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Commissioners review department budgets


Fri, Aug 15th, 2003
Posted in Features

The county board, as part of their budget review process, met with a number of department heads on Tuesday.•Recorder’s Office. Recorder Richard Mensink informed the board that for every document the office updates and files, the state requires that $1 be put aside in a fund, which is currently at $24,000. This money is to be used for department equipment. Mensink stated that there haven’t been any expenditures from the fund in a couple of years. It is his intent that when the courthouse remodeling project is completed that several computers will be replaced as they are very outdated and have an ongoing tendency to lock-up while in use. The Recorder is also looking at a new Indexing Program that will include electronic reporting, and would allow clients to go on-line for a monthly fee. The current program was developed in the ‘80’s and there won’t be any software support available next year. Due to lower interest rates, the office has been unusually busy this year having made over 75,000 copies for documents compared to the average figure of 40,000. A lot of businesses are refinancing with each "job" producing 15 pages. This has produced a considerable boost in income for the department and a challenge in the turnover time for each document. Mensink said his staff has done an excellent job in completing the recording of real estate transactions, abstracts, researching liens, and completing it in a timely fashion. Having made all these notations, Mensink directed his presentation toward his salary as an elected official."I really feel I’ve fallen behind, though its probably not a good time to ask,” put forth Mensink. He backed his reasoning with a 2003 elected official salary comparison report that includes nine other nearby counties. The average, without Fillmore, is $47,447.08. Mensink felt Wabasha would be the closest comparison with Fillmore County and its recorder’s salary is at $51,159.00. Mensink is at $43,860.00. He has requested $50,000.00. The board will take these numbers into consideration when digesting final budget numbers. •Highway Department. High-way Engineer John Grindeland and Pam Schroeder outlined the proposed budget. The biggest hike was insurance increases with more than a $25,000 jump in costs. This is coverage through MCIT on employees and equipment. MCIT is based on a pool of customers, with some of the pool members turning in large claims throughout the past year. Though the county hasn’t had any large claims, they must bear the brunt of the pool as a whole. Funds have been set aside for replacing four of the oldest computers in order to keep up with new programs. It was noted that at least two of these computers were the oldest in the county and have outlived their usefulness. On the maintenance end, there is a 10-year rotation plan, which was implemented last year. A 24-year old Case loader, a 19-year old grader, and a mower will be replaced. According to Grindeland, keeping equipment too long costs more in upkeep and has a lesser re-sale value. The total maintenance expenses for 2004 is set a $660,000. Authorization was given to purchase up to three 2003 1/2-ton extended cab 4x4 pickups, which meet state specifications. Grindeland said they’d go on line to do their searching. Five trucks will be eliminated from the fleet, and two trucks will be passed down to shops. Trucks are on a rotational schedule according to state mandates. The county is behind in its rotation. The office will research the best way to sell the older models.•Facilities Maintenance. Dale Olson was commended by Commissioner Helen Bicknese on the job his team has done with all the moving of equipment and furniture during the construction work. She asked that he pass this along to his team.Discussion focused on upcoming fuel bills as it has been forecasted that prices will make a major leap this winter. Due to construction, some of the building won’t have to be heated as before. Olson felt updated lighting will also soften the electric bill a bit. Once construction is completed and gas prices have made their dent, a better evaluation will be made for the following season.•County Attorney. Assistant County Attorney Matt Opat "didn’t change a whole lot" with the budget. The former County Attorney, who has stepped in to help cover the office for Brett Corson who is on military leave, said that as construction is completed, there will be some computers changed out and furniture purchased. Law books are now available on the Internet, which helps cut costs.



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