Wadena County commissioners want to hire people for immediate needs in the county, they also want to take a broad look at what the staffing should look like now and into the future.

That was the consensus of discussions at the regular commission meeting Tuesday, July 31 at the Wadena County Courthouse.

The needs are in the county IT department, including an IT manager of sorts, and the attorney's office, including an assistant county attorney. Both are needs that need immediate attention as was shared by county attorney Kyra Ladd and IT/HR director Curt Kreklau, who are both being spread thin at present, according to commissioners.

Ladd informed commissioners that the assistant position has been open since February 2018 and most recently there were three offers made and no one has accepted the position. She informed the board that salary remains a barrier. She brought the discussion to a personnel committee meeting July 26 and the recommendation was to increase the hourly rate and re-post the position. The position was posted with a cap of $36.38 per hour (grade 57, step 8) and the recommendation, which commissioners approved was to re-post with a cap of $38.71 per hour.

The new hire would not be someone fresh from law school, rather someone with proper licensing and three to five years of practical experience.

All commissioners were in favor of the reposting with an increase.

In IT discussion, director Kreklau brought forth two options to consider; (1) continue with the active hiring process for a network support technician or (2) update the network administrator position description, have it reviewed, changed and advertise the opening.

Commissioners agreed that they'd like to go with option two. They directed Odden to move forward with that action to come forward to commissioners in the near future with what that job description might look like.

Commissioner Bill Stearns said hiring an IT manager would allow Kreklau to focus on human resources, something that he could be doing much more of.

And since commissioners were on the topic of strategic planning for the county, Ladd piped in to say that now would be a good time. She noted that with the vacancies, it makes it much easier to make the changes without having to move people.

Odden supported bringing talks of strategic planning forward but pointed out that, "either way, IT needs more boots on the ground."

Commissioner Jim Hofer said taking a broad look at the present and future staffing would give them a nice road map of where they want to be headed.

"We're not in a bad place to take a little bit of time, rather than trying to make you guys make a decision," Odden said.

All commissioners were in favor of having the job description reviewed, changed and graded. Odden said the discussion could continue at the next regular commission meeting set for Aug. 7 at the courthouse.

In other discussion:

• Plans to renovate a space in the courthouse for a restroom have been held off after county board members rejected bids for the project, which came in about twice the estimated concept amount. The estimate for the project came in at $48,200, while the only contractor bid that came in was $62,000 over that estimate. County coordinator Ryan Odden said that he believes the bid was high because contractors are busy right now and this would be better winter work. Commissioners agreed to ask for bids again in September, with the plan to have work begin following the election, to be completed by February. The work involves renovating old IT space, about 400 square feet, with one single use accessible family restroom, two attorney client meeting rooms and one mother's nursing room. The IT space would move to where probation used to be in the courthouse basement. Probation moved into the new building to the north of the courthouse, according to Odden.