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County sets budget; tax levy to increase 2.98 percent

WORTHINGTON -- In its final meeting of 2016, the Nobles County Board of Commissioners took care of a lot of housekeeping matters, including a vote on the 2017 budget and levy.

WORTHINGTON - In its final meeting of 2016, the Nobles County Board of Commissioners took care of a lot of housekeeping matters, including a vote on the 2017 budget and levy.

Remaining unchanged from a budget hearing earlier this month, commissioners set the 2017 budget at $34,393,328, and approved a levy of $13,189,914, representing a 2.98 percent increase over 2016.

Along with the budget, commissioners approved salaries and budgets for elected officials. In the county attorney’s office, the salary of the attorney will increase to $113,454, which includes a 2.5 percent Cost of Living Adjustment. The budget for the office was set at $586,969 with 85 to 90 percent of that comprised of salaries and benefits. The auditor-treasurer’s salary was set at $77,979, with a budget of $235,958 - a considerable decrease due to a non-election year. The salary for the county recorder was set at $75,494, with a department budget of $142,468, while the county sheriff’s salary was set at $107,689, with a 2017 budget of $3,177,457.

As part of the salary discussions, commissioners approved a 2.5 percent cost of living adjustment for themselves, bringing their annual salary to $18,813. Per diems will remain the same at $100 per day. Marv Zylstra, in his final meeting as a county commissioner, abstained from the vote on commissioner salaries.

Commissioners also amended the county’s 2016 budget due to accounts that exceeded budget expenditures. Money will be transferred from reserves to cover the extra costs. Fund balances requiring additional money were Community Services, which had more than $300,000 in unanticipated and unbudgeted expenses to deal with placement for adult mental health treatment center commitments; and the county’s tax-forfeiture fund, which exceeded costs by $50,000. Additionally, there was an excess in the county’s reserve requirement and nearly $102,000 was returned to Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water - also unanticipated when the 2016 budget was finalized.

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In other action Tuesday, the board:

  • Approved renewal of a five-year contract between Nobles County and Schaap Sanitation for recycling services. Included in the contract is a projected 5 percent increase in recycling in Nobles County between Jan. 1, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2021. Rates for residents will not increase as a result of the contract renewal.

“We have one of the most successful recycling programs,” said Eric Joens, Schaap Sanitation’s district manager, of recycling rates in Nobles County. He said the business is currently working to develop a program to offer recycling of mattresses and other bulky items. Mattress recycling will provide a cost savings to residents, he noted.

  • Reappointed Valerie Ruesch to the role of county assessor for a four-year term.

  • Authorized a letter of support be written for House of Hope, Mankato, which wants to establish an outpatient adolescent chemical dependency treatment program in Nobles County.

  • Authorized transferring $242,000 from the county’s general fund to balance out four ditch funds currently in a deficit balance. The ditches include County Ditch 2, 5 and 11, and Judicial Ditch 9. The funds will be transferred back to the general fund effective Jan. 17.

  • Rescheduled a public hearing to discuss an outlet request for Consolidated Judicial Ditch 1 to 10:30 a.m. Jan. 24.

  • Set 10:30 a.m. March 7 to conduct a public hearing on nine tax-forfeited parcels the county plans to sell at auction in 2017.

  • Approved the IRS standard mileage rate for 2017 at 53.5 cents per mile.

  • Approved the 2017 non-union compensation plan with a 2.5 percent Cost of Living Adjustment. This is the same amount unions are contracted to receive in 2017.

  • Approved an increase of 50 cents per hour, to a starting wage of $10.75, for temporary/seasonal workers in 2017.

  • Appointed the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office to provide coroner services for Nobles County.

  • Reappointed Jeff McNickle, Worthington, to the Community Services Advisory Committee; Sally Ann Johnson and Marcia LaVelle, both of Worthington, to the Developmental Achievement Center Board; Steve Schnieder, Terri Janssen and Nancy Veen to the Emergency Management Planning Advisory Committee; Troy Weitzema, Worthington, to the Joint Planning Commission; Scott Hain, Worthington, to the Personnel Board of Appeals; Larry Boots, Worthington, to the Planning Advisory Commission; and Darlene Macklin, Worthington, to Travel Southwest Minnesota Inc.

  • Recognized Commissioner Marv Zylstra for his 14 years as a county commissioner and thanked him for his service.
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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