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County assessor seeks review of staffing level

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday received a request from Assessor Joe Udermann to review staffing levels in the assessor's office. Currently, a staff of three is cross-trained to work with individuals and complete property inspections. Both Jackson and Cottonwood counties have a staff of six, and each has fewer parcels than Nobles County.

Udermann said if they are unable to complete their required inspections, the county would be in violation of state statute.

"We're working with limited resources," Udermann told commissioners. "Even though we have local assessors, the county is ultimately responsible to see that the work gets done."

Board chairman David Benson suggested visiting further with Udermann and other department heads to vision about possibilities on the second floor, including cross-training employees from the auditor-treasurer's office and the recorder's office to cover the assessing department when staff needs to be out of the office to do inspections.

Udermann said he knew employees in other offices on the second floor were very busy, and that licensure requirements for those in the assessor's office are different.

A meeting was planned for Tuesday afternoon between two county commissioners and department heads, and Benson encouraged Udermann to bring the request up for discussion at that meeting.

In other action, the board:

* Awarded a bid for energy improvement projects at the Nobles County Government Center to Prairie Sons Inc., of Brandon, S.D. Prairie Sons submitted the low bid of $654,775 with a voluntary deduct alternate of $25,217, if the existing chimney can be a conduit for a new liner.

* Approved county participation in the Southern Prairie Health Purchasing Alliance and committed to $41,212 for joining with 13 other counties. The money will be taken from the Nobles County Community Services reserve fund.

* Approved a conditional use permit for Tom Lonneman, Adrian, to construct two 82- by 120-foot total confinement swine barns with concrete pits below in the north half of the northeast quarter of Section 33, Olney Township. The one condition placed on the permit is that both barns be completed by 2014. Lonneman plans to construct one barn this year and one barn in 2013.

* Received the annual update of the Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water system from Chief Executive Officer Dennis Healy. Since the LPRW contracted with Osceola (County, Iowa) Rural Water, between 600 and 700 hook-ups have been completed, including the communities of Brewster, Seaforth and Vesta.

* Authorized a new outlet and ordered a recommendation for the outlet fee for David and Chad Wiener to use Judicial Ditch 12 as an outlet for land they own in the northeast quarter of Section 24, Bloom Township that is not already within the assessed area of the ditch.

* Discussed the budget process for 2012; and opted to have two commissioners, the auditor-treasurer and the interim county administrator serve on a panel to hear budget requests from each department head. The full board would then review the budgets and be able to ask department leaders for specific information. Benson did encourage department heads to try to hold their budgets to current expenditures.

* Authorized a call for bids on proposed electrical upgrades to the Prairie Justice Center and masonry restoration and window replacement at the Government Center.

* Approved a request for a sheriff's deputy to take up to a six-month unpaid medical leave of absence, effective July 2.

* Approved a new contract with Larson Allen, Marshall, to continue to provide auditing services for Nobles County.

* Appointed Commissioners Diane Thier and Vern Leistico to the county canvassing board.

* Appointed Kathy Craun, Jean Meester and Charlene Wintz to the Nobles County Library Board.

* Changed the date of the second July meeting of the Board of Commissioners from July 24 to July 17.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

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