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Board of Managers Meeting Minutes July 27, 2017





July 27, 2017




The regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers was called to order by President Sherry White at 6:51 p.m. on July 27, 2017, at the MCWD offices, 15320 Minnetonka Boulevard, Minnetonka, Minnesota.




Sherry White, Brian Shekleton, Richard Miller, William Olson, William Becker and Jessica Loftus.




Kurt Rogness.




Lars Erdahl, Administrator; James Wisker, Planning and Projects Director; Katherine Sylvia, Permitting Program Lead; Michael Hayman, Planner-Project Manager; Becky Christopher, Lead Planner-Project Manager; Louis Smith, District Counsel.




Mr. Gabriel Jabbour, Orono, appeared before the Board of Managers and stated that he wished to discuss current planning discussions and recent activities at Big Island on Lake Minnetonka. He reminded the Board of Managers that when he was Mayor of Orono, the City and the District worked together to mobilize the funding and conservation planning for Big Island. Mr. Jabbour stated he is now concerned that the new Mayor and City Council are undertaking planning activities which are not consistent with the intended passive recreational and conservation values. Mr. Jabbour requested that the District become more actively engaged in the Big Island discussions, and also consider sharing its easement with another conservation organization such as the Minnesota Land Trust.


Manager Shekleton asked Mr. Jabbour how he wished the District to engage differently on this issue. Mr. Jabbour stated that he felt the District could more actively explain the rationale and values behind the initial conservation easement and improvements made to Big Island. President White stated that this issue should be approached with some caution and care. Manager Miller stated that he is anxious to discuss the issue and consider Mr. Jabbour's request. Mr. Erdahl noted that the District had discussed this matter in past meetings and that staff intended to attend an upcoming meeting in August. Manager Loftus noted past Board discussions, and also that the City appears to be advertising ideas that are not necessarily in keeping with the conservation values. She stated that it would be appropriate to explore the concept of sharing the conservation easement and also consider how the District's message can get across.


Following discussion, President White directed that this matter be on the agenda for the next meeting of the Board of Managers on August 10. Manager Becker requested that staff and legal counsel brief the Board of Managers on the option of sharing the conservation easement with Minnesota Land Trust by that meeting. President White thanked Mr. Jabbour for his presentation.




It was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Becker, to approve the agenda as distributed. Upon vote, the motion carried, 6-0.




President White noted receipt of a letter from Mr. Steven Timmer concerning Arden Park in Edina.




It was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Shekleton to approve the following items on the Consent Agenda: approval of the minutes of the July 13, 2017 meeting of the Board of Managers; approval of the general checking account, checks numbered 38358 to 38426 for a total of $327,046.30,  payroll direct deposits of $150,285.51 and approve electronic fund withdrawals totaling $61,764.09 for total expenses of $539,095.09, and surety account check registers, as well as acceptance of the 325 Blake Road checking account.


Upon vote, the motion carried, 6-0.




Board, Committee, and Task Force Reports


President's Report:


President White reported that she and Manager Olson attended the July 18 meeting of the Metropolitan Chapter of the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts (MAWD). Agencies provided updates, and there was a discussion of proposed changes to the MAWD Bylaws from the Prior-Lake Spring Lake Watershed District. Manager Olson noted that applications have been received for a new Administrator of MAWD, but there may be an extension of the deadline in order to encourage more applicants. President White also noted that the Association of District Administrators are planning to update their name in order to embrace organizations other than watershed districts.  


Policy and Planning Committee Report


Manager Miller reported that the Policy and Planning Committee had met earlier that evening and considered recommendations for Watershed Heroes awards; reviewed a framework for upcoming work plans; received an update on the Minnehaha Creek Corridor work in cooperation with the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board; considered potential applications for state grants; and considered a new potential land development opportunity on the Minnehaha Creek Greenway.


Permits Requiring a Variance or Discussion


Permit 17-262: Maynard's, 685 Excelsior Boulevard, Excelsior 


Ms. Katherina Sylvia appeared before the Board of Managers and reviewed the application. She noted that the District had received a request for a hearing on the proposed variance. An effort to discuss the matter with the party requesting the hearing was not successful, and the District is proceeding nevertheless with the public hearing on permit.


Ms. Sylvia reviewed the permit application report and explained that the application met all of the District's requirements for floodplain alteration, erosion control, and stormwater management. Ms. Sylvia stated that all conditions have been met and recommended approval of the permit. No one else appeared before the Board of Managers to comment on the application. It was moved by Manager Olson, seconded by Manager Becker, to approve the permit application as recommended by staff. Upon vote, the motion carried.




Resolution 17-044: Authorization to Execute a Contract for Environmental Investigation at 325 Blake Road


Mr. Michael Hayman appeared before the Board of Managers and reviewed the Request for Board Action. He noted the timeline for the identified scope of work. He explained that the District would be contributing 25 percent of the cost to match a Hennepin County grant which covers 75 percent of the cost. Mr. Hayman explained that timing is of essence because the work needs to be completed by August 31 in order to facilitate a grant application submittal by November 1. Mr. Hayman also explained that the District is an end user of the proposed engineering services and recommended that the resolution be amended to authorize the Administrator to execute the contract on review and advice of counsel, and also authorize the District Administrator to amend the contract as necessary up to 10 percent of the total cost. It was moved by Manager Becker, seconded by Manager Miller, to adopt resolution 17-044 with the changes recommended by Mr. Hayman. Upon vote, the motion carried 5-0, with Manager Shekleton abstaining.


Resolution 17-045: Approval of Capital Improvement Plan


Ms. Becky Christopher appeared before the Board of Managers to review the Request for Board Action. She noted additional letters in the record expressing support for the Capital Improvement Plan, and also noted that staff and managers met yesterday with representatives of the City of Greenwood to discuss their interest and concerns with the Capital Improvement Plan.  Ms. Christopher also noted that staff is continuing discussions with the City of Minneapolis pursuant to the process identified in the Memorandum of Understanding, and will be meeting with staff from the City of Plymouth to discuss proposed projects.


Following discussion, it was moved by Manager Shekleton, seconded by Manager Miller, to approval Resolution 17-045. Manager Olson stated that he felt this Capital Improvement Program reflected outstanding work and he appreciated the many positive responses to the plan. Manager Miller also expressed his enthusiastic support for the plan and appreciation for amazing staff work. Upon vote, the motion carried, 6-0.


Resolution 17-046:  Authorization to Apply for Clean Water Fund Grants


Ms. Christopher appeared before the Board of Managers and reviewed the Request for Board Action. She noted that Clean Water Legacy grants maybe pursued for 325 Blake Road and Arden Park, and that a Hennepin County Natural Resources Opportunity Grant maybe applied for concerning Arden Park. It was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Loftus, to adopt Resolution 17-046. Upon vote, the motion carried, 6-0.


Resolution 17-047: Approval of the Revised Committee Meeting Structure


Manager Miller requested that this item be deferred to follow as a discussion item after item 12.1 on the agenda. President White concurred with this request.




Human Resources Strategic Plan Study


Mr. Erdahl introduced Ms. Ann Antonsen from Springsted to present her final report on the Human Resources Strategic Plan. Ms. Antonsen reviewed the study's objectives and methodology, and then presented her recommendations to address identified needs in the Research and Monitoring, Education and Outreach, Planning and Projects, and Operations & Support Services Departments.   


Ms. Antonsen reviewed organization charts which displayed staff functions. Manager Loftus asked about an organizational chart showing positions by title. Ms. Antonsen said that she could prepare such a chart, but the focus here had been on functions, rather than individual staff members and their titles. Manager Loftus asked Ms. Antonsen to explain her recommendation concerning the issues arising with IT, finances, human resources, and operation support services. Manager Loftus stated that she was not clear what was recommended other than a name change. Ms. Antonsen explained that the recommendation was to move financial management and budget preparation back to Administration, and otherwise keep the structure the same for Administrative Services. Manager Loftus asked Ms. Antonsen if she believes this recommended change would solve the problems identified through the interviews. Ms. Antonsen stated that yes she did; she felt that the issue was not people, but rather adjusting the structure.


Manager Shekleton stated that it appeared to him that this was just moving deck chairs. Ms. Antonsen noted that the issue had been where the financial management activities belonged in terms of function, and that while these activities had taken place within Planning and Projects, it was appropriate it to move it back within Administrative Services.


Manager Loftus asked Ms. Antonsen to confirm, in light of her expertise and study of these matters, that there was no better structure for central services than the existing structure. Ms. Antonsen explained that the organization is too small for a dedicated human resources or finance staff position, and the functional need is for positions to fulfil a variety of these roles within Administrative Services.


Manager Miller stated that he felt that the recommendation was missing key points about strategic alignment for the organization. He stated that he is concerned that we are losing sight of mission and vision, and losing an opportunity to align the talented staff serving the District. It was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Shekleton to refer the human resources study and the Administrator's implementation recommendations to the Operations Committee, and requesting the President to appoint Manager Loftus as Chair and Managers Olson and Becker to serve on the Committee and work with the Administrator to develop further recommendations to the Board.  


Mr. Erdahl noted that Manager Miller's motion was generally consistent with his recommendations. He thought it was important to distinguish between organizations of the staff by function, compared to individual personnel decisions. He also noted that the Executive Committee had generally been charged with human resources matters, but that it was certainly the prerogative of the Board to refer these issues to a different committee. Mr. Erdahl reflected that this has been a very long process, and that some elements of transition have already occurred, through the budgeting process and other means. He reviewed the various phases of human resources strategic planning, and identified next steps and an action plan to improve function and address issues of concern.


Manager Loftus asked for an explanation of existing FTEs and recommended FTEs. Mr. Erdahl provided a chart which outlined existing and recommended FTEs. Manager Loftus stated that she found the chart very helpful. President White questioned whether many of these issues are best addressed by a committee of the Board or would be better handled by the Administrator and staff. Manager Miller stated that the District was lacking adequate resolution of issues from the staff and thus he felt the Board needed to direct more action. President White noted that many of the recommended actions by Mr. Erdahl would occur by the end of the year, and she wondered how these implementation measures would proceed more quickly with a committee further engaged in this process. Manager Shekleton stated that he felt there was a strong value in an engaged Board of Managers to partner with staff, and for the Committee Chair to work closely with the Administrator and utilize a diversity of opinions and energy to achieve desired outcomes. He stated he felt that the proposed motion would provide more accountability in the process. Manager Becker noted that all paths can lead to the same outcome, but it was important to have a deadline. He stated he would prefer to leave many of these issues to the Administrator to resolve.


Manager Loftus stated that she liked including the second option on the organizational chart, and she appreciated the FTE chart as well. Manager Loftus stated that she did not still understand how the same structure could be proposed for Administrative Services; if everyone is performing well, then it doesn?t make sense that the same structure would address the issues identified in the interviews; more clarity is needed. Manager Miller stated that he felt that the recommendations do not square with the findings from the interviews. Manager Loftus asked Ms. Antonsen whether it be possible to develop options for structure to address Administrative Services issues. Ms. Antonsen stated that she could provide more detail. Manager Shekleton stated that he felt it was important to move forward with the Board engaged in the process, and that in light of the upcoming budget process it would be workable for these issues to be addressed in a meaningful way within the month.


Upon vote, the motion carried 5-1, with President White voting against the motion.


Mr. Erdahl stated that he felt that some of these implementation recommendations would also be addressed within work plan discussions as a part of the budget process. Manager Loftus stated that the Operations Committee could meet on August 7 at 2:00 p.m. She asked that Ms. Antonsen provide further details, with personnel titles, and reflect Option Two as provided in her report.


President White deferred any further discussion of the committee structure to a further meeting.






There being no further business, the meeting of the Board of Managers adjourned at 9:29 p.m.


Respectfully submitted, 

Kurt Rogness, Secretary

Minutes Type: 
Board of Managers