WORTHINGTON — After a special meeting of the Nobles County board this morning, which included guidance from the county’s labor attorney, commissioners voted unanimously to offer the position of county attorney to their second choice, Joseph Sanow, the current assistant Redwood County attorney.

The decision was made after Assistant Nobles County Attorney Adam Johnson declined the job offer last week. The position was advertised at a salary of $91,728. Johnson was requesting $110,000.

Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson said in reviewing the process with Human Resources Director Sue Luing, he was told that an offer was extended to Adam Johnson at $91,728.

“He declined that; he said it wasn’t acceptable,” Tom Johnson said. “Sue and him continued talking. He said he would accept the $110,000 that he put on his application, and later made it sound as though $100,000 was acceptable.

“Sue had no authority but to make the offer at $91,728.”

Tom Johnson said he sought an opinion from labor attorney Ann Goering, and she repeated the board’s options via phone during Monday’s meeting.

The options included rescinding the offer to Adam Johnson and making it again at the same salary, extending an offer to him at a different salary, making an offer to a different candidate or reopening the application process.

“Any offer is available to you,” Goering advised.

Current Nobles County Attorney Kathleen Kusz, whose retirement takes effect Sept. 30, told commissioners Monday that while she was not part of the interview committee, she had learned about their No. 2 choice and his experience.

“I just want to make sure that you are aware that if you go with your No. 2 option here, you would be hiring somebody with less experience overall — and less criminal experience in particular — than any of the people he would be supervising,” Kusz said. “To the extent that would matter to you, I just want to make sure you are aware of that. It was unlikely that you would know the experience of the other assistants in my office.”

Commissioner Don Linssen said the job was posted at a set salary, and he said it wasn’t seen as a negotiation.

“It’s like any other job — this is what the value is,” Linssen said. “I have a problem with going beyond that.”

“I’m a little disappointed,” added Commissioner Bob Demuth Jr. “It was specified salary, application was made knowing a specified salary, interview was offered at a specified salary. I think a lot of time and resources have been spent with Adam Johnson knowing that he would not accept $91,728.”

Commissioner Justin Ahlers then moved to offer the position to Sanow, with a start date of Oct. 1 at the annual salary of $91,728.

“I think that obviously Mr. Johnson has indicated he is not interested in the (salary) at this time. Therefore I think we should move on,” Ahlers said. “I feel (Sanow) did seem very qualified. I liked his land-use training as well as the fact that he has prosecution experience.”

The motion was approved unanimously.

Original post:

WORTHINGTON — After a special meeting of the Nobles County board this morning, which included guidance from the county’s labor attorney, commissioners voted unanimously to offer the position of county attorney to their second choice, Joseph Sanow, the current assistant Redwood County attorney.

The decision was made after Assistant Nobles County Attorney Adam Johnson declined the job offer last week. The position was advertised at a salary of $91,728. Johnson was requesting $110,000.