“Pretty uncomfortable to talk about our own salaries and potential increases, back to back with our budgets. But nonetheless, we have to do it until the county comes up with a better way of doing it than tasked with us,” Davin Tinquist, Itasca County Board of Commissioners chair stated as the board began a short discussion regarding 2020 salaries for the commissioners.

Commissioners met Dec. 17 for a regular session at which salaries for a number of county employees were approved.

“This one again is annually,” explained Tinquist with respect to the commissioners’ salaries. “Unfortunately, the county has no other way to do this but the five of us discussing it and bringing it up at this meeting every year.”

Commissioner Terry Snyder suggested the commissioners’ salaries stay frozen at the 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016 level. This would maintain $34,499.60 for all commissioners with an additional $1,200 for the board chair. With no further discussion, the motion was approved.

Appointed term and appointed at-will employees

Commissioners approved a 2.75% increase in the 2020 salaries of the County Assessor, County Engineer, County Surveyor, County Veterans Services Officer and appointed at-will Health & Human Services Director and County Administrator.

“These wages reflect what the labor contracts have already approved. And this aligns those salaries with the rest of our county employees for 2020,” stated Lynn Hart, human resources director with Itasca County.

Commissioner Ben DeNucci asked Hart if the increase was in line with previous increases and if there was any reason to not follow the practice. Hart explained the increase follows the practice in which appointed officials have been given the same compensation as other employees who are in a labor group.

“I guess I can’t think of any reason not to follow that. They are pretty similarly aligned because a lot of these appointed, at-will employees are serving at the same level in the organization as some of our other members that are a part of the Itasca County Managers Association,” Hart remarked. “Those individuals are department heads, as well. And so, it seems you would want to treat them similarly.”

The board of commissioners then approved to proposed salaries for the appointed term and appointed at-will employees.

Elected officials salaries

County Administrator Brett Skyles discussed the proposed 2020 salaries for the county attorney, auditor/treasurer, recorder and sheriff with the board of commissioners. All are elected officials. The proposal stated each role would receive either a step increase, a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase, or both. A step increase can also be referred to as a merit salary increase. COLA increases cover the cost of inflation which affects cost of living expenses. For example, food, clothing, gas and rent would be considered cost of living expenses.

“These all have a little different steps and COLAs attached to them as we look at their duties and responsibilities and job performance for the past year and again, comparisons to others in the state,” Skyles said.

Salaries for these elected officials are determined by a sub-committee that includes Skyles and two commissioners. They look at what other elected officials are earning and make a recommendation to the board of commissioners, according to Skyles.

The recommended 2020 salaries for the aforementioned elected officials were as follows:

County Attorney: $119,587.65 salary, 3.5% step increase, 1.5% COLA increase.

Auditor/Treasurer: $127,327.82 salary, no step increase, 2.75% COLA increase.

The County Auditor/Treasurer is currently at the top of the step increase pay scale. Therefore, they agreed that a 2.75% COLA increase, which is in line with the 2.75% increase given to other county employees, would be acceptable.

Recorder: $86,326.80 salary, 3.7% step increase, 1.3% COLA increase.

Sheriff: $123,916.00 salary, 3.8% step increase, no COLA increase.

Commissioner Ben DeNucci asked Skyles to provide other examples of how the salaries are determined. Criteria given included if they stayed within their budgets, how well the elected official upheld the mission statement, how often they cooperated with other department heads and the county board and if they followed county policies, according to Skyles.

“Again, years of experience compared to your peers, compared to other employees, and compared to other supervisors that might have similar jobs,” Tinquist added.

After no further discussion, the board approved the motion.

Other business

Mindy Nuhring, Executive Director at River grand, invited a commissioner to attend a meeting of their Local Assisted Living Facility Group. Commissioner Davin Tinquist volunteered to attend, but commissioners are waiting to get an exact date and time for the meetings.

“I think Mindy is right. We need to be intune with this,” Tinquist stated.

Additionally, the board recognized staffing changes within the county departments.

Natalie Moren was recognized for transferring from Human Service Support Specialist to Office Support Specialist in the IMCare Division with Health & Human Services.

New employees—Amber Silliman, Managed Care Nurse with IMCare Division; Cory Smith and Ryan Johnson Highway Maintenance Workers with the Road & Bridge Division of the Transportation Department; and Rachel Evenson, Assistant County Attorney-Entry— were welcomed. Micah Kral has been promoted from Park Technician to Mechanic/Welder with the Road and Bridge Division Transportation Department. Commissioners also said farewell to Paula Butler. After 20 years of service, Butler will be retiring this January, 2020 as the MNChoice Assessor with Public Health Division of Health and Human Services.

Commissioners approved Commissioner Warrants in the amount of $1,055,326.06.

The board approved the authorization of the County Board Chair to approve and sign off on the County Commissioner Warrants on behalf of the entire Board of Commissioners for the check date Dec. 27, 2019.

The County Board came to the agreement to collect input from constituents and commissioners regarding public input at board meetings to prepare a Request for Board Action at the County Boards Organizational/Work Session on Jan. 7, 2020.

Guy Carlson was reappointed at County Surveyor for a four-year term expiring Dec. 31, 2023.

A Legislative Delegation Luncheon with Itasca County legislators, County Board Members and department heads was scheduled for Friday, Jan. 10 at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The board approved the 2019-21 collective bargaining agreement with the Itasca County Employees’ Association.

Amendments to the Itasca County Tobacco Ordinance were approved after a public hearing was held. The ordinance had not been updated since 2002.

Commissioners approved the 2020 schedule of Itasca County Board Meetings.

Consent Agenda

The county board approved the consent agenda which included the following items:

• Approve the 2020 Liquor/Tobacco License renewals for establishments in Itasca County.

• Approve the updated IMCare Mission Statement.

• Accept and authorize the County Board Chair to sign the CMHS agreement for 2020.

• Authorize the IMCare Director to sign a one year agreement with CliftonLarsonAllen effective 12/31/2019 for the IMCare external financial audit.

• Approve and accept the Itasca County Health and Human Services 2020 Purchase of Service Contracts and corresponding contract rates; and authorize County Board Chair and Health and Human Services Director to sign said contracts.

• Authorize the IMCare Director and County Board Chair to sign an agreement with Melissa Rauzi, Jennifer Sackett, Marlene Schol and Kathryn Lavalier effective 1/1/2020.

• Authorize the IMCare Director and County Board Chair to sign a contract for Medical Director Services with Shara Pehl, effective 1/1/2020.

• Authorize the IMCare Director and County Board Chair to sign a contract for Dental Director Services with Jeff Bolz, effective 1/1/2020.

• Authorize the IMCare Director and County Board Chair to sign a contract for QI/UM Advisor Services with Peter Friedlieb, effective 1/1/2020.

• Approve the request to utilize the Recorder’s Compliance Fund for the purchase of field equipment for the Assessor’s Department

• Adopt the Resolution Re: MnDOT Detour Agreement No. 1035780, which approves the agreement and authorizes the necessary signatures.

• Adopt the ADA Transition Plan for Public Rights of Way.

Approve final payment for Contract 59826, a bridge replacement project on CR 434, and authorize the County Board Chair and Clerk to the County Board to sign the necessary documents.

• Adopt the Resolution Re: Master Subscriber Agreement for Minnesota Court Data Services for Governmental Agencies and authorize the signature of the Itasca County Sheriff to said agreement.

• Accept attached land classification list and schedule 2019 Land Classification Meeting for Tuesday, March 10 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the County Board Room.

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