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County sets not-to-exceed levy

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WORTHINGTON -- Commissioners set Nobles County's not-to-exceed levy at $9,568,807, reflecting a .6 percent increase over the 2009 levy, during their regular board meeting on Tuesday.

The 2010 requested levy came in at $9,357,296, representing a 1.52 percent drop in the 2009 levy. With additional budget considerations factored in -- including a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for county employees, an increase in contributions to the county's cafeteria plan due to a rise in rates, and an increase of more than $11,000 in the library's maintenance of effort agreement with the state -- the county is looking at a maximum levy increase of .6 percent.

Pending further negotiations, the levy increase could also include reinstating the 3 percent levy strictly earmarked for county roads and bridges. That special dedication was reduced by $40,000 during budget discussions with the county's public works department.

"If we would levy that reduction back, that would change (the levy) just a little bit," said board chairman David Benson. "I would like to suggest that -- to put that (fund) back up to where it's been."

The commissioners were quick to recognize the work of department heads to cut wherever they could in the 2010 budget.

"The department heads came in and they did a lot of good work," said Benson. "They really helped us out. It reflects on staff, too."

"Earlier in 2009 we knew the budgets were going to get tighter," added Commissioner Marv Zylstra. "Hats off to all the departments."

As is required, commissioners set a public hearing on the levy request for 6 p.m. on Dec. 1. The county's board meeting will follow the public hearing that day.

In other business, the board:

l Authorized Nobles County Administration to conduct an internal search to fill a vacant four-fifths position at the county library in Worthington.

Librarian Roger Spillers requested the position of Secretary I be refilled at 35 hours per week.

"I am very worried about this position -- it is one of our key positions," Spillers told the board. "By the end of the year, with this position vacant, we will be about six months behind in our cataloging."

Benson suggested the potential to fill the position internally for now in light of the county's budget situation, and because the county is moving forward with the city in discussions on a possible new library.

"We are going to expand and go into a new library, at which time there's going to be a whole different scenario," Zylstra added. "We're going to need more help."

l Accepted the low bid of $610,746 from R&G Construction, Marshall, for the replacement of bridge No. 6434 on County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 13, south of Rushmore; and the replacement of bridge No. 5903 on CSAH 15, north of I-90. The work is anticipated to be completed in late October or early November, according to Nobles County Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder.

l Learned that work is finishing up on the bridge replacement in Larkin Township.

l Accepted a 2009 Emergency Management Performance grant of $16,652 from the Minnesota Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

l Authorized Emergency Management Director Dan Anderson to do some proactive planning with county departments on the H1N1 novel influenza virus.

l Set 9 a.m. Sept. 23 as a special meeting with the Regional Radio Board.

l Set 9:05 a.m. Oct. 6, for a public hearing on the relocation of Judicial Ditch No. 10, south of Worthington. The relocation is necessary due to the four-lane expansion project of Minnesota 60.

l Approved a variety of contract renewals, waivered service contracts, shared position contracts and a contract with the Worthington Police Department for fraud investigations for the county's family services department.

l Approved a resolution of support for a change in the county's employee benefit plan (VEBA). As it's currently written, employees who do not have a legal dependent -- a spouse or child -- cannot designate their benefits to go to any other beneficiary. In those cases, the benefits go back into the VEBA system. The county wants to pursue a change in the language to allow those employees to designate someone other than a non-legal dependent as a beneficiary.

l Approved the third- quarter appropriation of $7,135 to RSVP.

l Approved the appointments of Lester Johnson and Jim Mc Gowan to the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District board.

l Appointed Bruce Heitkamp, Adrian City Administrator, and Stephen Schnieder to the regional trail plan steering committee. Other local representatives include Glenn Thuringer and Dwayne Haffield.

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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