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Cadwell proposes pay raises for sheriff, attorney

The Hubbard County Board will approve budgets, levies, wages and per diem rates with a single motion on Dec. 21.

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Hubbard County Government Center Park Rapids Enterprise file photo, March 2020

Hubbard County Administrator Jeff Cadwell proposed a new approach to approving the county budget at the county board’s meeting on Tuesday.

“Hubbard County has typically approved everything in separate resolutions,” he said. “My proposal to you is that I would combine all of those into a single resolution that would cover all of those items.”

He said he “stole the format” from Crow Wing County, adding that “if it works for them, we’re not gonna get in trouble with it.”

The 2022 county budget and levy will come before the commissioners on Tuesday, Dec. 21 for their approval.

A year ago, commissioners acted on 13 separate resolutions setting this year’s compensation and per diem for themselves and the planning commission; compensation for the sheriff and county attorney; budgets for the sheriff’s office, county attorney’s office and county extension; and levies for the county Housing and Redevelopment Authority and the Headwaters Regional Development Commission, in addition to the county property tax levy and budget.

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Cadwell also suggested including the wages and per diem for elected officials in the same resolution, along with all the budgets and levies.

Further, he proposed that, even though the sheriff and the county attorney are not classified employees, they should receive similar, step-scale salary increases to recognize their years of service with the county.

“Essentially, a step in our classification system is 3%,” said Cadwell. “And then, the steps are adjusted by the cost of living, 2.25%. So, they would both (get) both of those bumps, where previously, as far as I can tell, they’ve only bumped up by the cost of living.”

He said the value of that was to head off appeals for salary increases needing to be negotiated by the board. “They still have the right to do that if they want to,” said Cadwell, “but we’re not gonna make it part of the meeting next week. … I’m simply saying, ‘Now we’re gonna treat you like everybody else.’”

In other words, Cadwell said, the county will identify where the sheriff and attorney would be on the employee classification system, if their jobs were classified.

Asked whether he had communicated this with the two officials, Cadwell quipped that he called them and said, “Do you mind if I ask the board to give you a bigger raise next year than this year?” He added, “Neither one of them had a problem.”

“If you have a track record of treating them like every other employee in the organization, and somebody does come on board and wants to make a complaint, they’re really not gonna have much of a basis,” said Cadwell. “That’s my reason for doing this, is protecting against future claims.”

He proposed making no adjustment to the per diem rate for commissioners and committee members.

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Capital planning

Cadwell reported the capital committee is planning to do some capital planning next year, and $50,000 has been budgeted for that.

For $5,500, local consulting firm ICS has offered to do a facility assessment and staff engagement study to review the county’s capital needs, he said.

He said this study would provide 90% of the information the committee needs for its planning process, and leave $4,500 in the capital planning budget in case any projects are identified that need attention in 2022.

Commissioner Ted Van Kempen made the motion to go forward with ICS, and it passed unanimously.

Cadwell said negotiations are underway regarding the donation of Val Chatel to the county.

He said the donors want the county to approve deed restrictions, including not disturbing parts of the property that haven’t already been developed and allowing for non-motorized trail use only.

“They did make an allowance for us to put in an RV campground at the entrance,” he added, “with ATV connection to the trails, to the state land to the south and the rest of the county lands in that area.”

Cadwell further reported:

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  • The county was awarded a $237,000 grant for courthouse repairs. Cadwell said he will ask the county’s engineering firm to start planning the bidding process for the project.

  • OHC, the healthcare property advisors who appraised the Heritage Living Center, referred Cadwell to a brokerage firm that is interested in representing the property on behalf of the county. He suggested discussing the potential sale of the property in a closed session on Dec. 21.

  • The DNR is working on acquiring some lands around Lake Plantagenet.

In consent items and other business, commissioners:

  • Approved closing the recycling centers early on Dec. 24.

  • Approved Michael Frey’s application to repurchase a tax forfeited parcel in Lakeport Township.

  • Paid Envirotech Services, Inc. of Greeley, Colo. $412,545 for liquid calcium chloride for the highway department.

  • Approved Midwest Machinery of Wadena’s low quote of $102,327 for a John Deere 6130M tractor and Diamond Mowers of Sioux Falls, S.D.’s sole quote of $44,836 for 60-inch side and rear mowers, both for the highway department.

  • Approved Bemidji Sports Center quote of $3,693 for a 12-foot snowmobile trailer for the natural resources management office.

  • Approved Universal Recycle Technologies of Janesville, Wis.’s low quote of $45,435 for recycling electronic waste in 2022. Solid waste administrator Josh Holte reported the county recycled 141 tons of electronic waste from July 2020 to June 2021.

  • Approved Crow Wing Recycling of Brainerd’s sole bid to pay the county $101 per ton to recycle scrap metal and appliances, 15 cents per pound for batteries and to remove propane tanks for free in 2022. Holte reported the county recycled about 1,750 tons of scrap metal and appliances and 10.5 tons of batteries in 2020.

  • Approved Liberty Tire Recycling of Savage’s sole quote of $287.50 per ton to recycle tires dropped off at the county’s transfer stations, a two-year contract. In 2020, the county recycled 307.5 tons of waste tires, Holte reported, also noting that the contract price has gone up from $185 per ton in 2017-18 and $230 per ton in 2019-21.

  • Approved a contract with Rural Minnesota CEP to provide employment and training services for social services clients in 2022. Social services director Brian Ophus noted that the $213,473 contract amount represents a cost decrease of $5,242.

  • Approved Ackerman Plumbing and Heating of Park Rapids’ sole quote of $6,268 to replace the heat pump used to cool the server room at the county law enforcement center. Maintenance manager Bobby Wilkins said replacement parts for the current heat pump are no longer available.

  • Agreed to split the county’s Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust dividend with the Heritage Living Center, based on past practice of prorating the percentage of property and casualty insurance between the county and the nursing home. According to county auditor Kay Rave, the county is distributing $16,530 to Heritage and retaining the $166,223 balance.

  • Heard that three of five parcels offered at the county’s tax forfeited land auction on Nov. 19 sold for a total of $38,049. Lohmeier said the remaining parcels, including a self-storage facility and a lot in Park Rapids, remain available over-the-counter.

  • Approved creating the position of assessment technical specialist in the county assessor’s office. Human resources director Gina Teems said efforts to fill a deputy assessor/certified appraiser position have been unsuccessful since September. County assessor Jamie Freeman said that, in part, the new position will help streamline the assessment process by teaching local assessors to file their work electronically, freeing up time that county staff now spends entering hard-copy data into their system.

  • Approved keeping the Heritage Living Center’s cost-sharing program adjustment rate at $11.24 per resident day, the same as during the last few years. Cadwell’s written report explains that under the Equitable Cost-Sharing for Publicly-Owned Nursing Facilities program (ECPN), the county contributes approximately $56,400 per year, which creates about $152,000 in annual revenue, mostly through medical assistance.

  • Adopted a resolution to share in subdividing the state’s lawsuit settlement with three major opioid distributors and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. Cadwell estimated the county could receive $70,000 to $80,000 per year for public health programs to spend on opioid rehabilitation, care and prevention programs.

  • Approved calling for sealed bids to serve as the county’s legal newspaper, to be opened Jan. 3, 2022.

  • Approved an agreement with the state to sponsor the Forest Riders Snowmobile Club for a 2022 grant-in-aid to maintain and groom the Two Inlets Snowmobile Trails.

  • Approved a grant-in-aid application and resolution of support for the Northwoods Riders OHV Club to maintain the Schoolcraft OHV Trails.

  • Ratified a service agreement with the Minnesota Counties Computer Cooperative and TriMin Systems Inc. to maintain and support the county’s financial system software.

  • Approved payment claims to the county auditor’s office totaling $617,558 and social services payment claims totaling $177,216.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
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