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RAC Minutes December 20, 2007 PDF Print
SE MN Regional Advisory Committee
Meeting Minutes

Thursday, December 20th, 2007
1:00 – 3:00 pm
Rochester Public Utility Building
4000 East River Road NE
Rochester, MN
  1. Meeting was called to order by Scott McNurlin.

    In Attendance:
    Committee Members Others In Attendance
    • Scott McNurlin, Goodhue County
    • Barb Brewington, Rice/Steele PSAP
    • Dave Brand, Winona S.O.
    • Ron Ganrude, Winona S.O.
    • Dean Albers, Goodhue S.O.
    • Daryl Jensen, Fillmore S.O.
    • Jim Trihey, Dodge S.O.
    • Rick Eggert, Dodge S.O.
    • Mike Papke, Winona PD
    • David Thomson, Rochester PD
    • Tim Heroff, Rochester PD
    • Joel Hansen, Olmsted County
    • Doug Ely, Houston County S.O.
    • Scott Yeiter, Houston County S.O.
    • Steve Borchardt, Olmsted County S.O.
    • Gene Mrozek, Whitewater Wireless
    • Bob Bilder, Winona Co Emergency Management
    • Lee Smith, Whitewater Wireless
    • Sid Sanocki, Ancom Communications
    • Andy Terry, S.E.H.
    • Neal Caflisch, Ancom Communications
    • Tom Hannon, Central MN RAC
  2. Approval of the Agenda
    • Additions - None
    • Deletions - approval of minutes from 11/15/07 Meeting. Minutes did not get posted on web site, no copies available at today’s meeting. Will be put on next meeting agenda.
  3. New Business & General Discussion
    1. Amendment to the By-Laws (see attachment)
      • In October of 2007, the RAC received letters from Albert Lea and Winona requesting membership in the RAC. RAC approved of the requests. However, we need to amend the by-laws to legally approve their membership. This amendment must be posted for 30 days before it can be voted upon. So this is notification only. Motion to approve will be put on the January 17th meeting agenda.
    2. 2nd Draft of the Joint Powers Agreement
      • Committee reviewed on Monday, 12/17/07. Only got through first half of agreement.
      • Copy of changes were handed out to RAC attendees. There is a line through language that was struck and new language inserted is underlined on this document. Rice County Senior Attorney Meredith Erickson is working on language for the section under membership.
      • I want to delve into why we are doing a Regional Joint Powers Board. Discuss what it’s purpose is. Tom Hannon is here to explain why we are doing this, what the urgency is, what steps we need to take, and how soon we need to get there.
      • We also need to meet every two weeks until this JP Agreement is finished.
        • There are going to be some financial opportunities coming down from the State w/ PSIC Grant.
        • We must have a Joint Powers Board agreement in place to host the money as a region and to utilize the funds effectively.
        • That is the reason why we must meet every two weeks to get the agreement finalized and signed.
        • JPA needs to be signed by all membership by Feb. 1st. Don’t know if that’s possible, hope it is, get it in final document form by 1/17/08 and then have you take it back to your boards. JPA committee would like to put together a power point presentation to make it easier for you to explain to councils/commissioners what we are trying to accomplish here, and the reason for signing a Joint Powers Agreement. Committee members would be available to help you do the presentations to your Boards.
        • The Joint Powers Agreement the emergency management directors were trying to get through last fall did not go over well with the county attorneys and city/county administrators. We really need to do a good job of presenting to everybody as to why this is an important process.
        • A Regional Board gives us the governance for planning and to hire a consultant for interoperability issues. The State knows not everyone is going to go onto the same platform. That is the premise behind a regional radio board, made up of elected officials.
      • Document Changes:
        • Page 7: struck Public Safety Radio Communication System and replaced with Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response (ARMER) system. (changed throughout document.)
        • Page 8: Subd. 2. Powers. Scott McNurlin: this is a weighty subdivision. This board we are forming is going to have governance in the region relative to interoperability. We are abiding by the authority of this board to talk about those regional issues. It says we are not going to be on a course by ourselves. It has to clearly state who can be a member of the Joint Powers Agreement. It needs to be clearly understood that membership of the Regional Advisory Committee will be different than who sits on the Regional Radio Board.
        • Steve Borchardt: I want to make sure folks are clear on the notion that you don’t have to join the regional radio board to operate a public safety radio system in SE MN. If you do join the board, you don’t need to have an 800 MHz system, but you do need to participate in creating interoperability. Future grant dollars coming from St. Paul may well be predicated on that notion. If you are not a member of the board, and your system is not ARMER compatible you may be shut out of the funding. Whole purpose is not to force 800 MHz but to ensure interoperability. This is a really heavy subdivision. Aim is that we want everyone in the region on the board. It doesn’t mean you have to be ARMER, but the standardization necessary to ensure interoperability. If you are not at the table you don’t have that direct influence on interoperability. The RAC will only be an advisory committee to that board. The power exists in the JPA, not the advisory committee. It gives us opportunities through regional grant funding.
        • Bob Bilder: If we have a county board that says they are not going to sign JPA, are there still going to be attempts to initiate interoperability with that county? What happens to the whole organization if Winona County decided they weren’t going to sign it.
        • Tom Hannon: your region has been defined; Once your regional radio board is formed and the agreement is signed, the board can begin its work.; 10 out of 14 agencies signed a JPA in NW Minnesota. 4 counties have chosen not to join; they will start their regional radio board and be eligible to apply for state grants. Do you have to sign it? NO, but if you don’t join it you are shooting yourself in the foot. Better off to be at the table and directing your future than be outside the process. The concept of the JPA committee making the same presentation to every board is wise - both the NW and Central MN regions have done this and found it to be a very powerful tool in educating county commissioners. It will help them see what has to occur, and will ensure everyone in the region gets exactly the same message.
        • Borchardt: I know the District 6 Sheriff’s are interested in interoperability. When you go back to 1997, when we invited Ron Vegemast down here to talk about 800 MHz, we had good representation from all over SE MN.
        • Scott McNurlin: Back to edits:
        • Page 9, Subd. 1, Requirements for Participation: Meredith Erickson working on language for this.
        • Page 10, Subd. 10, struck in entirety. Discussion was: do we want to have non-elected officials making budgetary decisions, and not accountable for county or municipal dollars. Hold voting positions for those that are elected and the “advisors” can be members but have non-voting positions. We changed language to show that they do not have voting rights. We struck entire language in subd. 10 and renumbered the document.
        • Page 11, subd. 2, Meetings. Language continuity issues, talking about budget, review of the budget, changed dates that make sense for regular commissioner meetings. Changed to June 30th.
        • Subd. 4, add language – added majority of the “voting” members.
        • Page 12, Section 1. non-voting member, took the to’s out. Subtle change.
        • Section 2, Changed from voting to non-voting.
        • Second to last bullet. At the direction of board – struck entire bullet.
        • Section 3: changed voting to non voting.
        • Stopped at Page 14, so we will move forward from there next week when the committee reconvenes.
      • Any questions?
        • None
      • Move on to the big question:
      • Page 9, Section 2, Subd. 1 Other members of the Board
        • In NE and NW MN – one group is using this language, the other is wrestling with the language.
        • We don’t want to get in a situation where there are so many representatives on this board that we can’t get anything done.
        • What should the definition be for membership? You need to own and operate a public safety radio system? You need to pay a large percentage toward the public safety radio system? Should the counties just represent all communities within the county?
          • Mike Papke: In Winona, if that’s all that’s going on, yes it would be, but in this situation it is not. City of Winona has just as many radios as the counties will have.
          • Could be an uncomfortable situation for Rochester/ Olmsted.
          • You kind of have all of these different drivers and situations. Just like drug task force, who is going to pay $5,000/year and be a part of this? This is where we are at right now with the radio board. We have both cities and counties on the RAC.
          • Let’s just say Red Wing owns a frequency in which they communicate amongst themselves for their own purposes, but Goodhue Co dispatches for them. Could they say that they own and operate their own system? There are various degrees of that out there, and how do we define that? The raw political reality is that Red Wing and Winona are a large enough political entity to have these types of situations and we don’t want divisions in service providing in a county.
          • Should there be a population threshold that decides whether you are a member or not?
          • This is kind of like the drug task force. If you are willing to pay $5,000. AND commit an employee - you are in. There are several different kinds of formulas you could use. People need to feel appropriately included. Are the requirements for membership going to drive this thing?
          • Whoever has membership will have a political entity voting on this board. LaCrescent owns and operates their own repeater. These are the nuances.
          • Where do we start drawing these lines on voting authority? Clean cut fix would be, county would represent everybody, but would that be fair to the cities? Does it come down to who owns AND operates AND dispatches an actual radio system?. We have numerous hybrids of that. Olmsted owns radio infrastructure and Rochester owns and operates the dispatch center.
          • What is going to be the defining language for membership. Will it become more than Law Enforcement, Firefighters, EMS, & EOM? Down the road, park departments, school systems and every kind of government radio system out there? A significant municipality could be feeling like the red headed stepchild with all their eggs in that basket.
          • Tim Heroff: the JPA sub-committee discussed at length coming up with a scheme, system, or formula that would allow a committee of sufficient size to do the job without excessive number of members that would make the job any more difficult than it is going to be. If we write it too loosely we are going to end up with a regional radio board of 2 dozen or more participants. Then it becomes difficult to establish a quorum and coordination of everyone’s schedule. We have to be very careful not to expand too big.
          • What we are doing here is the same as what the metro radio board went through when they developed their board. They developed a matrix that cut across the metro region, gave metro representation opposed to the out state region and yet overlaid that with representatives from different disciplines.
          • Heroff: there was some concern from a commissioner on our committee who felt that the membership of the board had to be elected officials for voting purposes. Prefer county commissioners rather than city council officials because the Board could ultimately levy money to sustain administrative function of the board. It would be too easy of a vote to make for them because there would be no fiscal responsibility for that person.
          • Daryl Jensen: There is a significant contrast - we don’t have a large community. It wouldn’t make any sense for us to involve our small towns, because we think it might qualify as a subsystem. None of the towns have any input into the radio system. We have to respect those communities that work together. We are probably a one vote situation but there are several of us. Hopefully we’ll have representations for both types of counties.
          • On the RAC, Albert Lea & Freeborn would have two votes.
          • Tom Hannon: this is a philosophical issue. As you debate this - there are a lot of counties in state where they don’t have the population center, however there are communities that can bring some unique situations to the table. Putting someone at the table does not come without costs. Your agency is subject to those fees and that % of the cost of running this organization. They have to be willing to put some skin in the game. So the city not only has to have a need to do that, but a willingness to participate. St. Cloud is the only city in central MN on the Board because they have a large population center and pay the costs. In NW MN it is Moorhead. They are the only one that wanted to step up to the table and participate. In Central MN we have 20 counties and hundreds of cities. If they were all involved it would include so many people at a meeting that there would be no where large enough to hold meetings. The reality is different. It involved who actually had the need AND the desire AND was willing to pay their fair share of the expenses. In the Central and NW areas, it boiled down to St. Cloud and Moorhead.
          • McNurlin: Not every city in every county is going to want to sit at the table. They must own, operate or significantly contribute to the support of a sub system. The issue is not going to be who joins initially. The legal language is going to come into question when someone who didn’t join initially wants to join NOW. 2 years, 5 years, 10 years from now when other agencies want to be parties to the agreement. What is your overall philosophy on how you are going to be including these folks. NE is struggling with this right now, they want to be overly inclusive.
          • Borchardt likes: own, operates, or significant financial investment.
          • McNurlin: what would be from a % perspective - of significant financial investment?
          • How about 51% of the overall cost.
          • Borchardt: Olmsted pays 50% of capital costs, operational cost is 30%. Is that significant, I think there are a variety of ways to skin that monkey.
          • McNurlin: As additional people come into the board, are we going to be able to paint a clear enough picture as to who gets in and who doesn’t?
          • Tom Hannon: they are struggling with that in NE MN right now. It needed to be fair and equitable. If someone threw $100 toward a piece of equipment - that was not considered fair and equitable. But if they put up a tower as part of the system - that is considered to be fair and equitable.
          • How about basing it 50% on membership, 25% on population, 25% based on radio’s.
          • Are we comfortable offering this opportunity to the members that are currently at the table for the RAC? 3 cities and 11 counties, do we want to make this agreement available to all of those entities right now to form the board and then let the board wrestle with this language after the fact?
          • So, anyone who comes in after the fact, those board members could define that. We have to start someplace. Are we comfortable with 14 board members based on this? 11 counties and 3 cities - are we comfortable offering them this opportunity? Some may opt not to.
          • If we limit membership to population, a county would get a maximum of 2 members.
          • How many members are in the metro area? 21 on the state radio board, 23 on the NE regional board, and 14 on the NW regional board.
          • Should we start with one voting member from each county, and let that board form and then they can change the parameters to include large cities, to get initial board off the ground.
          • Papke: What if they don’t want to bring the cities in? You have 11 members on the Board, the majority would rule.
          • Borchardt: we go with those who have been showing up at the RAC. Then let the board wrestle with what comes next.
          • Papke: I urge you to consider that Winona has a professional full time police and fire department, we run 3 public safety systems, airport, housing and redevelopment authority, and transit system. Not sure I want Winona County making communication decisions for us, which we are currently funding. Winona County would not know anything about these systems, if we decided counties will be responsible for this.
          • McNurlin: that’s not what we are saying. There is a section in the law which talks about what the board will not have the ability to write policy for.
          • Papke: what if we decide that our buses shouldn’t be in the interoperability world. Would the Board come in and say you have to be, you must have interoperability capability if you are on the ARMER system, no matter what kind of agency you are?
          • Borchardt: it does not say that every sub-system in your county has to be on this.
          • Papke: We do not need to bring them on if they have a different sub-system? I am looking 15 years down the line, what is going to go on with this board? That’s why I am speaking so forcefully for the city of Winona. Our position is we are a significant player and we want to make sure that is understood.
          • The Board can wrestle with what constitutes a significant player. But in the first draft of the document we were working off of, we were looking for language for procedures to change and amend this document. This is has to about – where do we start with this.
          • In Sect. 2 subd. 3, we need to discuss initial participants. What you would need to do to include that, add the two cities to the list? This would establish the base membership, irrespective of anything else in the agreement - that would allow city of Winona and Albert Lea to pay their fee’s and sit at the table. I guess what we wanted to do with this, is get a final draft of this document.
          • We are going to present the whole final JPA to each board and council to fully digest this, to expedite their votes on it and get the board formed. Document does allow for tweaking.
          • Main driver - who do we offer this agreement to? Does 14 meet the needs?
          • Brand: I think it is a good place to start – should include anyone who financially contributes to the dispatch services.
          • McNurlin: does anyone have a sense of where Albert Lea is at? I think last time, the Sheriff wanted Albert Lea to be part of that, because Albert Lea pays toward the dispatch.
          • McNurlin: we will be meeting with the JPA committee again next week to re-tweak this document.
          • McNurlin: Do you want to meet in two weeks on this. Time is running short to get this done.
          • YES – meeting scheduled for January 3rd at 1:00 p.m. at the RPU conference room. STEVE BORCHARDT BRINGING PIZZA’S. AT 1:00.
  4. Old Business
    1. Planning Committee
      Committee is trying to meet w/homeland security and Emergency Management Directors. There is $100,000 that still exists in planning money. We are scheduled right now for Jan. 17th to meet with Region One EM folks. We are going to give them our pitch on what that money should be used for. 6 of those counties aren’t in our RAC. Equitable split, to hopefully be used for planning. McNurlin has had e-mails from Scott Wiggens regarding funds to do studies with ARMER for the region, and get everyone a VHF and ARMER study so they can make their best business decision. If the state gets involved they have to put an RFP out. They will put it out there, firms can give their interest then we can begin to offer the money to get consultant go through propagation study. If we partner with the state it could take until August to get these studies done. If we don’t partner with them, we will only have $120,000 to do the studies on our own. Not enough money to do everybody. Don’t know if Mower Co is necessarily going to be interested in study. Total of $240,000 if State comes in with us.
      The Winona County Board approved $28,000, for a study, would that be covered? We are hoping it will, but will be dependent on how much funding we have and where it comes from.
      There are 16 counties in Region 1.OEM. So there is only 5 that are not in RAC. Would it benefit the adjoining counties? LeSeur, Waseca, Blue Earth, Nicolet, Faribault. We should find that out.
      There has been talk of realigning the Emergency Management Region to fit with the RAC. Sounds like it might be a little bit to much to bite off in the States structure right now. Dist. 6 can maybe bridge that through the Sheriff’s group.

      Would like to move the January 17th meeting to the Red Cross Building if there is enough room for parking. Tim Heroff will check on that and let McNurlin know.
    2. Technical Committee: nothing yet.
    3. Policy Committee: nothing yet.
Motion by Jensen, seconded by Ely to adjourn the meeting.
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