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County hires firm to search for administrator

By Anna Jauhola
The Kittson County commissioners approved hiring a search firm to find an administrator during their Tuesday, June 2 meeting.
The commissioners reviewed two proposals from search firms HueLife, St. Louis Park, Minn., and DDA Human Resources, Inc., of Fairbault, Minn.
Administrator Eric Christensen said HueLife proposed a shorter timeline for hire with a projected start date in September. The company’s price tag is not finite. Its cost for developing a position profile, recruiting and screening candidates, and interviews is $18,000. Expenses, however, are additional and include position advertising, copies, supplies and mileage. This would not exceed $4,500.
DDA Human Resources is associated with David Drown & Associates, and proposed a start date of Oct. 31 for a new administrator for an “all-inclusive fee” of $21,000. It covers professional services and all expenses such as “travel, advertising, personality index, intellectual profile, background checks on all finalists, etc.”
“When you look at who they’re hiring for, they’re dealing with smaller communities,” said Board Chair Theresia Gillie. “I get the idea they understand smaller communities better.”
Commissioner Loren Younggren pointed out HueLife listed only one search they completed for a county administrator, while DDA listed 10 county administrator completed searches.
Younggren motioned to hire DDA and Gillie seconded. The commission unanimously approved hiring the company.
County Engineer
In an emergency meeting on Saturday, June 6, the commissioners approved an amended agreement with Roseau County to continue to have its engineer to fill in. The Kittson County position has been open since long-time engineer Kelly Bengtson retired in February.
In its regular meeting on June 2, the commission approved Assistant County Engineer Keith Klegstad to look into the possibility of hiring a temporary civil engineer through a private firm such as Widseth, Smith & Nolting or Houston Engineering.
However, with projects that began on Monday, June 8, the county needed to have an engineer on staff or risk losing state aid money, Christensen said.
“We’re happy to have guidance from Brian Ketring. We work well together,” Klegstad said.
The commission approved a one-month agreement to contract Roseau County Engineer Brian Ketring on an interim basis. Kittson County will pay Roseau County $12,000 per month for this service, $5,000 of which will cover Roseau’s “loss of service” and $7,000 of which will be split 75 percent to the engineer and 25 percent to the assistant engineer, according to the contract.
This contract expires on Tuesday, June 30. The commission will continue to look into alternative interim engineers, but also had an interview with a prospective hire on Tuesday, June 9.
In other business, the commission:
• Decided to take no action on the request to designate Kittson County as a Second Amendment Sanctuary. The county first heard this request from Republican Party Chair Amanda Hughes in January. It was put to a committee and then placed on the backburner since the COVID-19 pandemic erupted. The committee finally met in May and decided unanimously to take no action for three reasons, Christensen said. First, elected officials have already sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and making the county a Second Amendment Sanctuary would be redundant. Second, the county does not decide what is and isn’t constitutional, and is bound to enforce the laws as determined by the Supreme Court. Third, the committee agreed setting one section of the Constitution above another isn’t an option “because all parts of the Constitution are equally important.”
“That’s exactly what we discussed,” said Commissioner Leon Olson, who was on the committee with Commissioner Darrel Johnson.
• Approved a counteroffer to the request from the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 49, for a 70/30 split on paying insurance costs — 70 percent county, 30 percent employee paid. The average contribution by a county to employee insurance is 58 percent, Christensen said. The commissioners agreed to return a counteroffer of 65/35.

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