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Bounds takes helm of Wadena County Board

The Wadena County Commissioners held their first board meeting of 2011, with the newly elected an re-elected county commissioners on Jan. 4.

County Auditor/Treasurer Charleen West called the meeting to order, then called for nominations for the new board chairman. Commissioner Ralph Miller nominated Commissioner Rodney Bounds for chairman. No other nominations were made, and Bounds was appointed the board chairman.

Bounds nominated Miller and Commissioner Bill Stearns nominated Commissioner Lane Waldahl for vice chairman. A roll call vote was taken and with a 3-2 vote, Miller was elected board vice chairman.

Wadena County water plan presentation

Kari Tomperi with Wadena County Soil and Water District presented proposed changes and amendments to the County's Water Protection Plan. Tomperi intended to hold a public hearing on Jan. 4; however, proper notice was not able to be published, and the Water Protection Plan Public Hearing will be held Feb. 1 at 9:30 a.m. at the Wadena County Courthouse.

If the plan is approved as written, it will be officially approved February 24, 2011 and implementation will begin.

Wadena County awards official newspaper bid

Bids for the county's official newspaper were discussed. The Wadena Pioneer Journal and the Review Messenger submitted bids to the county. The Review Messenger was awarded the legal publications and first financial publications and the Pioneer Journal was awarded the second financial publication.

Elected employees request a raise

County Attorney Kyra Ladd, Sheriff Mike Carr, County Recorder Soledad Henrickson and County Auditor/Treasurer Charleen West asked the board for a 7 percent raise in their annual salaries.

The salaries for these offices was set in 2007 and a cost of living adjustment was given in 2008. No raises were given in 2009 or 2010. Per union negotiations, the average Wadena County employees' raise for 2010 and 2011 ranges from 7.1 to 10.3 percent. County Attorney Kyra Ladd has cut $13,131.04 from her budget in personnel costs for 2011 alone. The savings in the county attorney's budget alone would nearly cover the requested salary increase for all four elected offices. The other county departments have cut their budgets as well. County Attorney Kyra Ladd's current salary is $83,822 and a 7 percent increase would set the salary at $89,689.00; Sheriff Mike Carr's current salary is $77,508 and his proposed increase would be to a salary of $82,933; Auditor/Treasurer Charleen West's current salary is $59,301 and the proposed salary would be $63,452; County Recorder Soledad Henrickson's current salary is $44,090.59 and a 7 percent increase would raise the salary to $47,177.

Ladd, Carr and Henrickson stated to the board that if the 7 percent increase was granted, they would not ask for another raise for the remainder of their four-year terms. West was unable to make that commitment at the time of the meeting as she did not have enough time to fully consider all the facts before making an informed decision.

Human Resources Consultant Mike Gibson stated that he was uncomfortable advising the board as to whether or not the salary increase should be granted, as Gibson requested time to consult with the labor attorney. After much discussion, Stearns made a motion to set the 2011 salary amounts as requested (reflecting the 7 percent increase) and defer implementation until after Attorney Burton has given his opinion. The motion carried unanimously.

Other board action

• Emergency Management Director Scott McKellep requested the board approve payment for purchasing and installing emergency lighting for the lower level of the courthouse and the generator room, as the lighting is a safety issue for the jailors. The cost is $3,030.55. The board unanimously approved the expenditure for the emergency lighting.

• Highway Engineer Ryan Odden requested approval of a resolution of Acknowledgment of Receipt of Roadway Safety Plan and Approval of Application Submittal Process of HSIP Funding; Odden requested extension of extra compensation time for the County Engineer and Maintenance Foreman, due to the snow emergencies that occurred on the prior weekends. Both requests were granted.

• The board approved a Conditional Use Permit for Jennie-O Turkey.

• It approved a 60 extension of moratorium for the County's Wind Energy System Ordinance.