Commissioners debate need for county coordinator versus county administrator

By : 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Bluff Country Newspaper Group

The Fillmore County Board of Commissioners held its second meeting of the month on Tuesday, Aug. 14. As members discussed employee compensation and comparison, they once again discussed the need for a county administrator versus a county coordinator.

Human Resources Officer Kristina Kohn sat down to share proposed counties to use in a comparison for a pay compensation study, as well as benchmark positions for the compensation study being considered.

Commissioner Duane Bakke questioned whether the counties used for comparing departmental positions were similar enough to Fillmore County, as they are rather far-flung across the state.

Kohn answered that the listing of counties included those that are similar in population as a way to reach an “apples to apples” comparison, encompassing neighboring counties like Goodhue.

Bakke then wanted a further explanation of the job description comparisons, and Kohn elaborated that the firm the county now employs to review job descriptions does not have the descriptions the county has maintained and is essentially starting from scratch.

Bakke cited that he felt disappointed in the process that was used and he felt the descriptions should be rounded out before being brought for personnel committee and board members’ approval.

Observing that a county coordinator and a county administrator’s positions being used for comparison, Commissioner Marc Prestby noted there has been discussion in past meetings about whether the county should have an administrator instead of a county coordinator. He noted current Coordinator Bobbie Vickerman has stretched to carry out duties that would be under an administrator’s role.

Commissioner Randy Dahl pointed out that the coordinator’s job has changed dramatically. “In the 18 years I’ve been here, this job hasn’t gotten simpler,” he said. “The coordinator position, in my opinion, has moved toward an administrator position, because of all the different functions.”

The descriptions for the administrator and coordinator’s positions will be sent back to the contractor that handles the county’s descriptions for review and revisions.

Highway department

Highway Engineer Ron Gregg asked to have the final payment of $1,553.99 made to Sorum & Sons for the 2018 rock contract for County State Aid Highway 23 in Holt Township.

Additionally, he sought authorization to get quotes for bridge beams for CSAH 1 south of Ostrander as a means of advancing that project, as bid opening was originally scheduled for Sept. 10.

“We’re running into concern about how long the bridge will take, whether there will be enough time for the concrete decking to cure,” Gregg said.

He answered questions posed by the commissioners about how the bidding process would go if the county were to wait for the original date to arrive, and he stated that there are only two companies that make the beams the county needs. Advancing the project would give the county highway department a better chance at completing the bridge before it gets too cold.

The commissioners voted in favor.

Additional reports

Zoning Administrator Cristal Adkins had an access permit request for Sam Siskow’s property leading to County Road 1 in Beaver Township. The commissioners chose to allow the access permit.

Adkins also presented the zoning department’s proposed 2019 budget and that of the feedlot department.

Coordinator and Auditor-Treasurer Vickerman updated the board on forfeiture properties that are on the auction block. The auction of forfeited properties will be held at 1 p.m. on Sept. 11, and a listing of the properties’ prices will be set and made available.

Vickerman presented a fleet car maintenance and tracking program for the sheriff’s department. It would cost $5 per vehicle per month, but Prestby said he wanted to wait and hear a presentation on whether it is worth the investment. Commissioner Mitch Lentz agreed, saying the county should be certain it is getting the value out of the program. A suggestion was made to wait and obtain a year’s worth of maintenance history before making any changes to the arrangement the county has with Enterprise Fleet Services, the company with which the county contracted to lease cars for all its departments.

Cris Gastner, of Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA), came before the board with news of the city of Chatfield and tax abatement changes for infrastructure as related to the Hilltop Estates subdivision development and the construction of the elementary school in 2008.

County Recorder Dave Kiehne presented his 2019 proposed budget, including allotments for recorder equipment, the recorder’s office, general information systems (GIS) and the unallocated recording fee.

Also, county attorney Brett Corson presented his proposed 2019 budget.