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County commissioners approve pay increases for themselves

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WORTHINGTON -- Just days before two county employees lose their jobs and another two have their hours cut, Nobles County commissioners on Tuesday approved a pay increase for themselves.

The five members on the board will see their commissioner salaries increase from $17,000 to $17,510 as of Jan. 1. Commissioner Vern Leistico, who requested the 3 percent increase, said it still will not be enough to cover the more than $800 increase they will see in their costs for insurance in the coming year.

"Really, we're going to be in the hole from where we were last year," Leistico said.

Commissioners approved the pay increase on a 4-1 vote, with board chair Marv Zylstra voting against it. Zylstra, who served on the budget committee with outgoing commissioner Gene Foth, said he thought they did not budget for the pay increase. Foth agreed, saying he also thought the increase was left out.

The per diem rate of up to $100 per day, which is paid to commissioners each time they attend meetings on behalf of the county, will remain the same.

Commissioners will get the same 3 percent cost of living adjustment as employees in all six of the county's bargaining groups, who are in their final year of a three year contract.

When those contracts were negotiated, the county approved to a 3 percent COLA increase each year, however the first two years of the contract called for a 1.5 percent increase each on Jan. 1 and July 1. The third year of the contract had a one-time 3 percent increase on Jan. 1.

In addition to boosting their own salaries on Tuesday, commissioners approved the salaries for elected officials within the county. The positions and salaries are as follows: County Attorney: $102,606; Auditor-Treasurer: $75,982; Recorder: $63,502; and Sheriff: $90,064.

Salaries of department heads, while not singled out during the board meeting, were approved as part of the county's overall budget. Those salaries are as follows:

* Nobles County Administrator: $115,086.

* Nobles County Public Works director: $102,606.

* Family Services director (shared position with Pipestone County, signed under Pipestone County contract): $78,804.

* Nobles County Assessor: $72,862.

* Nobles County Court Administrator (position is shared with Rock County, but is funded through a state contract): $72,265.

* Rock-Nobles Community Corrections director: $68,224.

* Nobles County Information Technology director: $60,091.

* Nobles County Emergency Management director (cut to three-fifths time as of Jan. 1): $30,713.

Salaries for the Nobles-Rock Public Health director and Nobles County Library director are not available, as the public health director position will not be filled in 2011, and the library director position will be vacant as of Jan. 1 due to the retirement of the current director.

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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