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Public Works director reappointed to four-year term: County denies pay increase for Schnieder

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County commissioners reappointed Stephen Schnieder to another four-year term as the county's public works director Tuesday, but voted to keep his salary at the same level instead of agreeing to the more than $9,000 annual pa...

WORTHINGTON - Nobles County commissioners reappointed Stephen Schnieder to another four-year term as the county’s public works director Tuesday, but voted to keep his salary at the same level instead of agreeing to the more than $9,000 annual pay increase Schnieder sought.

Schnieder’s current appointment was set to expire at the end of June. He was requesting reappointment along with a salary increase that would bring his wage more inline with salaries of fellow county public works directors.
Schnieder, whose career with Nobles County began in 1983, told commissioners his pay increases in recent years have been the result of Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) approved by the county board. After the county conducted a pay equity study more than a year ago, he said he received “almost no increase.”
Commissioner Bob Demuth Jr. said he didn’t want to turn the county’s pay equity study “on its ear.”
“We paid good money to have it done,” Demuth said. “I think we’re at the top with Mr. Schnieder. You’re worth every penny, Steve, don’t get me wrong. We have to hang our hat on that pay equity study. If we don’t, I think we’re in trouble.”
Meanwhile, Commissioner Matt Widboom said the salary comparison with surrounding counties was worth looking at.
“I would like the salary consideration to be part of the budget process,” Widboom said.
Commissioner Donald Linssen said he, too, didn’t want to deviate from the study because of what the county spent to have it done.
“I have a hard time spending the money to do that and then changing his rate,” Linssen said. “It throws the whole pay equity thing out of compliance.”

Widboom pointed out that the pay equity studies for both Nobles and Jackson counties were conducted by the same firm.
“We have to ask the firm … why they put (the Jackson County Public Works director’s) pay considerably higher,” Widboom said.
After commissioners approved Schnieder’s reappointment and voted to keep his salary the same until it can be discussed during the budget process, Schnieder thanked the board and said, “I look forward to serving you and the public for another four years.”
In other action, the board:

  • Approved requests for five-year property tax abatements through the Nobles Home Initiative for Todd Schwebach to construct a new single-family home on Dayton Drive in Worthington, and for Clayton Schilling to construct a new home at 13927 330th St., Ellsworth.
  • Approved, on recommendation of the Nobles County Planning Commission, a conditional use permit for Lewis & Clark Regional Water System to construct a meter/booster station in Olney Township, as well as build the water line from the Rock County line to the meter/booster station. Also, the board approved a conditional use permit for Verlis Schilling to construct a 101-by-192-foot swine finishing barn in Section 18, Little Rock Township.
  • Approved a final payment of $18,840 to Wilcon Construction Inc. for completion of the stair and handrail retrofits in the Nobles County Government Center.
  • Approved an Oxford Street funding agreement in partnership with the city of Worthington and the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Schnieder said the county has participated in projects in the past whereby the county pays a share of the construction, planning and design costs. Nobles County’s share in completing this particular study will be $15,502.
  • Received an annual update on the Public Works department from Schnieder. He spoke about projects within the parks department, ordinance tweaking in the environmental services department, and the highway department’s work, which includes the street project in Dundee and plans for five bridge replacement projects this fall. He also said new lighted speed signs should be in place by the end of this month.
  • Approved a speed study request on County State Aid Highway 25 at Wilmont.
  • Deemed a tax-forfeited property at 509 Maine Ave. in Adrian as uninhabitable and added it to the county’s list of properties to be demolished. The county plans to seek bids for demolition of the buildings.
  • Recognized Barb Smith as the Excellence in Performance award recipient for April. Smith is a legal secretary in the Nobles County Attorney’s Office.
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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