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Gibson asks for job definition

Mike Gibson defended his work for Wadena County during a discussion when he asked commissioners to clarify parameters for work they asked him to do after his official responsibility as a human resources consultant ended earlier this year.

There is a limit to how much of this "ongoing nitpicking" he can take, Gibson said on a tape of the June 2 county board meeting.

"The fact of the matter is you've had some tasks that you felt needed to get done and you felt I could get it done," he said. "You don't have to be ashamed of that just because you campaigned against this position."

New commissioners Rodney Bounds and Ralph Miller said they did not believe the county needed a county coordinator/human resources type position when they ran for election last fall.

The county signed a professional services agreement with Gibson in March 2008 after approving a motion to appoint him in January of that year. His responsibilities included union negotiations, personnel issues, and researching whether or not the county needs to create a permanent coordinator or human resources type position. Gibson gave a report in January where he strongly recommended the county create a position to serve between the board and department heads to provide what he described as a "global view."

Commissioners did not vote on whether or not to accept his recommendation, but retained his services to finalize contract negotiations with the 49ers union, deal with certain personnel issues and oversee the reorganization of the solid waste department following the temporary closing of the transfer station in March.

It was his duties regarding solid waste that prompted Gibson to approach the board for job clarification after Bounds questioned the extent his role had taken.

"I just want to clear the air," Gibson said. "I want to do what you asked me to do. Rather than have it an issue anymore tell me, one, if you want me to go home I'll go home, if you want me to help let me know."

Gibson explained that his role with the solid waste reorganization grew after the solid waste department liaison on the county board and the chairman of the board asked him to attend meetings at the Perham incinerator. That, in turn, grew into looking into whether Wadena County could collaborate with other counties to handle some of the solid waste issues that aren't being handled efficiently in Wadena County.

"Am I working out of my parameters then?" Gibson asked.

Bounds said he probably is. Gibson wasn't, in his opinion, supposed to work on collaborating with other counties, he said. Gibson was supposed to handle any solid waste issues and then "that was the end of that."

Commissioner Bill Stearns pointed out the county board did authorize Gibson to look into collaborating with other counties on solid waste issues when it approved the solid waste committee's recommendations for reorganizing the department. The recommendation approved April 7 directed Gibson "to contact surrounding County Boards through Administrators to see if they are interested in collaborating/sharing a solid waste management situation."

"So Mr. Gibson was directed by the board to do exactly what he was doing," Stearns said.

Bounds said that he was thinking of funds in regards to Gibson's work on the situation. Solid Waste has hired temporary employees and he would like to look at which of Gibson's responsibilities staff can do.

"Get them involved with the decisions," he said about the two new staff.

Stearns said there is a lot of paper work that has to be filed with the state and that would take the men away from their truck-driving responsibilities.

Gibson said the men out there don't have a lot of time on an everyday basis to leave and attend meetings in other counties.

"I strongly suggest in order to see through some of these items you do need somebody that's involved that is not going to be tied up with the everyday duties at the plant itself," Gibson said.

Bounds said department heads must of had some reason for recommending that a $70,000 budget for a possible county coordinator position be eliminated from the 2009 budget.

"So when do we wean ourselves from you working for the county and let new employees out there ... start taking some of the responsibility?" Bounds asked.

Gibson told the board that it was up to them to make a decision about his work for the county.

He said he could stick to solid waste issues and leave human resources issues and grievances to commissioners.

Stearns said that prior to Gibson the county dealt with several grievances that cost thousands of dollars.

Commissioners eventually agreed to have Auditor/ treasurer Char West clear requests for human resources services from department heads before they go to Gibson.

The board did not make any changes to Gibson's solid waste responsibilities.