The Watonwan County Board met Tuesday, Dec. 18, and as discussed in the previous meeting made a movement to approve the 2013 property net tax levy at $7,494,316. This is a five percent increase from last years property net tax levy. The board approved this motion unanimously. They also passed the 2013 HRA levy at $88,188 unanimously.
Veterans Service Officer Deb Grote introduced a project that would entitle the county to two free computers. These computers would be used to send or receive secure data with no cost to the county. Watonwan County would be able to opt out of this program at any time.
“Nobody would be telling us how to run our veteran’s program,” said Grote. “It’s a communication enhancement deal.”
The Watonwan County Board approved the motion to opt into this program and receive the free computers.
“It’s going to save money somewhere down the line,” said Commissioner Mark Rentz.
The program will enable veterans to find information about rides in a simpler manner.
Watonwan County Board also approved a bid for tin siding at $2,013. The cost of this project includes a new door for the HHW garage and does not include labor costs. The HHW garage stores chemicals for the county.
Julie Peterson, emergency management director, submitted the updated emergency operations plan to the commissioners during the Dec. 18 meeting.
“I have been working on the emergency operations plan,” said Peterson. “It is a fluid document working with constant changes.”
Peterson is planning an mock evacuation of the nursing home in St. James for 2013 and a school shooter response plan has been added to the new emergency operations plan.
“In light of what happened, unfortunately, a 2014 school shooter exercise was added,” said Peterson.
“Let’s just hope we never need to use it, that’d be the best scenario,” said Commissioner Bill Berg. “Those are difficult times – tough to plan for.”
Watonwan County Board received a request from Roger Anderson to build a drainage tile across County Road 101. The entire cost of the renovation, as well as a $500 fee paid to Watonwan County is required for the permission to build a crossing under a county road.
“The report you submitted is very thorough and very organized and that makes our job easier when we see that,” said Commissioner Scott Sanders.
The Watonwan County Board approved the request unanimously.
The commissioners agreed to make the St. James Plaindealer and Madelia Times-Messenger the first and second legal papers respectively for 3013 with a rate of $8.65, an increase of 1.5 percent per column inch for the publication of legal notices.
Page 2 of 2 - The Watonwan County Board reviewed the salaries of county employees at the Tuesday meeting, including their own.
The commissioners chose to keep their annual salary the same as it was in 2012 at a base of $18,850. The only addition to their salary came in the form of an annual stipend of $2,250 for waiving health insurance coverage.
Appointed officials wages were set at the following rates:
Cheryl Bjoin, $63,752
Rich Collins, $97,032
Deb Grote, $44,720
Bruce Johnson, $50,856
Rober Risser, $94,328
Mike Tatro, $51,168.80
Gregory Walsh, $67,392
Michael Wacker, $52,624
Other salaries set were:
County Auditor Don Kuhlman, $79,664
County Recorder Joy Sing, $51,168
County Sheriff Gary Menssen, $72,300.80
County Treasurer Carol Johnson, $55,556.80
County Attorney Stephen Lindee, $75,337.60
The Dec. 18, meeting was the last meeting for two commissioners, John Baerg and Bill Berg. Both have chosen to retire from the Watonwan County Board after years of service. On a personal note: “I’d like to thank them for their service to the county. They’ve made covering the Watonwan County Board meetings a little easier in my first two months here at the Plaindealer and it was a pleasure meeting them.”