County Commissioners approve final levy for 2011
By a unanimous vote at their last scheduled meeting of the year on Dec. 27, Wadena County Commissioners approved the final levy amount for property taxes for 2011, payable in 2012.
The levy amount remains unchanged from last year, at $7,902,775. Commissioners held the line on county expenditures to the best of their ability, so that there would be no increase in the county levy.
Commissioners also voted to keep their own compensation at the same level as it has been for several years. Commissioners are paid $13,390 per year, and the board chair receives an additional $1,200 per year for a total of $14,590.
There was other business to complete at the end of the year. Commissioners authorized the purchase of two new Ford vehicles for the sheriff's department, according to the approved plan for two vehicles to be replaced each year. The vehicles are replaced when they are four years old and have more than 100,000 miles on them. The two new vehicles will be purchased by state bid, which this time was awarded by the state to Nelson Auto Center of Fergus Falls.
Commissioners also approved a service agreement with Morris Electronics, to provide technical services and assistance to the county while Management Systems Information Services Director Kevin Stensrud is deployed to the Middle East for three months. Commissioners thanked Stensrud in advance for his military service and wished him well. He was scheduled to leave for his deployment on Jan. 1, 2012, and will return about March 31, 2012.
Commissioners thanked 4-H Coordinator Kris Huebsch for her five years of work for the University Extension Service. She will complete her work for the county early in January 2012.
Commissioner Lane Waldahl said, "I want another Kris. She got a lot of kids back into the program. I think you're going to be missed. You were good."
Commissioner Rodney Bounds said, "I want to thank you. I think you did very good."
Huebsch replied, "Thanks, you guys, for all your support."
Huebsch's supervisor, Marsha Woeste, attended the meeting to inform commissioners that a hiring committee would be formed to search for a replacement for Huebsch. She hoped that a person could be hired and in place by May 1.
Extension Director Jim Carlson is also retiring, effective Dec. 31, 2011. Auditor/Treasurer Char West was assigned by commissioners to be interim head of the Extension Department until a replacement for Carlson is hired.
In other business, the board:
approved four property tax abatements brought before commissioners by County Assessor Lee Brekke.
approved the purchase of 15 new 800 mHz radios to be used by various county departments so that everyone can communicate with one another. Under the current several different radio systems, the Highway Department and Social Services cannot communicate by radio with the Sheriff's Department. A grant was received to pay 80 percent of the cost of the new radios. The departments that are receiving them will share the remaining 20 percent of the cost.
approved a four-year contract with Synergy Graphics to provide election services from 2012-2016. The cost was unchanged from the previous four-year contract.
learned that the Highway Department has won a grant from the federal Local Highway Improvement Department for $174,463, to be used in 2013 to improve safety on 50.9 miles of high risk road segments in the county. The grant will pay for reflective edgelines and regular edgelines to be painted on the selected road segments. An $80,000 grant that the Highway Department won last year will be used in the summer of 2012 to improve eight high-risk intersections in the county highway system.
approved and accepted new GASB 54 accounting classifications for the county's various reserve funds.
agreed to form a committee to discuss options for security improvements for Courthouse entrances in the wake of the shooting of a county attorney in Cook County, Minn. in December.