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Wadena Board creates County Coordinator job description

By Rin Porter / Wadena Pioneer Journal

The Wadena county board spent time going over the revised version of a job description for the new position of county coordinator Jan. 23. The board hopes to hire a county coordinator this spring.

The revised job description, which had been evaluated by the Hay Group earlier this month, provides for many duties and responsibilities for the new county coordinator. Chief among them are serving as clerk to the county board, organizing the county's budgeting process, serving as human resources manager, coordinating economic development efforts, and supervising the information technology and facilities staff.

After a final review on Feb. 4, the board will probably move toward advertising the position and receiving applications.

Also on the Jan. 23 agenda was the revocation of the powers of the social services sub-board, created by board motion in May 1992. The revocation was necessary after county attorney Kyra Ladd advised the board that this "sub-board" did not comply with Minnesota statutes.

After revoking the social services sub-board, the county board renewed its authority and supervision over its human services agency via a board resolution drafted by Ladd. In the future, the county board will not hold meetings regarding social services matters in its old form as a "sub-board", but will hold a monthly county board meeting devoted solely to matters of social services on the second Tuesday of each month, beginning in March. In February the meeting will be held on the second Wednesday, for one time only, due to scheduling issues.

Teamsters Local 320 business manager Joanne Derby also appeared at the meeting at her request. Derby spoke on behalf of the two employees in the information technology (IT) department, requesting that their jobs be reclassified at a higher level than they are currently graded.

Derby's request was made because the two IT employees have been performing additional duties and carrying out additional responsibilities on a "temporary" basis for more than one year, with no end in sight. The new duties and responsibilities were to be temporary in nature after former IT director Kevin Stensrude resigned at the end of 2012. Derby argued that because the "temporary" situation had lasted more than a year, that therefore the county had to agree to reclassify the positions.

Board chair Bill Stearns disagreed with Derby, as did several other commissioners, explaining that the board was in the process of reorganizing the county's governance structure, and had not come to a decision about whether to hire another IT professional to head the department, continue to use contracted professionals, or instruct the new county coordinator to be the department head (after he or she is hired).

Derby asked the board to put its decision in writing, but Stearns declined to do so, on the advice of Ladd, and instead told Derby that the reorganization would be completed by June 30 and the IT job situation would be known and communicated to her by that date.

The board took up the matter of the setting of the 2014 county recorder's salary, which it had tabled on Jan. 7. Recorder Soli Henriksen requested an increase in her salary, which at $48,414 is at least $6,000 lower than the salary of any county recorder in Minnesota. She presented the board with a list of the twelve Minnesota counties with the smallest populations, along with the salaries earned by the county recorders of those counties. Her research showed that the average salary of the county recorder in the seven smallest counties was $58,057 in 2013. Henriksen requested that her salary be set at that level.

However, the board refused her request and set her salary at $51,319 — still the lowest in Minnesota. The board gave no rationale for its decision. Commissioner Jim Hofer, who made the motion for the salary amount, said that the increase from her current salary of $48,414, was a 6 percent increase.

The commissioners increased their own salaries by 15 percent for 2014.

In other business, the board:

• Changed its meeting schedule so that all regular board meetings will now be held on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, beginning in February, instead of the usual first Tuesday and third Thursday.

• Refused a request to videotape and broadcast county board meetings on a local cable channel.

• Tabled a discussion of a possible public works director job description.

• Approved the appointment of Sally Gorton to the public health advisory board.