Fillmore County now has an administrator without changing duties

Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Fillmore County’s commissioners changed Fillmore County Coordinator Bobbie Vickerman’s position title during the Nov. 12 board meeting.   

Human resources officer Kristina Kohn appeared before the board with reason to change Vickerman’s position title from county “coordinator” to “administrator,” observing all that Vickerman does that meets her original job description of coordinator, but also that the title itself is not one widely used across the state.  She pointed out that the firm that reviews the county’s job descriptions classified “coordinator” and “administrator” in the same category. 

“All of the items on that job description title are currently being fulfilled by Bobbie Vickerman,” she told the board.

Commissioner Duane Bakke agreed, “It’s the same…the board has the authority to give responsibilities to that person, and we’ve done that, so nothing’s going to change there.  We’re the only ones left with the ‘coordinator’ title in our district.  It doesn’t change that person’s role.” 

He remarked that the title change is in part due to perception of Vickerman’s position when she attends conferences and conventions. 

“You can raise your hand at a conference, and if you’re an administrator, it seems you come with a lot more (recognition), but if you’re a coordinator, they may not even recognize your arm,” he said.

Kohn stated, “The request today does not entail any dollars.”  Vickerman acknowledged the fact that her authority isn’t going to change as Kohn concluded, “It’s the same oversight, same authority.” 

Commissioners Randy Dahl and Larry Hindt made motions to accept the title change, and the rest of the board voted favorably.

Assessor office changes

Vickerman also asked that the board accept retired assessor Cindy Blagsvedt’s 30-day notice for ending the temporary contract she’d held with the county for assessor services to meet state requirements for a licensed assessor to oversee the assessor’s department.

Kohn later shared discussion regarding the return of Brian Hoff to a property appraiser’s position, as Hoff had become an assessor but expressed his wish to return to his previous role. 

Commissioner Mitch Lentz questioned, “We won’t be having any gaps in this department anymore? We won’t be getting letters from the state saying we’re in violation?” 

Vickerman assured Lentz that there are internal candidates available to fill positions in the assessor’s department. 

Lentz and Hindt made the motions to end Blagsvedt’s contract with the county, and Lentz said, “I want to thank the personnel committee and Bobbie for working on this.” 

Hoff was officially returned to his original position of property appraiser, effective immediately, and then Kohn registered a request to hire a replacement county assessor – Carla Ambrose – no later than Dec. 9 and to advertise for a full-time replacement jailer to fill an empty position and use an existing pool of applicants as a starting point.  All three were approved by vote of the board. 

Highway, bridge matters

Highway engineer Ron Gregg had a short list of items for the board’s approval, including a final payment of $56,416.55 to Icon Constructors for a local road improvement project (LRIP) on Heron Road, as well as payment of $29,521.98 to Swenke IMS Contracting for a Carrolton Township bridge replacement project. 

He also outlined the new bridge replacement priority list for Fillmore County’s bridges for the coming years, citing that he doesn’t plan to assign the list to a specific year because it would require making continual adjustments. 

Lentz concurred that the replacement list should remain tied to the concept of priority because it makes sense. 

Conversation turned toward which bridges in Fillmore County are closed due to structural deficiencies, and one of them is the Forestville bridge, which is a landmark across the Root River that has been the topic of debate for some time because of its place at the entrance to Historic Forestville and its being on a county-maintained road. Gregg related that there may be federal funds available to determine what becomes of the bridge or to find other means of getting motorists across the river. 

Other business

Economic development director Marty Walsh presented the completed Fillmore County housing study that has been underway for the past few months, citing that there are opportunities in keeping open communication between the Economic Development Authority (EDA), the Zoning Department and the County Board.

Walsh also sought approval of the 2020 Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA) contract, which provides his services to the county, and the board chose to give a nod to another year of service through the contract.   

Kevin Olson, of Social Services, brought forward a 2019-2020 foster care transportation agreement between Fillmore County and the Lanesboro School District to provide reimbursement to the school district for transporting students in foster care who have been placed outside of their home district to continue attending Lanesboro Public Schools.  The board accepted the agreement.

The board approved a request from director of nursing Jessica Erickson, who shared that her department wanted to have a public health law organization give a presentation but first needed a request from the board to have that organization come to the county’s Public Health Department. 

Vickerman reviewed technology projects that have been her responsibility, including the now-obsolete AS400 data backup, which she reported will be on the next agenda, and computer replacements in progress to keep the county’s employees properly equipped to do their work. 

The commissioners also gave approval of solid waste administrator Drew Hatzenbihler’s proposal to increase waste hauler licensing fees from $75 to $100.    

The consent agenda included approving the minutes of the Nov. 5 meeting.