Minutes - Feb. 25, 2010

MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL MEETING OF

THE MINNEHAHA CREEK WATERSHED DISTRICT

BOARD OF MANAGERS

February 25, 2010

CALL TO ORDER

The special meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers was called to order by President Jim Calkins at 7:55 p.m. in the District offices, 18202 Minnetonka Boulevard, Deephaven, Minnesota.  President Calkins noted that a Personnel Committee Meeting had been held in closed session for the evaluation of the District Administrator.

MANAGERS PRESENT

James Calkins, Brian Shekleton, Pamela Blixt, Lee Keeley, Richard Miller, Jeff Casale, and Mike Klingelhutz.

MANAGER ABSENT

None.

OTHERS PRESENT

Eric Evenson, District Administrator; David Mandt, District Operations Manager; James Wisker, District Planner/Program Coordinator; Mark Ten Eyck, District Land Conservation Program Manager; Julie Westerlund, District Education Manager; Michael Panzer, District Consulting Engineer; and Louis Smith, District Counsel.

MATTERS FROM THE FLOOR

None.

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

Manager Blixt requested that discussion of the Board Liaison policy be added to the Agenda.  It was moved by Manager Shekleton, seconded by Manager Miller to approve the agenda with this change.  Upon vote, the motion carried.

  1. 1.    Preparation for Special Meeting with City of Victoria

Mr. Evenson noted that Mr. David Mandt had attended the Victoria City Council meeting and would report on this item.  Mr. Mandt appeared before the Board of Managers and also noted the presence of Mr. Don Uram, Administrator for the City of Victoria.  In summary he noted that the Victoria City Council recommended cancelling the special meeting scheduled for March 3, in order to work further to clarify the purpose, agenda, and plans for a positive outcome of such a meeting.  The City Council thought it was important to prepare questions in advance so that all information would be available prior to the meeting.  He reviewed the process for exchanging questions and responses, and also noted that Mayor Thun, Mr. Uram, Manager Calkins, and Mr. Evenson would plan to meet once these questions and responses are exchanged in order to identify how both organizations could work further to protect water resources and community planning. 

The managers clarified the schedule for developing questions and responses.  Manager Casale asked about the tentative date for any future meeting.  Mr. Evenson stated that this would be considered, along with whether there was a continued need for such a meeting, once the responses to questions are exchanged and there is further discussion between leadership of the City and the District.  Mr. Don Uram appeared before the Board of Managers and stated that the City would like to keep the option open for a special meeting if necessary, based on the exchange of questions and responses.  Manager Casale asked Mr. Uram if a formal presentation from the District would be useful, and Mr. Uram responded that he felt that a discussion between council members and the managers would be of greater interest.  Manager Klingelhutz clarified that response to questions proposed by the City of Victoria would be reviewed and approved by the Board of Managers.  Mr. Evenson indicated that that would definitely be the process.  The managers thanked Mr. Uram for attending the meeting and for his work on this matter.

2.  Community Outreach on Draft Rules

 Mr. Evenson reported that pursuant to the direction from the Board of Managers at the meeting of February 18, Managers Miller and Casale met with Mr. John Himle to discuss communication needs in the rulemaking process.  Manager Miller stated that he found Mr. Himle focused on achieving accurate and effective communication from a public affairs perspective that would assist the District in reaching its various constituencies, including citizens, local government officials, and county commissioners, to further a greater understanding of the District’s rules and proposed changes.  Manager Casale stated that he was also impressed with the civic values and analysis offered by Mr. Himle. 

The managers reviewed the proposal from Himle Horner and discussed various options, as well as available funds in the District’s special projects and education budget.  Manager Klingelhutz stated that he was concerned that retaining Himle Horner could incite further opposition to the proposed rules on the grounds that it was an inappropriate use of public funds.  Manager Miller stated that he disagreed with this notion, because it is imperative for the District to disseminate information effectively about its rules to those communities affected, and apparently this objective has not been fully achieved to date.  Manager Casale stated that he felt that the audit of the District’s education program provided further useful analysis to aid the District in assuring that its funds are effectively spent on education and communication activities in pursuit of the District’s mission.  Manager Miller stated that he had confidence that pursing this alternative was the right thing to do because it would assist the public in getting accurate information.  Manager Shekleton noted that the District has three years of investment of its resources in the rulemaking process, and should commit the necessary resources to communicate effectively with stakeholders concerning water resources issues.  Manager Casale stated that he would much more comfortable explaining why the District sought the expertise of a consultant like Himle Horner, rather then trying to explain why the Board of Managers did not take a more proactive role in addressing these communications issues. 

Manager Blixt asked whether this consulting activity would extend to the other rulemaking issues that are expected to be addressed later this year.  Manager Casale stated that was his expectation and Mr. Evenson stated that this could be clarified.

Manager Calkins stated that he felt there was a small group that seemed simply opposed to the District’s rulemaking objectives, and he wondered how the consultant might be able to address this situation.  Manager Miller noted Mr. Himle’s experience working on lakeshore conservation issues and stated that he felt Mr. Himle would have some helpful insights into the District’s situation.  Manager Keeley stated that given the complexity and challenges involved in the rulemaking, retaining these consultant services seems useful.  The Board emphasized the importance of clear communication as to the intent and specific features of the rules and asked that staff provide Himle Horner with the District’s previously obtained public attitudes survey. 

Mr. Evenson recommended that if the Board of Managers is comfortable with the proposal generally, it would be appropriate to start by focusing on the base services and analysis, and invite Mr. Himle to come speak to the Board of Managers on March 4, when the Board of Managers could identify further steps as appropriate.  It was moved by Manager Blixt, seconded by Manager Keeley to retain the Himle Horner firm for the “Base Services” identified in their proposal, requesting that Mr. Himle report on an initial review and briefing session at the meeting of March 4, and provide more specific detail and timeline to the proposal.  Upon vote, the motion carried.

3.  Board Liaisons

Manager Blixt stated that she missed the meeting of February 18 and wanted to participate in a discussion about the designation of Board Liaisons pursuant to the District’s governance policy.  She noted that a reason should be given for each liaison.  Manager Calkins noted that there should be a demonstrated need, with a description of the nature of the expectations of the liaison relationship.

Manager Miller stated that he felt that Manager Casale had already effectively demonstrated the need and appropriate nature of the liaison relationships within the past week.  Manager Casale stated that he felt this was a matter of building intentional relationships in the community as a manager with the Board’s support.  These liaison activities should proceed in a transparent matter, and that managers should endeavor to connect with a large number of local government officials in this way. 

Manager Calkins stated that he felt that the Board should have a more specific strategy for these liaisons.  Manager Shekleton suggested that the staff develop recommendations for priority needs for liaison relationships.  Following discussion, it was moved by Manager Blixt, seconded by Manager Miller that President Calkins, Vice President Shekleton, and District Administrator Evenson prepare a recommended list of liaison relationships and report back to the Board of Managers in several weeks.  Upon vote, the motion carried.  

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, the special meeting of the Board of Managers adjourned at 9:55 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Lee Keeley, Secretary