Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Ailene Croup
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Pine County revenues above expenses


County Administrator David Minke told the Pine County Board of Commissioners, at last week’s regular board meeting, that expenditures are running even or below revenues as they approach the year’s end.

Pay raises

Commissioner Steve Chaffee of Hinckley outlined the discussion and recommendations of the personnel committee for 2015 pay raises.

Personnel committee members Chaffee and Chairman Curt Rossow of Willow River recommended a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase for non-union employees effective January 1, 2015.

Rossow said the new “matrix,” categorizes performance raises according to these classifications: unsatisfactory, needs improvement, fully capable, exceeds requirements and outstanding, and gives supervisors “a place to start.” The raises by classification are 0-6 percent.

“Most of our employees are outstanding,” Rossow said.

The committee also recommended setting elected officials’ pay raises at $83,000 for auditor/treasurer, $83,500 for sheriff and $85,000 for county attorney.

The board approved the pay increases recommended by the committee including their own per diem raise. Commissioners’ per diem will increase from $75 to $100 with no change to their base pay of $21,208.

2015 levy, budget

The Pine County board set a levy increase of 4.83 percent for 2015, $700,000 over last year’s levy.

Approval of the 2015 levy was not unanimous. Commissioner Steve Hallan of Pine City was absent from last week’s final regular county board meeting of 2014 and Commissioner Mitch Pangerl of Pine City put his signature “no” on one of the final votes of his four-year term. The vote was 3-1 in favor of the levy.

Minke said the board’s budgetary control has had positive effects on the county’s bonding requests.

He requested changes to the 2014 budget which had already been set and required an amendment by the board.

– The 2014 building fund shows a deficit. The demolition of the old jail and construction of the parking lot was in the 2015 budget, though it was completed in 2014. That payment was taken from the general fund and will be reimbursed with 2015 building funds.

– Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Department of Natural Resources flood buyouts have been paid through the general fund and were not accounted for in the 2014 budget. FEMA grant funding will be used to reimburse the county. Minke said Land Services Director Kelly Schroeder will report to the board in February to finalize the buyouts.

– There is a positive balance in the Aquatic Invasive Species account because the $59,000 given to the county was not all used. It will be carried over to 2015.

– The 2014 jail budget was conservative. Minke told the board the expenses were more than those budgeted because the number of boarders increased.

Pangerl commented the boarding rate was decreased to encourage more use from other counties. He asked if it was time to increase the rates. He said there should be talks with the other counties about raising the rates simultaneously to eliminate competing for prisoners.

The board approved the 2014 budget changes.

Jail bond sales

There were six bidders whose bids ranged from 2.946 percent to 2.6555 percent.

The board approved the sale of jail bonds to UBS Financial Service, Inc. of New York, New York. They provided the lowest interest rate of 2.6555 percent.

The board made the decision in November to look for a lower rate for the 15 years remaining on the bonds after the county’s financial directors, Ehlers, said they could probably get a better interest rate.

The lower interest rate will mean a savings to the county of $1,642,850 over the life of the bonds.

Sheriff’s contracts with


Pine County Chief Deputy and Sheriff Elect Jeff Nelson said the new contracts for policing with the cities of Sandstone, Hinckley and Pine City are nearly complete. The contracts include a 50-cent per hour increase.

Sandstone agreed to the terms of the contract and he was awaiting signatures. Since the board meeting, Sandstone has signed the contract.

He said Hinckley had verbally agreed to sign the contract. According to City Administrator Kyle Morell, Hinckley signed the contract on Monday.

Pine City has a few minor changes, Nelson said. They are waiting for the new administration to take over in January.

Timber development

Auditor/treasurer Cathy Clemmer asked the board to reaffirm there will be no timber funds returned to timber development. The money will go into the general fund. She recommended, in 2015, the board review and discuss putting money back into timber development.

The board approved.


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