Wright County Board Minutes

FEBRUARY 13, 2018
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Husom, Vetsch, Potter, Daleiden and Borrell present.
Husom moved to approve the 2-06-18 County Board Minutes. The motion was seconded by Vetsch and carried 5-0.
The following items were petitioned onto the Agenda. Borrell moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Vetsch. The motion carried 5-0.
1. Timed Item, “Commissioner Charlie Borrell RE: Sewage Leak In Maple Lake Township” (Borrell)
2. Reschedule 2-28-18 Committee Meeting Date (Kelly)
On a motion by Potter, second by Borrell, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda as presented:
1. Approve Revisions To Section 206.02, Performance Evaluation Procedures, Of The Wright County Personnel Policy
(changes reflected in italics or strike through):
Item 4. Completed performance evaluations must be submitted to Human Resources five working days in advance of an employee’s anniversary date so that eligible employee will receive salary increases at the appropriate time.
Board action shall occur prior to the employees anniversary date. Employee will not receive step increases until Board action has been taken.
Item 5. Performance evaluations of department heads shall be reviewed by the Personnel Committee and approved by the County Board/Human Services Board. Department heads will not receive salary increases until Board action has been taken.
1. Acknowledge Warrants Issued Between January 31, 2018 And February 6, 2018.
1. Appointment Of Lizzie Bies As Youth Member On The Wright County Extension Committee, Eff. February 13, 2018 To August 31, 2020
1. Approval Of Addendum To The MCC Agreement Adding Pine County To The Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Pool Of Counties
1. Refer To Ways & Means Committee Discussion RE: Hire Of Consulting Firm To Assist In The Update Of The Wright County Solid Waste Management Plan
1. Position Replacement:
A. Deputy
Introduction Of Brian Andreason, IT Developer
Tagarro introduced Brian Andreason who was recently hired as a Developer in the Information Technology Department. Andreason was welcomed.
Schedule the 2018 County Board of Appeal and Equalization Meetings
Rasmuson said the County Board of Appeal and Equalization may meet any day in June after the second Friday in June and at least one of the meeting days must include a meeting that does not end before 7:00 PM. Past practice has been to carry those appointments into the next day if necessary.
Potter moved to schedule the 2018 County Board of Appeal and Equalization Meetings on 6-18-18 from 4:30-7:00 PM and to continue the meetings to 6-19-18 after the Board Meeting if needed. The motion was seconded by Borrell and carried 5-0.
Adopt Resolution Approving The 2018 Wright Regional Inspection Program (WRIP) For East And West Lake Sylvia, Lake John, and Pleasant Lake
O’Hare provided an overview on the WRIP through a PowerPoint presentation. Some of the items highlighted include the move to offer bulk inspections when 10 or more boats are involved and with 3 days’ notice. Inspections will start once ice is out (not prior to April 1st) and 7 days’ notice will be provided prior to enforcement. During the peak season, inspections will be performed for 16.5 hours/day (5:00 AM – 9:30 PM) and hours will gradually decrease thereafter. There is a minimum requirement of 2 staff for three 3 lakes; 3 staff are planned for weekends. The week of 4th of July will add an additional staff person. O’Hare said staffing adjustments will be made as needed. Wright County’s overall AIS budget for 2018 is $271,574.03 and includes a rollover of $43,534.03 from 2017. The primary funding source is an Initiative Foundation Grant received by Lake Sylvia.
O’Hare stated that to increase the number of lakes included in the WRIP will require the following action:
- The WRIP must be operated on the three lakes until 6-30-18
- A mid-season report must be sent to the DNR
- The County Ordinance would need to be amended, which requires a public hearing.
- Approval would need to be gained from the added lake, the SWCD, the County Board, and the DNR
- Contracts would need to be revised
Potter said the WRIP is a pilot project. AIS will not be eradicated but the goal is to slow it down. He referenced the effects of starry stonewort on Lake Koronis. With no action, he said Wright County lakes would be destined to have the problem due to the proximity of Lake Koronis to Wright County. Inspections may cause a minor inconvenience to boaters but will help to prevent the spread of AIS.
Borrell stated the SWCD supports completing the pilot project for one year prior to adding lakes. Vetsch said there needs to be public buy in before adding lakes, as he has received mostly negative comment since the inception of this pilot program. He spoke of the importance of educating residents who do not own lake properties. O’Hare said that part of the Lake Sylvia budget includes expansion. If the Initiative Foundation won’t allow use of those dollars this year, funding would be depleted prior to the end of the year. Husom commended Lake Sylvia residents for their actions after discovering starry stonewort and said it is amazing what has happened in less than 1.5 years. Her opinion is that anglers will find time spent at inspection sites is less than anticipated. She concurs that more information needs to be provided to the public. Vetsch wants to slow down on expansion to attain more inspection data to base that decision on. He encouraged O’Hare to have more staff available on 4th of July weekend. He would favor having more staff than needed for public buy in. Otherwise, it will be a monumental task to recover from.
Chief Deputy Todd Hoffman, Sheriff’s Office, said the Sheriff’s Office is not for or against the program. He informed the Board of the impacts of their decision to adopt the ordinance and proceed with this project. Last year’s inspection program included 21 days in October, which is not one of the highest boating times in Minnesota. There were 63 violations reported and 23 that law enforcement responded to. Hoffman stated it takes about 45 minutes for a law enforcement officer to handle these violations. For comparison purposes, in October 2017 the average traffic stop lasted 10 minutes and the average domestic disturbance lasted 45 minutes 53 seconds.
Hoffman stated they discovered last year that they did not have adequate staffing to properly enforce and respond to this ordinance. They are working to address staffing and a Special Deputy/Park Ranger position is being created. The DNR does not have the resources for such a program. With the County’s decision to take on the sole responsibility on a local level, this impacts the Sheriff’s Office. Hoffman asked that they work together and come to a resolution on staffing. Potter stated the County took on this initiative and the Sheriff’s Office needs the resources. He will support additional staff based on need. He thought the cost of the extra person far outweighed the cost of inaction.
Potter moved to adopt Resolution #18-16 accepting the Regional Aquatic Invasive Species Inspection Plan for East and West Lake Sylvia, Lake John, and Pleasant Lake. The motion was seconded by Husom and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Photos were shown of an estimated 300 gallons of spill near Ramsey Lake. After discussion, Borrell moved to send a letter to the PCA reflecting the Board values the lakes in the County and requests the PCA complete a thorough investigation. O’Hare understands the City of Maple Lake is working today to remove the spillage with a bobcat. The PCA is expected onsite as well. Potter requested that Maple Lake Township and those downstream be informed. The motion was seconded by Vetsch and carried 5-0.
At today’s County Board Meeting, Borrell moved to send a letter to the Wright County legislators. The letter will provide a synopsis of topics discussed, thank legislators that were able to attend, and extend an invitation to meet again next year. The motion includes approval of the COTW Minutes. The motion was seconded by Husom and carried 5-0. The letter will be signed by all five Commissioners. The COTW Minutes follow:
The following documents were distributed at this meeting (see attachments):
1) 2018 Wright County Legislative Priorities
2) An email from Social Services Supervisor Jessica Nelson to Human Services Director Jami Goodrum Schwartz dated 1-02-18 regarding CP Numbers
3) 2018 Legislative Initiatives from the Minnesota Association of County Social Service Administrators
4) A PowerPoint presentation entitled, “Address Changes in METS and MAXIS.”
County Coordinator Lee Kelly thanked the legislators for attending this meeting. He began with a summary of legislative issues pertinent to the Administration Department (see attachment # 1 entitled, “2018 Wright County Legislative Priorities”).
1) Streamline the sales tax exemption for building materials on County projects
L. Kelly said Wright County is one of several counties in the State involved in building new courts facilities. The estimated cost of the new Wright County Courts Facility is $51 million. Current statutes make it difficult to meet the requirements to achieve the sales tax exemption on materials. L. Kelly said the exemption is achievable if the County buys all the materials as the County, but not when it is part of a contract for a single bid for materials and installation services. He said it’s a complex issue regarding what is eligible and what is not. The potential saving on sales tax for the new Courts Facility is estimated at $1.2 million. L. Kelly expressed hope for further discussions with legislators on this topic.
2) Reimbursement of expenses incurred defending lawsuit with the Office of the State Auditor
L. Kelly said the County has incurred more than $69,000 in legal fees related to this lawsuit through 11-30-17. Additional billing is forthcoming for the January 2018 Supreme Court date. Becker and Ramsey Counties are also involved in this lawsuit. Representative Eric Lucero said there is no reason why these three counties were singled out, when 44 other counties are doing the same thing. He has co-authored a bill with Representatives Marion O’Neill and Joe McDonald to reimburse the three counties.
3) Mandates regarding law enforcement body cameras must be accompanied with State funding
L. Kelly said the cost to outfit 94 patrol deputies would be $112,330. The County is not opposed to this, but it takes funding and planning. O’Neill and Lucero said they are not aware of any mandates requiring a law enforcement agency to utilize body cameras. Representative Jim Newberger said only those agencies who opt to voluntarily utilize body cameras must comply with the policy.
County Attorney Tom Kelly summarized the legislative priorities for the Attorney’s Office.
1) Obtaining funding for Child Protection Legal Service in County Attorney’s Office
T. Kelly said a few years ago, legislation resulted in the addition of more than three hundred social workers for Children In Need of Protective Services (CHIPS) statewide. Wright County Health & Human Services added six social workers. T. Kelly said the number of CHIPS cases has increased as more social workers conduct investigations. The Attorney’s Office now has two fulltime attorneys working on CHIPS cases, which caused work to overflow to other attorneys. O’Neill asked whether social workers are finding more children needing protective services than previously. Social Services Manager Michelle Miller said the numbers they are encountering are much greater.
2) Drive Wright Type of Diversion Programs
T. Kelly said the purpose of the Drive Wright program is to educate individuals who were charged with minor traffic violations. Program funds were not used to supplement the Department budgets. Representative Dean Urdahl said it may be difficult to address all the issues this year, as it is technically not a funding year. He spent two hours at McLeod County yesterday reviewing similar requests. T. Kelly said if the program could be reinstated so that the County did not have to give $75 per case back to the District Court, but instead do a cost share with them, it would be more financially feasible.
Auditor/Treasurer Bob Hiivala addressed two legislative priorities:
1) Allow expanded use of technologies for election purposes
Hiivala said there is new technology to help voters mark their ballots faster. Hiivala says ballots marked by a machine make it easier to determine the voter’s intent. He added that this kind of technology could also enhance the County’s ability to print ballots. Hiivala asked whether legislators would allow a hearing on the subject. Urdahl asked him if the Secretary of State’s Office supports this technology. Hiivala said he believed so. Hiivala is not requesting funding, but rather the opportunity to choose new technology.
2) Provide for clean water funding for buffer acquisitions
Hiivala said he is part of a subgroup regarding buffer enforcement and acquisition. There are impediments to establishing buffers in Wright County. He said the County has a 96 percent compliance rate as far as established buffers on 103E ditch systems pertaining to the Clean Water Act.
Another issue is how to determine whether these buffers are legally enforceable. Wright County is running into difficulties finding an adequate number of viewers to redetermine the County ditch system. While Hiivala is confident the buffers legally exist, he has no way to enforce them, unless the County’s systems are redetermined. Hiivala said the requirement to establish these enforceable buffers comes from the Clean Water Act. He asked whether it is appropriate that land owners pay the full cost of the buffer acquisition, or if the cost should be distributed among the areas that impact the water going into the system. He is seeking support to decide who should help pay for buffer strips, if it is deemed necessary based on the Clean Water Act. Hiivala said landowners would be paid for the buffer strips. Urdahl said there is a lot of concern about taking land from Minnesotans without compensation. He said he would support this effort.
Health & Human Services Director Jami Goodrum Schwartz addressed attachment #2 regarding Child Protection referral numbers.
1) Financial Impact
Schwartz discussed the need for increased State funding to provide consistent services for programs such as foster care, child protection, out of hospital care, Targeted Case Management, reimbursement for MnChoice assessments and activities, and substance abuse prevention and response.
Schwartz also addressed the need for regional crisis facilities to divert individuals needing mental health intervention from more costly services such as emergency rooms. Permanent supportive housing options are also needed. Schwartz said the County has some of the nation’s lowest Medical Assistance reimbursement rates for dental services, and asked that the Legislature review this situation.
2) Technology
Schwartz said the County would like to see significant statewide investment in county technology infrastructure to enable the Health & Human Services Department to maintain and improve services. For example, the current systems such as MAXIS, MMIS, and PRISM, are built on programming code that is no longer taught. The new healthcare system, METS, lacks basic case management workflows. Financial Worker Jon Thalberg gave a PowerPoint presentation entitled “Address Changes in METS and MAXIS” to compare the time it takes for staff to change a client’s address using METS versus MAXIS (see attachment #4).
Schwartz said the State system needs to be simplified. Wright County has spent $1.43 million on EDMS for the Health & Human Services Department. Other counties are investing in their own systems. A unified, statewide system would be more efficient and cost effective.
Commissioner Michael Potter thanked the legislators for passing a comprehensive transportation package last session.
3) Transportation Governance
Chief Deputy County Attorney Brian Asleson addressed eminent domain related to right-of-way issues. Asleson said ten years ago a provision was put into law that said if the eventual award to the land owner is a certain percentage over the last written offer by the County or condemning authority, the County (or condemning authority) also has to pay the landowner’s attorney fees. While the County has an appraisal earlier in the process, the land owner doesn’t have to provide one until five days before the hearing in front of court-appointed land commissioners. The County is seeking to allow time to react to the land owner’s appraisal. Most cases are settled. Asleson said the attorney fee provision tends to drag out the process, which increases the amount of attorney fees.
L. Kelly addressed the first item under the Information Technology section of the Priorities attachment, as the remaining ones were addressed earlier at this meeting.
1) Ensure that our records management laws are realistic and not over burdensome.
L. Kelly said Wright County has been actively working on best practices for records management. He is monitoring HF1185. The Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) has established a work group to be a resource. Records Management Analyst Scott Larson has been helping AMC flesh out their policies.
Lucero said he is a co-author of HF1185. Accountability and open records are a high priority so that citizens are aware of the actions taken by government. Correspondence is now primarily done electronically. While technology has changed, the principal has remained the same. Lucero said the need is to ensure that the communications taking place are properly available so that government officials and employees are held accountable. Vetsch said information from texts and social media are sometimes harder to collect, and represent a gray area. There is a need for clearly drawn guidelines.
L. Kelly invited further dialogue with legislators.
Parks & Recreation Director Marc Mattice referred to the Priorities attachment. He thanked the legislators for their support of Legacy funds over the years. In the next two years, the Metropolitan Council will try to take away the 20% of the total funds for regional parks and trails currently allocated to Greater Minnesota. Mattice asked the legislators to stand strong back against this effort by the Metropolitan Council.
Mattice referenced SF689 and HF1270 regarding bonding legislation for non-Legacy parks. This would include funding for the City of Otsego to get their boat launch, as well as local playgrounds and ballfields. This is funded through a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) grant program. Since Legacy funds became available in 2008, DNR grants have dwindled to almost nothing. Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission is supporting this legislation.
(End of 2-07-18 COTW Minutes)
Lee Kelly, County Coordinator, said 2-28-18 is a regularly scheduled Committee meeting date. Due to attendance by the Commissioners at the AMC Legislative Conference that day, it is suggested to cancel or reschedule.
On a motion by Husom, second by Borrell, all voted to cancel the 2-28-18 Committee meeting date and to reschedule it to 2-27-18 after the Board Meeting.
1. SWCD Board. Borrell attended a meeting on 2-12-18. He stated a Ditch 10 Meeting will be held on 3-13-18 at 10:30 AM. He invited residents of Ditch 10, Lake Ann, and Lake Emma to the meeting. The County received a preliminary draft of proposed projects on Ditch 10 to improve drainage and water quality on Lake Ann and also provide some flood control. The engineering firm will attend the COTW meeting. Borrell stated $17,310 has been spent targeting fertilizer runoff into Ditch 10. Farmers can have their field mapped to assess where fertilizer applications should occur to avoid runoff.
2. Buffalo Safe Schools. Husom attended the meeting on 2-07-18. There was a presentation on the Bounce Back Program. The community book read will have a 3-15-18 kick-off date at the Performing Arts Center at the Buffalo High School. Husom encouraged volunteers.
3. Wright County Law Library. Husom attended a meeting on 2-07-18. Discussion included the annual report and the move to the new location (Courts facility). Law Day will be held on 5-11-18 at the Government Center. She encouraged participation. People can also come in that day to settle fines.
4. Wright County Sheriff’s Office Citizen Law Enforcement Academy. Husom presented information on the program. Class offerings are April 24, May 1, May 8, May 15, and May 22, from 6:30 to 9:00 PM at the Wright County Law Enforcement Center at no cost. Participants must be 18 years of age.
5. ERP Meetings. Daleiden and Vetsch attended meetings last week held with Infotech where discussion centered on ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning).
6. Meetings on Bertram Lake Campgrounds. Daleiden and Vetsch met on 2-09-18 with a group to discuss architectural design/planning for the campgrounds. The list has been narrowed down to two firms. Daleiden said it is not something that will happen soon and will be dependent on State funding.
7. Otsego City Council Meeting. Daleiden attended the meeting where discussion occurred on a potential TIF district by CR 101 and CR 42.
8. Trailblazer Meeting. Vetsch and Daleiden attended a meeting last week.
9. Fredrikson & Byron Legislative Outlook. Potter attended the meeting on 2-07-18. Discussion included things of concern to the legislature. If this is a short session, it is a bonding session this year. The Governor had laid out $1.5 billion in projects. The majority related to infrastructure repair at the U of M. Since funding for infrastructure for wastewater systems aging in greater Minnesota is inadequate. It appears instead of $1.5 billion, it will be more like $800 million. An effort may be made to split the bonding packet more efficiently between infrastructure and repair.
10. Buffalo Township Meeting. Kelly and Husom attended the meeting on 2-12-18 where the holding pond and impound lot at the Jail/LEC property were discussed.
The meeting adjourned at 10:11 AM.
Published in the Herald Journal March 2, 2018.