contract defines this cost at $250,000 maximum. His best estimate is $225,000 but there may be some additional costs realized with enhancements at a later time. Anything that is not included in the base package will be brought before the County Board. Daleiden moved to ratify the Contract with Xerox. The motion was seconded by Potter. Sawatzke asked whether any other type of approval will be required from the County Board. Kramber said there could be if MCCC (consortium) requests additional signatures. Daleiden and Potter added to the motion that the funding source will be the Recorders Technology Fund. The motion carried unanimously.
Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator, requested the Board authorize signatures on the Fourth Addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding between Wright County, the City of Monticello, and the YMCA for the YMCA/Bertram Lake Regional Park Project. Mattice provided background information on the Park and the documents being presented:
The County Board approved grant and local match funding for the Bertram Chain of Lakes Phase IV acquisition in January of 2012. The County Board is being asked to approve the Fourth Addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), including its exhibits, which are the Ground Lease and Operating Agreement for YMCA Camp Manitou. Mattice stated that every time a purchase is made, the MOU must be updated. The exhibits are important documents moving forward with the partnership with the YMCA to offer day camp programs and outdoor recreation opportunities within the Park.
In December, 2012, the County Board and City approved the purchase agreement for the Phase IV acquisition, and an Amended and Restated Shared Use Agreement relating to the shared uses for the entire property.
The Phase IV purchase includes Parcels 9, 10 and 12. Parcels 9 and 10 are located along the west side of the planned Park. Parcel 12 is located to the south of Bertram Lake and includes the area the YMCA currently uses for stabling its horses during day camp operations. The day camp stables will be used until 2015 as acquisitions are made. After that, there will no longer be horse back riding as part of the YMCA program.
The acquisition of this acreage puts the Regional Park at almost 640 acres, or over half of the total planned Park area.
The delay between the previous approvals and this approval of MOU relates to the development of the two exhibit documents for the Phase Four MOU, the Ground Lease, and Operating Agreement.
In 2008, the original MOU signed between the three parties established the opportunity for the YMCA to operate their day Camp Manitou for 99 years in what would become the Regional Park. Camp Manitou improvements are currently spread throughout the 1,200 acre planned Park. Initially, Camp Manitou was to be relocated entirely to Parcel 12, which lies at the far southwest corner of the Park. Parcel 12 is approximately 40 acres. This location would have allowed the YMCA to redevelop Camp Manitou relatively separate from the Regional Park.
However, as the concept plan for the Park evolved, the location for Camp Manitou moved to northwest side of Long Lake, near the rest of the planned recreational development. Relocation of the camp to this area decreased the footprint of Camp Manitou from 30 acres to 12.42 acres. The relocation also minimizes the impact to the natural resources throughout the balance of the Park, and reduces maintenance and operation costs. With the relocation of Camp Manitou to Parcel 7B and 5C, the parties agreed to an understanding of the ground lease terms and day-to-day operational structure of Camp Manitou would be necessary prior to selling Parcel 12, the former site location.
Mattice outlined the following:
The Fourth Addendum to Memorandum of Understanding
• The original MOU document was approved by the City in November of 2008.
o The MOU outlined the phased purchase of property at Bertram Lakes.
• The proposed Fourth Addendum to the MOU continues to provide for phased purchases.
• The Fourth Addendum includes a slightly adjusted order of parcel acquisition.
• The Addendum extends the term of acquisition for the balance of the property through the end of 2014 (originally was through 2013). The exclusive purchase right to the City and County remains intact.
• The Addendum describes both exhibits to the document, the Ground Lease and the Operating Agreement.
Exhibit A to the Fourth Addendum to the MOU - Ground Lease
• The Ground Lease will require formal approval and execution as part of Phase Five. Mattice said the reason is that the County does not own the property.
• YMCA will lease 12.42 acres of the Regional Park. The lease area has been legally described and surveyed. The 12.42 acres is referred to throughout the document as “The Premises”.
• The Ground Lease includes its own exhibits, which are:
o A. Illustration of “The Property” the planned Regional Park area
o B. Illustration of “The Premises” illustration of the leased area and the planned site improvements
o C. Legal description and certificate of survey for “The Premises”
o D. Description of each of the improvements on “The Premises”, including information on their shared use, as well as detail on other areas or improvements on “The Property”, which may be shared by the YMCA (example: the beach at Bertram Lake)
• The term of the Lease is 99 years.
• The Tenant’s primary use of the leased area is the operation of its day Camp Manitou program, which will be operated weekdays during the summer months.
• Some of the improvements constructed by the YMCA in the leased area may be used by the public when camp is not operating.
Exhibit B to the Fourth Addendum to the MOU Operations Agreement
• The Operating Agreement will require formal approval and execution as part of the Phase Five acquisition.
• The Operating Agreement provides a framework for decision-making as related to programs and improvements beyond those initially approved by the Ground Lease for the YMCA day Camp Manitou.
• The operation and relationship between the YMCA and the County/City will be guided by a set of Guiding Principles.
• In addition to consistency with the Guiding Principles, consideration of requests for changes to, deletion of, or addition to the Camp Manitou programs and/ or improvements, will require that the YMCA demonstrate that the changes meet a set of specific criteria.
The Bertram Chain of Lakes Negotiations Team has been working through many issues. These documents are the best way to develop a relationship that can change over 99 years. The Negotiations Team includes Board Chair Sawatzke, Commissioner Daleiden, Mayor Herbst, Council Member Posusta, and the Chair of the Bertram Chain of Lakes Advisory Council Martin Dibben. The documents presented to the Board represent the consensus of these representatives over the last ten months. The County and City Attorney’s have reviewed the documents. Both find the terms and language acceptable as written. The YMCA’s Board of Directors and attorney have reviewed and approval the drafted documents. On November 1st, 2013, the Bertram Chain of Lakes Advisory Council reviewed drafts of the three documents and recommends approval. A closing for the Phase Four acquisition is anticipated for December, 2013.
(End of summary by Mattice)
Sawatzke referenced the Fourth Addendum to the MOU and questioned the location of language relative to recitals. Mattice stated that this is addressed on Page 2 of the Operating Agreement, Item 1, Guiding Principles, last bullet point, which reads, “Improvements shall be made within ‘The Premises’ as described in the Lease and Lease exhibits unless otherwise specifically approved.” Sawatzke asked for the location of the language that indicates the City and County will approve or not approve by their own desire. Mattice said that is on page 2 of the Operating Agreement, Item 1, Guiding Principles, 6th line which states, “The approval will be obtained as described in Section 3 of this Operating Agreement. Nothing in this Operating Agreement limits the YMCA from requesting improvements to the Property outside the Premises, nor does it create any obligation by the City or County to undertake the requested improvements to the Property.”
Husom asked how the purchase of this land came about at the onset and whether it was initiated by the City, County, or YMCA. Mattice responded that the County initiated this in 2001 as they learned the YMCA might be selling the property. A letter was written to the YMCA requesting dialogue on such things as protective options, conservation easements, the Regional Park, and whether something could be done to protect the land outside of purchase. The response was that the YMCA would get back to the County as they were evaluating their camp needs and land base. The YMCA contacted the County in 2007. Purchase of the land became an option as the YMCA was not interested in other options. The City and County met to discuss how to make this happen. Through negotiations on the purchase, it was the City’s and County’s idea to offer a lease to reduce the original appraisal price and to provide programming that would be very beneficial to County residents. Husom asked if the purchase priced reduced by leasing to the YMCA. Mattice said offering a lease helped to reduce the price, and the offer made was less than the appraisal price.
Daleiden said this is a unique situation with the public/non-profit partnership. Sawatzke said there was a feeling among City and County officials at the time that if done correctly, the lease would provide value to the citizens. Because of this value, they were more than happy to accommodate some long-term use by the YMCA at this site. He said the YMCA is experts at running youth day camps. Since then, discussion has occurred on what the long-term use will look like. That is why the negotiations took time. There was some disagreement on what that meant moving forward and how much of that was guaranteed for the term of the Agreement. Sawatzke said he didn’t expect the document to be so detailed.
Potter made a motion to authorize signatures on the Fourth Addendum to the MOU between Wright County, the City of Monticello, and the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities relating to the YMCA/Bertram Lake Regional Park Project. The motion was seconded by Daleiden.
Sawatzke asked Asleson whether the YMCA is able to sell their interest to a private entity in this Agreement. He referenced the 99 year lease. Asleson said this is addressed in Section 13 of the Lease, which is not being entered into today. The Lease contains sections on tenants transfer and landlord transfer. Landlord consent is required and the language sets out the process. The YMCA would have to approach the County and City with the request to transfer this to another non-profit organization and then outline the activities. Mattice said the Lease Agreement and the Operational Agreement will be executed at the same time the Phase Five purchase occurs, which is estimated for May of 2014, at which time the land will be owned. Sawatzke introduced two members of the YMCA present for discussion today including Brian Kirk and Tom LaSalle.
Husom asked why the YMCA decided not to retain the 12 acres even though the County and City are buying the property around it. Sawatzke said the County and City will own the 12 acres and do maintain certain rights to that area. Summer day camps will be held by the YMCA but in the fall, the public will be able to walk through those 12 acres. The public will not have exclusive use of the acreage.
Husom asked if the 1200 total acres were too much to maintain by the YMCA. Brian Kirk, YMCA, said it came down to a shared partnership and how the facilities are used. The YMCA can use the Park and vice versa. There is a lot of open area on the 12.4 acres including the Amphitheater and pavilions, which will be open to the public at the same time the YMCA is running their programs. In addition, the YMCA may have groups using the water for canoeing and swimming. It is a shared use arrangement and that is why the partnership makes sense. If the YMCA would have carved out their area, it would have been difficult to keep the public out of that area. Kirk said the 1,250 acres is considered small for a regional park in metro standards. He said acquiring all of the property was one of the original goals of the County. Sawatzke said the concept is that the County Park is public. The YMCA campers can use the lake, the beach, etc. When the YMCA is not doing business, the public can utilize shelters, tables, etc. on the 12 acres if it is not being rented by another party. Shelters are available on a first come, first served basis unless they are already reserved. The idea is to provide for shared uses as much as possible.
Borrell asked when the YMCA’s facilities will be developed on the 12 acres. Kirk stated the goal will be to have the entire day camp moved to that location in the summer of 2015 and be completely operational. At that time, the County and City will have acquired more property and so their programs will then be run at that time on the north end. Kirk said the YMCA will run their programs on the 12.4 acres. They need to have exclusive use of the area during their programs (M-F from about 9:00AM to 5:00PM.) They need to keep the public and the private separate during that time, mostly for safety reasons. Sawatzke said there may be some things that the YMCA may make available outside of the day camp and offer on a pay per use basis. There are going to be things within their area that will always be restricted from public use. Sawatzke said that is what the County would want (i.e., they wouldn’t want the public to access a swimming pool when there is not one there to monitor it). Sawatzke said some of those things need to be discussed by the committee to determine whether these areas will have a negative impact on the overall use of the Park. Mattice said these types of uses will be discussed. Husom said it is a great idea to look at the uses and ways to potentially reduce tax dollars by renting to users to help pay for the facility. Borrell said he has a very favorable impression of the YMCA, and he did not think there could be a better partner to team up with. The motion carried 5-0.
Nathan Franzen, Geronimo Energy, asked for a letter of support from the County Board for the Aurora Solar Project, which is currently being considered for Xcel Energy’s Competitive Resource Acquisition Proposal. Public comment ends 11-22-13 and the letter of support will be incorporated into the record being established on behalf of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
The Aurora Solar Project is a 100 megawatt (MW) peaking resource proposal for Xcel Energy. Aurora utilizes solar arrays ranging in size from 2 MW to 10 MW across Xcel’s service territory. With arrays proposed throughout 18 counties in the region, the Project will bring energy to the grid efficiently and cost effectively while protecting the environment. The project will interconnect to multiple Xcel Energy substations across Minnesota and South Dakota, providing energy and capacity for the local distribution network. Benefits will include a reduction in line loss, elimination of transmission costs, and a geographic diversification of generation assets. As a peaking resource, the Project will provide a cost effective alternative to fossil fuel resources.
Three of the proposed sites are located in Wright County. Two sites are located outside the cities of Annandale (2.5 MW) and Montrose (2.6 MW). The third is east of the City of Buffalo (8.5 MW) connecting to Xcel Energy’s Lake Pulaski Substation. This represents about 14 MW or 14% of the project. The construction of the Lake Pulaski Site is estimated to be completed in four to nine months. Franzen said the project will include solar panels on a steel post driven into the ground. A tracking system is being proposed that will allow the panel to be moved as the sun moves.
Material provided reflects that the project will bring an estimated 800 construction jobs (about half direct) throughout Minnesota and 30 long-term, permanent jobs (construction, operations, local electricians, and ground maintenance). The indirect impacts include increased purchases of goods and services which cycle back into the local community.
Each location will receive tax revenue from the project that will flow directly to local governments. The total production tax revenue for the entire 100 MW project is $240,000 that will be allocated to each site dependent on size (about $2,400 per MW). With 14 MW located in Wright County, the total revenue would amount to about $33,600 annually. The distribution of revenue is set by the Minnesota Department of Revenue with 80% to counties and 20% to cities and township ($26,880 allocated to Wright County annually).
Sawatzke asked whether Geronimo Energy would pay property taxes. Franzen responded that the Project would be exempt from Minnesota property tax. One of the reasons is because of the production tax. This is currently being discussed with the Department of Revenue. In response to Sawatzke, Franzen said all three properties proposed in Wright County will be purchased. The revenue distributed in Wright County will be to the County and to the Townships involved. Sawatzke asked about grounds maintenance (i.e. noxious weeds). Franzen said they are familiar with noxious weed laws. The example shown of Geronimo’s project at St. John’s University reflects it was constructed in an area with native prairie mix. In most cases, they use a low growth mix. They want the site to be established. Periodically, the area under the panels is mowed. Sawatzke asked whether Geronimo Energy has visited the three host Townships. Franzen said they have not but believes contact has been made with all three. With 25 sites to visit, they are starting at the county level and then moving to the townships. Sawatzke asked for Geronimo’s understanding of the request as it pertains to Planning & Zoning. He asked whether this Project is exempt from Planning & Zoning laws, whether they need to apply for a Conditional Use Permit, and whether these requirements vary between counties. Franzen said because the project is over 50 MW, the State has jurisdiction over the citing as a large power plant as a whole. If this was a single project, it would fall under the CUP or the township approval. As a State-wide project, it is permitted by the State. That being said, Franzen said they are very aware and cognizant of making sure they fit within the rules of the County and the local jurisdictions. Sawatzke asked if this is exempt from local ordinances. Franzen said that land use citing is governed by the State.
Sawatzke asked if neighbors oppose or embrace this type of project. Franzen said generally the response has been positive. They try to find locations where the project is sited correctly. They look for areas near distribution substations. City sewer and water is not needed. Sawatzke referenced the 8 MW project and asked how many acres that involves. Franzen said that is a 75.8 acre parcel and the majority of the parcel would be used. The exterior may be fenced. The panels are secured by installing steel posts into the ground 8’-10’. No concrete is involved.
Joe Coolen, Buffalo Township Supervisor, said he lives near the substation in Buffalo Township. He asked if the land will be purchased. Franzen said the entire parcel, located one-half mile north of the substation, will be purchased. Sawatzke asked whether Buffalo Township has taken a position on the request. Coolen said that Buffalo Township would like Geronimo Energy to attend their Township Meeting to explain the project. Franzen said they plan to attend the Buffalo Township Meeting that evening.
Daleiden asked what the odds are that this will project will occur. Franzen said there are five proposals in the RFP. It is anticipated that two will be selected. Daleiden asked whether competitors are in other counties. Franzen said that is correct. Geronimo is proposing the only solar project in the RFP. Two of them are natural gas peaking facilities. Sawatzke asked if all five proposals are to be utilized with Xcel Energy. Franzen said that is correct. Xcel Energy has a bid in the RFP as well to build one of its own natural gas plants. Because of this, the PUC is managing the RFP to make sure it is a fair process. Potter referenced the map. He asked if the blue markings represent proposed projects only. Franzen said that the blue markings represent the 25 sites they have secured under this project to fulfill the 100 MW project they are proposing. Borrell asked if Geronimo needs to secure grant funding to make this a viable project. Franzen stated there are no grant funds involved, it is a wholesale energy sale. Minnesota has a net metering law that up to 40 KW has to be purchased. This requires a buyer prior to the power plant being built. Franzen said this would impact approximately 250 homes/MW installed. In Wright County, they are proposing 14 MW so it is a substantial project.
Franzen said the County’s input to the PUC will weigh heavily. Geronimo Energy has received a letter of support from the City of Annandale. Sawatzke said he would like to get a feel for how the Townships view this. He may contact Xcel Energy to obtain their opinion on the project. Borrell said that could be done without requiring Geronimo Energy to come back to the County Board with their request. Sawatzke asked whether Geronimo Energy has plans to meet with the other two Townships. Tena Rytel, Geronimo Energy, said if they can’t make it to the Township meetings this month, they will attend in December. However, 11-22-13 is the deadline to submit letters of support to the PUC. Sawatzke said there may be a problem if the County doesn’t receive input from the Townships. He suggested Geronimo Energy could send them a letter. Borrell said he would contact Woodland Township. Potter’s opinion was that the Townships should be aware of the project prior to the County writing a letter of support. Sawatzke said the Townships will probably want to provide input as this involves 75 acres of solar panels. Husom said it looks like a good way to obtain energy. Daleiden moved to table this issue for one week to allow contact with Township Board Members. The motion was seconded by Potter and carried 5-0. The Townships involved are Buffalo, Corinna, and Woodland. Sawatzke said that Geronimo Energy is welcome to return for this discussion. He wanted them to understand that the County Board wants input from the Townships involved.
Albertville Body Shop Inc $922.92
Allina Hospitals & Clinic 20,038.92
Ameripride Services 203.87
AMI Imaging Systems Inc 2,975.00
Annandale Advocate Inc 379.76
Annandale Rock Products 296.96
Aramark Services Inc 7,540.10
Astleford International 60,965.23
Beaudry Propane Inc 1,316.81
Black Moore Magnussen Ltd 100.00
Buffalo Hospital-OTPT Comm. 535.18
Buffalo/City of 81,983.00
CCP Industries Inc 139.34
Center Point Energy 186.47
Centracare Clinic 521.66
CES Imaging 358.03
Climate Air 17,588.00
Cokato Township 287.91
Comm. of Transportation 150.00
Constellation Justice Sys. 8,850.00
Cottens Inc 1,734.17
CST Distribution LLC 1,203.88
Delano Rental Inc 187.83
Dell Marketing LP 1,873.84
Deluxe For Business 180.18
Doubletree By Hilton-Rochester 926.64
Dynamic Recycling 2,920.84
French Lake Township 510.00
Fyles Excav. & Honey Wagon 875.00
Gopher State One Call 271.25
Green Interiors 482.07
Hancock Concrete Prod. LLC 3,275.51
Hillyard Inc - Minneapolis 17,129.46
Howard Lake/City of 3,695.00
ICC Upper Great Plains 1,197.00
Impact Proven Solutions 17,664.00
Imprimus Forensic Services 395.00
Knife River 27,533.60
Laplant Demo Inc 628.32
League of MN Cities 214.26
Maple Lake Messenger Inc 195.10
Marco Inc 1,858.25
Mathiowetz Construction 16,708.92
McCarty Water and Waste Inc 845.00
Menards - Buffalo 613.12
Mid-Minnesota Hot Mix Inc 21,264.62
MN Assn of Co. Probation Ofcrs 910.00
MN Corrections Association 100.00
MN Counties Comp. Coop. 21,875.00
MN Monitoring Inc 858.00
MN Native Landscapes 2,500.00
Morries Parts & Service Group 610.05
National 4-H Council 158.68
Nelson Auto Center 51,730.64
North American Salt Co 3,555.26
O’Ryans Conoco Marathon 105.00
Office Depot 2,818.46
Olsen Fire Protection Inc 874.00
Performance Kennels Inc 110.30
Precision Prints of Wright Co 121.84
Ragan Communications Inc 129.00
Randy’s Environmental Serv. 258.94
Ratwik, Roszak,& Maloney 306.00
Retrofit Companies Inc 574.44
Royal Tire Inc 1,123.93
RTVision Inc 3,691.06
St Cloud Hospital 1,448.32
Stockholm Township 431.80
Symbius Medical LLC 117.00
Tactical Solutions 2,474.06
Total Printing 352.16
Traffic Marking Service Inc 399.77
Twin City Labor Mngmt 1,483.20
Uniforms Unlimited 297.04
Univ. of Minn./CCE Registration 800.00
Waste Management-TC West 2,144.47
Waverly/City of 440.60
Wm Mueller and Sons Inc 288.79
Wright Co. Highway Dept 110,054.19
Wright Hennepin Electric 164.87
28 Payments less than $100 1,311.30
Final total $571,932.09
The meeting adjourned at 10:33 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Dec. 2, 2013.