WORTHINGTON - With the Nobles County finance department short two employees, including a cost accountant that had previously been based in the public works office, commissioners on Tuesday spent considerable time discussing what to do with the job opening.

Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder said when the county decided to move the cost accountant position from the highway department to the finance department at the government center, it created some challenges.

“The person was supposed to go back and forth, but that didn’t really happen,” Schnieder said. “A lot of the communication between the parties got lost and our staff was picking up more of the pieces. Things were not getting done, forms weren’t completed and management was falling behind.”

He told commissioners he had no way of knowing if the accountant was getting the work done.

“There was a lot of things the accountant did within the office structure that got set aside because they were no longer there to do it,” he added.

Schnieder said the county’s plan to streamline the highway department’s accounting into the finance department “was not working as well as it was hoped or intended,” and he requested the county consider putting the position back at the public works building.

“It’s a position that’s very specialized for public works,” he added.

Schnieder surveyed other counties about their cost accountant positions, and all of them had the position within the highway department. He also noted that the state contributes funding to highway departments for administration and financing.

“Part of that is my job and part is the cost accountant’s position,” Schnieder said.

Nobles County moved the cost accountant position under the finance department more than a year ago in the hopes of creating efficiencies. Finance Director Jerry Vyskocil said he believes those efficiencies can still be had if the position stays within his department and he can fill the open payroll administrator job.

“I understand Steve’s frustration and not having his accountant in house,” Vyskocil said. He told commissioners that if they want to relocate the position to the public works facility, they will need to rewrite the job description. However, he said if they want to continue with centralized accounting, he needs to fill the opening.

Commissioner Justin Ahlers said he supports moving the cost accountant position back to the public works facility, but Commissioner Donald Linssen urged fellow board members to give the issue more thought.

“I think we need to look at this a little bit longer than five minutes this morning,” Linssen said. “This is going to be long-range. I think we need to put our time into this and make an educated decision.”

In the end, commissioners voted to cease advertising for the position of cost accountant until they can determine the job description and location for the position.

In other action, the board:

  • Resolved to support a request for an increase in transportation funding. Schnieder said transportation needs are estimated to be underfunded by $3 million a year in the county.
  • Authorized trading in two mowers in the public works department and then leasing two new John Deere mowers from C&B Operations.
  • Approved a request for a temporary on-sale liquor license for the Worthington Elks Lodge 2287 for a one- to four-day permit at the site of 12171 Eckerson Ave., Wilmont.
  • Received an update from Veterans Services Officer Bill Brockberg as part of Nobles County Government Day. Brockberg reported on 2018 statistics, including that he conducted 176 client visits and had 2,623 client transactions. He also said use of the veterans transport van is going well and exceeding the goal of making eight veteran transports each month, and noted the need for more volunteer drivers.
  • Received an update from Joanne Bartosh of A.C.E. of Southwest Minnesota as part of National Service Recognition Day. Bartosh said her office had 438 total volunteers in 2018 who logged more than 51,100 hours of service at the 45 different entities in the county.

“If you are volunteering in the community, you are investing in the community,” Bartosh said. “It makes our communities a good place to live, a good place to raise a family and, in my world, a good place to grow old.”

  • Presented the March Excellence in Performance Award to Lourdes Garibay, office support specialist with Nobles County Community Services.
  • Announced that a performance evaluation of Administrator Tom Johnson resulted in “very satisfactory” ranking.
  • Appointed Commissioner Matt Widboom and Administrative Secretary Cathy Roos to a committee meeting to discuss the future of the Worthington Ice Arena, to include discussions on building a new arena or making improvements to the current facility.
  • Authorized payment of $48,850 to Jeppesen Gravel for demolition of tax-forfeited property in Rushmore.