Weather Forecast


Nobles County lowers 2012 levy

WORTHINGTON -- After failing to pass the 2012 property tax levy at $10,491,040 -- a 6.96 percent increase over the 2011 levy -- Nobles County Commissioners compromised on a 6.46 percent levy increase during Tuesday morning's meeting.

They cut another one-half percent from the levy by opting to take $100,000 from reserves to fund the ARMER (Allied Radio Matrix Emergency Response) system, and then adding $50,000 into the levy for child protection/family services if it is deemed an additional employee will need to be hired to handle the workload next year.

Commissioner Marv Zylstra said he didn't want to levy for the full $300,000 for the ARMER system when the county could take another year to pay it off.

"I would like to see us get down one more percent," Zylstra said.

Commissioner David Benson disagreed, saying he'd like to pay for the ARMER system entirely through the levy this year and be done with it.

"Lowering the levy is admirable, but then we've got to pay for it the next year," Benson said, adding that he didn't want to deplete the county's reserves and leave the next board in a difficult position.

Both Benson and Commissioner Vern Leistico voted in favor of keeping the levy increase at 6.96 percent, but the motion failed on a three-two vote. Benson then made the counter-offer as a compromise. He said if the $50,000 is not needed to fund an additional employee in the child protection area; it could go toward paying off more of the ARMER system. The new motion passed unanimously.

In other action, the board:

* Approved the retention of legal counsel for a personnel issue, following a closed session of the board.

* Approved 2012 salaries for elected officials as follows: $102,606 for county attorney; $90,064 for county sheriff; $75,982 for county auditor-treasurer; $63,502 for county recorder; and $17,510 for county commissioners. All of these salaries reflect no increase for 2012.

* Approved a request from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to purchase 8.6 acres from Nobles County Pheasants Forever in the northeast quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 26, Bigelow Township. With the approved purchase, the state will make an annual payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) of $15.26 per acre. In 2010, taxes paid on the parcel were $10.90 per acre.

* Approved the final payment of $144,561.74 for bituminous surfacing work on County State Aid Highways 6, 9 and 14 to Duininck Inc. of Prinsburg.

* Authorized the final payment of $52,421.21 to Midwest Contracting, LLC of Marshall for the bridge replacement projects on CSAH 1 and 14.

* Authorized the final payment of $132,680.29 with Knife River of St. Cloud for bituminous surfacing work on CSAH 1, 2, 27 and Nobles County 65, 68 and 70.

* Approved an agreement between the county and the city of Brewster for snow and ice removal services on CSAH 1 and 14, and Nobles County75 from Jan. 1, 2012, until further notice.

* Received an update from Cynthia Celander, Head Start program manager for SMOC. The program is in the midst of a major review conducted every three years. Celander reported that Nobles County has a higher percentage of children in the 0-5 age range than the state average, and it also has more children living in poverty, more children receiving free and reduced lunches and more families utilizing food support programs than other its neighboring counties.

* Tabled once again a request from Daniel Bohn to add another driveway to his parcel in Section 20, Hersey Township, as two of the commissioners did not get out to the property to view the area. Bohn is requesting a second driveway to be able to maneuver his grain semi on the property. If approved, he would have to pay for the installation, which he wants to do next spring, and the county would cover maintenance costs associated with the culvert under the driveway.

* Approved the master agreement for the dissolution of the Nobles-Rock Community Health Joint Powers.

* Ratified the contract with the AFSCME union of maintenance workers for 2012-2014 with a change in hours worked from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, changes in the language for post healthcare and pay increases. In 2012, workers will receive step increases with no cost of living adjustment (COLA). Year two of the contract includes step increases and a 1.25 percent COLA; and year three includes steps and a 2 percent COLA.

* Approved a 4-year service agreement with Avera Worthington Specialty Clinic that includes the appointment of Dr. Greg Clark as coroner.

* Approved an increase in the 2012 monthly county cafeteria contribution amount from $530 to $550 for full-time employees.

* Authorized a county credit card for library director Julie Wellnitz.

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

(507) 376-7330