Board tables salary issue

NEW ULM — By a 4-1 vote Tuesday in front of a roomful of county employees, Brown County commissioners tabled a Salary Administration Task Force recommendation to implement a 13-step salary range schedule for paying non-union, salaried and hourly employees effective Jan. 3, 2019.

Commissioner Dave Borchert cast the dissenting vote, saying employees leaving Brown County for better salaries in nearby counties is a “negative.”

“I strongly support this. It’s important to residents, the people served,” Borchert said. “We’ve tabled this before. Now is the time to pass this for better morale and retention.”

Commissioner Dennis Potter said it wasn’t the place or time to change the schedule.

Brown County Human Services Adult Protection Supervisor Barb Dietz said tabling the board request is “kicking the can down the road.”

Brown County Probation Director Les Schultz said it’s time for a change and that the county is debt-free.

“Some departments are losing employees to nearby counties that pay better,” Schultz said.

Commissioner Scott Windschitl said the salary recommendation increases the county budget about $150,000 (1.2%) a year.

“There’s a reason we’re debt-free. We’re fiscally responsible,” Windschitl said. “I don’t feel it’s the right time to do this. This is a lot to wrestle with.”

Borchert said even with the salary schedule change, Brown County would be in the lower third of the state’s 87 counties.

Commissioners unanimously approved:

• A 10-year road and bridge construction program and voiced support to continue the Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation (LOST) set to expire at the end of 2019. Changes have been made based on current construction costs, bond payments, estimated state aid, Wheelage Tax, a $125,000 local levy for construction and continuation of the LOST.

The major changes are:

• 2019-Move a KC Road bridge replacement project from 2020 to 2019.

• 2020-Changes and overlay on Highway 8 from Highway 68 to Highway 29.

• 2022-Changes and overlay on Highway 20 from Highway 13 to Highway 15; add bridge 2110 (Franklin bridge) replacement project on Highway 8.

• 2023-Move Highway 9 overlay from 2024 to 2023.

• 2027-Add a should widen and regrade project on Highway 8 from south county line to Highway 24.

• 2028-Add overlay projects on Highway 8, 10, 24 and 27.

Grading projects were added to widen the narrowest roads as funding allowed.

The LOST for transportation funding has been included. It is currently planned through 2019 to fund the Highway 29 project in 2019. If the LOST is discontinued, $16 million worth of projects will need to be cut from the 10-year program.

• A fiscal year 2019 $30,000 Families First for the UniversalContact/Follow Along Program grant application.

• The appointment of New Ulm Police Sgt. Steven Depew as an intermittent, part-time (IPT) deputy sheriff/court security at $19.1492/hour (Grade X, Step 3) contingent on passage of pre-employment physical and background check, effective hire date to be determined pending results. In addition, an additional IPT deputy sheriff/court security position will be filled from a recent candidate pool, due to an on-going need to cover sporadic prisoner transportation and court security needs and scheduling conflicts.

• Awarding a buffer strip seeding contract for County Ditches 8, 11, 58, 63, 68, 70 and 71 to another bidder. A $135.70/acre quote, (estimated total $18,835.16) for about 139 acres from Tony’s Outdoor Services was accepted April 17 and rescinded Tuesday. The seeding was not completed by June 15 as earlier agreed upon and has not been done since then. The Brown County Highway Department has not been able to contact the contractor.

The second-lowest quote of $206.90/acare (estimated cost $28,702) from Evergreen Companies was accepted. Seeding needs to be done by Sept. 21.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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