Supervisors discuss Budget Director

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Supervisors discuss Budget Director

No action take after disagreements on source of payment and whether specific funding is required

by Amy H. Peterson

Staff Writer

Two weeks ago, the Emmet County Supervisors approved a resolution creating the position of Budget Director for the county. The annual budget is a task county auditor Amy M. Sathoff takes on during evenings and weekends near the first of each calendar year in order to have the county budget submitted to the state by the end of first quarter, March 31.

Last week on a three to nothing vote, supervisors chair Jeff Quastad, and supervisors Lisa Hansen and Todd Glasnapp voted to rescind the motion. Supervisors Tim Schumacher and John Pluth were absent from that meeting.

The issues arose from how to fund the $3,000 position.

The supervisors discussed the possibility of donating their cost of living increases to their part time salaries in order to fund the position.

Chair Quastad said, “It’s someone’s job,” to complete the county’s budget each year, and traditionally that has been the job of the county auditor. Quastad also said several times during the meeting that his view is that the county’s compensation board is the proper venue for deciding if anyone should be compensated for the work of budget director.

County attorney Melanie Summers Bauler said Iowa Code states it is the county supervisors who create the budget, and the auditor who files the budget. Hence, Iowa Code allows for the creation of budget director outside the scope of the auditor’s regular duties.

As far as the $3,000 cost coming out of supervisors’ salaries, Summers Bauler cautioned against it.

“I reached out to colleagues about this. My original instinct is not to divert part of a salary for this position. In fact, I would say to absolutely not do that. Other county attorneys have said, ‘don’t do it.’” Summers Bauler said.

No precedent exists for taking a county expenditure out of an individual salary.

In recent years, state mandates have taken more of the county auditor’s time, and the recent $1.7 million allocated to Emmet County from the American Rescue Act will take more time from Sathoff’s schedule to manage.

Pluth said the auditor may deserve more money for more responsibility.

Quastad said he was unsure of that as he hadn’t sat in the chair of every county department head.

Schumacher said, “We have abated more taxes through our decisions than this expenditure. We give back to the county more than this will cost.”

Lisa Hansen raised the issue of losing employees when responsibilities continue to accumulate in their positions.

“The money can be found in the budget. You lose employees if you dump on them with no extra help or pay,” Hansen said.

Summers Bauler said, “You have no problem spending $10,000 on a trailer. This is $3,000 for a human being doing a job. If I can support another county official, I will.”

“This has been a responsibility of the auditor’s office all along. I’m sure it has been for 40 years, and I can surmise for the last 100 years, that our auditor and every county auditor does [the budget],” Quastad said.

Sathoff said there was already funding in the auditor’s office budget that would cover the position. Sathoff has been taking minutes at the county supervisors meeting since Colleen Anderson retired from the auditor’s office earlier this year.

In other business, the supervisors approved fuel and LP buds for the 2021-2022 fiscal year with Pro Cooperative of Estherville landing the fuel bid at $218,661.70 and Nu-Way K&H Cooperative of Gruver at $9,975.00 for LP.

Pluth said, “We always like to buy local in Emmet County whenever possible.”

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