September 23, 2023 at 12:26 p.m.
PINE LAKE TOWNSHIP — The Cass County Commissioners met for the last “Road Show” of the year Tuesday, Sept. 19 with a large number of staff in attendance. The agenda item of interest was regarding a Compensation Study and Market Analysis conducted by David Drown Associates (DDA).
County Administrator Josh Stevenson shared the results of the study with the board by explaining the firm compared grade ratings for salaries between area counties and counties that are equivalent in size to Cass County. During the study the employee health insurance benefits were also evaluated to reduce the dollar losses the county incurs, as reported back in July, due to mandatory enrollment in county health insurance. DDA suggested increasing salaries by 5% plus an additional $2.46 per step to accommodate for the change in health insurance contributions.
Concerns were expressed from both staff and department heads regarding the new grade ratings for each job description. Stevenson mentioned if an employee feels their job description or grade rating is inaccurate there is an appeal process they can pursue, however DDA would like all appeals to be made and turned in at the same time.
Commissioners Neal Gaalswyk and Bob Kangas motioned and seconded to approve the Compensation Study and Market Analysis, with all board members approving the motion.
Sheriff Bryan Welk requested the board approve an agreement with Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Inc. in the amount of $69,999 annually for healthcare services in the jail. Welk stated these services are needed for inmates to receive medical care. Although pubic health nurses currently look after inmates, the county needs a doctor available to prescribe medications. This agreement also will provide staff with a free support service. It was mentioned finding an agency to provide this service has taken a few years and the department has set aside $426,000 from American Rescue Plan Act Funds. A motion was made and seconded by Commissioners Bob Kangas and Rick Haaland, with all members approving the motion.
An item was then discussed under Sheriff Welk’s time that was pulled from the consent agenda. This was regarding supplying law enforcement services to Cass Lake-Bena School. Welk mentioned this request was just made after Leech Lake Tribal Police Department discontinued providing service to the school due to lack of staff within the department. This would require Cass County to hire another Deputy, and a concern was addressed regarding the amount of $61,628 received from Cass Lake-Bena School only pays for a portion of the annual salary for an officer. It was noted this position was not included in the budget for 2024 and the county has already set the preliminary levy and cannot raise it. Therefore, the concern is whether the county can afford the hire of an additional deputy. Stevenson mentioned the county is levying for 100% of the Sheriff’s Department salaries and with the department currently not being fully staffed the department should still be able to meet budget expectations. The board approved unanimously to provide Law Enforcement Services to Cass Lake-Bena School.
In other business, the county board:
• Approved a Chief Financial Officer recruitment proposal from DDA Human Resources, Inc. for a base amount of $12,000 plus an additional $125/person for performance of a work Personality Index and Intellect Profile to begin Oct. 19 and providing potential candidates on Nov. 17.
• Approved an agreement for Financial Services with Abdo Financial Solutions through December 31, unless terminated earlier due to a hire of a Chief Financial Officer.
• Approved the Revolving Loan Fund Policy for Community Property Developement with Cass County Economic Developement Corporation in the amount of $500,000.
The next meetings are as follows: Commissioner’s board meeting 9 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3 at the boardroom in the courthouse annex in Walker; Cass County Association of Township Fall Conference beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 5 at Chase on the Lake Resort in Walker; closed meeting to the public for Department Head Evaluations 9 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10 in the courthouse annex in Walker and commissioner’s board meeting 9 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17 at the Land Departmet Meeting room in Backus.
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