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Stevens Co. Commissioners approve salary increases for county employees

MORRIS - The Stevens County Board of Commissioners approved 2.5 percent cost of living raises for all non-union employees, department heads, and two of the county's four elected officials at their meeting Monday.

Commissioner Ron Staples led an effort backed by Commissioner Phil Gausman to keep all salary increases to 1.5 percent, but was consistently out-voted by Commissioners Larry Sayre, Paul Watzke and Jeanne Ennen.

"I really don't see how we are supposed to sit and negotiate with our unions for 2013 when we're giving 2.5 percent to everyone else," said Staples. "I just don't know how you expect us as the personnel committee to do that."

The only current elected official to not receive a 2.5 percent increase was Auditor/Treasurer Neil Wiese. Staples and Gausman were joined by Commissioner Larry Sayre in voting for only a 1.5 percent increase for Wiese, but the commissioners offered no further discussion on their vote.

Sheriff Jason Dingman, who began work on Dec. 31, negotiated his salary ahead of the meeting and was therefore not part of the COLA discussion at this time. The current salaries for the county's four elected officials are:

• County Attorney Aaron Jordan: $103,421

• Auditor/Treasurer Neil Wiese: $72,066

• County Recorder Virginia Mahoney: $72,432

• Sheriff Jason Dingman: $72,780

The board also their own salaries and per diems for 2013 - $16,7878 for the year, and $60 for each authorized committee meeting they attend. This is unchanged from 2012.

Other business

• The board approved an official list of 53 committees that various commissioners will serve on in 2013. The board will choose committee assignments at their reorganizational meeting on Jan. 8.

• The board approved a solid waste collection/transportation license for Engrebretson Sanitary Disposal.

• The board approved a fee schedule for the Stevens County Sheriff's Office. The fees for all services, which cover civil process, document retrieval, permitting, testing, and storage, remained the same as 2012.

• The board approved a Threat and Hazard Identification Risk Assessment plan.

• The board voted to be the fiscal agent for an $18,864 grant for the four fire departments in Stevens County to continue to explore sharing services.

• The board voted to increase the levy on County Ditch 6 to help pay for a pump and authorized $85,000 in pay-downs for loans to county ditches.

• The board appointed retiring Commissioner Larry Sayre as a temporary court bailiff. According to the county personnel policy, the board can appoint someone for up to six months before the job needs be advertised. Sheriff Randy Willis said Sayre would be working while the sheriff's office was short-staffed.