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Giese to remain in county coordinator's position, extra pay still a question

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news Morris, 56267
Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

Brian Giese will remain Stevens County Coordinator on a fulltime basis.

The county Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to keep the County Highway Engineer in the coordinator's position, too, at its meeting Tuesday.

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The board differed on how much additional compensation Giese should receive to handle the coordinator's job in addition to his highway department duties.

Giese currently is receiving about 25 percent of the salary paid to retired coordinator Jim Thoreen, who left his post last spring. Annually, the percentage works out to about $17,000.

Board chairman Don Munsterman proposed increasing Giese's compensation for the coordinator's work to $24,000.

"I don't think $2,000 a month (constitutes being) overpaid for the job he's done and the responsibility he's taken on," Munsterman said.

But while commissioners Larry Sayre, Herb Kloos, Paul Watzke and Ron Staples said they were pleased with Giese's work in a dual role, they weren't sure how to arrive at a dollar amount that would accurately reflect Giese's comparable worth.

The situation is complicated because Giese does not handle human resources work nor some of the planning and zoning duties Thoreen performed as coordinator.

The board requested that Sue Schultz, who is handling the county's human resources duties, research the situation and recommend fair compensation for Giese.

Giese took over Thoreen's job in an interim capacity last spring. The board offered the full-time job to a candidate who subsequently turned it down. The board reinterviewed two candidates but chose to not offer the job to them and arranged with Giese to take on many of the coordinator's duties.

In other county business:

•The board instructed county officials to develop a plan to offer a designated smoking area at the new courthouse building when business resumes there. Workers are expected to begin moving back into the new facility in late December.

Currently, smoking is not allowed in county buildings or vehicles, and commissioners want to give smokers a space while also keeping them from smoking near building entrances.

•Stevens Traverse Grant Public Health Director Sandy Tubbs asked that the office not be held to a 2 percent budget cut that the county has required of all county departments.

Since STG is a joint powers organization, a 2 percent county reduction would mean the Traverse and Grant counties also would have to reduce their allocations by that amount. Both counties already have preliminarily approved keeping their STG budgets at last year's levels.

Tubbs said that STG hasn't received regular budget increases that other county departments have received in recent years, and that it hasn't replaced five full-time equivalent employee positions that have been open the last year.

The board voted unanimously to restore the estimated $2,306 to the STG budget.

"It isn't fair to the other counties if Stevens County cuts it," Kloos said.

•The board rejected a request from Framnas Township for county grading and snow removal because of the costs.

Currently, the county has a position open for a heavy equipment operator that Giese was not planning to fill. Filling the position would cost the county about $45,000 a year. Framnas would pay the county about $22,000 for services.

Board members suggested contacting other townships, such as Swan Lake, to determine if they would also like to contract for county services. With at least two more townships under contract, the county could afford to hire for the heavy equipment operator position, Giese said.

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