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Nobles County board OKs own raise

WORTHINGTON — Nobles County commissioners approved a 2 percent pay increase for themselves in a 3-2 vote Tuesday during the board’s final meeting of the year.

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Objecting to the increase — primarily because of its late appearance before commissioners for consideration — were Marv Zylstra and Matt Widboom.

“I would like to see us have discussion on this earlier in the year … then it’s kind of out there,” Zylstra said. “I think we are pretty much in line with other counties.”

For 2013, county commissioners were compensated at $17,510 per year with a $100 per day maximum per diem for meetings and work they do on behalf of Nobles County. A 2 percent pay increase would amount to roughly $350 in additional pay per commissioner.

While Widboom opposed the increase on the grounds of late notification, he said if commissioners failed to give themselves an increase, they might find themselves in a position of giving a greater percentage increase later on.

Board chairman Bob Demuth Jr. supported the pay increase, quantifying that it was consistent with the 2 percent cost of living adjustment approved for non-union county staff.

Administrator Tom Johnson said the salary for Nobles County commissioners is “roughly right in the middle” of neighboring counties, with annual salaries ranging from $16,000 to $27,000 per year.

In addition to commissioner pay increases, the salaries of elected county officials were approved Tuesday. They are as follows: $103,864 for the county attorney; $60,135 for the auditor-treasurer; $65,835 for the recorder; and $93,375 for the sheriff.

Commissioners also adopted the 2014 property tax levy of $11,413,867, a 4.31 percent increase over 2013. The total county budget for 2014 is $29,776,326.

In other action, the board:

- Accepted the resignation of Nobles County Assessor Joe Udermann, effective Dec. 16.

- Amended the 2013 public works budget to include $175,000 in additional money to cover expenditures related to bridge replacements, overtime for snow removal and septic system replacements.

- Approved final contract payments of $48,021.62 to Civil Ag Group for the County State Aid Highways 10 and 35 trail project; $18,013 to Henning Construction for the CSAH 14 bridge replacement in Larkin Township; and $14,141 to Henning Construction for the replacement of the Hersey Township bridge.

- Learned that bids are being sought for rural address signage in Nobles County. Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder reported that bids should be in by early January, and the project could be ready to go by April. The signs will be blue in color with white lettering.

- Received a report from Department of Natural Resources Regional Director Dennis Frederickson and DNR Area Fisheries Supervisor Ryan Doorenbos on the threat of Asian carp, an invasive fish species. The men shared information about the movement of the fish from the Little Sioux River and Iowa Great Lakes and the work being done to keep the invasive fish out of Minnesota. A project being planned includes closure of the east outlet on Herlein-Boote Slough. Doorenbos said he hopes the project can be completed yet this winter.

- Approved memorandum of agreements for flex scheduling in the courthouse, library, administration, family services and public health nurse unions for 2014.

- Approved a contract with the Department of Corrections to house three inmates through June 2014, with compensation of $45,000.

- Approved the transfer of $56,000 into the ditch fund to bring it out of a negative balance at year end. The money will be transferred back to the general fund after Jan. 1.

- Approved annual contract renewals with attorneys representing parents in child protection cases. The county has to bear the cost of appointing attorneys in cases where parents cannot pay, while the state covers attorney costs for children involved in the cases.

- Approved several agreements for Nobles County Community Services, including one in public health for an information data exchange program that will allow secure transmission of electronic health records to other providers; with the State of Minnesota for MNSure; with Avera-McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D., for 72-hour holds; a renewal agreement with UCare; a daycare consultation agreement; a service agreement with Southwestern Mental Health Center; and a purchase of service agreement with Greater Minnesota Family Services for home-based services to families at risk for out of home placements. Agreements were also approved with the Nobles County Attorney’s office for fraud investigations and enforcement of child support.

- Recognized the Nobles County Community Services staff who helped the department reach a perfect home and community-based waiver audit from the Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services.

- Approved the Frosty Riders annual trail agreement and the Department of Natural Resources Snowmobile Maintenance grant of $38,570.

- Reappointed Widboom to the Mental Health Local Advisory Council.

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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