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Heron Lake Watershed District votes to hire temp for administrative services

Property tax-funded district to pay four times more for temp work than what previous administrator offered on as-needed basis.

Heron Lake Watershed District S1.jpg

HERON LAKE — Following the swearing in of new managers Jason Freking of Heron Lake and Randy Lubben of Reading on Tuesday, the Heron Lake Watershed District’s board voted unanimously to hire temporary administrative services from Sartell-based Resource Training & Solutions.

HLWD Treasurer Mark Bartosh informed fellow managers that the nonprofit corporation submitted a proposal outlining a fee of $125 per hour for administrative services, along with $375 in round-trip travel time, for a White Bear Lake woman to commute nearly three hours to Heron Lake on days she is needed in the office.

“If she can do the work remotely, it would eliminate the travel time,” Bartosh said, noting the woman is a certified municipal clerk with a master’s degree in public administration and some familiarity with water. She also has access to people within the corporation who are familiar with rural water and other areas of water needs.

Bartosh said he was directed by Board of Water and Soil Resources staff in Marshall to consider the Marshall-based Southwest-West Central Cooperative to provide administrative services. While he received a lead on technology and office help, he did not mention the costs to the district for working with the cooperative.

Meanwhile, former watershed district administrator Jan Voit — who logged 38 years with the district and announced her sudden retirement last month — offered her services on an as-needed basis during the transition at an hourly fee of $30.05, a quarter of what Resource Training & Solutions charges. Voit’s offer was not mentioned at Tuesday’s meeting.

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The watershed district is funded by property taxes, as well as grants it has been awarded to complete specific projects.

“We’ve got bills that are due and payable here, and we’ve got payroll to make and all that stuff, so we’ve got to have somebody in the office ASAP to get that stuff taken care of,” said board chairman Wayne Rasche.

After an initial on-site day — scheduled for Thursday — Bartosh said he thought the woman could fulfill the district’s needs remotely. Any remote work would be charged in increments of 15 minutes, he added.

“When working remotely, if one of us can go in and help scan documents, that would help the working remotely process, which would keep our costs down a little bit more,” he shared, adding that he estimated she would need to work from the office a day to a day and a half per month.

Rasche said his guesstimate would be that the work would take less than 25 to 30 hours per month.

“With the different office abilities that she has, I’d say 15 to 20 hours a month would be closer,” Bartosh added. He said the woman is also willing to train in a new individual “at the point we’re able to hire a new person.”

More details about the district’s direction may be discussed at its regular March meeting, slated for 1 p.m. March 12 in the Heron Lake Community Center.

During Tuesday’s meeting, elections were conducted, leaving Rasche as president and Bartosh as treasurer, while Freking will fill the role of vice-president and Cory Reith, Fulda, was elected secretary.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
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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