By Anna Jauhola
The Kittson County Board of Commissioners approved a pay increase for County Recorder Kristen Hultgren during its regular meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 17.
Hultgren asked the board for an increase on the step pay scale.
“I’m on step seven and I’m starting year 38,” Hultgren said.
The steps go up to 12 on the scale, and Hultgren asked to be bumped up to step 12, stating she is the lowest-paid department head.
A few years ago, the step pay scale the county uses changed from nine steps to 12 steps, said Eric Christensen, county administrator. This change decreased steps for 32 employees, but their pay increased.
Commissioner Loren Younggren pointed out that former Assessor Marion Paulsen had been employed for 40 years at the county and was only at step 11.
“Does this open up whether others will come asking the same question?” he asked.
Christensen agreed it could open up the possibility of those employees whose steps were reduced when the pay scale changed to approach the board for increases.
Commissioner Darrel Johnson suggested starting Hultgren’s pay increase halfway between steps seven and 12.
Christensen said he’d like to see Hultgren’s job rebanded and regraded because it is lower than every other department head.
“I don’t feel what Kristi is asking for is unreasonable,” said Commissioner Theresia Gillie.
The commission agreed on the increase and they would deal with other requests as they arise.
Hultgren’s proposed 2020 salary jumped from $77,943.84 to $84,614.40 annually with the approved step increase. Unless her position is rebranded and regraded, Hultgren will not receive any more step increases for salary, but can still receive cost of living increases.
In other business, the commission:
• Approved Pamela Shaw, regional court administrator, to install security glass and door in the Kittson County Court Administration office at the courthouse. Shaw said the judicial district will cover the cost, which is $4,910.37.
• Approved Deputy Registrar Shirley Swenson to purchase adjustable desk options for three desks in the licensing department. She got quotes through Hannaher’s in Fargo. The $20,000 the licensing department received earlier this year for lost hours regarding the failed MNLARS system is paying for the upgrade, which will cost $8,957.38.
• Approved a grant agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the sheriff’s office to purchase a snowmobile, trailer and equipment. The $10,568 grant can be reimbursed in two equal amounts in July 2020 and July 2021.
• Approved a final payment of $25,681.92 from Knife River Materials for the completed road reconstruction by the Hallock Co-op Elevator site south of Hallock.
• Approved giving county employees the afternoon of Christmas Eve off.
• Approved annual commissioner salaries at $23,100.43.
• Approved elected and appointed county employee salaries. They are: Eric Christensen, administrator, $105,750; Kelly Bengtson, engineer, $105,748.56; Kathy Johnson, social services director, $92,747.20; Mark Wilwant, sheriff, $89,024; Heather Bruley, assessor, $85,238.40; Kristen Hultgren, recorder, $84,614.40; and Robert Albrect, attorney, $40,973.
• Approved the budget and tax levy for 2020, which was unchanged from the proposed items in September. The budget is set at $12,912,714. The levy is set at $3,964,113.
• Approved the 2020 ditch levies.
• Approved the supplemental budget for 2019, which accounts for board decisions during the year or unforeseen events, including five unplanned retirements or payouts, a delayed auditor payment and increased legal fees due to actions taken by the previous sheriff, Christensen said.
• Approved the bi-annual Minnesota Pollution Control Agency feedlot delegation agreement.
• Approved placing delinquent garbage bills on property owner tax bills.
• Set the end-of-fiscal-year meeting for 9 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 30 at the Kittson County Courthouse commissioners chambers.
By Anna Jauhola