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"What else can we do?"

Sun, Jun 25th, 2000
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Monday, June 26, 2000

The Fillmore County Board once again spent considerable time discussing the Bjorklund Compensation Study at their weekly meeting last Tuesday. This time, however, the board seemed intent on making some progress with it.

As commissioner Robert Underbakke said, "It seems like Bjorklund has been given all the information and hes looked at it. What else can we do but accept it?"

The study, which was first presented to the board in March, determined that the wages of Fillmore County employees were 21% below market value. Bjorklund recommended that all county salaries be upgraded to 95% of market value. Bjorklund estimated that it would cost the county $168,875 to implement the salary increase for the first year.

Commissioner Duane Bakke agreed with Underbakke that it was time to move forward. "Weve got to get this thing going in order to know what were going to do for budgets next year," he said. "Weve asked all kinds of questions of Bjorklund and from a policy and financial position we should implement the 95% and be done with it."

Bakke then made a motion that would bring all non-union employees to their minimum pay grade and to move the employees currently in between classification steps to the next step.

The motion passed.

County policies

Coordinator Karen Brown reported that there was a consensus among the county department heads, that there needed to be more work done on county policies. They were specifically concerned about the procedures relating to employee evaluations and job classifications.

"The department heads feel like they are the ones who can best make the determination of an employees status and as to how they should be classified," Brown said.

The board discussed at length their involvement in the evaluation and classification process. A vast array of potential implications and possible scenarios were raised, including even moving to a merit system for salary increases instead of the current system which is based on tenure.

In the end the board decided to continue working on the policy question through the department head committee. They also voted to not accept any job re-classification requests until July, 2001.


Commissioner Helen Bicknese reported that the courthouse committee was looking at the asbestos problem in the courthouse. Due to the planned installation of an elevator and the removal of old asbestos-laden building materials the board has been looking at different options.

"It seems to me like we should think about our employees here and get rid of all the asbestos in the building and be done with it," Commissioner Don Boyum said.

"Every time you change a light bulb in the ceiling down here youre risking exposure," Coordinator Brown said.

The breakdown in projected costs to remove the asbestos in the building was: ceiling -- $53,000; floor tile -- $41,000 thermal wrapping -- $34,000.

"We dont have a solid recommendation from the courthouse committee yet," Boyum said. "Its still under discussion."

"Maybe they cant get 100 percent of it without tearing the building down," Bakke wondered.

"We need to find out how much money is available for this," Boyum concluded.
Flood update

Emergency services manager Larry Hunt reported on the latest flood damage estimates in the county. He said that he was sending in the reports from the cities and townships of the county on to the state.

The report indicated damages of: Personal: $831,985; Infrastructure: $2,351,100; Business: $583,354.

Hunts report concluded that the total estimated damage was $4,520,327. This amount is at the minimum of what a presidential declaration calls for, Hunt told the board. "I dont know what the state will do with this," he said.

Hunt expressed disappointment at how some of the FEMA teams conducted their damage assessment studies.

"They talked to people, but in many cases they didnt look at the actual damage," he said.

Board chairman Gary Peterson seemed to agree. "I think it would have been helpful if they had notified the homeowners that they were coming around." Peterson said that in many cases nobody was home to talk with the FEMA people.

Agenda dilemma

Even though it was not on their agenda, the board agreed to allow county engineer Steve Voigt to open bids he had received for the purchase of a tractor for the highway department.

Voigt said that his shop people had called the three vendors who had submitted the bids. Commissioners Bicknese and Boyum became concerned that all the equipment dealers in the county had not been notified. After checking back with the shop, Voigt responded that only the three bids had been solicited.

The problem was compounded by the fact that the three bids were now part of the public record; and if the other dealers were now notified and asked to submit bids, they would know the amounts they were bidding against. The possibility of a bidding war loomed, Voigt said.

"This is the danger of adding things to the agenda at the last minute," Board chairman Gary Peterson said. "It seems like we could learn . . ."

The board was faced with two options: to either accept the current low bid or to go through another closed bidding process.

Commissioner Bicknese made a motion to reject all the quotes, which would start the process over, but none of the other commissioners jumped on board to second it, and the motion died.

"I move to go with Hammels low quote," Bakke said.

The motion passed four to one, with Bicknese voting against.

And with that out of the way, the meeting was adjourned.

The vote was unanimous.

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