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Stevens County plans review of organization structure

MORRIS – In the coming months, the Stevens County Board of Commissioners will use a resignation and an upcoming pay study to look more broadly at how the county government is organized.

On Tuesday, the the board appointed Charlie Hurd as interim IT director, following the resignation of current IT Director Scott Bushe.

Under the agreement, the board and Hurd will review the arrangement after six months to see how to proceed.

The board did not make any decisions about a more controversial discussion about what to do about the county coordinator position.

At a work session on Tuesday, May 13, members of the county Personnel Committee presented a recommendation to transition the county coordinator duties over to Human Resource Director Janet Raguse and having Brian Giese return to a single job as county engineer.

Shifting the coordinator duties came up because Giese said he was interested in stepping down from the position and felt now could be a good time to split the roles apart again.

The county is in the middle of a process to hire a firm to do a jobs and classification study and has set a goal to do transition planning.

Under the plan presented by the Personnel Committee, Giese and Raguse would be “co-coordinators” for six to 12 months to make the transition go smoothly.

At the work session, the board debated how Giese’s salary might be affected by the transition, but did not come to any conclusions.

At their meeting Tuesday, the board elected not to make any final decisions on how to proceed in altering the county coordinator position, but agreed they wanted to keep working on the issue.

Board approves outlet in County Ditch 1

On Tuesday, the Stevens County Board of Commissioners, acting as the county drainage authority, approved a petition from Roland Sperr to add one 40-acre parcel of land into  County Ditch 1. The parcel is surrounded by land that pays benefits to CD1 and actually touches the ditch itself. Sperr said he could not figure out why it is not included in the system.

The board received one letter opposed to the request from Rudy Raths of Alexandria. Raths said he requested an outlet into the ditch several years ago but was denied because the ditch couldn’t carry more water.

Kurt Deter, the county’s legal advisor on ditch issues, said that because of the location the parcel is clearly draining into the ditch already.

“Without sounding like I’m in favor of the petitioner, he’s getting drainage now whether you approve it or not,” Deter said. “It sounds like he’s willing to pay his fair share because the water has nowhere else to go.”

The parcel in question is one of several parcels in or near the CD1 system that do not pay benefits.

County Engineer Brian Giese speculated that during the last redetermination of benefits for a repair project in 1991 the board took the parcels out after landowners appealed the redetermination.

After a short discussion, the board agreed that because the parcel was draining into the ditch already it should be added to the system. The board approved an outlet fee of $1,000 and set ditch benefits at $100 per acre.  

Commissioner Jeanne Ennen abstained from the vote because her family owns land in CD1.

Other business

  • The board approved minimum salaries for each of the county’s elected officials: $73,000 for the auditor/treasurer, $70,200 for the sheriff, $66,200 for the recorder, and $99,700 for the county attorney.
  • The board approved $2,995 in donations for the Youth Activity Fund. Human Services Director Joanie Murphy explained that the donations are used to help pay for expenses for kids that are not otherwise in the human services budget like school activity fees.
  • The board approved a one-year loader lease-purchase agreement with Merchants Capital Resources to lease a Case wheel loader for $13,000. This is the second year the Stevens County Highway Department has leased this a wheel loader.