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March 22, 2018 Board Minutes

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF

THE MINNEHAHA CREEK WATERSHED DISTRICT

BOARD OF MANAGERS

 

March 22, 2018

 

CALL TO ORDER

 

The regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers was called to order by President Sherry White at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday, March 22, 2018, at the MCWD offices, 15320 Minnetonka Boulevard, Minnetonka, Minnesota.

 

MANAGERS PRESENT

 

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

 

MANAGERS ABSENT

None.

 

DISTRICT STAFF AND CONSULTANTS PRESENT

 

Laura Domyancich, Project and Land Technician; Eric Fieldseth, Aquatic Ecologist; Michael Hayman, Senior Project Planner; Cathy Reynolds, Operations Manager; Tiffany Schaufler, Project and Land Program Manager; Chris Meehan, Consulting Engineer; Michael Welch, Counsel.

 

MATTERS FROM THE FLOOR

 

None.

 

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

 

Manager Miller moved and Manager Olson seconded approval of the agenda. Upon vote, the motion carried 6-0.

 

INFORMATION ITEMS AND CORRESPONDENCE

 

Cathy Reynolds introduced herself as the new operations manager. She noted that she comes to the District from Florida and the Marine Corps and is an attorney in addition to having experience with business operations, management and process improvement. The managers welcomed Ms. Reynolds to MCWD.

 

Manager White noted the receipt of a response from the Board of Water and Soil Resources to the District’s comment letter on the watershed-based funding pilot program.

 

CONSENT AGENDA

 

Manager White requested the removal of the minutes of March 8, 2018, meeting from the consent agenda. Manager Olson moved and Manager Becker seconded adoption of the consent agenda, consisting of approval of the general checking account, with check 38789 voided and checks 38889 to 38946 for a total of $183,961.27,  payroll direct deposits of $126,651.85 and electronic-fund withdrawals of $126,106.28 for total expenses of $516,719.40, and surety checking account, as well as acceptance of the 325 Blake Road checking account; as well as adoption of Resolution 18-023 authorization to award contract for 2018 stormwater pond sediment surveys:

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers authorizes the District Administrator to execute a contract with Wenck Associates, Inc. not-to-exceed $47,700 and authorize the administrator to execute change orders as necessary up to a not-to-exceed amount of $52,470 for the survey of eleven ponds, composite sediment samples analyzed for up to eleven ponds, and a technical memo summarizing results of the analysis.

 

And Resolution 18-024, authorization to submit partnership proposals with Great River Greening to apply for an LCCMR grant:

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers authorizes the Administrator to submit Partnership Proposals with Great River Greening to apply for Outdoor Heritage Fund and Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund grants.

 

(Manager Shekleton arrived, 7:10 p.m.).

 

Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0. 

 

REGULAR AGENDA

 

Board Committee and Task Force Reports

 

Manager White reviewed the list of upcoming events. She noted that she is the liaison for April 11 Citizens Advisory Committee, and that Hennepin County Commissioner Jan Callison will attend the April 12 meeting of the managers. President White said that she hoped to hear more at the April 17 Metro Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts meeting about the future of the watershed-based pilot funding program and watershed-based funding generally.

 

For the Policy and Planning Committee Report, Manager Miller noted that the committee met earlier in the evening and reviewed plans for increased accountability for implementing the plan, discussion of which is part of an ongoing conversation, and the matter will be brought to the board of managers when the committee work is completed. He said there was also discussion of realignment of staff positions.

 

Manager Rogness reported that he was not able to make it to the Citizens Advisory Committee meeting but received a report on it from Darren Lochner of the District staff, who said that the CAC looked at an overview of the new plan and implementation plans and had a brainstorming session about the kinds of input that the District could get from developers and builders on implementation of the plan, which would be a good metric for the success of implementation of the plan. Manager Miller said it would be good to audit constituencies as to whether they see meaningful change in the District’s approach to its work. Manager Rogness said that there is significant skepticism among developers to weigh in on the District’s activities because it is a significant departure from simply complying with the District rules.

 

PUBLIC HEARINGS AND PRESENTATIONS

 

Review 2017 Audit Report

 

Mark Gibbs from Tautges Redpath appeared before the managers and reviewed the District’s draft 2017 audit report, which he provided to the managers. He said that the audit has already been presented to the management team and to the Executive Committee, and the purpose of this evening’s presentation is to provide a report on the principal purpose of the audit process, which is to assemble evidentiary material to support the reporting to the State of Minnesota. Mr. Gibbs said that on page 8 of the report the District receives the most desirable opinion of its financial status, and said that the District’s budgeting process is solid. He cited a finding on page 64 that employees’ timesheet is some instances did not have the proper supervisor signature of approval and four employees used paid time off or sick leave without completing the proper request for. Compliance with the associated protocols is an area in which the District should improve. He said otherwise the District has good financial processes in place and has the proper controls in place for disbursal of public funds.

 

In response to a question from Manager Becker regarding analysis of compliance with statutory contracting requirements, Mr. Gibbs stated that in analyzing the contracts, the auditors select contracts from the past year to review at random, though the audit tends to focus on larger contracts. Manager Becker advanced the idea that instead of a random sample the auditor review a judgmental sample of contracts, meaning those that are more likely to be the subject of cutting corners or the kind of contracting shortcuts that might trigger a need for process improvement. Mr. Gibbs noted that the audit team would take suggestion into consideration.

 

In response to a question from Manager Loftus, Mr. Gibbs noted that Tautges Redpath also provides accounting services for the District, however a different person at Redpath, Nancy Martinson, actually does the work. More important, he said, Redpath remains able to perform the audit because in providing accounting services Redpath does not make any management decisions, such as coding bills or making budgeting decisions or recommendations. Mr. Gibbs stated that Redpath maintains a checklist that the firm follows to ensure that it maintains its independence to be able to conduct the audit. Manager Loftus said that she would like to have a report on a regular basis on how the District is performing against its budget. Mr. Gibbs said the accounting team could provide such a report and he would pass on the request to the accounting team. There was a discussion of the timing of financial reporting, with Michael Welch noting that the state deadline is 180 days from the end of the fiscal year. Manager Miller said that it is his understanding that the bank holding the note on the loan for 325 Blake Road needs to see the financial reporting earlier than that. Lacking definitive information on a deadline for accepting the audit and given that the managers had not seen the audit prior to the meeting, the managers deferred taking action to accept the audit until the meeting of April 12.

 

ACTION ITEMS

 

Resolution 18-025: Authorization to Release Request for Qualifications for Professional Services

 

Ms. Reynolds appeared again before the board of managers and noted that based on the prior discussion she will add quarterly reporting to the board to the accounting request for qualifications that is going out if the proposed and recommended resolution is adopted. Manager Miller moved and Manager Olson seconded adoption of Resolution 18-025, as amended to include quarterly reporting of performance against budget in the accounting request. The managers discussed the scope of the services that are subject to the solicitation requirement, and Mr. Welch noted that counsel has consistently recommended a broad interpretation of the statutory requirement that the District issue a solicitation for services every two years, advising that it covers any ongoing technical or professional service for which the District contracts. Manager Miller wondered whether the information technology services contracts are really rightly subject to this requirement. Michael Hayman appeared before the board of managers and clarified that the District has a various information-technology contracts, some of which are short-term project-based contracts while the managed-services contract is an ongoing service to maintain the District’s IT system. Mr. Welch concurred in Mr. Hayman’s assessment, noting that it is only the managed-services contract that is like other ongoing contracts subject to the solicitation requirement. Upon vote, the motion carried 6-1 (Manager Miller voting against).

 

Resolution 18-026: Authorization to Execute a Contract with Wenck Response Services for Decommissioning and Removal of Refrigeration Equipment at 325 Blake Road

 

Mr. Hayman came before the managers to explain that there are actually four scopes of work with Wenck Response Services encompassed within the proposed action before the managers this evening. He stated that the District has found that the decommissioning of the refrigeration equipment specifically and the 325 Blake Road facility overall has proven more complicated than anticipated, leading to the multiple scopes of work in the item before the managers. He said that the $78,000 shown for transfer and disposal of the refrigeration piping is an estimate and that the actual cost will not be definitively known until testing on the piping for residual mercury and other contaminants can be completed. Mr. Hayman confirmed that permitting is included in the scopes, and he recommended that the managers approve the total scope of work. Manager Rogness moved and Manager Shekleton seconded adoption of Resolution 18-026:

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers hereby authorizes the District Administrator, on advice of counsel, to execute a contract with Wenck Response Services for the decommission and removal of refrigeration equipment at 325 Blake Road for an amount of $314,123;

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the District Administrator, in his judgment, is authorized to amend the contract up to 10% of the total cost, for a not-to-exceed amount of $345,535.

 

Manager Shekleton said that Hennepin County has an extensive regime for recycling building materials and wondered if the District is attempting to recycle as much as possible. Mr. Hayman said that the staff and Wenck had looked at capacity for recycling materials, but there are only two facilities in the Unite States that can take the mercury and it is not clear yet whether that will be viable. In response to a question from Manager Miller, Chris Meehan appeared before the board of managers and stated that Wenck Response Services is a division of Wenck, the District’s consulting engineering firm, and that the District’s liabilities are covered under the contract with Wenck. In response to a question from Manager Olson, Mr. Hayman said that the District is not clear year how much mercury there is in the building, but he characterized it as a substantial amount. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0. In response to a follow up question from Mr. Welch, Mr. Meehan said that even though regulatory compliance is excluded from the Wenck Response Services scopes of work, regulatory compliance will be handled through documentation and adherence to the necessary reporting requirements.

 

Resolution 18-027, Authorization to Execute a Contract with Wenck Associates for Demolition Services for 325 Blake Road

 

Mr. Hayman continued his presentation of the proposed decommissioning of 325 Blake Road, noting that the scope with Wenck Associates before the managers represents the next step in the phased approach the District is taking and that the cost of demolition itself is eligible for reimbursement from a grant that the District has received from Hennepin County. Manager Olson moved and Manager Shekleton seconded adoption of the Resolution 18-027:

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers hereby authorizes the District Administrator to execute a contract with Wenck Associates for demolition services for the 325 Blake Road property for an amount of $102,355;

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the District Administrator is authorized to amend the contract up to 5% of the total cost, for a not-to-exceed amount of $107,473.

 

Manager Olson wondered whether it was possible that the District could get too far along in the work to get reimbursement from the grant. Mr. Hayman said that that is a possibility, but that staff has been managing that and securing grants funds for the work. In response to a question from Manager White, Mr. Hayman said that construction on Blake Road adjacent to the 325 Blake Road property will take place this summer. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0. Manager Miller complimented Mr. Hayman on his presentation of very complicated material in a straightforward and understandable way.

 

Resolutions 18-028 to -032 – 2018 AIS Watercraft Inspection Cost-Share Partnerships

 

Eric Fieldseth came before the managers to present five proposed cost-share agreements for District support of other local governmental entities’ watercraft-inspection efforts at various waterbodies and entry points around the watershed. Mr. Fieldseth said that the District is steadily reducing the percentage rate of support to these entities and this year’s array of contracts represent the District contributing 36 percent of the cost, as opposed to the 50 percent that the District has provided in the past. Manager Olson moved and Manager Shekleton seconded adoption of the five resolutions:

 

Resolution 18-028 – NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers authorizes the Administrator, on advice of counsel, to execute an agreement with Carver County providing $18,812 in District cost-sharing funds to support County watercraft inspection services in accordance with a mutually agreed scope.

Resolution 18-029 – NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers authorizes the Administrator, on advice of counsel, to execute an agreement with Lake Minnetonka Conservation District providing $9,000 in District cost-sharing funds to support Lake Minnetonka Conservation District’s watercraft inspection services in accordance with a mutually agreed scope.

Resolution 18-030 – NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers authorizes the Administrator, on advice of counsel, to execute an agreement with Three Rivers Park District providing $5,504 in District cost-sharing funds to support Three Rivers Park District’s watercraft inspection services in accordance with a mutually agreed scope.

Resolution 18-031 – NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers authorizes the Administrator, on advice of counsel, to execute an agreement with City of Shorewood providing $23,304 in District cost-sharing funds to support City watercraft inspection services in accordance with a mutually agreed scope.

Resolution 18-032 – NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers authorizes the Administrator, on advice of counsel, to execute an agreement with Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board providing $65,160 in District cost-sharing funds to support Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s watercraft inspection services in accordance with a mutually agreed scope.

In response to Manager Olson’s question about the much higher cost of the Shorewood scope and cost share, relative to the other entities with whom the District works, Mr. Fieldseth said that the Shorewood uses a private firm to provide inspection services and provides services over a longer period of each day, driving costs up. Manager Shekleton asked whether the District is getting real value from supporting the inspections . Mr. Fieldseth said the inspection certainly slow down invasive species transport but they are not perfect and not the favored approach for the District, which is why the District is ramping down the portion of funding is provides for the programs. He said that the District’s partners view these inspections as very high value and a critical element of their AIS-management approach. Upon vote the motion carried 7-0.

 

Resolution 18-033 – Appoint a Community Advisory Committee Member to the Minneapolis Park Board’s Minnehaha Parkway Regional Trail Master Plan CAC

 

Tiffany Schaufler stated that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is undertaking the planning process for all of the parkland along the creek in Minneapolis. She stated that this request from MPRB for the District to appoint a member to the citizens advisory committee emanates from the memorandum of understanding the District entered into with the MPRB last year. She said staff has reviewed the committee’s scope of work and thought that appointing a member of the District’s Citizens Advisory Committee would be a good way for the District to be represented and added that staff recommends the appointment of Richard Nyquist. Manager Becker moved and Manager Rogness seconded adoption of Resolution 18-033:

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers appoints Richard Nyquist to serve on the MPRB Community Advisory Committee for the Minnehaha Parkway Regional Trail Master Plan.

 

In response to a question from Manager Olson, Ms. Schaufler stated that the project should be a 12- to 24-month planning endeavor. Manager Shekelton suggested that the District put in place a process for naming such representatives that accounts for the fact that planning efforts often last more than a year and CAC members are appointed annually. Ms. Schaufler noted that staff would make a note of that recommendation and pursue it. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.

 

Resolution 18-034 – Authorization to Enter into Contract for Vegetation Maintenance

 

Laura Domyancich came forward and presented for the managers’ consideration a resolution to enter into contract with Applied Ecological Services for maintenance work at four District properties. Ms. Domyancich said that the District has 23 existing maintenance contracts, all of which are due to be renewed at the end of the year. She said that there are four new properties at which the District is obligated to maintain vegetation: the Laketown Wetland Restoration, Six Mile Marsh Prairie Restoration, Long Lake Creek Wetland Restoration and Methodist Hospital. She said the District solicited quotes for the maintenance work and of the three received Applied Ecological Services was the lowest at $29,365. Manager Rogness moved and Manager Shekleton seconded adoption of Resolution 18-034:

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the District Administrator is authorized, on advice from District Counsel, to enter into a contract with Applied Ecological Services in the amount of $29,365 for Laketown Wetland, Six Mile Marsh Prairie, Long Lake Creek Wetland, and Methodist Hospital Wetland, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board establishes a project maintenance budget in the not-to-exceed amount of $32,302 and authorizes the District Administrator, in his judgment, to authorize change orders obligating the District up to that amount.

 

Upon vote the motion carried 7-0.

 

Resolution 18-035 – Authorization to Execute an Agreement with Great River Greening to Perform Vegetation Management and Research at the Six Mile Marsh Prairie

 

Ms. Domyancich continued before the managers, explaining that Great River Greening has received $111,900 from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund to work with land owners and easement holders to restore and enhance natural systems in the Twin Cities. She said that building on the District’s established partnership with Great River Greening, a nonprofit organization, staff proposes to enter into an agreement to implement vegetative management and research at the Six Mile Marsh Prairie. Manager Miller moved and Manager Olson seconded adoption of Resolution 18-035:

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers authorizes the Administrator, on the advice of counsel, to execute an Agreement with Great River Greening to perform vegetation management and research at the Six Mile Marsh Prairie and to supply the local cost-share element for that work, not to exceed $25,000.

 

In response to a question from Manager Shekleton about the scope of work including “haying,” Ms. Domyancich said that haying involves mowing and removing cuttings off site. She said haying reduces nitrogen in the soil such that it doesn’t run off site. She said that the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of the technique is one of the areas the District staff would like more information on and why the work by Great River Greening is proposed. In response to a question from Manager Becker, Ms. Domyancich said that the purpose of the research work proposed is to find management strategies that are most cost effective where District properties are very weedy. She said that the premises is that haying is probably more expensive then prescribed burning, which the District has gained some fair amount of expertise in, but staff wishes to explore the possibility of selling prairie hay, which is very desirable and see if it significantly off-sets costs. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.

 

STAFF UPDATES

 

In the absence of the administrator, Tiffany Schaufler provide the staff update. She said that at a recent meeting at the Nokomis Community Center in south Minneapolis, two representatives from the United States Geological Service talked about the possibility of USGS leading a study of groundwater levels in the Lake Nokomis area. She said that Representative Jean Wagenius and Representative Torres-Ray attended, along with members of the Minneapolis City Council. Ms. Schaufler stated that the USGS offered that since it does not have a regulatory role in the area, its research and review of conditions would be unbiased. She said that the USGS cited two prerequisites to its being able to conduct the work – that it needs clarity on what is being asked by the stakeholders in the area, and two, funding. Ms. Schaufler said that Rep. Wagenius stated that the Department of Natural Resources would take the lead on the research and estimated that the cost would be $500,000. The representatives from DNR who attended stated that not much is known about subsurface water movement and water levels and this would be a key aspect of the research. Ms. Schaufler said she presented the District’s perspective on the work and echoed the uncertainty around underground conditions at this time. Ms. Schaufler said that the next meeting is a staff work session with the DNR and MPRB representatives. She said that there are community meetings on April 12 and April 17. She said that staff will also be discussing with its partners the status of the Federal Emergency Management Agency-funded repairs and master planning for the parks along the creek. Manager Shekleton stated that he may skip the next board meeting to attend the community meeting that Ms. Schaufler notes. In response to a question from Manager White, Ms. Schaufler stated that the area that is the subject of the contemplated research is around Lake Hiawatha and extends down to Taft Lake. In response to a question from Manager Becker, Ms. Schaufler said that it’s not clear whether the surface area is also the groundwater-shed, and that is one of the things that will need to be determined. Manager Shekleton said that residents in the area are pulling the Minneapolis Airports Commission into the discussions because of snow storage in the area, which causes runoff from melting into surface waters. It is understood that the USGS research will take two to five years. In response to a question from Manager Miller emanating from the article in the StarTribune today regarding the area and issues, Ms. Schaufler said that describing some of the landscape features as sink holes is perhaps overly dramatic and these are just natural depressions related to settling of the land. In response to further question from Manager Miller, Ms. Schaufler stated that some of the damage to sanitary-sewer laterals that has been experienced in the area cannot be addressed by installation of a sump pump because it doesn’t relate to water in basements but rather has to do with ground conditions. She said that these conditions are experienced to some degree all across the watershed where groundwater is high. Chris Meehan came forward to note that aging infrastructure is a factor as well.

 

Ms. Schaufler reported that the Lake Minnetonka surface elevation is still under 929 feet and that the dam is not yet open.

 

Unemployment Compensation Matter

 

Manager White stated that the board of managers would enter closed session under the attorney-client privilege to discuss options for recovery of funds paid to address an unemployment-insurance claim. The board convened in closed session.

 

The managers reconvened in open session.

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

There being no further business, the meeting of the board of managers adjourned at 9:45 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted, 

 

Kurt Rogness

Secretary

Minutes Type: 
Board of Managers