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County agrees to contract with city

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County Commissioners, in a 3-2 margin, approved a prosecution services contract with the City of Worthington during their board meeting on Tuesday.

The new contract, which has the city paying 25 percent of the county attorney office budget, will begin Jan. 1, 2009 and continue for three years. During the contract years, a time study has been suggested to determine the proper share of the cost the city should cover.

Tuesday's vote meant the county will go back to the 25 percent rate it had collected from the City of Worthington, despite a move commissioners made in February to terminate the contract. That decision was due to the expense of farming out some of the city's prosecution work.

When the city asked to work with the county on a new contract -- one that would include hiring another full time attorney and a part-time support staff position -- the county proposed increasing the city's share to 30 percent. When that offer was rejected by the city, a counter-offer at the 25 percent rate was sent back to the county.

On Tuesday, County Administrator Mel Ruppert told commissioners the costs to the county will increase not only with the hiring of another attorney, but also with the increased workload in the office because the county attorney's office now needs to do transcription work.

"The cost will be greater to the county without the contract," added Nobles County Attorney Gordon Moore. "The city is willing to pay a premium to continue the relationship with the county attorney's office."

Commissioner David Benson said, "I'm convinced ... this is a mutually beneficial relationship on both our parts.

"I feel comfortable. I think this is pretty fair," Benson added.

Commissioner Norm Gallagher expressed concern about the city already receiving an outside offer to handle the prosecutorial duties. He said county government should not be in competition with a private business to do contract work, and therefore voted against renewal of the contract.

County Board chair Diane Thier, who cast the other vote in opposition to the contract, maintained that the contract was too costly for the county.

In other action, the board:

* Accepted the low bid of $204,619.96 for pavement marking services. The lowest bid of three bids received was accepted from Traffic Marking Services of Maple Lake.

* Granted second quarter appropriations of $9,400 for Worthington Regional Economic Development Commission; $8,250 for Nobles County Historical Society; $7,135 for RSVP; $7,291.20 for RSVP's one-time per capita allocation; $6,875 for Nobles County Fair Association; and $2,205 for Nobles County Art Center.

* Approved a joint powers agreement for the Southwest Regional Radio Board, and appointed Marv Zylstra as the county representative on the board, which encompasses 13 counties of southwest Minnesota and their law enforcement agencies.

* Received annual reports from Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water, Red Rock Rural Water and the Southwest Minnesota Opportunity Council.

* Approved closure of Nobles County State Aid Highways 11 and 30 in Ellsworth from 6:30 to 8 p.m. June 7, for the community's Fun Days celebration and parade.

* Reappointed Commissioner Marv Zylstra to the Emergency Medical Services board.

* Authorized to proceed with the second phase of upgrades to the county's Web site.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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