Commissioners table salary schedule recommendation

NEW ULM — Brown County commissioners unanimously tabled a salary administration task force to implement a 13-step salary range schedule for non-union salaried and hourly employees Tuesday.

The task force recommendation was to consolidate a 26-step salary schedule as a 13-step schedule effective Jan. 3, 2019.

“I strongly support this, but I think we should have more board discussion. I think it’s important to retain employees. It costs money to train people over and over,” said commissioner Dave Borchert in his motion to table.

On May 15, the board approved contracting with Keystone Compensation Group, LLC to provide compensation consulting services for a non-union salary range schedule. A consultant researched options of a 13-step scale, preparing and completing pay equity testing to ensure a new system meets internal pay equity requirements, and preparing budget analysis for possible solutions.

In a cost comparison, the current 26-step plan estimated levy-funded cost is $88,970 in 2019; $90,749 in 2020; $92,564 in 2021; and $94,416 in 2022.

The estimated levy-funded cost of he consolidated steps plan is $205,221 in 2019; $238,000 in 2020; $242,760 in 2021; and $247,615 in 2022.

For budget discussion purposes, a 2 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) is applied from 2020-2022. The consolidation steps plan cost will reduce somewhat as long-term employees reach the top step.

Commissioners unanimously approved:

• Committing to a 10 percent local share and prioritize Brown County railroad crossing safety projects. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has requested local participation in funding railroad crossing projects. Up to $4,500,000 is available for state fiscal year 2021.

The State has been informed that the Federal Grade Crossing Safety Program will fund 90 percent of the cost of these projects and the local government would fund 10 percent. The estimated cost of a typical railroad crossing safety project ranges from $175,000 to $350,000.

Identified crossings in Brown County are on County Highway 8 west of Sleepy Eye, on County Highway 11 in Essig and on Boundary Street in New Ulm, which is planned to become part of County Highway 13 in 2021.

The Brown County Highway Committee agreed to support the projects and fund the local share. Crossing projects were prioritized County Highway 8, Boundary Street and County Highway 11 based on traffic count and crash prediction factors.

• Accepting the personnel policy committee’s recommendation for employees participating in a high-deductible family plan receiving $2,200 annually effective Jan. 1, 2019; up from $1,950 this year, in two equal installments in their HSA (Health Savings Account). The estimated county cost is $13,475 next year.

• A Health Information Exchange (HIE) agreement between Brown County Public Health and South Country Health Alliance (SCHA). Since Brown County is affiliated with SCHA, there is no charge to use its HIE products. The agreement was reviewed and approved by Brown County Attorney Chuck Hanson.

SCHA is certified by the State of Minnesota as a health information organization to offer HIE services to third parties through its multi-participant HIE solution.

When Brown county is fully engaged with SCHA’s DiamondView direct, secure email, it will terminate an agreement with Inpriva.

• Redetermination of benefits (ROB) on County Ditches 35, 57 and 69. No public input was received.

• Brown County Heartland Express to support the Regional Transportation Coordinating Council (RTCC). The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) Office of Transit and Active Transportation seeks to formalize and increase coordination between transportation providers to create better connections between providers, identification and elimination of transportation service gaps, system redundancies, development of a more efficient system and easier custom access to providers that meet their travel needs.

Financial and technical support is provided by MnDOT to create a statewide network of RTCCs in Greater Minnesota.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at