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County Board accepts reviews on GIS and Coordinator positions


Fri, Jul 11th, 2003
Posted in Features

In 2000, the board enlisted the services of Bjorklund Compensation Consulting of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, a firm that reviews county job descriptions, their ongoing changes, and current duties. The firm makes recommendations on classifications that effect the grade and step each individual employee is placed at.

On May 22, 2003, Policy Coordinator Karen Brown notified the board of the final two positions to be evaluated, which would complete the first reviewals since the program was implemented. Those two positions were Appraiser in the Assessor’s office and Brown’s own Coordinator position. A position description questionnaire was completed by the county on both titles. The evaluation system is broken down into four categories: know-how, accountability, problem-solving, and working conditions.

Dave Kiehne, whose Appraiser status was reviewed, is at Grade 7 with a request that the position be upgraded to Grade 9. The reason for this is that the Appraiser position now requires competency using the Geographic Information System (GIS) program that was implemented in the county approximately two years ago. Kiehne is responsible for keeping land parcels updated as to location and ownership. The program allows for digital recordings of parcels both in the rural area and the towns. This is considerably faster and more accurate as one can pull up parcels on a screen and make changes rather than tracking down paper records of the property.

The Zoning Department is constantly making use of the program when Conditional Use Permits are requested. The GIS program will also be a critical player when the county eventually upgrades its 911 system. Targeting a call and responding to it will be speeded up immensely. Approximately half the counties in Minnesota have the program.

Bjorkland’s conclusion regarding the Appraiser’s position surprised the board as the report came back with the current Grade 7 status as before. The report stated that it was their opinion that the additional duties associated with GIS maintenance are changes brought on by the result of new technologies associated with the Appraiser’s work.

Commissioner Dahl was concerned about compensating an employee when they step forward to take on additional work. He also expressed the need for the county to remain focused on the future of the 911 system in which the GIS system is critical.

There was discussion over the possible need to create a new job description, which would center on the GIS position. Had enough information been submitted for the evaluation? Should the board come to their own conclusions? If the board veered from the recommendation, it could possibly set precedence in how future position reviews are handled. After all, noted board members, that’s why BCC had been hired in the first place - to make recommendations as a neutral party. With that, the recommendation leaving the position at a Grade 7 standing was upheld.

The Policy Coordinator’s position was up next for discussion. Bjorkland stated that additional budget responsibility and additional management responsibility for Information Systems, and the "broad authority to deal with budgetary and county-wide administrative-business related functions" of the county warranted a jump to the Grade 16 level, up from Grade 15.

Because of budget restraints, Brown suggested going with a Grade 15 Step 4, and then moving on to the Grade 16 later. Commissioner Chuck Amunrud spoke against deviating from Bjorkland’s recommendation. With very little discussion, the Grade 16 level was accepted by the board.

Job Opportunity

Building Zone

Mark Thein, Economic Development Authority, outlined a resolution, which would show the county’s intent to support a Job Opportunity Building Zone application to the Department of Employment and Economic Development. The intent of the zone is to provide tax breaks to encourage expansion and new business growth in the state.

Some of the tax exemptions provided include corporate franchise tax, income tax for operators or investors, sales tax on business purchases, capital gains tax, property tax, employment tax credit for high paying jobs, and other benefits detailed by the Department of Revenue.

Qualified businesses include those in the zone at the time of designation, business expansions to the zone, business startups, and business relocations from other states, business relocations from Minnesota if employment is increased by 20% within first year.

Commissioner Duane Bakke felt the state should have moved on this sooner as the state recently lost two potential processing plants that moved to Missouri and South Dakato where tax incentives were offered. Bakke also showed some caution as to those individuals perhaps getting too much of a tax break through loopholes, which is always a possibility.

Commissioner Amunrud was concerned about a business moving away from one area in MN to a "zone" area in the state. “Was there anything to be really gained as a whole?” he asked.

Thein felt the movement would probably effect more of the border counties. The board approved the resolution.

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