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

By Dan Reed
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Input sought by dept heads


Dan Reed

Duane Brownie, Carlton County's Veterans Affairs officer, proposed to the Carlton County Board of Commissioners at the regular April board meeting that a subcommittee be formed by two commissioners and a Keystone staffer to meet with each department head 1:1 to discuss their job description, performance and salary.

Keystone has been hired by Carlton County to create current job descriptions for all county employees and create a Carlton County specific model to arrive at a comparable worth of each employee and what they should be paid according to the duties they perform.

Brownie elaborated, "We as department heads thought Keystone would speak to us 1:1 but that has not happened. How is our position and the value of the work we do fit into this picture?"

Dennis Genereau, county coordinator, who up to the hiring of a human resource staffer a few months ago handled those duties, said, "Many heads have been contacted in this process."

Heather Cunningham, zoning administrator, disagreed, "Keystone told me my own job description would not be discussed — only the department employees I supervise."

Questions from several corners of the room centered on the strengths each worker brings to their particular job and how much such duties are worth financially. Genereau explained, "Keystone is well respected in their field for work on comparable worth and the process of job duties matched to compensation. The process has to be kept in the hands of Keystone as an outside balance. If the values of certain employee duties were shared with all employees, certain duties could be over-emphasized and a final, fair overall county employment ranking and compensation rate would not be possible."

Cunningham continued, "Just as I made suggestions on my staff evaluations, I believe you, the commissioners, as my boss, should overview my job performance and compensation in this process."

Commissioner Dick Brenner interjected, "I am concerned that some department heads have not done a job description. Specifically, department heads that are elected officials."

Paul Gassert, county auditor and treasurer, responded, "If you want a description of my duties all you have to do is look at Minnesota Statutes."

Chairman Marv Bodie rounded out the discussion, "Who wants to volunteer as a commissioner on this subcommittee of two commissioners and a Keystone staffer besides Commissioner (Thomas) Proulx who is absent for this meeting?" Brenner agreed to be the second assigned committee member.

Highway engineer Mike Tardy reported that highway superintendent Randy McKuskey is retiring. Tardy explained, "Randy has a skill set that we are really going to miss. He started with Carlton County in 1983 and has been our superintendent since the 1990s. We will be filling his position from in-house where we have several good candidates to pick from."

Marci Moreland, county assessor, updated information on tax court proceedings involving Minnesota Energy Resource Corporation, a natural gas pipeline company that serves 216,000 customers throughout Minnesota. This company has successfully filed for a reduction of evaluation on their pipeline network through the tax courts. The case is now being heard with the Minnesota Supreme Court. If the natural gas company prevails, Carlton County, among others, will lose over $69,000 in taxes paid as far back as 2008.

Cunningham reported to the county board that Enbridge's Sandpiper route for their oil and gas lines through Carlton County have gotten a judicial finding of approval for their project. This comes after months of hearings throughout Minnesota communities. Final approval for the proposal for the line by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is scheduled for June and usually is based on the judicial finding.

Pipeline corridor work continues to move forward. The county board gave permission for a pipeline materials staging site on land in Kalevala Township bounded on the south by CSAH 6 (Automba Road) and on the west by Koivisto Road. Crew work is visible at this site at this time.

Commissioners approved $750 in payment to the Carlton County Farmers' Market on recommendation of Economic Development Director Connie Christensen. Last summer a Rochester firm, Sunrise, rented parking lot property for $750 from the county. The local Farmers' Market objected because Sunrise was not a local firm and appeared to be given undue support from the county. During a flurry of discussion, commissioners were not pleased to have the county in such an awkward situation and does not want permission given for this again.

Greg Bernu, land commissioner. commented, "The county now sells hunting leases on public land, for example, and a policy of rental of county property should be carefully thought out." The board decided to do nothing at this time but give time to develop a policy.

Commissioner Gary Peterson let the board know a group of officials from Carlton County had testified at a Senate Transportation Bonding Committee hearing at the State Capitol for a $12 million upgrade of Highway 73 south of Cromwell. The delegation had been led by Sen.Tony Lourey. The county board passed a new resolution of support for work on Highway 73. A hearing in front of the House Transportation Committee is scheduled soon on information received from Rep. Mike Sundin.


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