Wilkening granted $8K raise; Nobles County commissioners consider salaries during Tuesday meeting

WORTHINGTON -- The Nobles County Board of Commissioners granted Sheriff Kent Wilkening an $8,000 raise Tuesday morning, increasing his salary 7.2 percent from $110,920 to $118,920.

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WORTHINGTON - The Nobles County Board of Commissioners granted Sheriff Kent Wilkening an $8,000 raise Tuesday morning, increasing his salary 7.2 percent from $110,920 to $118,920.

Wilkening appeared in front of the commissioners Tuesday to request an annual salary of $122,920, basing the number on his job performance, his years of service and the increased responsibilities of the office. In September, Wilkening presented the commissioners with a recap of his salary over the last nine years, pointing out that the only significant increase was in 2015 when he was moved from $93,375 to $102,750.

Questionnaires prepared by Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson had previously sent to the county’s elected officers “so commissioners had more information to consider when setting salary,” Johnson said. Wilkening, along with Nobles County Attorney Kathleen Kusz, Recorder-elect Thelma Yager and auditor-treasurer-elect Joyce Jacobs, received the questionnaires, which Johnson described as an opportunity for elected officers to share details related to their position’s responsibilities with commissioners.

Kusz, Yager and Jacobs responded before Tuesday’s meeting, and Wilkening didn’t, Johnson said.

Speaking to the board Tuesday, Wilkening said he chose not to fill out the questionnaire, feeling that someone of his experience shouldn’t have to answer what he considered to be “insulting” questions that were included. His background, his education and his experience have never been unknown, he said.


“It seems like I come in every four years asking you to keep me in line with the other sheriffs in the state, and most of them have less experience,” Wilkening said. “When I retire in four years, I’ll be the second-longest serving in Nobles County.”

The sheriff said he did his own research before setting his asking price. Most sheriffs get a 3-5 percent increase every year, he told the commissioners, and that hasn’t been done in Nobles County.

“We always fall behind. We never get credit for experience,” he continued.

Wilkening also said his responsibilities grow every year, and he produced three thick manuals that he’s required to learn. All the manuals grow along with his responsibilities, he said.

Commissioner Bob Demuth Jr. asked Wilkening if he would settle for anything less than the requested amount. Wilkening answered that he could accept $120,000.

Commissioner Gene Metz proposed an $8,000 increase. The motion was carried without dissent.

Tuesday’s county commissioners’ meeting also dealt with the other elected positions, as well as the commissioners’ compensation.

Kusz was approved for a cost-of-living adjustment, increasing her annual salary from its current $117,425 figure. Yager, meanwhile, was approved for a yearly salary of $62,521.54.


Jacobs asked to be paid $79,307 per year; she’s currently making $63,102 as emergency management director. The minimum salary for auditor/treasurer was established at $72,651 at a Jan. 2, 2018, board meeting.

Jacobs’ new salary was approved at $74,467.78.

County commissioners’ salaries are currently at $19,236 per year. The commissioners collectively agreed Tuesday that their $150 per day per diem payments are sufficient. Commissioner Don Linssen moved for an increase of 2.5 percent, which was approved without dissent.

In other action, the board:

  • Was told by Wilkening that the city of Worthington will continue being a fiscal agent for the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force for 2019.
  • Approved $14,545 for Split Rock Landscaping for work done around the Nobles County Government Center. Approximately $100,000 is being withheld over concerns about work quality.
  • Approved an updated version of the mutual aid agreement to add the Upper Sioux and Lower Sioux Tribal Nations. An emergency management performance grant was approved for $22,185, which is $52 less than last year. Jacobs said the work is mostly done.
  • Set 2019 temporary/seasonal worker wages for a 50-cent increase, which is $12.50 starting pay. An additional 2.5 percent increase for the 2019 non-union compensation plan was approved.
  • Approved a contracting bid for the spray foam portion of the Prairie Justice Center project with Midwest Spray Foam of Sibley, Iowa, amounting to $6,952. An additional $5,000 was approved for additional work, if needed.
  • Accepted a bid from Jeppesen Gravel of Sibley for $49,850 to demolish tax-forfeited property in Rushmore.
  • Heard from Nobles County Public Works Director Steve Schnieder, who said the 2019 bituminous overlay project is ready to proceed. Permission was granted to advertise for bids for both projects.
  • Heard from Anita Benson of Stonebrooke Engineering about proceeding with a Nobles County Highway Americans with Disability Act transition plan. The plan would update the county response to laws that require access to all public facilities, including pedestrian facilities such as sidewalks and crossings.

The county has 237 pedestrian ramps, including 112 in Worthington. There was no public input at Tuesday’s meeting; public input continues to be allowed until the board’s December meeting.

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at
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