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Hubbard County Board paid retired commissioners $185,000 in severance pay

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BY Sarah smith

Hubbard County had money left at year’s end 2013, $273,697.24, to be exact.

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As the county gets leaner and meaner, employee retirements accounted for much of the unspent funds.

When county employees have retired they have not been automatically replaced, with the existing workforce amalgamated and trimmed.

That’s good news for taxpayers. County employees have additionally taken on a weightier workload and added responsibilities.

But one fluke cost nearly $185,000 – the retirements of two long-term commissioners, Dick Devine and Lyle Robinson, who was actually defeated in his bid for re-election.

Robinson received $113,100 and Devine received $72,384. Auditor Pam Heeren said it’s a fluke when two long-time employees leave at the same time.  Under the current rules, commissioners, for every four years of service, can opt to take one year of free health benefits or a cash equivalent. Coordinator Debbie Thompson said both Devine and Robinson opted to take the cash.

The unspent funds are returned to county coffers. In other business, the board:

n Reaffirmed the public hearing set to get public input on whether the county should implement a new Transportation Sales and Use Tax to fund county road projects.

Under a new law, the board could levy up to a .5 percent tax specifically earmarked for certain projects.

Public reaction to a sales tax during a poor economy has been mixed so the county is weighing its options. Implementing a temporary sales tax during the summer would tap the seasonal visitors most likely to use the road projects, is the theory behind implementing one in the summer.

The hearings are set at 12:30 p.m. Feb. 18 in the county boardroom and again at 7 p.m. the same day in the Lake George Townhall. Commissioners set the two hearings

n Temporarily reassigned Maintenance Techs Roger Geimer and Steve Guethling and gave them 10 percent raises until the county hires a new maintenance supervisor. The two men will fill in until then.

Longtime maintenance supervisor Lee Gwaizdon tendered his retirement earlier this month.

n Hubbard County will upgrade to a new version of its interactive parcel map application the week of Feb, 24, 2014. WebFusion, the current map application, will be retired and replaced by a new version called LINK. LINK retains WebFusion’s features, provides new, additional tools along with a more user-friendly design, and has a helpful built-in user guide. New online video tutorials demonstrating specific LINK functions will be available soon. LINK can be accessed from the County website: www.co.hubbard.mn.us.

LINK is offered as a free service to the public and is also available with enhanced information, tools, and functions for querying, reviewing, and analyzing data and reports through a user subscription account.

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ssmit

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers Hubbard County, courts and breaking news.

(218) 732-3364
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