Board Meeting Minutes - November 2011
November 15, 2011
Jan Voit - Heron Lake Watershed District
Ross Behrends - Heron Lake Watershed District
Lauren Michelsen - Heron Lake Watershed District
Margaret Peeters - Heron Lake Watershed District
Steve Woods - Board of Water and Soil Resources
Jeff Nielsen - Board of Water and Soil Resources
Jack Beardsley - Heron Lake Watershed District
Mike McCarvel - Heron Lake Watershed District
Dale Bartosh - Heron Lake Watershed District
Rick Nelson - Nobles SWCD
Jim Buschena - Heron Lake Watershed District
Scott Nelson - City of Worthington
Dave Henkels - Jackson County
Ron Kuecker - Cottonwood County
Gary Ewert - Heron Lake Watershed District
Julie Buntjer - Worthington Daily Globe
Albert Burmeister Allen Jensen
Jerry Christopherson Mark Bartosh
1. Call to Order
Jack Beardsley called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Jim Buschena made a motion to approve the agenda. Mike McCarvel seconded this. Motion
3. Board/Staff Workshop
Jan Voit explained that the purpose of the board staff workshop was to employ strategy
learned at BWSR Academy to enhance the working relationship between board and staff so
that we work more as a team. She also reminded managers and staff that there is a need to
understand the jobs set before us, roles and responsibilities a board member or staff, and the
duties we have toward each other. Heron Lake Watershed District (HLWD) and Board of Water
and Soil Resources (BWSR) staff were present to answer question or clarify information. Steve
Woods and Jeff Nielsen, BWSR staff, were introduced.
Jan Voit stated that the public hearing for the Watershed Management Plan (WMP) reiterated
that there is a definite need for flood control and water quality improvement. The need to
address those issues is very apparent. It is also obvious that the HLWD has a responsibility to
obtain funds and not all funding will come from the state.
The WMP was written according to board direction with input from the advisory committee
and the general public. The implementation and education efforts identified are similar to what the HLWD has been doing. It adds focus on flood control, which again, was included at the
direction of the board. Jan Voit asked the managers whether flood control was a priority if they
were considering removing the Water Management District (WMD) from the WMP.
Jim Buschena said that flood control is one of our main priorities and if we can help with
funding or projects, that would be a benefit.
Gary Ewert stated that it is a priority to address flooding. He was not able to attend the public
hearing, but he wondered if the people in attendance were actually a representation of the
opinion of all the watershed residents. He did not know what would need changing in the
Mike McCarvel said that going back a few years ago, citizens of the State of Minnesota
approved legislation for water quality and that 3/8 of a percentage increase in sales tax would
be dedicated for that. He wondered if the legislature had changed their philosophy about the
use of that money for water quality improvement.
Steve Woods informed the managers that the amendment passed a couple years ago was done for 1/3 habitat, 1/3 art, parks, and trails, and 1/3 for water quality improvement. No one at the Capitol thinks that the amendment funds are all the money that needs to be used to address water quality. The idea being the legacy funds is to speed up implementation, to supplement funds that are already being spent. There is no way that the state can pay for everything needed to improve water quality.
Mike McCarvel said that he was happy that the amendment passed. He thought that when the
legislature found out how much it would cost to pay for the water quality improvement needed
that they would back away from addressing the issue.
Steve Woods explained that the amended dollars were intended to supplement funds that
were already being spent. But with the general fund cut backs, it seems that we take two steps
forward and one step back with state level funding.
Dale Bartosh stated that flooding issues are on everyone’s mind. When the federal and state
governments are in the financial situation they are in, the public is being asked to take more
responsibility. When people get their tax statements as far as homestead deductions, we
should not expect the public to take this on. About a year ago, Dale said that he made a
statement that it is not the time or the place to be doing this. It is even more evident now. The
problem is just escalating.
Discussion was held regarding the WMD and project implementation. Jan Voit explained that
the HLWD has had many grants for implementation and education. The biggest cash grant that we received was for $428,000. It also contained $500,000 for low-interest loans. We will
continue to pursue grants as much as we can. Almost all grants requirement require a local
Scott Nelson stated that the HLWD has done a good job bringing in money. Jan Voit explained
that funds from the WMD could be used to match grants. None of the managers said that they
were planning to increase taxes by 80 percent. The WMD funds could only be used for projects that are identified. The HLWD has let the public know everything that they planned to do through the WMP to this point. Providing information will continue.
Ross Behrends said that over one million feet of tile will be installed. We need to find a way to
address this or the flooding problem will only multiply. That’s what we’re dealing with. We
need drainage because we need to stay productive. But, the precipitation coming through the
tiles only overloads our system quicker. It’s a well-designed system.
Discussion was held regarding large flood control projects and what it would mean to be a nonimplementingwatershed district. The HLWD could only be considered a non-implementing
watershed district if we were not doing any projects or education. The HLWD is doing as much
as possible to provide funds for on-the-ground projects. At this point, the HLWD has not had
adequate funding to secure large, upstream flood control projects.
Jeff Nielsen explained that Clean Water Fund (CWF) grants do not partner with you on flood
control. Projects to address flood control are locally driven implementation. There aren’t state
grants for flood control. CWF is for nonpoint source pollution. The grants always require a
match. That is required for competitive money. But, funding for flood control has to be
Ron Kuecker asked where RCRCA gets their funding for flood control? Steve Woods said that
they have their regular county allocations, which is a significant amount of their funding. They
apply for grants for projects. They don’t do very much flood control. Area II overlaps into the
Redwood and Cottonwood watersheds. They go to the legislature and ask for bonding money
to do projects.
Scott Nelson asked if it had ever been considered combining the watershed districts in Nobles
County. No discussions about that possibility have taken place.
Jan Voit provided the managers with information regarding WMD implementation in
Discussion was held regarding the minutes of the October 18 meeting. Mike McCarvel made a
motion to approve the minutes of the October 18 regular meeting, removing the last
paragraph. Gary Ewert seconded this. Motion carried unanimously.
5. Treasurer’s Report
Jan Voit presented the treasurer’s report and bills payable. Dale Bartosh made a motion to
approve the treasurer’s report. Jim Buschena seconded this. Motion carried unanimously.
6. Water Management District
Jack Beardsley gave a recap of the WMD. Discussion was held regarding how projects would be
established and how the funds could be used. The HLWD can only collect the funds when
specific projects are identified and the projects are approved after a public hearing.
Jack Beardsley stated that as it stands now, the WMD is in the WMP. We have three options,
leave it in, modify the amount, or remove it. If there are any changes, now is the time to do it.
Dale Bartosh made a motion to move forward with the WMP, eliminating the WMD portion of
it at this time. He said that at some point down the road it could be put back in the WMP.
Jeff Nielsen explained that the WMD is in the plan. It doesn’t have to be turned on. If you take it out now, you would have to submit an amended plan in the future and go through process
again. Once BWSR adopts the WMP, they turn the key over to you. You have the choice of
turning the WMD on or turning it off. Removing the WMD is just taking the tool out of the tool
Jack Beardsley said that if we take the WMD out of the WMP, we could come to the public with
a specific plan in the future and then we could go ahead. That doesn’t mean we would turn it
on. We would be able to explain that we need a certain amount of money and instead of asking
the public for approval to put the WMD in the WMP, you would come back to the public with a
Jim Buschena asked if we take the WMD out now, will we have to re-write the WMP? Jeff
Nielsen explained that as it stands right now, the WMD is in the WMP. You don’t have to collect
one cent. If you take it out right now, you would resubmit the WMP. If you decide to include
the WMD in the future, a revised WMP would need to be sent out again, a public hearing would
be held. We would go back through the same process. The amendment process would take
about five to six months. Once the WMP is approved, BWSR would turn it back over to you. You still have the choice of turning the WMD on and turning it off.
Gary Ewert stated that the WMD is non-functional unless it’s turned on. It is controlled by local
people. Jim Buschena said that if it’s in the plan as it is now, it’s not activated until there is a
hearing. If we take it out, we’re just making more work for us.
Mark Bartosh asked how the board could approve the plan with the WMD in the WMP after the
sentiment at the hearing. Gary Ewert said that he wasn’t at the hearing. He has only heard
about what happened. He said that if the statements made at the hearing were a realistic
reflection of what the people think, that would be true. However, if you have any kind of
thought about the attendance at the meeting, then you would have to question that. He did
not believe that the situation at the hearing would mirror the actual beliefs of everyone in the
Jim Buschena said that the people would be informed about what projects the board would be
doing through the WMD at a public hearing. Dale Bartosh stated that if we don’t listen to the
hearing that we just had, how can we expect to move forward with the new funding
mechanism. People need to know about and agree that this is what we want to do.
Mike McCarvel asked when do you think it would ever get there – to the point that everyone
would agree? Dale Bartosh said that we have had the opportunity to remove a project that
would decrease flooding and an attorney said that there might be some liability issues. Mike
McCarvel said shouldn’t we listen to our attorney’s opinion? Dale Bartosh said he is trying to
have the board understand what the people are telling him.
Mark Bartosh asked how soon the HLWD has to have the plan implemented? Can it be tabled
for a year and then acted on a year from now? The HLWD’s plan is expired. Steve Woods
explained that a watershed district is required by state statute to update their WMP every ten
years. The HLWD is not eligible for getting access to CWL funds without a current plan. Without an approved plan, you are shutting yourselves off from the revenue stream.
Jack Beardsley said that there is a motion on the table. He asked for a second. The motion died
for lack of a second.
Jack Beardsley asked Dale what he thought of lowering the maximum as a compromise.
Lowering the maximum would be a response to the hearing. It may not be what everyone
wants, it still gives us some flexibility, and if we turned it on, the people would be assured of a
lower maximum charge. Dale Bartosh stated that he could not go along with a compromise. The people want to know where it’s going to be spent before it’s approved.
Jack Beardsley made a motion to lower the maximum from $200,000 to $50,000. It is a
response to the hearing, maybe not what everyone wants, but it gives us some flexibility, if we
decide to turn it on.
Jim Buschena said that if we have a bigger project, we would have to go back to BWSR and
amend it. Jack Beardsley asked for action on the motion.
Mike McCarvel said that he wanted a little more discussion on this. He said that he understands
where Dale is coming from. I want to see some continued improvement in clean water. It’s to
everybody’s benefit. When the people speak, we’re supposed to respond. Ninety percent of
those in attendance at the hearing were opposed to this. A lot of the people that were there
were not from our watershed. There are a lot of people from the watershed that were not at
the hearing that support what we want to do. If we don’t move forward with this, then every time we try to do something, we’ll get a group to expound on the negatives. It comes to gridlock and I don’t see us getting away from that. I’ve been on this board for a long time. I got on this board to serve agriculture. Drainage issues are our economic livelihood. It frustrates me that people speak negatively about what the watershed district has done. I feel that we have been helpful. I’m stubborn enough to say that we need to move ahead on this.
There are people that say that nothing is getting done. I think that we are accomplishing things
and we are doing good. But we have to figure out what we want to do and move ahead. We
talk about this not being the right time for people in our community to put more dollars toward
water quality. Agriculture is having some of the best times that it has ever had. Does this give us a blanket to raise taxes to whatever? No, but we do need to make some sort of progress. I think that’s important in our community and many people support that.
I don’t know where to turn. I think that if we don’t pass this, then every time we want to do
anything that we believe is a great project, then they’ll be another hearing with 120 people that
don’t like it and we’ll need to recruit 120 to support what we are doing. I don’t like that
controversy. I don’t think we should be dealing in that.
Dale Bartosh said that he respected what Mike said. But, when you are in doubt and you don’t know, don’t do anything for the moment. Jack Beardsley asked for action on the motion. The motion died for lack of a second.
Jan Voit reported on the BWSR Academy, personnel committee meeting, Cover Crop Field Day, research grant application, grant agreements, MAWD Annual Meeting, and the Clean Water Partnership Grant Application.
Jim Buschena made the following motion:
Be it resolved by the Board of Managers of the Heron Lake Watershed District to submit a proposal with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to conduct the following Project: Heron Lake Phosphorus Reduction Project.
Be it further resolved that Jan Voit, District Administrator be authorized to submit the proposal for the above-mentioned Project and shall have the authority to represent this body in all matters that do not specifically require the action of this body.
Be it further resolved that submittal of a proposal does not obligate this body to accept a grant and/or a loan if so offered.
Whereupon the above resolution was adopted at a monthly meeting of the board of managers this 15th day of November 2011.
Gary Ewert seconded this. Motion carried unanimously.
Ross Behrends gave the board an update on terrace projects, CRP, RIM Wetland Reserve Program easements, wildlife ponds, City of Worthington stormwater application, water quality data submittal, Heartland Climate Conference and the Corn CAP, and a request to the managers actively farming to participate in the Corn CAP. Ross explained the permit application from the City of Worthington for constructing a hangar and aprons. The application outlines the erosion control and is done according to HLWD rules and regulations. Mike McCarvel made a motion to approve the permit application for the City of Worthington. Dale Bartosh seconded this. Motion carried unanimously.
Margaret Peeters informed the board about the grant applications, Cover Crop Field Day, BWSR Academy, water quality monitoring, seed harvest for Murray County, updating the website, November newsletter, and the Fulda Phosphorus Reduction Initiative.
Lauren Michelsen related information about seed harvesting at a wetland bank site in Murray County, BWSR Academy, assisting Martin County NRCS and SWCD to install a wetland basin and spillway, seven county management plan evaluation report, staff meeting, Cover Crop Field Day, and site check in Jackson for a rain garden.
8. Staff Performance Review and Wage Negotiation for 2012
Jim Buschena made a motion to close the meeting. Gary Ewert seconded this. Motion carried unanimously.
Dale Bartosh made a motion to open the meeting. Jim Buschena seconded this. Motion carried unanimously.
Jack Beardsley reported that evaluations were conducted for Jan Voit, Ross Behrends, Lauren Michelsen, and Margaret Peeters. All were given satisfactory performance reviews.
Jim Buschena made a motion to provide a $0.40 per hour increase per employee, health insurance as described in the policy for Jan and Margaret, and family coverage for Ross and $2,796 toward his health savings account effective January 1, 2012. Gary Ewert seconded this. Motion carried unanimously.
The meeting adjourned at 8:48 p.m.