Wright County Board Minutes

WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
APRIL 29, 2014
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Husom, Sawatzke, Daleiden, Potter and Borrell present.
Daleiden moved to approve the 4-22-14 County Board Minutes as presented. The motion was seconded by Potter and carried unanimously.
Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows under Items For Consideration: #4, “Economic Development Symposium sponsored by Hamline University” (Potter); #5, “Civil Defense Tower In Meeker County Near Collinwood Park” (Borrell). Lee Kelly, County Coordinator, removed from the Agenda the 9:45 A.M. Item relating to a presentation by the Central Minnesota Jobs & Training Services. Daleiden moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Potter, carried 5-0.
On a motion by Daleiden, second by Potter, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
A. ATTORNEY
1. Add Consideration Of Amendment To The Wright County Water Surface Use Ordinance To The 5-13-14 Public Hearing.
B. SHERIFF
1. Request Authorization To Hire A Deputy And Promote A New Captain To Backfill Position Vacated Due To A Retirement.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, said residents of Lake Ann submitted a request to install a carp fence on County Ditch 10 (Victor Township) to prevent carp from traveling upstream to spawn. The residents will cover the cost of the fence, monitoring, maintenance, and removal of the fence. Borrell moved to approve the request, seconded by Daleiden. Sawatzke asked whether the fence will be in for a couple of weeks, removed, and the process followed again next year. Hiivala said that is correct. The DNR has been contacted regarding the process. The motion carried 5-0.
Daleiden moved to approve a Temporary Liquor License for the Church of St. Mary of Czestochowa in Franklin Township. The motion carried 5-0 on a second by Borrell.
Borrell moved to approve a Seasonal 3.2 Malt Liquor On Sale and Off Sale Liquor License for Olson’s Campgrounds in Silver Creek Township. Daleiden seconded the motion and it carried 5-0.
The claims listing was discussed. The following claims were questioned by Daleiden:
• Page 14, PN Methodist Hospital ($134.92) for inmate medical expenses on 6-17-13 and 7-16-13. Hiivala explained these costs were associated with lab tests for a person booked in the Jail.
• Page 18, Centurylink ($1,346.87) for telephones to be funded from the Nuclear Power Plant account. Hiivala said this is for the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) phone lines and is paid for by the Nuclear Power Plan.
• Page 32, Veolia Environmental Services ($15,373.21) for HHW Disposal. Daleiden thought Veolia was not in the HHW disposal business any longer and that the vendor name should be changed. Hiivala said the invoice is from Veolia Environmental Services out of Blaine, MN.
On a motion by Borrell, second by Potter, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit, for a total of $209,477.80 with 218 vendors and 313 transactions.
Sean Riley, Planning & Zoning Administrator, asked the County Board to schedule a Committee Of The Whole Meeting with Planning & Zoning and the Wright County SWCD to discuss issues related to the enforcement of bringing feedlots into operational compliance. Potter moved to schedule the Committee Of The Whole Meeting for 5-20-14 at 11:00 A.M. The motion was seconded by Daleiden and carried unanimously.
A Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 4-22-14. At today’s County Board Meeting, Daleiden moved to approve the minutes as presented. The motion carried 5-0 on a second by Sawatzke. The Committee Of The Whole Minutes follow:
I. Drainage Inspector Interviews.
The committee met to interview candidates interested in contracting as the County Drainage inspector. The committee reviewed proposals and candidate qualifications. Recommendation: Recess meeting until 4-28-14, 1pm.
(End of 4-22-14 Committee Of The Whole Minutes)
A Personnel Committee Meeting was held on 4-16-14. At today’s County Board Meeting, Sawatzke stated the Lobby Reception Position discussion was laid over to 4-30-14 to allow time to obtain computer generated data on phone usage (number and length of calls), along with historical data to determine if the workload is increasing or decreasing over time. Sawatzke made a motion to approve the Personnel Committee Minutes, seconded by Potter. Kelly indicated that he has obtained about nine months of data. He expects to receive the 2009 historical data as well. Daleiden recommended data on multiple years rather than two separate years. Sawatzke and Husom understood the data was for multiple years. The motion carried 5-0. The Personnel Committee Minutes follow:
I. Lobby Reception Position.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, was not present. Kelly distributed a tally sheet compiled by Hiivala’s staff regarding the number of calls and walk-in traffic the lobby reception position handled over the two-week period from 3-31-14 to 4-11-14 (see attached).
Sawatzke said the receptionist averaged one phone call every two minutes on 3-31-14, and every three minutes or less on Tuesday, 4-01-14. He asked why the volume was so high on Monday. Kelly said it may be due to the date being the end of the month.
Sawatzke said they were not able to obtain data regarding how many minutes the receptionist phone is utilized per day. Kelly said he asked Hiivala for that information, but has not yet received it.
Sawatzke said some calls may be as short as ten seconds if the receptionist merely directs the call to the appropriate person or Department. He estimated that the average phone call lasts fifteen seconds. If the receptionist receives twenty calls per hour, at fifteen seconds each, they would be on the phone about five minutes per hour. Husom added that walk-ins are a consideration as well.
Sawatzke said it would be important to have the data regarding how many minutes the receptionist is on the phone per day. Husom said walk-in customers take time and focus as well. Kelly said detail-oriented tasks would be more difficult to complete given the consistent interruptions that occur with this position.
Husom asked for input regarding the core issue. Is the Committee seeking a different avenue, such as a greeter with a separate phone system? Husom said she wants to promote a friendly atmosphere when the public comes into the Government Center. Many people who come to the Government Center are upset and are dealing with difficult issues. Husom believes it is good to have a person greeting the public.
Sawatzke said Human Services calls account for one third of incoming calls. He suggested a phone tree to automatically direct those callers to the Human Services Department. Kelly said Hiivala discussed relocating the receptionist to the Human Services Department and fielding the rest of the calls from there. Sawatzke and Husom disagreed, since Human Services calls comprise only a third of incoming phone calls.
Sawatzke reiterated his desire for data regarding the number of hours or minutes per day that the receptionist is on the phone. He would also like to see data from one and five years ago to determine whether the number of calls is on the increase or decrease.
Husom said younger people retrieve information via the computer. Sawatzke said if calls are trending downward, that could be a factor with this position. Kelly will ask Information Technology for that information.
Husom did not feel the need for a dramatic change. She thought an efficient use of this position would include work from the Auditor/Treasurer’s office, or appropriate work from another Department that could be done between calls and walk-ins.
Recommendation:
1) Lay over until the 4-30-14 Personnel Committee meeting.
2) Request specific data regarding:
a) The average number of minutes per call to the front lobby receptionist; and
b) Historical data from 2009 and 2013 to determine whether the volume of phone calls to the lobby receptionist desk is trending upward or downward.
(End of 4-16-14 Personnel Committee Minutes)
Duane Northagen, Executive Director for the Wright County Economic Development Partnership (EDP), presented a request for a five-year extension of the EDP Loan to Cinch Systems, Inc. utilizing present loan terms. Northagen said in review of outstanding loans, they found that the loan to Cinch Systems, Inc. was due for a balloon payment on 4-16-14. Partners in the Loan, which originated at $200,000, include the St. Michael Economic Development Authority (EDA) at 50%; the Wright County Economic Development Partnership at 25%; and the Initiative Foundation at 25%. The outstanding principle balance is $122,084.00 and all payments are current. The extension request has been approved by all partners. The proposed new loan maturation date will be April, 2019. Nick Shultz, First American Bank, said the risk is acceptable from the Bank’s standpoint and they are asking the participants to sign off for the remaining five years which fully amortizes the loan. Sawatzke moved to approve the request for the extension of five years for the EDP loan for Cinch Systems, Inc. The motion was seconded by Potter and carried 5-0.
Virgil Hawkins, Highway Engineer, recognized the Wright County Highway Department for receiving two 2013 Asphalt Paving Awards. On 12-11-13, Wright County was presented two Merit Awards for Bituminous Surfacing at the 60th Annual Asphalt Conference in St. Louis Park, MN. The two winning projects (constructed by Knife River Corp.) are CSAH 10, from the Carver Line to CSAH 30 and CSAH 75 from the West County Line in Clearwater to Otter Creek in Monticello, for a total length of 15.785 miles. These awards recognize excellence in construction projects deemed to be the best of its class, completed in Minnesota in 2013. Hawkins recognized Andy Hicks from Knife River Corporation for excellent workmanship on both projects and the following Wright County employees for their roles in the CSAH 75 and CSAH 10 Projects:
Chad Hausmann (Assistant County Engineer); Project Engineer
Brian Severson (Highway Technician); Project Inspector for CSAH 75 Project
Bryan Hendricks (Highway Technician); Project Inspector for CSAH 10 Project
Wes Workman (Highway Technician); Bituminous Plant Inspector for each Project
Bill Cordell (Traffic Operations Supervisor); Pavement Markings Layout
Steve Meyer (Maintenance Superintendent); Coordinated placement of gravel shoulders on each project
Hawkins introduced Jill Thomas, Associate Director of the Minnesota Asphalt Pavement Association (MAPA). Thomas stated that Wright County has a long tradition of receiving paving awards. She recognized Wright County as being innovative and a partner on projects. The Award Process includes a panel, comprised of herself and members of MnDOT, which reviews the nominations and selects the recipients of the nine paving awards. In 2013, Wright County received two of the three awards given throughout the 87 Minnesota Counties. The Board recognized this as a very impressive achievement.
Hawkins requested the Board approve a Detour Agreement with MnDOT, Contract No. 05589, for road life consumed on CSAH 36 and CSAH 19, as part of the temporary detour required for the I-94 Design-Build Project (from Rogers to St. Michael). Daleiden moved to adopt Resolution #14-15, seconded by Potter, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, asked the Board to approve a conveyance in lieu of forfeiture for 69 parcels in the Terning Trails Development, Plat 2. Asleson said Nick Haggenmiller, Howard Lake City Administrator, contacted the County last fall. The Development was owned by Lakeland Construction Finance that is no longer in business. The Developer owned a number of developments in Wright County. The City was reviewing the developments and lots owned to decide whether to keep them, pay the back taxes, or allow them to go tax forfeit. Some of the parcels went tax forfeit in 2013 and 2014, with a couple anticipated for 2015. The City is interested in acquiring the Terning Trails Development Plat 2 parcels for protection of their infrastructure. The owners of the parcels have agreed to voluntarily convey the property to the State of MN in lieu of tax forfeiture, and the City has consented to this conveyance. This cancels the taxes, penalties, and interest. A step in the process for conveyance to the City involves the County Attorney examining the Title to make sure there are no other encumbrances or issues with the property. Asleson has the deeds for the lots in his possession and is prepared to record them if approved. Once recorded, the properties will be conveyed to the State. The City then applies for conveyance from the State. At the Tax Forfeit Committee Meeting in December, 2013, the proposal was for the City to acquire the lots at $1/lot. Statute allows cities to acquire tax forfeit property for less than market value to correct a blighted property situation or to create affordable housing. In this situation, both are proposed. Borrell said that he and Potter serve on the Tax Forfeit Committee. The City has a considerable investment in the utilities and lines in this development. Action is needed to prevent deterioration and to return the property to the tax rolls. Borrell moved to accept conveyance in lieu of forfeiture for 69 parcels in Terning Trails Plat 2. The motion carried 5-0 on a second by Potter.
Borrell moved to adopt Resolution #14-16 supporting conveyance of the 69 parcels from the State of Minnesota to the City of Howard Lake. Potter seconded the motion and it carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
A Building Committee Meeting was held on 4-16-14. At today’s County Board Meeting, Daleiden moved to approve the Building Committee Minutes. The motion was seconded by Potter. Sawatzke said the minutes reflect conversation on the value of items at the Compost Facility now versus 17 years ago. He wanted to clarify that when the County built the Facility, a $2 million grant was received from the State of Minnesota. This grant was received contingent on the Facility being built and that it was operating. The Compost Facility was shut down at a later date due to economics and the lack of success. Some thought that if the Facility were shut down, the County may have to pay the $2 million back. Sawatzke said they made it clear that the County didn’t intend to pay the $2 million back. If equipment were pulled from the Facility and sold, the argument could have been made that the State may require the County to pay the $2 million. Those sorts of activities were not discussed at that time due to the liability. Now that it has been approximately 20 years, this should not be an issue. He wanted to make it clear that the Board was not negligent on determining what to do with the equipment in the Compost Facility at that time. Daleiden said the Zuk was designed to turn windrows at the Facility, and he understood it would not be used again. Sawatzke said if the County would have indicated at that time that the Facility would not be used again, the State may have requested the $2 million. Daleiden felt the Facility should have been conveyed to someone who could have used it. He viewed it as a waste of everyone’s dollars. Sawatzke said the Zuk would have been replaced if the Facility would have kept running, as the Zuk did not run properly from the start. He did not think anyone else would have purchased it for composting because of this. Potter said it appears the County did not have many options because of the grant dollars involved with building the Facility. The motion to approve the minutes carried 5-0. The Building Committee Minutes follow:
I. Compost Facility Equipment.
Stephens made contacts with appraisers to look at the Compost Facility (Facility). One was not interested, but two said they were willing to provide quotes to evaluate the fixed equipment, as well as the potential for scrap or selling parts. Neither mentioned an assessment regarding refurbishing the Facility and make it operational again. Stephens said he also contacted Buehler, the company that originally did the assessment. He has not yet received anything from them.
Stephens said the first two appraisers are willing to give the County a free quote. They need to come to the Facility to do so. Stephens said he is referring to the fixed equipment within the processing area and the conveyor.
Daleiden said he wanted everything inside the building to be included in the appraisal. Potter added that he wanted the conveyor going out of the building to be appraised as well. Daleiden requested Stephens to include any item that could be of value to an interested party.
Stephens said he is considering selling the equipment, scrapping or selling off parts, whichever is the best value. Stephens said he would contact another appraiser. Daleiden said the goal is to look at the resale value of the equipment to sell for resale or scrap, and to get the best utilization out of the building.
Mattice said a space analysis and building needs assessment is being completed on the Public Works Building (PWB). He said perhaps the PWB could be a potential site for the Facility. He took a local contractor to the PWB and described the requirements for the processing area, depending on potential uses. The contractor will draft a proposal free of charge to state how to create a warm storage space, a cold storage area, and add heat and drainage. They are also working with Yale Mechanical to get a price on scrap values.
Mattice did not want to interfere with Stephen’s work on the process. Stephens said he had no issue researching in conjunction with other Departments. He said the Planning & Zoning Department is getting very busy with hazardous waste processing.
Stephens said Mattice asked whether those conducting the Public Works Building Space Study would be receptive to adding the needs of the Compost Facility staff in their research. Apparently they did not foresee a problem. He said moving the Facility closer to town would expand opportunities for its use.
Daleiden said he wants more than one employee to be on-site. Stephens said the full-time staff is alone only on Mondays and Fridays.
Potter said more people would use the Facility if it was relocated to the Public Works Building site. Stephens said his biggest concern is the safety of employees working alone there.
Daleiden said he was told some of the equipment had been sold already. Stephens said a compost spreading truck and a dumpster truck were auctioned. Daleiden asked about the Zuk. Stephens said it ceased production in 1997. He was not sure whether the engine works. The wiring is corroded beyond repair.
Daleiden said to scrap it. Stephens said he will ask the appraisers to include the Zuk in their analysis. He said they still use the front end loader, a second loader, the skid steer and a forklift. Employees use the loader for assisting Parks staff that needs to load rock. If it’s a day when the Facility is open to the public, Stephens says the Parks request can present time conflicts. The Zuk is no longer used.
Daleiden commented that the Zuk has been sitting there for 17 years. Stephens said he didn’t know how high the resale value would have been, even back in 1997. Daleiden speculated that it may only be worth $1,000 for scrap, when it could have been sold earlier for more.
Stephens said there was a $2 million capital grant to build the Facility. This was contingent upon the Facility being used for its present purpose. After the Facility shut down, the State wanted the grant money back. Eventually they forgave the monetary obligation, as long as the County continues utilizing the site for recycling services.
Recommendation: Lay over until the 4-30-14 Building Committee Meeting, when Stephens will present quotes from the appraiser.
II. Additional Security Cameras, Human Services Center Building & Property (HS Board).
III. Suggestion Box.
The Committee reviewed items from the Suggestion Box. It was decided to place recycling bins in all Government Center meeting rooms and lobby areas, and to allow an employee who bicycles to work to park their bike in the underground garage by the exhaust bin.
(End of 4-16-14 Building Committee Minutes)
Lee Kelly, County Coordinator, provided an update on transit in Wright County. He said the County Board met on 4-22-14 and voted 3-2 to accept the terms of Trailblazer’s proposal with two amendments. A Trailblazer Joint Powers Board (TJPB) Meeting was held on 4-24-14 in Glencoe and attended by Sawatzke, Potter, and Kelly. The TJPB raised concern with being able to form a partnership with Wright County. The TJPB voted 4-0, with 1 Commissioner abstaining, to cease negotiations with Wright County. This left the door open for Wright County Cities, as a group, to form a Joint Powers with Trailblazer. Kelly is unsure whether the cities are open to this, but he said this is the point where transit is at. Trailblazer is working on a contract with Functional Industries to provide some services.
Husom referenced correspondence from Gary Ludwig, Trailblazer Transit Executive Director, which was received late last evening. She read the following from the letter, “Although Sibley and McLeod Counties would have preferred to work with Wright County rather than a collective of cities, Trailblazer has been impressed by the patience and professionalism shown by the cities in Wright County and their unwavering desire and support to provide quality transit service. Additionally, the Trailblazer Board has voted to expand its service area and to provide transportation to Functional Industries with three buses for the remainder of 2014 and for the foreseeable future.” She thought Trailblazer may have been talking with cities.
Sawatzke said the 4-24-14 TJPB Meeting was not a negotiation session. The decision was made early on in their Meeting to cease negotiations with Wright County. Sawatzke has since contacted several Tri-CAP (Benton, Sherburne and Stearns Counties) representatives that he knows, including several Board members and the Tri-CAP Director of Transit. He conveyed some of the problems Wright County is having and asked if they would possibly reconsider offering transit services to Wright County. Sawatzke has received positive feedback from those he contacted that they are willing to re-evaluate the decision not to provide service to Wright County.
Sawatzke said that originally, Tri-CAP was concerned with providing services to Wright County because of the short time table of taking on Wright and Sherburne Counties at the same time. Tri-CAP may have looked at Wright County as more of a future player. Feedback from some of the people he contacted was that Tri-CAP could possibly take Wright County on sooner than later (i.e., the July 1st time frame). He said this has not been discussed by the full Tri-CAP Board, but only by members of that Board, their Transit Director, and the Director of Tri-CAP. Sawatzke said those he did speak with shared the advantages of Wright County being a part of Tri-CAP due to the common and major corridors (Highways 101, 25, 55, 24 and I-94) that exist.
Sawatzke said a Tri-CAP Executive Meeting will be held on 5-01-14. He understands this topic will be brought forward. Sawatzke said he did not have extensive negotiations with those he spoke with. It was more conceptual (whether Tri-CAP would be willing and able to take on Wright County transit). Sawatzke said he is bringing this forward because of the obvious question on who will provide transit service in Wright County.
Borrell made a motion to authorize Potter and Sawatzke’s attendance at the Tri-CAP Meeting on 5-01-14 to explore and keep options open. Potter preferred to hear support from the entire Tri-CAP Board. Daleiden said the other partner is MnDOT. Sawatzke asked those Tri-CAP members he spoke with whether they have heard anything from MnDOT suggesting Tri-CAP should not take on Wright County. The response was they had not.
Daleiden said the transit timeline is growing shorter. Sawatzke seconded the motion to authorize attendance at the Tri-CAP Meeting. Sawatzke does not plan for a negotiation session at the Tri-CAP Meeting on 5-01-14 but rather anticipates listening to the discussion that Board has on this item. He felt this effort could possibly run parallel with the cities’ exploration of a JPA with Trailblazer. Potter hopes for a quick response from Tri-Cap, as he has concern with the passage of another month and Wright County still not knowing the direction of transit.
Connie Holmes, Mayor of the City of Waverly, was present on behalf of the cities in Wright County. She said both the cities that have transportation and those that don’t are very concerned with the situation. The clock is ticking and it is unknown what will happen for transportation needs for residents on 7-01-14. Current levels of transportation need to be kept up. Looking to future, ways to expand transportation to areas that are not served need to be addressed. Transportation is an important part of economic development plans and growth. With more residents and economic activity in the County, there will be more dependence on transportation. Holmes referenced letters sent by cities to the County in support of the County serving as the entity that deals with transit. Holmes stated the transit system needs to cover the entire County. Given the timeline of this issue, Holmes said the cities have gotten together and are preparing to enter into a JPA with Trailblazer. This may follow a parallel track with the County’s exploration of Tri-CAP. Buffalo’s City Attorney has begun the process of drafting a JPA that will be sent to the TJPB. Under that arrangement, the cities would serve as members of the TJPB (not the County). In that scenario, transit will essentially cover 75% of residents. Holmes said the cities are not in a position to cover costs for township resident participation, either legally or asking taxpayers to do so. Holmes said that in the current situation, Functional Industries will have transportation through Trailblazer on 7-01-14 but those currently using River Rider will not. Holmes said the cities are concerned with timing and hope that whatever the County can do, it can be done quickly.
Mark Krotzer, Montrose City Council, addressed Commissioner Borrell’s comments at the last Board Meeting where Borrell stated he had not received feedback from constituents on transit. Krotzer spoke with the Montrose City Council at their meeting last evening, and said he was present today to represent 2800 people. As politicians, they all realize that a topic may not be their favorite or one that they are passionate about. Krotzer said if an issue is of concern to constituents, then it has to be a concern of the elected official. Krotzer said he was providing that feedback to Borrell so Borrell understands that transit should be a concern of his. Borrell responded that he did not say there was a shortage of feedback from city councils and administrators. From actual constituents, he had virtually no feedback. He asked Krotzer whether constituents have contacted him with concerns on transit. Krotzer responded they have. He stated the median age for Montrose is young and they have a different perspective on services.
Potter said he attended a transit meeting in March at the Community Center in Buffalo. At that time, presentations were made, and Tri-CAP indicated they could not take on Wright County’s transit. Potter questioned what has changed for Tri-CAP since that meeting. Sawatzke understands that Tri-CAP views Wright County as a good match but was concerned at that time with their ability to provide services because of taking on Sherburne County. They saw a likelier scenario of taking on Sherburne County first and Wright County later. He said Trailblazer also had made it clear that they did not want Wright County to cease services after one year. Sawatzke feels the County needs to look at the best fit long term. Sawatzke said Wright County more closely belongs with Tri-CAP (Sherburne, Stearns and Benton) versus Trailblazer (McLeod and Sibley). He could not think of a major transportation corridor from Wright County to either McLeod or Sibley Counties. Sharing of county borders is substantially greater with Tri-CAP. Sawatzke felt things may have changed on Tri-CAP’s part when they saw Wright County struggling. In addition Wright County is a partner through other JPA’s and is a County that works with them in their communities. Although it may not be an ideal time for Tri-CAP to take on Wright County, it may be the time to do so.
Potter understands Wright County shares committee assignments with Sherburne and Stearns Counties but he said timing has always been a concern. He asked for an acceptable timeline to receive an answer from Tri-CAP. He also asked what Wright County will do if Tri-CAP declines taking on Wright County. Sawatzke referenced the vote taken by Sibley and McLeod Counties to stop negotiating with Wright County. He said Trailblazer is not an immediate option at this point. Sawatzke feels Tri-CAP is aware of the 7-01-14 date but the majority of the Tri-CAP Board is not aware of this request.
Husom said the County Board has heard from the cities on their desire to move forward with Trailblazer through a JPA. The County Board motion is to authorize Sawatzke and Potter to attend the Tri-CAP Meeting on 5-01-14 to see where this issue stands. The motion also acknowledges that Trailblazer has been in negotiations with Functional Industries to provide that service. Husom said that Wright County preschools have expressed concern with preschooler transportation. River Rider currently provides them bus service on children-only buses. The preschools do not want adults to ride on the same buses as the preschoolers. Husom said that is another area where they hope to continue with transit service. Potter supported researching options available for transit. Daleiden said as long as this keeps moving forward and MnDOT is in agreement. The motion carried 5-0 to authorize Potter and Sawatzke to attend the 5-01-14 Tri-CAP Meeting.
A Ways & Means Committee Meeting was held on 4-16-14. At today’s County Board Meeting, Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes and recommendation, seconded by Potter. Daleiden made the following correction to the minutes: Page 5, 6th paragraph, Recommendation, change to “Lay over until the 4-30-14 Ways & Means Committee Meeting…” The motion to approve the minutes carried unanimously. The Ways & Means Committee minutes follow:
I. Lake Ida School House.
Mattice said he has been working with Bjorklund on this project since 2009. He distributed an aerial map of the parcel and a copy of the Certificate of Survey (see attachments). Freedom Farm is next to land the County owns and maintains, but is not park land. The Lake Ida School House (School House) and accompanying land was donated many years ago by what was then the Woodland School District (now Watertown-Mayer ISD #111).
Bjorklund would like the School House to be renovated into a retreat center. Originally, Mattice said they thought a 100-year lease could be drafted. However, many potential donors will not give money unless the retreat center has ownership. Mattice said he contacted Woodland Township, the Winsted Sportsmen’s Club, the Woodland Woodettes 4-H Club, and others, but no organizations are interested in leasing the property except Freedom Farm.
Mattice said the County re-roofed the building in 2010 and removed the septic system. Sawatzke asked if a holding tank was still on site. Mattice said no, there are no rest room facilities. The well is sealed.
Bjorklund wants to know how to transfer ownership to Freedom Farm. She said Freedom Farm has been in existence for 14 years. They started with the riding program for special needs children and adults. Five years ago they began a program for veterans. The space at Freedom Farm is limited. Veterans have been meeting at her home next door. Bjorklund said she would like to establish clear boundaries between her home and the Freedom Farm office.
Bjorklund said Freedom Farm staff work in a small office space that often must accommodate 20 people trying to do group work. They have outgrown their facility due to the increased needs of veterans, at-risk teens, and others. The Lake Ida School House would meet all those needs and still allow space for staff to work. Currently, whenever groups are held, staff cannot work in the office. A larger space would accommodate the needs of groups, maintain confidentiality and meet the growing demands of the community.
Bjorklund said an architect has donated plans for renovation and structural components. She talked to Riley regarding legal requirements for the holding tank due to setback laws. A company donated a survey. Bjorklund said they also have a general contractor who said potential donors are less inclined to contribute as long as the School House property is owned by the County. Other possible donors who are ready to get on board have similar concerns.
Bjorklund said the current County Board approved the removal of the addition that was erected in the 1950s. The renovation would go around the north side of the building. Parking would stay where it is now.
Sawatzke asked if Bjorklund referred to the people utilizing the lake access across Ferman Ave. SW. She said yes. There is not enough space for people to park at the Lake Ida Public Landing. Freedom Farm clients utilize that space, too.
Bjorklund said the biggest question is whether title to the School House property can be transferred. Years ago someone said it cannot because the original donor placed restrictions on future transfers of ownership.
Sawatzke asked what conditions were given to the County when they assumed ownership. Asleson said there is a deed from Watertown School District ISD #111 (District) to the County. He would have to research whether there are restrictions on the transfer of the property. Since this is not County park land, there is no requirement for a public hearing. Asleson said he also found another provision related to tax forfeit properties. It would have to be determined whether the School House property is nonconforming. Asleson said it could possibly be sold without advertising for bids.
Riley said he has not researched potential uses for the property. It has always been County owned or tied to Freedom Farm. Sawatzke asked what usage Freedom Farm has for the School House property. Asleson said they entered into a lease with the County in 2011. Bjorklund said they can’t use the property in its current state. Sawatzke asked her to describe her intent for the property. She replied they would like to renovate it to use for programming, but have run into other issues.
Riley said in 2012 the matter came before the Board Of Adjustment (BOA). A conditional use permit was drafted to allow Freedom Farm to use the property according to the terms of the lease. It is classified as a riding academy and training facility to fall under the agricultural category. The BOA setback variance expires three years after the action. Riley’s preference is to fit within this framework. The most important criteria for building additions would be that only outside groups could use the School House property when it was owned and operated by the County. If this property sold to Freedom Farm, the outside groups could not make use of the old school.
Mattice said he received a letter from the Woodland Woodettes 4-H Club saying they will no longer use the building effective 5-05-07 (see attached).
Riley said it would be to the owner’s advantage not to allow outside use, but solely dedicate it to Freedom Farm. The agreement would have to specify no overnight stays. The kitchen may only
be used for heating up food versus as a commercial kitchen. Bjorklund said they would use the kitchen to serve lunches to school children who take part in Freedom Farm programs, as Riley mentioned.
Riley said the building code requires an accessible ramp, and proper egress and ingress. Hayes asked if Riley recommended classifying it as a nonconforming property. Riley said yes, since they did not want the property to be used as a school. He termed it an “orphan” property. He asked if the parcel would become part of the conditional use permit.
Sawatzke said the County needs to review recorded documents to determine how the property was deeded to the school. Research also needs to be done to make sure there are no previous requirements that were not included when the School House property was deeded to the County.
Asleson said the property was given to the original, smaller school district and absorbed by the larger District. He will research the documents to determine whether any restrictions from 100 years ago are still valid regarding the sale of the property in the future.
Riley asked who controls the boat access. Mattice said Winsted Sportsmen’s Club controls it. He said he wrote to the Club to verify that parking was still available, but they never responded.
Sawatzke asked Asleson if he thought the County could give the property to a group without allowing other groups to bid on it. He also wondered whether the County could specify nonprofit organizations only. Bjorklund said they were trying to get the property donated to Freedom Farm.
Riley said another party could buy the property. Bjorklund said if the School House parcel is classified as a nonconforming property, it can be sold without a bid to adjoining land owners or another interested party. She said her property surrounds the parcel, excluding the lake access owned by the Sportsmen’s Club. Riley said they hadn’t determined whether it is nonconforming at this time. He said if the School House property is nonconforming, her assumption would be correct. Based on the size of the lot and the use is no longer a school, the property would be nonconforming.
Sawatzke asked how much land Bjorklund owns around the School House property. She said they have 18.5 acres. Mattice said the dimensions of the School House property are 132 feet x 165 feet. Asleson said that amounts to .41 acres.
Sawatzke asked Bjorklund if she wanted Freedom Farm to buy the School House property. She said yes. Freedom Farm has 501c3 status. She preferred that donations to her organization go to Freedom Farm. She would like a document that states that donations stay with Freedom Farm.
Sawatzke asked if the School House property was donated to Freedom Farm, and at some point in the future Bjorklund’s organization no longer needed or used it, would ownership of the property revert back to the County. Asleson said the normal process would be for a nonprofit to give the land to another nonprofit.
Sawatzke said his biggest concern is the property across the road and parking. He suggested there be a clause in the agreement to transfer ownership that if the property is deeded back, an easement will remain for people that launch their boats at the Sportsmen’s Club. Bjorklund said that has never been a problem.
Sawatzke asked Bjorklund how Freedom Farm assets are distributed if the organization no longer exists. Asleson interjected that normally the Articles of Incorporation mention this, although the language may be vague. Sawatzke said the Board needs to know to which organization could donate the School House property in case Freedom Farm is no longer in need of it. He said it would be good to know if ownership would revert back to the County.
Riley said Freedom Farm would make improvements to the School House building. If property ownership went back to the County at some point, the Planning Commission would probably attach a provision that the County would have control over how the building is operated. He said the Planning & Zoning Department usually would issue a Document of Administrative Orders requiring the small parcel to be owned in common with the large parcel. He said this situation of Freedom Farm operating the schoolhouse but not owning it was allowed because the County owned and leased the property. To continue with a private owner, the property should be tied to that person. Otherwise, if ownership changes, there is a question as to what should be done with the building.
Sawatzke said it would be easier if there wasn’t a boat launch across the road. He said the building has some value, but needs improvements. If the building is tied in with the other property, the land will only be worth a few thousand dollars. He asked Bjorklund if she wanted the School House property as part of her property. Bjorklund said that hadn’t been an option before. Riley said the parcel must be owned in common with her property, if transferred to Bjorklund. Sawatzke said it would become one legal lot. Riley said that would make the School House property lines go away. Sawatzke asked whether that was the best way to structure this transaction since the subject property is surrounded by Bjorklund’s land.
Mattice said Bjorklund has to install a septic system for the School House building on her property since there is not enough room for it on the School House property. He asked about the well. Bjorklund said they will have a well company inspect it.
Mattice suggested that the County remove the southern part of the parcel that is used for parking and give the rest of the land to Bjorklund. Riley said that would force the School House property to be absorbed by the surrounding parcel since there would be no road access for the remainder of the parcel. Asleson said the County could grant an easement.
Sawatzke asked if there was any room for parking on the boat launch side of the road. Mattice said there was a small area. Bjorklund said most people park on the other side of the road. Riley asked Bjorklund if her staff and clients use the parking when the Sportsmen’s Club patrons are not there. Bjorklund said they did not. Mattice asked about liability issues related to public parking on the property outside of Freedom Farm. Sawatzke said Freedom Farm would need the Sportsmen’s Club insurance to cover their use of the property. He said the Sportsmen’s Club could lease the property for a dollar per year. Mattice asked whether that would work.
Dahl cited the general use policy. He said insurance follows the landowner. Even if Freedom Farm owned the parcel by the lake, Dahl said general liability insurance should cover someone injured who was not affiliated with Freedom Farm.
If Freedom Farm owned the parcel by the lake, Mattice suggested that Freedom Farm lease the parking area to the Sportsmen’s Club so their insurance would cover liability. Sawatzke said a written agreement with the Sportsmen’s Club would be necessary requiring them to have insurance coverage for Freedom Farm staff and clients who use the parking area. Asleson thought it would be problematic. Riley asked whether it would increase costs.
Dahl said there shouldn’t be an increase in liability. Freedom Farm’s liability insurance may cover such situations already. He encouraged Bjorklund to contact her insurance company.
Asleson asked whether the County has paid $109 in special assessments due and payable in 2014. Mattice said the County has received a tax bill.
Asleson said he will research the legal issue regarding whether any restrictions were imposed prior to 1972 when the County deeded the property. Kelly said the biggest issue is whether there are any stipulations prohibiting the County from moving forward.
Sawatzke said it would make sense to notify the Watertown-Mayer ISD #111 that the County intends to transfer the property. Asleson said that may not be necessary. He saw no documentation from the District that restricts the County from transferring ownership. He was more interested researching older land records for restrictions on conveyance.
Sawatzke asked whether the matter should come to the County Board if there a provision is found restricting future sales. Asleson said he would have to do the research. Some provisions expire after about 40 years. It’s called “The Rule Against Perpetuities.”
Sawatzke said if the land reverts back, does it revert back to the original parcel, or to someone who bought it previously three or four sales ago? Asleson did not know. The assessor has $63,000 in value on it, $20,000 of which is the building.
Riley said the septic is an issue. He said a holding tank could be installed on the property. Mattice said there are setback issues. Riley said the plumbing line can be cut off and the septic system abandoned when selling the property. If a limited package is given to them and the rest of the property is owned in common, the property line issues go away. Sawatzke said that was an option. He wanted to see what the Sportsmen’s Club concerns are, too.
Sawatzke asked about the condition of the School House building. Bjorklund said the great room is beautiful, but needs to be gutted and new wiring installed. The outhouse will be torn down.
Asleson will obtain more information to see if the County may transfer the property.
Recommendation: Lay over until the 4-30-14 Ways & Means Committee Meeting at 10:00 A.M. to allow Asleson to determine whether any restrictions exist regarding transfer of ownership of the Lake Ida School House in question.
(End of 4-16-14 Ways & Means Committee Minutes)
Kelly said the former Sheriff’s Office is being remodeled to accommodate moving the Assessor’s Office to that location. A request for bids was sent to seven local contractors for that remodel, and four bids were received. The recommendation is to accept the low bid from Ernst General Construction, $35,497. The bids do not include furniture relocation and reconfiguration, the install of a card door reader ($2,000), computer wiring, and making the counter ADA compliant. Kelly said the furniture quote came in at just over $26,000. It will include office furniture, moving furniture that can be re-used, and making adjustments that are needed. Furniture from the current Assessor’s Office is being re-used as much as possible. Potter moved to accept the low bid from Ernst Construction at $35,497. The motion was seconded by Daleiden and carried 5-0.
Advisory Committee/Advisory Board Updates:
1. Great River Regional Library. Sawatzke said the GRRL Board met 4-22-14 in St. Cloud. At that meeting, the GRRL Board voted to authorize a new library in the City of Sartell. Sawatzke said this will have budget ramifications for Wright County, as Wright County pays the second largest portion of that budget. He feels it will be a challenge for the GRRL Board to come up with their budget as a result of this approval, as the library will add a $300,000 expense to that budget. Other additional expenses relate to coverage of COLA’s, health insurance increases, book expenses, etc. Sawatzke said although there was a majority vote to authorize the new library, the GRRL budget requires a 2/3 plus 1 majority vote. He questioned what will happen if the GRRL budget does not pass because of the costs to accommodate this additional library. He wanted to let the Board know that this issue could potentially create an impasse. In response to Borrell, Sawatzke said there are 15 GRRL Board Members, and 12 Board Members were in attendance when the vote was taken. Roberts Rules suggest there must be a majority vote to bring this issue back to the table for discussion.
Sawatzke said although Sartell is a large enough community for a library, it is adjacent to St. Cloud and Waite Park where there are large libraries. The mindset of the GRRL has been that additional libraries are not created when there is another library within a 10-mile radius. It is the opinion of some that if Morrison County residents can drive 40 miles to access a library, then residents in Sartell can drive under 10 miles to the libraries available in St. Cloud and Waite Park. Sawatzke is unsure whether the 10-mile radius criteria has been removed by the GRRL Board. There was discussion on this topic a few months ago at one of their meetings that Sawatzke was unable to attend. He said another opinion is that Sartell may have to come up with more funding toward the library rather than just providing the facility.
2. Minnesota Sunset Summit to Undo Sexual Exploitation & Trafficking in Minnesota. Husom attended the Summit that was held on April 24-25, 2014. Minneapolis ranks #13 in the Nation for sexual exploitation of youth. Many of the exploited include vulnerable individuals (age, mental health issues, and learning disabilities). The Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Youth Law is a step towards ensuring that sexually exploited youth are recognized as victims rather than criminals. The Law goes into effect in August, 2014 and increases the penalties for buyers. The No Wrong Door Model is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, and multi-state agency service approach to responding to sexually exploited youth and youth at risk of sexual exploitation. Husom said nine regions are being set up in the State, including one for the American Indian population as they tend to be one of the most heavily exploited populations. The implementation of the No Wrong Door Model will ensure that communities across Minnesota have the knowledge, skills, and resources to effectively identify and serve sexually exploited and at-risk youth.
(End of Advisory Committee/Advisory Board Updates)
Daleiden moved to authorize Potter to attend a Community & Economic Development Symposium on 5-09-14 at Hamline University. The motion was seconded by Borrell and carried unanimously.
Borrell said Meeker County approached him regarding a $5,000-$7,000 contribution toward a civil defense siren that is being installed in the southeastern corner of Meeker County. The siren will provide service to Collinwood Park in the case of severe weather. It was the consensus that Borrell should consult with Steve Berg, Emergency Management Director, regarding any cost share agreements that may already be in place along the Meeker County/Wright County border.
Bills Approved
ACS Gov. Info. Services $5,126.54
Albertville Body Shop Inc 889.59
Allied Graphics 1,913.40
Allina Health EMS 190.00
Ameripride Services 159.27
Aramark Services Inc 13,917.60
BP Amoco 2,536.34
Braun Intertec Corporation 918.75
Brock White Co LLC 370.68
Buffalo Township 649.80
Cartegraph Systems Inc 3,519.61
Carver County Treasurer 1,501.62
CDW Government Inc 1,587.61
Center Point Energy 3,589.25
Centra Sota Coop. - Buffalo 12,348.90
CenturyLink 1,644.48
Cherokee Manufacturing LLC 102.00
Clearwater/City of 1,417.30
Clements Associates Inc 911.63
Climate Air 1,917.95
Cokato/City of 400.00
Croteau Plumbing 2,950.00
Culligan of Buffalo 400.00
Delano/City of 2,479.60
Design Elect. Inc-Cold Spring 335.50
Diamond Vogel Paint Center 293.38
Engel/Dale L 1,000.00
Ernst/Debbie 148.50
Federated Co-ops Inc 296.39
Forest Mushrooms Inc 1,450.00
Forestry Suppliers Inc 2,484.67
Gilson Company Inc 797.56
Goodpointe Technology Inc 544.50
Grainger 501.94
Greene Espel PLLP 3,170.65
Hausmann/Chad 1,372.02
Hawkins/Virgil 1,374.42
Helmbrecht/Ronald,Theresa 2,293.00
Hillyard Inc - Minneapolis 222.48
Howard/Jolanta 100.00
Integrated Fire & Security 314.60
Intoximeters Inc 254.75
Jans/Ruth A 204.00
John Deere Financial 183.07
King/William J. 5,918.00
Klatt True Value Electric 200.46
Krav Maga Minneapolis 700.00
Laplant Demo Inc 1,700.44
Lawson Products Inc 286.22
M & M Express Sales 162.49
M-R Sign Company Inc 298.65
Maney International Inc 289.00
Maple Lake/City of 981.20
Marco 543.27
Marco Inc 3,217.52
Marysville Township 1,058.00
Menards - Buffalo 1,123.92
MN Bureau of Crim. Appreh. 200.00
Motorola Inc 13,527.45
MSC Industrial Supply Co 194.09
MTI Distributing Inc 415.61
National Products Inc 554.66
Northern Safety Technology 297.99
Northland Business Sys. Inc 2,897.43
Northland Business Sys. Inc 4,865.00
Office Depot 2,214.58
PN Methodist Hospital 134.92
Potter/Michael J 289.00
Precision Prints of Wright Co 498.04
PSS World Medical Inc 278.95
Purick/Ryan 400.00
Rasmuson/Anthony 199.00
RCM Specialties Inc 637.98
Retrofit Companies Inc 589.34
Rinke-Noonan 200.00
Rockford/City of 1,596.40
Royal Tire Inc 603.97
Russell Security Resource 1,450.00
Ryan Chevrolet 448.39
Setter/Randi 100.00
SHI International Corp 9,406.00
Silver Creek Township 2,455.60
South Haven/City of 306.40
Sprint 5,139.67
Sprint 3,274.07
St Cloud State University 395.00
St Michael/City of 6,444.20
Stockholm Township 422.20
Stoll/Brian 278.50
Sturges/James K 125.00
T & S Trucking 14,545.25
Thrifty White Pharmacy 712.74
Triplett/Keith 611.00
Univ. of Minn./CCE Reg 210.00
Varner/Gerald D, Laura L. 2,202.00
Veolia Environmental Serv. 15,373.21
Verizon Wireless 331.19
W D Larson Companies LTD 238.05
Walmart Store 01-1577 2,342.83
Warning Lites of MN Inc 592.20
Waverly/City of 170.62
Woodland Township 505.50
Wright County Highway Dept 846.45
Wright Henn. Coop Elec Assn 5,303.14
Wright Hennepin Electric 682.28
Wright Lumber & Millwork Inc 109.50
Xcel Energy 2,078.86
Zacks Inc 1,761.82
Zarnoth Brush Works Inc 592.00
Zee Medical Service 2,593.95
30 Payments Less Than $100 1,573.25
Final total $209,477.80
The meeting adjourned at 10:41 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal May 19, 2014.