Wright County Board Minutes

The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Husom, Vetsch, Potter and Daleiden present. Commissioner Borrell joined the meeting remotely.
Daleiden moved to approve the 5-05-20 Wright County Board Minutes. The motion was seconded by Potter and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Vetsch moved to approve the 5-15-20 Wright County Board Minutes. The motion was seconded by Daleiden and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Vetsch moved to approve the Agenda. The motion was seconded by Potter and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Daleiden moved to approve the Consent Agenda. The motion was seconded by Borrell and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
1. Authorize Signatures On License For Utility To Cross Public Waters for Tactical Center Fiber
1. Reappoint Laureen Bodin to a three-year term on the Wright County Personnel Board of Appeals effective July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2023
1. Request approval of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 and Wright County regarding employees who are members of Local No. 49 who volunteer to staff the Highway Department Information Booth shifts at the 2020, 2021, and 2022 Wright County Fair during unscheduled working hours.
1. Approve A Transfer Of $43,395.98 From Fund 01-General Fund To 01-General Fund. These Are Insurance Monies That Were Receipted Into The General Government Department And Should Have Been Receipted In The Sheriff Department. Sheriff Purchased The Vehicles Under Their Department. 01-100-000-0000-6910 Transfer Out $43,395.98 01-201-000-0000-5910 Transfer In $43,395.98
2. Approve A Transfer Of $550.00 from 01-041-000-0000-6910 To 34-170-041-8003-5910. This Is For A Printer That Is Needed For Checks.
3. Acknowledge Warrants Issued Between April 29, 2020 And May 13, 2020.
1. Refer to 05-27-2020 Technology Committee: A. Project Updates 1. O365 2. ERP Implementation 3. CAMA - Assessor 4. New Building Updates B. New Project Requests 1. Veterans Services: VetPro Implementation C. Strategic project Prioritization D. IT Project Summary - Quarter 1
1. Refer Discussion Of The Solid Waste Management Plan To The May 26, 2020 Ways & Means Committee
Approve a Plat “Indian Lake Hills” (Corinna Township).
Vetsch made a motion to approve the Plat. The motion was seconded by Potter. Hiivala noted that Corinna Township and the County Attorney’s Office have signed the Plat. The motion carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Approve April Revenue/Expenditure Budget Report and CIP Report.
Daleiden moved to approve the April Revenue/Expenditure Budget Report and CIP (Capital Improvement Plan) Report. The motion was seconded by Potter and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Approve Jurisdictional Change Agreement With Buffalo Township For CR 147 (Bradshaw Avenue NE) And Braddock Avenue NE.
Hawkins stated that Buffalo Township approved the agreement at their 5-11-20 meeting. With County Board approval, future steps will include a public notice and hearing at Buffalo Township, and a revocation resolution. As Buffalo Township has closed meetings because of COVID-19, those steps will be taken at a later date.
Vetsch made a motion to approve the Jurisdictional Change Agreement with Buffalo Township for CR 147 (Bradshaw Avenue NE) and Braddock Avenue NE. The motion was seconded by Daleiden. Potter extended appreciation to Hawkins and Highway staff for getting this taken care of. As the government buildings open in this area, there will be a marked increase in traffic. The motion carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Approve Traffic Control Signal & Maintenance Agreement (No. 19-56) With The City Of Albertville.
The Heuring Meadows Commons Development along CSAH 19 in Albertville will cause impacts to the County’s highway system. The impacts require mitigation by construction of a traffic control signal system at 53rd Street. The City of Albertville approved the Agreement at a recent council meeting.
Potter moved to approve the Traffic Control Signal and Maintenance Agreement with the City of Albertville. The motion was seconded by Daleiden. The infrastructure is being installed now to accommodate the fourth leg in the future. The cost should be minimal at that point. The motion carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Accept donation from DAV Auxiliary Unit 37
Pickard stated that a $300 donation was received from the Hutchinson DAV Auxiliary Unit 37. This is the second donation from them in the past several years. The donation will be used to help veterans when other programs are not available.
Daleiden moved to adopt Resolution #20-34, accepting the donation from the Hutchinson DAV Auxiliary Unit 37. The motion was seconded by Borrell and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
At today’s County Board Meeting, Daleiden moved to approve the COTW Minutes and recommendations. The motion was seconded by Potter. Borrell referenced information presented at the COTW Meeting by Lori Vrolsen, Executive Director of the Central Minnesota Council on Aging (CMCOA). Borrell said that at the COTW meeting, members asked about funding. Borrell voiced displeasure that Vrolsen omitted information about a request, possibly by the Governor, for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibway to receive approximately $637,000 in delivered meals. He said that should have been mentioned at the meeting. The CMCOA had approximately $422,000 in funding from a CARES grant through the federal government to CMCOA. Borrell stated that on May 7th, the CMCOA Board met and it was proposed that amount would go to the Tribe. The CMCOA did lower that amount. The CMCOA had $400,000 in reserves, so there was $800,000 to put toward meals, and it was proposed that a large share go to the Tribe. A CMCOA meeting was held on 5-12-20 and the amount was adjusted again. A meeting will be held on 5-22-20 when the State Board on Aging plans to meet with state and federal politicians to discuss funding. Borrell does not approve of Vrolsen omitting the information at the meeting.
Vetsch said there is an estimated $1 million shortfall from now to the end of June for the 14-county consortium. The question is whether the program can sustain the current parameters, whether modifications will need to be made, or whether the program will end altogether. Even if FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) grants are applied for, it is unknown if funding will be awarded. With FEMA funding, he understands the money has to be spent, application is then made for the funding, and then it has to meet spending parameters. Husom stated that it is a 75% grant and 25% must be paid back.
Potter extended appreciation to Borrell for his work with CMCOA, questioning inconsistencies and Wright County not receiving its appropriate share of funding. He said Wright County should not be subsidizing other counties. Borrell clarified that he thinks most are not getting their correct share. He said the COTW Minutes accurately reflect what transpired at the meeting.
Vetsch said that for 3-4 years, tens of thousands of dollars of funding to Wright County has been turned back to the CMCOA as there was not utilization. When the question was posed as to where those funds go, a clear answer was not provided. Borrell said the funding was not turned back. The State Board of Aging has a funding formula and funds are allocated to the CMCOA. It is up to the CMCOA Board to distribute that funding. In the past, there have not been providers in Wright County to utilize the funding, so it was not turned back but rather utilized in other areas of the 14-county consortium.
The motion to approve the 5-04-20 COTW Minutes carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Jami Goodrum-Schwartz, Health & Human Services Director, said Richard Ward, Emergency Management Deputy Director, believes that Wright County Community Action can apply under their own entity. She said Richard Ward can assist with the application process if needed.
The 5-04-20 COTW Minutes follow:
Christine Husom, County Board Chair, called the meeting to order to discuss funding sources for meals to senior citizens. Darek Vetsch, County Commissioner, said money is not being withheld from any segment of the population. There are questions regarding where the funds would come from, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and how to allocate those funds. He would like information about the process, as well as what data is being used to disburse the funds.
Lori Vrolson, Executive Director of the Central Minnesota Council on Aging (CMCOA), provided information on her organization. They are a nonprofit agency designated by the Minnesota Board on Aging to act as the Area Agency on Aging for a 14-county area. Their foremost responsibility is to allocate the Older Americans Act dollars. The Minnesota Board on Aging, which is a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, receives the funding from the Administration of the Community of Living at the federal level. They have a funding formula and allocate the money to the Area Agencies on Aging.
Vrolson said the funding formula is based on the number of people over the age of 60, as well as people who are frail (i.e., need help with three Activities of Daily Living or more) but living in the community, as well as individuals that are homebound, live in rural areas, and minorities. Each situation is weighted differently. There is also a caregiver dependency ratio. The CMCOA’s largest funding category is nutrition, which is divided into home-delivered meals and congregate categories. The CMCOA also receives funding for evidence-based health promotion, in-home supports such as legal counsel, transportation, homemaker chore services, and caregiver education, consultation, and respite.
Vrolson said the CMCOA puts out applications for competitive bids. The last funding round was in 2019. The CMCOA development staff focused on identifying specific counties with less services. Wright County showed areas of need. The agency worked to get additional providers for the County, especially in the areas of transportation, assisted transportation (such as to the grocery store or medical appointments), chore, homemaker, and caregiver support. In 2018, the CMCOA brought in Wright County Community Action (WCCA). In 2020, Senior Community Services and Parkview Care Center in Buffalo were also funded.
Vrolson said the CMCOA is trying to better target their nutrition services. The Older Americans Act funding is for individuals over the age of 60, frail (under the above-mentioned criteria), low income, or homebound with needs for meal delivery. Last year the CMCOA piloted a project with the Catholic Charities food shelf in St. Cloud to provide frozen meals twice a month. This project reached low income people at moderate to high nutritional risk. The goal this year is to expand their reach and ultimately have one food shelf location in each county with a meal component. Currently seven of the 14 counties the CMCOA covers have food shelves. Wright County has food shelves in Delano and Waverly.
Funding is allocated via contracts versus grants. When the CMCOA initiates a contract, they negotiate a reimbursement rate based on the actual services delivered by the provider. Vrolson referenced a document that was distributed to the County Board titled “Responding to Changing Needs during the COVID-19 Pandemic” (see attached). The document includes data regarding meals that were actually delivered in Wright County from 2018-2020. In 2018, the total amount of Title III Funding dollars used to provide food to seniors was $246,507, and in 2019 the amount was $237,431. In 2020, the amount contracted prior to thepandemic was $371,309, but does not illustrate current utilization. Through Catholic Charities partnership with WCCA, from mid-March to April 30, 27,575 meals were provided in addition to the other meals Catholic Charities provides. The estimated need for the month of May 2020 is 30,000 meals for the partnership with WCCA.
Vrolson said the CMCOA is fully allocating all of their dollars, and is trying to balance the need for meals during the COVID-19 crisis across the 14-county area. The CMCOA expects Families First dollars to arrive this week, and Care Act dollars in mid-June. Anticipated funding will be about $1 million short of the expected need during the pandemic. They will not be able to serve all requests. It is critical that the CMCOA targets the population being served. Vrolson said they must be clear on their messaging. These meals are intended for people who are not able to get food elsewhere. If people can cook their own meals, they can be connected with WCCA and Senior Services to help them get groceries versus providing them with frozen meals. Those programs operate on a donation basis, as do all Older Americans Act programs. The programs do not provide free meals for everyone over age 60. Unfortunately that is the message that went out in March and April. Catholic Charities is helping to educate people that the programs are donation-based and which populations are the intended recipients.
Vetsch asked what happens to unutilized funds. Vrolson said the goal is to not only utilize the money, but make sure it goes to the target population. When funds are not utilized, they stay at the Area Agency level and are awarded in subsequent years after audits have been completed. With an emergency declaration such as now, the CMCOA may use any funding for any service that falls under the Older Americans Act. The $1 million shortage she referred to previously takes into account all unallocated funds.
Vetsch requested information on the nutrition allocations to all 14 counties, and how the State Board on Aging determines funding. Vrolson said there is an intra-state funding formula that takes in the number of frail individuals with ADL dependencies, low income, and many other factors. When the money comes to the CMCOA, the agency solicits applications for providers to fill in gaps in services. Applications are funneled through the CMCOA Advisory Committee and then the Board. They also focus on meeting areas of need. In 2020, although Wright County comprises 13 percent of the 14-county region, due to needs that have arisen from the COVID-19 crisis, the County may receive about 20% of the allocations. Many providers cover multiple counties. This is an unusual situation. There has never been a wait list in the past. The CMCOA looks for gaps in provider services and not necessarily how much to fund each County. Most of the services funded by the CMCOA have to go through a national tracking. The CMCOA also does its own tracking. The CMCOA receives 13.6 percent of the State’s allocation from the Older Americans Act for the 14-county area.
Vrolson said the Minnesota Board on Aging is in discussions with a vendor that provides airline meals to buy meals at a price point of $2 to $4 each. Some will be targeted toward homeless elders who are sheltered in motels. There are many partnerships going on. Catholic Charities is actively seeking other funding sources. The senior population will need this help longer than the general population. There are other options for delivery of meals, help with ordering and delivering groceries, and preparing meals. The individual needs of the person must be considered, and then appropriate services enlisted to help them. Whether the individual is able to prepare their own meals or not, the next question is always how to get food to them.
Vetsch said the word has to get out that this program is not free for anyone over sixty. Vrolson suggested directing people to the Senior Linage Line, where their needs will be evaluated, and the most appropriate services will be allocated for their situation.
Vetsch said there should be a scoring system and monies given back to those counties who have not utilized all their funding in years past.
Vrolson said their current funding will be $1 million short for meals between now and the end of June. The Federal government allocated these dollars to last through September of 2021. She estimated that this funding will take the CMCOA to the middle of May. They need to determine a process to prioritize the meals and create a wait list. The CMCOA will be the first agency in the State to run out of Older Americans Act funding. She asked the State to put the CMCOA at the top of the list when other funding sources are allocated. She wants to make sure that additional funding goes by each AAA (Area Agencies on Aging) region and not the State as a whole. When funds are allocated, they stay within the region and can’t be transferred. The same is true of the FEMA dollars. There will be FEMA meals available, but only once all other dollars are expended.
Seth Hansen, Wright County Emergency Management Director, said the money may be allocated by County, but 25 percent of those funds will have to be paid back by some entity in the County. A specific dollar amount must be applied for related to a specific project. FEMA has indicated they will make the funds available more quickly than they would ordinarily. The County or sponsoring agency will be responsible for repaying 25 percent of the funds received. Vrolson said the Minnesota Board on Aging will be the sponsoring agency, and not the individual Area Agencies on Aging. Hansen said Senator Klobuchar’s office told him that the County would have to apply if they want any funding. Vrolson said she will verify whether the Minnesota Board on Aging is sponsoring. They were told that the FEMA dollars would be a match. Hansen said he is going by guidance from Senator Klobuchar’s office.
Vrolson said she provided the Minnesota Board on Aging an estimate of 30,000 meals for Wright County. The CMCOA was told they would be given that through the month of June.
Hansen said his staff has already started setting up the portal for FEMA access. Once that is completed, someone will have to go in and outline the project and the request. Vetsch said an end date for the project has to be decided to determine the amount of money needed. The project is not sustainable perpetually. Hansen said a number has to be determined for budget purposes. Just because the County or another entity applies for the project, doesn’t guarantee an award.
Vrolson said they may ask for additional allocation for State nutrition dollars. The senior population will be the last ones to get back to normal.
Vetsch said a sponsoring agency for FEMA funds must be determined.
Ruth Huntstiger, LSW, Director of Community Services, Catholic Charities, spoke regarding managing the message about nutrition programs for seniors. The message must be accurate. The goal is to find out who is truly in need of the meals. On 4-15-20, Catholic Charities received a list of 850 individuals from WCCA. A letter was sent from Catholic Charities to each person. The letter informed them of the meal program and explained they will be asked for a contribution and whether they have help getting groceries or preparing meals. If they don’t, they are referred to WCCA’s grocery and prescription program. There are sites in Maple Lake and Annandale that provide curb-side pickup. Home-delivered frozen meals are also available in Maple Lake, Annandale, and Buffalo. Catholic Charities also explains the WCCA frozen meal program. The letter asked recipients to call the Maple Lake site to explain the options they have utilized or want to utilize, and whether they have any other needs. If they have other resource needs, they are referred to the Senior Linkage Line.
Huntstiger said any new individuals calling in are invited to the Maple Lake dining site and the site coordinator will explain the programs to them. The goal is to determine those who have an immediate need for food. For those who have immediate needs, area partners will be contacted to get them food that day. She only has 850 names received from WCCA. Huntstiger understands that WCCA is sharing the same message with people.
Vetsch asked whether expectations are set with people regarding how long this program will continue. It is unsustainable long-term. Huntstiger said perhaps WCCA representatives can speak to that. Catholic Charities will be providing 27,000 meals till the end of May. After that, the number of meals allocated to the two food shelf sites goes down to 1,875, dependent on whether funding continues. The 27,000 number was arrived at by taking 850 recipients getting one meal a day for 17 days through May 4. That totaled a little more than 14,000 meals. They are now looking at how they will be able to prepare that many meals and get them to WCCA for distribution. To clarify, the meals that Catholic Charities provides are the same meals that WCCA is providing. People initially thought they were different meals, and that WCCA meals were free through a different program.
Jami Goodrum Schwartz, Health & Human Services (HHS) Director, said if Public Health staff talks with people who need to be quarantined or isolated, HHS will reach out to them regarding meals as required by Statute. Someone who has been fitted with an N-95 mask will drop off food to them. Those cases would not fall within the boundaries of the current topic. In conversation with Kim Johnson, Financial Services Manager, Schwartz said they have about $265,000 of food support benefits as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that goes out monthly to Wright County across the board. The concern has been raised regarding what will be done after this program. They are looking for ways to support the community that doesn’t rely totally on HHS to continue indefinitely. Schwartz said HHS is very supportive of the grassroots efforts that are providing assistance. Disabled seniors are getting meals provided through the waiver program. So far, HHS has received $147,00 in funds. In essence, the County is supporting the COVID-19 response with 30 HHS staff doing nothing but COVID response right now. Those same staff were performing revenue-earning duties prior to the pandemic. Schwartz cannot predict at this point how much reimbursement HHS will receive for COVID-19 response, or how this will affect next year’s budget.
Leann Thimmel, Social Services Supervisor, estimated there are 40 to 50 seniors receiving meals through the waiver program. Some may get them through Catholic Charities. She has no idea how many clients also go to congregate sites for meals.
Huntstiger ask to clarify that the 27,000 meals are through the months of April and May. They have already served 20,000 of that 27,000. That leaves only 7,000 meals left. She didn’t know how many of the 27,000 WCCA has already served.
Jay Weatherford, Executive Director of Wright County Community Action, said a mobile food shelf is not a donation point. Prior to COVID-19, they were serving about 50 people through the food shelf per month. They are the only County-wide food shelf in the County. They serve anyone in the County. WCCA was not aware that this was a donation plan. It is a food shelf.
Weatherford introduced Eric Nagle, the Aging Alliance Program Manager for WCCA, who talks to County seniors on the phone daily. Weatherford said there is a misunderstanding that many seniors don’t need this program. He said this program has become a bridge. Seniors often don’t have access to grocery stores online. There is a lot of fear out there – even about frozen meals placed on their porch.
Nagle said his involvement started with trying to continue the housekeeping and transportation programs that serve the senior population in Wright County. When they started the pilot food shelf project, their goal was not to serve a larger number of people. When it became apparent that they needed to bridge the gap between current clients and the potential need, it made sense to look at how they promoted this program to include more individuals that might need this support. Nagle said they talk with older adults to find out what their needs are, whether grocery services or an immediate need for food. Callers often say they saw information about the frozen meals program. WCCA also educates them about grocery delivery and pickup. Staff put together a cheat sheet with all the stores and how to go about getting food delivered. Nagle said some of the seniors he talks to are being cut off from services they ordinarily get, such as personal care, housekeeping, foot care, and so forth. While they are trying to pursue those needs, they are also trying to pursue food.
Nagle said many of the callers are children or grandchildren of the seniors. In response to the need, WCCA started a mobile food shelf delivery program throughout the County. WCCA found that seven percent of the Wright County senior population needs their services. His staff is doing health and reassurance calls, and have spoken to almost all of the 1,100 people identified from one to three times. WCCA is working hard to send the message that they will give seniors full support for their food needs, and will refer them to other services such as laundry or food preparation. WCCA staff are trying to determine which seniors can get groceries on their own, and who needs help. Nagle said his goal is not to give out free meals. His desire is to educate the seniors in Wright County who can learn to do it on their own, and help those who can’t do it themselves. WCCA staff help seniors acquire other services they may need, such as the Senior Linkage Line or Public Health.
Vetsch asked whether expectations are being set regarding the end of this program. This is a short-term fix and cannot continue into August or September. Weatherford asked what happens if seniors are still stuck at home in August or September. WCCA has 50 clients that are over the age of 90 on their list and 300 that are over 80. Many have health complications. Vetsch said there has to be a vetting process. People need to know that funds are limited. The program must be used only for those who absolutely need it. Weatherford said they are trying to identify those people now.
Discussion continued regarding the process and timeline for applying for FEMA funds.
Vetsch asked about a timeline to determine the duration of this program. Weatherford said it is hard to predict how long this situation will last. When the Stay At Home order is lifted, it won’t change things for seniors. Vetsch said a decision must be made regarding how long the County will transition after the Stay At Home order is lifted.
Prior to the COVID-19 situation, Weatherford said some people were getting Meals on Wheels. Others had people assisting them that they do not have now. Discussion continued regarding other options, such as partnering with corporations for donations and purchasing food from airlines.
Vetsch requested that a sponsor be determined to apply for the FEMA funds, and if the County is identified as the appropriate sponsor, then an end date and dollar limit should be established. He also asked that the CMCOA investigate whether the County will be considered favorably for additional funding due to past turnback dollars that the County did not utilize. It appears that FEMA funds are the answer, or possibly CARE Act funds.
1) Determine who will be the sponsoring agency for the FEMA grant application for food support for County senior citizens; and
2) If the County is identified as the sponsoring agency, establish an end date and dollar limit to the program and communicate this information to the public.
5-04-20 COTW Minutes submitted by Deb Schreiner, Administrative Assistant
At today’s County Board Meeting, said she and Daleiden met with Lee Kelly, County Administrator, yesterday on the strategic planning sessions with departments. Daleiden said they support a template to utilize during these sessions. Vetsch commended the Administration Department on the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis and thought it reflected a holistic view of the County.
Potter made a motion to approve the 5-05-20 COTW minutes. The motion was seconded by Daleiden and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote. The 5-05-20 COTW minutes follow:
Lee Kelly, County Administrator, said much has transpired since the Strategic Planning Retreat in March. The group that facilitated the workshop has been meeting on the follow-up items as recommended by InfoTech. Several items were sent to the County Board based on the Value Streams that were determined during the Strategic Planning Sessions (see “Value Stream Descriptions” attached) that will act as a guide during the upcoming budget process. The Value Stream includes:
• Empower use of land, property, and the environment
• Optimize civic engagement
• Promote safe and healthy communities
• Shepherd economic growth
• Develop County infrastructure
Kelly said each Department should incorporate the five Value Streams into the cover sheet that accompanies their budget packet and project outlines for the coming year.
Kelly said the next step is to schedule meetings between the County Commissioners and the Departments to go over their operations. Kelly referenced two more documents (attached):
• Questions for Department Heads from Board Members
• Schedule of Department Director/Head Strategic Planning Review Meetings – Initial Review
Kelly said some of the meetings with Departments may have to be done remotely. Kelly said the goal is to get the meetings with Departments done before the budget process begins. That does not allow much time. The meetings will likely be forty-five minutes to one hour long.
Mark Daleiden, County Commissioner, asked for clarification regarding question 4.1 on the Questions for Department Heads document that asks, “What can be better in other departments?” Matthew Fomby, Information Technology (IT) Director, said often the intricacies that exist within intra- and inter-Department functions are not understood or appreciated. This question is about identifying those interconnections and to provide greater understanding. Communication between Departments can help untangle confusion or disconnects. Vetsch suggested that the question read, “What cross-departmental deficiencies do you recognize?” Husom suggested, “Can you identify deficiencies in other departments?” or, “Identify what you think other departments can do better.”
Kelly said these questions provide an opportunity for discussion. Vetsch said the statement, “All budgetary requests need to be placed in Value Stream terms” might imply that Department Heads should delve into the minutia more than is necessary. Kelly referred to questions on the budget cover sheet that ask about upcoming projects or impacts anticipated by Departments that may affect this year’s budget going forward. He said those questions fit into the Value Stream. Vetsch said he didn’t want Department Heads to assume they had to answer those questions for all budgetary requests. Kelly said he would reword the phrase. Michael Potter, County Commissioner, wants Departments to notify the Board of pending changes in laws that may affect operations and impact budget planning. Fomby said the goal of the question is to get people thinking in a strategic direction.
Vetsch said it would be ideal if the Department Heads could complete a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) prior to their meetings with the County Board. Kelly said his plan is to refresh everyone on the high points of the decisions from the March Strategic Planning Sessions at the 5-07-20 Leadership Team meeting. He will also touch on these items, so Department Heads know what information the Board is seeking.
Discussion continued regarding when to schedule meetings with individual Departments. Husom agreed to meet with IT instead of Daleiden to balance the number of meetings Commissioners will hold with individual Departments.
Fomby said a statement could be added to the bottom of the Questions for Department Heads that stresses it is okay to need improvement as long as there is a plan to make positive changes.
Vetsch requested that Department Heads submit their SWOT analyses to Board members by the day before their individual meetings. Kelly said a template will be built and sent out to Department Heads.
Fomby said these meetings are cyclical: Observe, Orient, Direct, Act, and Repeat. It’s a constant cycle of operations. The initial rounds of meetings will pair people with comparable strengths. At some point, it may be beneficial to pair people who do not know each other well. The goal is to get Departments to focus on the strategic direction, generate innovative ideas, and identify areas of improvement for increased productivity.
Discussion continued regarding when to schedule meetings with Departments. Fomby requested that Commissioners email their availability to Patrick Spaude, IT Strategy & Portfolio Manager.
RECOMMENDATION: Schedule meetings to review strategic planning with individual Departments. Spaude will develop the meeting schedule.
5-05-20 COTW Minutes submitted by Deborah Schreiner, Administrative Assistant
At today’s County Board Meeting, Potter made a motion to approve the Workshop minutes and recommendations. The motion was seconded by Daleiden and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote. The minutes follow:
The Wright County Board met in workshop session at 9:00 A.M. with Husom, Daleiden, Potter, and Vetsch present. Borrell was present remotely.
Lee Kelly, County Administrator, petitioned Item IV. Agriculture and Drainage Division to the Agenda.
I. Schedule Meetings As Needed
Kelly reminded Commissioners that there is a County Board meeting scheduled on Friday, 5-15-20 at 10:00 A.M. No other meetings were scheduled.
Recommendation: None.
II. Preliminary Budget Discussions
Kelly meet with the Auditor / Treasurer’s staff on 5-11-20. April numbers have all been posted. Revenues are down about 17 percent, but expenses are lower as well, at 26 percent year to date. Kelly would like to receive guidance from the Board and to provide updates regarding the financial modeling that has been discussed so far for 2021. County Assessor Tony Rasmuson reports that estimated market values have increased 5.94 percent. That is not the total taxable value. In past years estimates were based on four to six percent. It was decided to lower that estimate to two to four percent for 2021.
Christine Husom, County Board Chair, said the County needs to keep any increase as low as possible. Darek Vetsch, County Commissioner, agreed that a model with two to three percent growth of market value was desirable. The goal is zero taxpayer impact.
Kelly said during challenging budget times, it is necessary to take a hard look at projects and programs as they relate to Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) funding. Positions are always a big part of the discussion.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor / Treasurer, said they are still working on the tax rate forecast. Vetsch said he would like to see the forecast by June if possible. Hiivala said it is not possible to guarantee that an individual’s taxes won’t change. There are many variables that affect property taxes. Hiivala said they do not know what the State Legislature will do about the tax capacity rate.
Recommendation: Informational only.
III. Non-Licensed Uniformed Officer At The Department Of Motor Vehicles
Kelly said this topic was discussed at the 4-28-20 County Board meeting. Sheriff Deringer is asking for direction regarding how the Board wishes to proceed.
Deringer said this request will also be discussed at the Personnel Committee meeting on 5-13-20 at 9:00 A.M. He said circumstances have changed. He asked to put this discussion on hold until then. The consensus was for Deringer to provide an overview at this meeting for those Commissioners who will not be at the 5-13-20 Personnel Committee meeting.
Deringer said the original request for the Personnel Committee meeting was for an additional School Resource Officer (SRO) for Buffalo High School. Circumstances in the Sheriff’s Office have changed in the last few days. An arbitrator’s ruling required that the Sheriff’s Office bring an employee back. After discussions with the County Attorney’s Office, it was decided that this employee will not work in a patrol function, but rather in a yet-to-be-determined position. This will require an additional person to be assigned to the bailiff division which would ultimately be responsible for the non-licensed uniform officer position for the License Bureau. Deringer foresees this function continuing for the near future. Once the new Justice Center is completed, this bailiff position would remain at the Government Center. The future ramifications of this situation include staffing for that position in case the person calls in sick. Deringer said if the bailiff division were supplemented by one full-time staff member, then the Sheriff’s Office would be able to back up and relieve this position. Vetsch said that would provide a security presence at the Government Center or wherever needed. Deringer said this person is now back on the payroll.
Deringer said in light of the arbitrator’s ruling, this position will be filled by a uniformed licensed deputy at the License Bureau. He does not know yet how work will flow at the new Justice Center. He will request a minimum of two additional licensed deputies at the 5-13-20 Personnel Committee meeting, with a potential for three. He would like one Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) for the bailiff division, one FTE for the Buffalo School District SRO request, and one FTE for the position he will discuss tomorrow. The bailiff position would be for the person accommodated by the arbitrator’s ruling.
Recommendation: Informational only.
IV. Agriculture and Drainage Division Move to Parks Department
Kelly said discussions have taken place over several months regarding moving Matt Detjen, Agriculture and Drainage Coordinator, to the Parks Department. A Resolution to formalize the transition is forthcoming. Discussions centered on creating a new Department, 522, Agriculture and Drainage, to allow tracking of costs and expenses. Also added was a potential Ditch Inspector position for the 2020 summer season. Storage space for Agriculture and Drainage was provided, and supplies were ordered. Additional duties will be taken on by Parks and Recreation Director Marc Mattice and Detjen, which requires their job descriptions to be rewritten. A new job description is being created for the Ditch Inspector position. The job descriptions were repointed. Mattice is hoping for additional compensation given the additional responsibilities. The points for his position came back higher, but within the same pay grade. Husom said the additional responsibilities warrant an increase for Mattice. She felt the 4.48 percent increase was fair, and would keep him in the same pay range. That would amount to an increase of $5,000 annually. This change also adds more budgetary responsibilities.
Vetsch said it is rare to add another division to a County Department. Schawn Johnson, Human Resources Director, said his only concern is that it sets a precedent.
Mattice said this will be a good partnership. The annual compensation for the Agriculture and Drainage Coordinator went up a pay grade with the change in the job description due to the addition of supervisory responsibilities. Mattice will supply a budget amendment request for the next Board Agenda. Detjen will move to his office at the Parks Department by Friday, 5-22-20.
Kelly said there will be a Consent Agenda item on the 5-19-20 County Board Agenda regarding the increase in the Park and Recreation Director’s compensation and the effective date.
1) Adopt a Resolution at the 5-19-20 County Board meeting to establish an Agriculture and Drainage Division
within the Parks Department and make the appropriate transfers as of the designated effective date.
2) Increase annual compensation of the Parks and Recreation Director by 4.48% or $5,000 annually.
3) Increase annual compensation and pay grade change of the Agriculture and Drainage Coordinator.
4) Approve a budget amendment for the change to the Agriculture and Drainage Coordinator compensation,
and the salary range for the Ditch Inspector position.
V. COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
Kelly said the County is taking a phased approach to re-opening County facilities. The current stage is Phase 1. The greatest strategy is to continue leveraging remote work as much as possible, as Departments are still able to provide a majority of the services. Nevertheless, there are some State entities that are not open. For example, the complete range of licensing services is not yet available in the License Bureau. Jury trials in the Courts will not resume until after June 1. There are some adjustments to the facilities that will not be ready until mid-June at the earliest. Regardless of the Governor’s orders in the next couple of days, a lot of neighboring jurisdictions that Kelly has spoken with are talking in terms of months to reopen rather than weeks. Kelly said the Board may want to consider waiting to reopen until all the physical structures are in place at County facilities. There will be a rush on services upon reopening. County Departments are able to do a lot through drop boxes, and the Maintenance crew has been diligent about putting up additional ones. They are also working on a drop box on the east side of the Government Center allowing the public to drive through. There is a drop box in the Auditor/Treasurer’s hallway for property taxes which has been working well. Physical barriers at the public counters have been built. Those are all one part of the reopening strategy.
Kelly said there was discussion at the last meeting about face masks or face coverings. A few Departments have adopted their own policies regarding face masks/cloths prior to the County developing an overall policy. An effort has begun to coordinate those efforts. The Administration Department is working on a survey to all Departments to get an assessment regarding employee concerns. Court Services has been proactive in both ordering and securing masks. County Attorney Tom Kelly has implemented a face mask/cloth policy for anyone entering his Department beginning on 5-11-20. Lee Kelly sent the Attorney’s Office policy to Commissioners and Department Heads to make them aware of it.
Deringer said he has been inundated with emails and phone calls about enforcement of the Governor’s Executive Orders. He is meeting today with three police chiefs in Wright County and a representative from the County Attorney’s Office. After that meeting, Deringer said he will share their position with the County Board. The goal of the Sheriff’s Office is to continue to educate the public. He won’t say they will never cite or arrest for violations of the Executive Orders, but he wanted to reassure County citizens that as long as they have proper safety protocols in place, they will not be cited or arrested. Previously, he has been trying to hold the line on businesses. What’s fair for one is fair for all. Deringer said he will not prevent any of his staff from wearing face masks, nor will he force any of his staff to wear them. If there is a policy to force staff to wear masks, they should be trained on their usage and fitting. He has a few staff members that were sewing cloth masks. The Sheriff’s Office is placing an order for reusable cloth masks for every one of his staff, but he will not force any of his staff to use them. There is a month’s supply of N-95 masks at the Sheriff’s Office. They are well stocked with supplies, as is the jail.
Discussion ensued regarding whether to:
1) Require County employees and the public to wear face masks
2) Require only employees to wear face masks, and if so, whether that would be required at all times or only in certain places and situations
3) Or not to require them at all
Sean Riley, Planning & Zoning Administrator, said he did not want to place his employees in the position of having to tell customers they can’t wait on them if they aren’t wearing a mask. His Department will do whatever they can to process requests for people who do not want to come in. He cited incidents in businesses where workers have been shot for telling a customer to put on a mask.
Matthew Fomby, Information Technology Director, asked whether the County would be legally liable if someone found out they contracted the COVID-19 virus from someone at the County or from a member of the public who came to County facilities. In the latter case, Fomby asked whether there might be worker’s compensation issues.
Mike MacMillan, Court Services Director, said his Department implemented a face mask/cloth policy due to safety issues with their customers. They had to make changes in some processes that require staff to get close to an offender. The new policy requires staff to keep ten feet away from offenders, and provides masks for offenders. Staff also received masks. Before he implemented the policy, MacMillan said he made sure to follow the protocols prescribed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Tim Dahl, County Risk Manager. His employees vary from not scared to very scared of COVID-19. At this point, MacMillan does not require mandatory use of masks for his staff. Out of courtesy to Tom Kelly, County Attorney, he will require his staff to wear masks in the lobby that Court Services shares with the Attorney’s Office and the adjoining restrooms. MacMillan said he surveyed his staff prior to planning for the eventual return to the office.
Greg Pickard, Veteran Service Officer said he agreed with Riley and MacMillan. He does not want to be placed into a position where he or his staff may have an altercation with a client who does not want to wear a face mask or cloth. Pickard said an internal County policy is needed. How will interactions between employees be managed when one wants to wear a mask and the other doesn’t? He asked for thoughtful, enforceable guidance from the County Board. He said making the public wear masks is a mistake. His Department has adjusted and is getting things done. Pickard asked that the County not place employees in the position of policing customers.
Becky Aanerud, License Bureau Supervisor, said she is on the fence. She, too, has staff members on both sides of the issue. Her staff is required to verify the identity of their customers. They will have to remove their masks for that purpose, and to have a photo taken and to look into the eye test machine. Staff will have to clean the eye machine after each use. She also asked that the Board not make employees refuse service to people who aren’t wearing masks.
Michael Potter, County Commissioner, said every Department has different clientele and no one policy fits all.
Jami Goodrum Schwartz, Health & Human Services Director, said she has staff members on both sides of the issue. She is also on the fence. Some of her staff deal with traumatized children in supervised visitation. Adults with masks may not help them get through their trauma. Some of her staff say they won’t come back to work unless everyone is wearing a mask. Others say they don’t want to come to work if they have to wear a mask. The Health & Human Services Center is crowded. Some cubicles house three people. This would require wearing a mask all the time. Working remotely is going well but can’t continue indefinitely. Once the public counters are opened, Schwartz has decided not to allow the public behind locked lobby doors to conference rooms at either the HSC or the third floor of the Government Center. HHS staff will have to determine how to meet client needs without bringing them into interior work spaces. HHS will need a deputy at the HHSC facility as well as the third floor of the Government Center. As with other Departments, not all clients want to be there. Also, almost all the staff in the Incident Command Structure were sent home to self-isolate last week due to possible exposure to COVID-19. No one is working out of that room for now. She has not procured masks for her staff.
Mattice said his staff works outside and won’t be wearing masks when it is July and 90 degrees. There are three Departments in the Public Works Building, each with their own Department Head, all in one common space. Most County offices have one Department Head who can set the direction for their employees.
Vetsch suggested a policy that “encourages” employees to wear a mask in certain circumstances. If a coworker asks another to wear a mask, employees should put one on out of mutual respect.
Schawn Johnson said Administration has been working on an over-arching policy regarding the use of face masks/cloths. As discussed at the Leadership Team last week, this policy provides guidelines for Departments. If Departments want to narrow it down, they may create their own policies. There has been ongoing discussion between cities and counties regarding this situation. The draft face mask/cloth policy Lee Kelly emailed to the County Board recently is a framework used by other counties. Johnson said most of the counties are advising people to wear masks, but not requiring it. No one is enforcing the issue. Requiring the public to wear masks puts staff at risk as they would have to meet the public at the door and hand out masks. Also discussed was taking temperatures of staff in the morning. This has proven to be ineffective because everyone has a different temperature level. The County will not implement that process. Instead, the County will rely on staff to be professional. If an employee does not feel well or exhibits any of the symptoms of COVID-19, they should not come in. If they develop symptoms at work, they should report to their supervisor and go home immediately.
Johnson said the intent is to have a policy that will apply to all staff, but Departments will also have to consider what works for them and what makes their staff feel safe at work. Administration is working on a survey of employees to find out what everyone feels about the issue. As long as the County continues to be efficient and have people work remotely, he recommends continuing that practice as long as possible. The re-open should be done gradually until all precautions are in place. The intent is to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all employees, especially front-line staff who work at public counters such as the License Bureau.
Johnson suggested that Departments schedule appointments with members of the public who need service provided. Create an online process that allows people to come into County facilities at a designated time to control the flow of people.
Vetsch said to wait to implement a mask policy for employees. He does not believe the County should require the public to wear masks in County buildings. Husom said input is needed from Department Heads. She also does not want to require the public to wear masks.
Hiivala asked for time to get barriers and other structures in place prior to reopening in order to protect the public and employees. He recognizes that his Office is serving the public, but the situation could also place employees at risk with so many people coming in.
Lee Kelly said a June 1 reopen date would give the County more time to install protective structures and implement safety measures. If the County does require masks, there will be a lead time with some vendors. Disposable masks have been ordered, and the Wellness Committee is working on others. Masks could be issued on a voluntary basis to those staff who want them. Kelly prefers a coordinated effort within County Departments regarding procuring masks.
He clarified that the Board does not wish to require the public to wear masks in County facilities.
Vetsch asked to see the staff survey results when they are available. Mark Daleiden, County Commissioner, said the best thing is to follow CDC and Minnesota Department of Health guidelines.
MacMillan said his in-office staff went down to five people, and they still have social distancing issues. He reinforced the need to use CDC guidelines, be respectful, and implement social distancing. Department Heads must make sure social distancing is being followed.
1) No decisions until Governor Walz issues the next Executive Order.
2) Administration will send out surveys to employees and Department Heads regarding the use of masks or
face cloths.
3) Administration will finish drafting a County face mask/cloth policy.
The meeting adjourned at 10:44 A.M.
5-12-20 County Board Workshop Minutes submitted by Deb Schreiner, Administrative Specialist
At today’s County Board Meeting, Daleiden moved to approve the minutes and recommendations. The motion was seconded by Potter.
Potter expressed appreciation to Sheriff Sean Deringer for coming up with a solution to providing a deputy presence at the DMV for the remainder of the year.
Discussion led to the School Resource Officer (SRO) topic. There are currently 12-15 SRO’s. Those staff are utilized in summer months to assist with Sheriff related work. Husom said if the number of SRO’s increases, that might not be the case if the schools are unable to pay for the true cost of the SRO position. Daleiden encouraged more information to be provided to school districts.
Regarding the topic, “Additional Staffing for the 2020-2021 Budget,” Commissioners voiced that the Baker Tilly staffing study is needed prior to moving ahead. Husom suggested that Sheriff Deringer contact Baker Tilly to determine their availability for a meeting with the Board.
Sheriff Deringer stated that Baker Tilly was scheduled to present the information the first week of March, but the COVID-19 situation prevented that from occurring. Sheriff Deringer has a draft copy of the information that was shared with the Personnel Committee identifying the need for a staffing increase. Attempting to meet with Baker Tilly through Skype will present challenges, including the presentation of an 88-page document. Sheriff Deringer said the need for additional staff has been brought up in past meetings. His office can be ready to present the 2021 budget to the Board within a week. He stated he has been transparent in the request for four additional positions in the budget. One thing identified in the Baker Tilly study was the shortage in the CID (Criminal Investigation Division). The request for the Sergeant is between the CID and the SRO divisions. With the approval of the additional SRO, that makes that Division even more short. Husom suggested this discussion can resume at the next Board Meeting when Sheriff Deringer has an idea when Baker Tilly is available for the presentation and more information is available.
The motion to approve the minutes carried 5-0 on a roll call vote. The 5-13-20 Personnel Committee minutes follow:
I. School Resource officer Staffing For The 2020-2021 School Year
Sean Deringer, Sheriff began the meeting by distributing a proposed budget adjustment (attached) sheet to the committee members. Deringer reminded the committee that last year there was a request to assist the Buffalo school district by providing a School Resource Officer (SRO) to the middle school and the high school. This past year the Sheriff’s Office provided an SRO to the Buffalo Middle School. Buffalo School District Superintendent Dr. Thielman recently reached out to the Sheriff’s Office about providing a SRO to Buffalo High School for next school year (2020-21).
Commissioner Chris Husom asked how many SRO’s are currently staffed in the Sheriff’s Office and is there enough work to keep them busy during the summer months or off times? Deringer reported that the Sheriff’s Office currently has 12 SRO’s. The Sheriff’s Office can keep 12-15 SRO’s busy during the off-time periods (such as summer and holidays) due to covering leaves of absence and vacation requests. Deringer also added that Business Manager Shawna Athman has an extensive list of projects that can be assigned to SRO’s during off time periods. The completion of these projects has been extremely beneficial for the department. Deringer reported that the Sheriff’s Office is growing exponentially and if it extends to more than 15-20 SRO’s they may need to eventually look at other funding mechanisms and work schedules for the SRO position.
A discussion regarding the costs of a new SRO and what type of language contract is currently in place with the various school districts throughout the county. Commissioner Daleiden asked if there are any grant dollars available through the State of Minnesota to fund SRO positions. Deringer explained that grants are not so much for personnel costs but more for infrastructure and security improvements (such as entry way layouts, security cameras, and security software).
Commissioner Mark Daleiden suggested that it would be important to provide the financial impact to the County with the school boards so that they can see how much of a deal they are receiving from the County for SRO services. Deringer responded that he has already started those conversations with schools.
Human Resource Director Schawn Johnson suggested that they include the benefit costs when negotiating SRO contracts. Also, the County may want to use the wage information for a deputy that is in the middle of the pay range and not a new deputy when negotiating the personnel costs in future agreements.
County Administrator Lee Kelly added that although the proposed SRO position was not budgeted for in this year’s budget, there are positions that are currently vacant and could be used to cover the SRO personnel costs for this year. Kelly also agreed that communication to the school boards and educating them about the true personnel costs to the County is the right path to take. He added that as this item may someday end up being a state mandate and we would benefit by more clearly identifying our overall SRO funding structure to the different school districts at this time.
RECOMMENDATION: Approve the Addition of a School Resource Officer for the 2020-2021 School Year at Buffalo High School. Begin the process of educating School Board Members on the actual personnel costs associated with providing SRO services and begin to renegotiate existing agreements to better reflect the County’s costs for providing SRO services.
II. Assignment of a Deputy at the DMV
Sheriff, Sean Deringer provided an overview of the request to add a staff member to provide security at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Deringer stated that he currently has a deputy that could fill this type of duty. This-in-turn would lead to a broader security presence in the new Government Center once the move occurs.
Commissioner Chris Husom commented that she believes it is a good idea to have a security presence at the DMV. Husom asked about the timeline to fill this position and the potential impact on the budget. Deringer explained that it will take 2 or 3 weeks to have an employee working in the DMV. The Sheriff’s Office recently received a resignation from a deputy that will occur at the end of the month. This will make this change budget neutral in 2020. However, Deringer is asking for the vacant position to be filled. He is concerned that once the courts reopen he may have limited number of staff members in the bailiff division that can cover the additional work load that is expected. It is possible that the court system may be open on Saturday’s in the near future in order to make up the backlog of court cases that currently exist in the system.
Chris Husom commented that this position would provide the necessary security presence in the DMV. County Administrator Lee Kelly added that the expenditures ultimately in the Sheriff’s office budget, however these costs could be allocated to other departments during the budgetary process. Commissioner Mark Daleiden wondered if the Health and Human Services Department pays for this position if they could be reimbursed through the state. Business Manager Shawna Athman noted that there is not any funding available through the State. Funding through the State is available for HHS financial and child support programs. Human Resource Director Schawn Johnson said that a percentage split between each department could be put into place once we have determined which department utilizes these services and how much they are being used.
Kelly added that there are positions that have not been filled in the 2020 budget year and could help cover the cost of this position . However, it’s important that we look at the potential impact on the 2021 budget.
RECOMMENDATION: Approve the assignment of a deputy to the DMV for the remainder of the 2020 fiscal year.
III. Additional Staffing for the 2020-2021 budget
Sheriff Sean Deringer provided the committee members with the preliminary overview of the feedback that he has received from Baker Tilly staffing study. He continued that Baker Tilly was scheduled to present their findings to the County Board in person until the COVID-19 outbreak occurred and the Stay at Home order was put in place by Governor Walz. Because of the complexities of the staff study it would not be appropriate Baker Tilly to conduct an on-line presentation. Therefore, the presentation to the board has been placed on hold at this time.
Deringer stated that one of the strongest recommendations that was issued by Baker Tilly was to address the lack of supervision in the criminal investigation areas. He added that currently there are only 2 Sergeants in this area and he is requesting to add another sergeant to help with the increasing work load and supervision. Deringer reported that there have been many discussions regarding how to properly breakdown the workflow and necessary supervision in the investigation area.
Lori Pawelk, Assistant Human Resources clarified that this position would be involve adding a 3rd Sergeant position. This process would involve the promotion of an existing deputy and a recruitment process would occur to fill the vacant position. Deringer added that creating a new sergeant position is a high priority for the Sheriff’s Office. The new position would serve as a Training Coordinator for the Sheriff’s Office and would be responsible for tracking and coordinating compliance of the extensive training requirements of each position.
Commissioner, Mark Daleiden, would like to refer this to item to the Board of Commissioners and continue this discussion at a future Committee of the Whole meeting. Commissioner Chris Husom agreed and commented that this seems to be more of 2020-2021 budget requests but sees the need for this personnel request to be addressed.
RECOMMENDATION: Move this agenda item to a future Committee of the Whole Meeting agenda
5-13-20 Personnel Committee Minutes Submitted by Kathleen Brannan-Merritt
Vetsch moved to adopt Resolution #20-35 establishing the Division of Agriculture and Drainage within the Parks and Recreation Department. The motion was seconded by Potter and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Daleiden moved to approve the budget amendments for the creation of the Agriculture and Drainage Divisions in the Parks and Recreation Department. The motion was seconded by Vetsch and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Kelly presented draft documents for review including the “COVID-19 Preparedness Plan for Wright County” and the “Face Covering Policy for Wright County Staff.” A meeting was held yesterday to look at appointment scheduling software that will assist the public in making appointments with departments as they open. A vendor was agreed upon, so Information Technology is proceeding with getting that deployed. Husom said citizens are being asked to make appointments with the opening of public facing counters on
5-27-20. The exception to this is the Department of Motor Vehicles, which is tentatively targeted for a 6-04-20 opening dependent upon whether the drive-up window is ready.
Vetsch made a motion to approve the COVID-19 Preparedness Plan for Wright County. The motion was seconded by Daleiden and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Vetsch made the following changes to the draft Face Covering Policy for Wright County Staff:
- Page 1, Policy, 4th bullet, 1st sentence, change to read, “The County will have available up to three (3) face coverings per person with the intention that a mask only be worn every third day, which should allow decontamination of the mask before the next use.”
- Page 1, Employee Groups, 1st sentence, change to read, “Face coverings/masks are recommended for employees performing job duties in direct contact with consumers and when at work in group settings of 2 or more where social distancing cannot be practiced.”
Husom said plexiglass has been installed at public facing counters so that supports changing from required to recommended for face coverings. Borrell stated each departments circumstances may be unique. He understands there may be some departments that want a stricter policy on wearing face coverings. Daleiden responded this is an overall policy for the County as a whole. Departments can be more restrictive but suggested following CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines to avoid grievances. Vetsch noted that the County continues to try to procure face coverings so the number available will be dependent on that. Husom said many have their own face coverings so there will not be a need to provide them in that situation. The County Board voted to approve the Face Covering Policy for Wright County Staff on a 5-0 roll call vote.
Judge Kate McPherson said she was present to hear discussion on COVID-19 and learn more about the policies the County is adopting. She said the 10th Judicial District has been shut down and is gradually and safely re-opening through use of technologies for remote hearings. She commended the efforts of the Sheriff’s Department for their assistance, especially dealing with individuals in the Jail. When someone is deprived of their liberty they are entitled to be heard in front of a court. A solution was figured out that allowed that to happen.
Judge McPherson said a meeting will be held later this morning to work on the Wright County Courthouse specific COVID-19 plan for courts. It is their intention to continue to do as many hearings remotely as possible. There are hearings that don’t involve testimony or assessment of an individual’s credibility. Those types of hearings they can do effectively. There are other contested hearings that do involve these things as well as receiving evidence that are difficult to do remotely. The first priority will be to develop a plan to allow them to do those types of hearings in about 4-6 weeks. Jury trials are nearly impossible to do in the present facility with social distancing. Fortunately, the new Justice Center will provide that solution within months. Judge McPherson welcomed input and suggestions from the County. She thanked the County for the installation of the plexiglass for the safety of staff. They do anticipate opening counters this summer.
Vetsch asked about the methodology in terms of cases. The public has asked him about the status of adoptions and civil litigation. Judge McPherson said of the backlog when the courts closed, up to ••• was criminal cases. They do have a backlog of those cases that they are trying to address. The primary concern is public safety, especially on the criminal side of things dealing with issues relating to person crimes or more serious crimes. They are prioritizing the criminal cases.
In terms of the civil cases, Judge McPherson said they started what is called a non-criminal assignment last week. When the COVID-19 shutdown occurred, there were 16 adoption cases that were displaced. Recently, they tested the process on two cases. The will make modifications and then address the remaining 14 cases. Name changes are ready to proceed and will be scheduled in June.
Judge McPherson said there was no data available from the State until recently on the cases that had been cancelled. The State tested the information and that report is now available. The information will be used to reprioritize cases. Vetsch hopes that when cases are rescheduled, that the dates are not changed. Attorneys are charging fees to notify clients of date changes. Judge McPherson said although there is not a guarantee, they are working toward that goal of not changing dates. She stated significant technology problems have occurred. When the systems go down, people don’t get their matters heard.
Potter suggested that information be made available on the County website addressing some of the soft targets on reopening of Courts, specific challenges that are being faced, and due process timelines for some of the criminal processes. He questioned whether COVID-19 has precipitated changes in the new Justice Center that need to be addressed. Judge McPherson spoke with the Facilities Director on the service counters at the Justice Center. It appears that the plexiglass can be installed at that location and should not be expensive. Potter said it will be easier to complete this now to avoid change orders. Judge McPherson said a walk through is planned for this week to look at these types of things.
1. Great River Regional Library. Potter attended a finance committee meeting last week. It appears there will be a budgetary reduction on the signatory contribution. Some library locations have a soft opening of 6-01-20. Repairs and updates have been completed at locations during the closure.
2. Potter said the legislative session ended with no bonding bill. He listened to the capital investment senate meeting recently, and all of the bonding requests went through. At the House level, it failed as there was too much in bonding; in the Senate it failed as there was not enough in the bonding. A special session will be called on 6-12-20, which coincides with the peace time declaration expiring by Governor Walz.
3. Vetsch said activity in the past week included ditch issues, COVID-19, and businesses closing.
4. One Watershed One Plan. Borrell said the Plan will be presented for approval at a future Board Meeting.
5. SWCD (Soil & Water Conservation District). Borrell attended a recent meeting.
6. Wright County Fair. Borrell said a meeting will be held on 6-01-20 to decide whether to hold the Fair or postpone it until next year. .
7. Buffalo Safe Schools Meeting. Husom attended a WebEx meeting on 5-06-20. She referenced a quote by one of the principals regarding COVID-19, “it is like building a plane while you are trying to fly it.” A lot of effort has been put into planning, distance learning, and reaching out to students including delivering meals and devices to students. The Buffalo School District is 107 square miles. The Toward Zero Deaths updates included mention of the Distracted Driver Campaign (June 1-14); Click It or Ticket (November 16-29); upcoming dates for Wright Road classes; and that the mock crash sites are cancelled.
8. Safe Harbor. Husom attended a webinar on sex trafficking.
9. St. Michael/Albertville Safe Schools. Daleiden and Potter participated in a WebEx meeting. Daleiden said they are working on things just like other school districts. It has been challenging but they have been doing a great job.
10. Daleiden met with Administrator Kelly yesterday on Strategic Planning for the future.
11. Administrator Updates:
A. Kelly has been in contact with Duane Northagen of the Wright County Economic Development Partnership regarding the loan program they are developing for loan opportunities for local businesses through the Partnership. Northagen was to retire this spring but has agreed to continue on as Executive Director until his replacement has started. This was delayed due to the COVID-19 situation. Potter said the loans will be at 0% interest, include a 1% origination fee, and have a 24-month payback.
B. Enterprise Resource Planning continues with gathering of information and flushing out requirements.
C. Kelly encouraged the public to visit the County website, which will include information on how to schedule appointments with departments. Possibilities for signage and posting are being explored.
The meeting adjourned at 10:37 AM.
County Board Minutes submitted by Susan Backes, Clerk to the County Board
Published in The Herald Journal June 12, 2020.
Warrants Approved On 5/01/2020 For Payment 5/01/2020
PRINSCO INC 3,620.00
7 payments less than 2000 2,883.71
Final Total: 129,959.63
Warrants Approved On 4/29/2020For Payment 5/01/2020
MARCO 2,075.44
43 payments less than 2000 17,738.71
Final Total: 129,487.31
Warrants Approved On 5/04/2020 For Payment 5/05/2020
FLAHERTY & HOOD P.A. 9,834.95
25 payments less than 2000 11,139.66
Final Total: 65,642.61
Warrants Approved On 5/07/2020 For Payment 5/08/2020
COTTENS INC 2,573.68
SPRINT 2,156.51
VONCO II, LLC 2,000.56
34 payments less than 2000 14,458.36
Final Total: 100,113.62
Warrants Approved On 5/11/2020 For Payment 5/12/2020
KONECTA LLC 80,000.00
47 payments less than 2000 22,786.24
Final Total: 274,604.63
Warrants Approved On 5/13/2020 For Payment 5/13/2020
Final Total: 1,807,737.81
Published in The Herald Journal June 12, 2020.