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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune
  • YMC commissioners approve '13 budget, 6.25% tax levy increase and 10.6% pay raise for themselves

  • Yellow Medicine County commissioners unanimously approved the 2013 budget and a 6.25 percent property tax levy increase, but not before approving a 10.6 percent salary increase for themselves.
    Board members approved the $2,000 pay increase in a 3-2 vote with commissioners Greg Renneke, Gary Johnson and Louis Sherlin voting in favor and commissioners Ron Antony and John Berends voting against.
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  • Yellow Medicine County commissioners unanimously approved the 2013 budget and a 6.25 percent property tax levy in-crease, but not before approving a 10.6 percent salary increase for themselves.
    Board members approved the $2,000 pay increase in a 3-2 vote with commissioners Greg Renneke, Gary Johnson and Louis Sherlin voting in favor and commissioners Ron Antony and John Berends voting against.
    According to Johnson this will be the first time the board has requested a pay raise since he began serving as YMC commissioner in 1993. However, this does not take into account the occasional Cost of Living Adjustments that the board has approved for itself––and which has typically fallen in line with the COLA increases approved for county employees, who may also see an additional pay increase from moving the county’s wage scale. According to county Human Resource Coordinator Tegan Laleman, in 1993 base commissioner wages were $11,860.
    The county board has been called out for perceived excesses in their pay in Letters to the Editor in the A/T in recent years. To individuals who hold such perceptions, Johnson said, “I don’t think they understand what we do. I really don’t. It’s a part-time job, yeah. But you lose the time you otherwise have running your own business.”
    Commissioner Renneke, who is also a business owner, agreed with the assesment. He said that he has felt forced to skip a number of organizational and committee meetings––that commissioners divvy our amongst themselves and agree to attend as the YMC board’s representative––because of the financial hit he would by attending the meetings and accepting a per diem, as opposed to earning wages through non-county related endeavors.
    Both Berends and Antony, on the other hand, said that they both ran for office knowing well what the pay would entail and were fine with it then, just as they are now. In addition, the newly elected Berends noted that he didn’t feel right about voting for an increase considering it was only his second meeting serving on the board, while Antony made it a point to remind fellow commissioners that they would have to negotiate three new union contracts during the coming year.
    In a repeat 3-2 vote, commissioners also approved increases to per diems received for attending meetings from $40 to $50 and $80 to $100, respectively. According to Laleman, commissioners received as little as $1,130 and as much as $3,840 in per diems over the course of 2012, but on average have garnered $2,242.52 in per diems.
    When all is said and done, commissioner base salaries rose from $18,858 to $20,858––with the board chair, who has not yet been appointed for 2013, making an additional $600.
    Including a family benefit package totaling $15,491, the average 2012 per diem and base salary increase, the total compensation for a given commissioner would hover around $38,500.
    Page 2 of 3 - Included in board information was a comparison of salaries between YMC and a number of like-sized counties in which, even after the raise, YMC commissioner salaries and per diems were not shown to be out of the norm.
    2012 Commissioner Salaries
    County    Pop.    Salary
    Big Stone     5,238    $13,306
    Clear Water     8,774    $20,742
    Pipestone     9,501    $17,487
    Jackson    10,202    $16,000
    Yellow Med.    10,307    $18,858
    Watonwan    11,201    $18,850
    Cottonwood    11,686    $19,270
    Chippewa    12,319    $20,927
    Renville     15,500    $28,300
    Redwood    15,972    $26,915
    2013 budget and levy
    Sticking with the figures set during its preliminary levy and budget discussion in September, commissioners approved a property tax increase of 6.25 percent levy.
    According to Krosch, a 5.9 percent levy increase would be required just to cover costs associate with increases to employee salaries and health insurance as well as reductions to income derived from interest and an approximately $90,000 cut in County Program Aid (CPA) by the state.
    With each percentage increase equating to $81,630 in additional county revenue, the 6.25 percent figure would help to balance the unanimously approved budget of $16.9 million by increasing the net levy by $510,190, which brings the total tax levy to $8.673 million overall.
    An additional shortfall of $334,000 in one time expenses will be paid for by drawing down reserves, which will nevertheless remain at a healthy $13.79 million, even after the county’s recent purchase of the former Fagen Engineering Building for $425,000.
    In other news, the board voted to employ the head-hunting services of public service advisor Springsted, of St. Paul, to find a suitable replacement for outgoing County Administrator Ryan Krosch.
    Springsted will direct the hiring of the process and in the interim, Laleman, Property and Public Service Director Janelle Timm and county department heads will be asked to pick up the slack.
    Costs of retaining Springsted’s services will not exceed $14,500.
    The county board has been called out for perceived excesses in their pay in Letters to the Editor in the A/T in recent years. To individuals who hold such perceptions, Johnson said, “I don’t think they understand what we do. I really don’t. It’s a part-time job, yeah. But you lose the time you otherwise have running your own business.”
    Commissioner Renneke, who is also a business owner, agreed with the assesment. He said that he has felt forced to skip a number of organizational and committee meetings––that commissioners divvy out amongst themselves and agree to attend as the YMC board’s representative––because of the financial hit he would take by attending the meetings and accepting a per diem, as opposed to earning wages through non-county related endeavors.
    Page 3 of 3 - Both Berends and Antony, on the other hand, said that they both ran for office knowing well what the pay would entail and were fine with it then, just as they are now. In addition, the newly elected Berends noted that he didn’t feel right about voting for an increase considering it was only his second meeting serving on the board, while Antony made it a point to remind fellow commissioners that they would have to negotiate three new union contracts during the coming year.
    In a repeat 3-2 vote, commissioners also approved increases to per diems received for attending meetings from $40 to $50 and $80 to $100, respectively. According to Laleman, commissioners received as little as $1,130 and as much as $3,840 in per diems over the course of 2012, but on average have garnered $2,242.52 in per diems.
    When all is said and done, commissioner base salaries rose from $18,858 to $20,858––with the board chair, who has not yet been appointed for 2013, making an additional $600.
    Including a family benefit package totaling $15,491, the average 2012 per diem and base salary increase, the total compensation for a given commissioner would hover around $38,500.
    Included in board information was a comparison of salaries between YMC and a number of like-sized counties in which, even after the raise, YMC commissioner salaries and per diems were not shown to be out of the norm.
    2013 budget, levy
    Sticking with the figures set during its preliminary levy and budget discussion in September, commissioners approved a property tax increase of 6.25 percent levy.
    According to Krosch, a 5.9 percent levy increase would be required just to cover costs associate with increases to employee salaries and health insurance as well as reductions to income derived from interest and an approximately $90,000 cut in County Program Aid (CPA) by the state.
    With each percentage increase equating to $81,630 in additional county revenue, the 6.25 percent figure would help to balance the unanimously approved budget of $16.9 million by increasing the net levy by $510,190, which brings the total tax levy to $8.673 million overall.
    An additional shortfall of $334,000 in one time expenses will be paid for by drawing down reserves, which will nevertheless remain at a healthy $13.79 million, even after the county’s recent purchase of the former Fagen Engineering Building for $425,000.
    In other news, the board voted to employ the head-hunting services of public service advisor Springsted, of St. Paul, to find a suitable replacement for outgoing County Administrator Ryan Krosch.
    Springsted will direct the hiring of the process and in the interim, Laleman, Property and Public Service Director Janelle Timm and county department heads will be asked to pick up the slack.
    Costs of retaining Springsted’s services will not exceed $14,500. A new hire is not expected until May.

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