For the last several weeks, department heads have been reviewing their proposed 2019 budgets with commissioners during county board meetings. Budgets reviewed at the September 4 meeting included those related to community services, the sheriff’s department, soil and water conservation district, and the coordinator/auditor/treasurer offices.
Having completed this preliminary process, Coordinator Bobbie Vickerman reported that using the numbers requested by department heads, the levy increase could be 8.06%. The levy increase would be about $842,612. This would amount to $541.40 per capita. County Program Aid for 2019 will be $777,764. The CPA increase from 2018 will be $78,766.
The county will pay $243,853 in 2019 for its bond payment, for the bond reissued in 2010 (the original bond was taken out in 2003). This will retire $225,000 of the county debt.
The board has donated $350,000 for the proposed veterans home. The preliminary levy numbers without this donation would show about a 4.7% increase. Budget numbers include a 2.5% cost of living increase for employees and a 15% or more increase in health insurance costs.
Commissioner Randy Dahl suggested only half of the veterans home donation should be included in the levy. This would bring the levy increase down to approximately 6.38%.
Commissioner Duane Bakke wants every department to revisit their numbers to look for savings or added revenue and report back before the September 11 meeting.
Dahl added he didn’t see anything he especially disagreed with in proposed expenditures, adding I would like to capture as much revenue as possible.
The preliminary levy has to be set by the end of September. Vickerman noted she has already spoken to Sheriff Tom Kaase and Social Service Manager Kevin Olson about possible savings or additional revenues. Bakke said highway, being the other large department, may also find some savings.
Bakke asked about the county’s unallocated reserves and where they were compared to a year ago. Vickerman responded that they probably have added to reserves over the last year. She noted they have been building the fund balance over the last four years. If some funds were taken out of reserves for the veterans home donation, Bakke wanted to be assured to at least keep reserves even from this year to the next. Vickerman said she was pretty comfortable saying that the veterans home donation could come out of reserves.
Another upcoming expense is the construction of the Chatfield Highway shop; half of the expected cost is in highway’s 2019 budget with the rest in highway’s 2020 budget.
Bakke noted that with the elimination of the IT department, the county will save $161,000 by contracting out to Marco for complete managed IT services. Vickerman explained they have to determine which technology projects and upgrades to do in 2019. Some will be phased in and some will wait until 2020. Sixty-five thousand dollars has been budgeted to invest in an upgraded phone system.
Tessia Melvin, David Drown and Associates, and Human Resources officer, Kristina Kohn reviewed the progress of the job descriptions for a classification and compensation study. The county employs about 170 people, of which about 150 are full-time employees.
Melvin reported that 68 job descriptions were completed. Employees were included in this process. Fifteen appeals were made, some just small changes. She said she and Kohn were here today to make a recommendation to the board to approve the job descriptions, with some changes already made as a result of the appeals.
The minimum requirement for education and experience is listed for each position (not necessarily what is preferred). This is to get a good pool of applicants who are qualified without eliminating some candidates from consideration.
Employees will again have a chance to review job descriptions when job classifications are being done. The next steps are a market study, job classifications, budget implementation or the cost of a new system, unions, a final report to the county board, the presentation of a new pay system, and implementation.
Employees have looked at the job descriptions and some suggested changes were made. Melvin said she wanted the board to formally give their agreement to the job descriptions presented. The job descriptions for the classification and compensation study were approved unanimously.
A revised benchmark position list for the compensation study was approved. The revision removed the position of county administrator. The county coordinator position is included, which also reflects administrator duties already part of the current coordinator’s duties.
Other business in brief
• Approval was given for the hire of a replacement full-time Deputy Sheriff, Alex Hartley, effective September 21.
• Bakke announced that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Catalpa LLC have agreed to extend the period to December 31, 2018, for the MPCA to make their declaration as to whether further environmental review will be required for the proposed hog farrowing facility.