Supervisors approve wage increase

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With an annual inflation rate of 7 percent for 2021, the highest since 1982, it’s only natural that people would need more money to live. That rapid inflation rate has impacted Emmet County as well as the rest of the country.

The Emmet County Board of Supervisors in its Tuesday, Feb. 8 meeting tried to address that reality. However, countywide property valuations have not increased nearly as fast as the rate of inflation. In short, while the cost of living has gone up, the money the county has to pay its bills has barely budged.

Amid an extended discussion with department heads, the supervisors Tuesday passed a resolution addressing Emmet County Compensation Board recommendations and set a wage increase for county hourly employees.

The Compensation Board had recommended a 12 percent raise for the sheriff and 8 percent for other county elected officials. The reason for the difference between the sheriff and other elected officials is Back the Blue legislation Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law last June 17. Part of the bill calls for paying county sheriff’s salaries equivalent to police chiefs in the same county.

The supervisors had the option of adopting Comp Board recommendations, approving a percentage of the recommendations or giving no raises. The supervisors approved Resolution 22-06, cutting those recommendations in half, giving Sheriff Mike Martens a 6 percent raise while other elected officials received 4 percent.

In a separate motion, the board approved a 3 percent raise for hourly employees and 2.5 percent for secondary roads employees who are on the second year of a two-year contract.

Early in the meeting, Emmet County Recorder Diann Minion objected to the lower salaries her employees receive as compared to other departments. Minion showed comparisons between the Recorder’s and other offices.

Later in the meeting, when both Comp Board recommendations and hourly employee salaries were discussed, Treasurer Brenda Moore said the Comp Board determines department head salary recommendations, not those for their employees. Moore said she had budgeted a 4 percent across-the-board raise for all her office employees.

“That’s why I did that, because I thought my employees deserved to get the same thing I do.”

After making its decision on hourly employee raises, the board agreed to hold a budget session to further discuss employee salary schedules.

In other business, the board agreed to an 11 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22 joint meeting with the Palo Alto Board of Supervisors at River Valley Cooperative in Graettinger. Both counties have held the joint meeting for several years, and they currently share an engineer and county sanitarian.

The board also approved a utility permit for Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative on 380th Avenue. In his road report, County Engineer Walter Davis-Oeth said crews were trying to trim up washboard roads. He also discussed vehicle replacement.

The board approved a three-year audit contract with Winther-Stave & Co. and set a 9:30 a.m. Feb. 22 public hearing date for the Denmark 26 animal confinement site. They also approved a public hearing for 9:30 a.m. March 22 for the fiscal 2023 maximum levy and budget.

The board also certified costs of $3,910.74 for the Jan. 25 Estherville special mayoral election and approved a certificate of appointment for Supervisor Todd Glasnapp to the Reginal Housing Authority.

Board Chair Jeff Quastad discussed Iowa Senate File 500 addressing drainage. While he said he would be willing to pull the county’s resistance to the bill, he said he would prefer that the legislation be presented next year.

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