Fuel costs won't break budget, for now

Staff reporter

After a closer look at costs of fuel for the county's road and bridge department, it was determined that there are sufficient funds in the coffers to cover the increased expense for fuel.

"It looks like we're going to be all right but it's going to be tight," Acting Marion County Public Works Director John Summerville said. He continued that the department hasn't used 50 percent of the budget. However, there is no specific way to keep an eye on fuel expenses since there is no line item for it and it's paid from the general fund for the road and bridge department.

Summerville said fuel consumption was lower this year than in previous years, partly because of the weather and fewer projects.

In other business:

— Planning for future increases, the county approved the purchase of 14 concrete culverts. Summerville said he received a bid of $170,000 from McPherson Concrete, the vendor that provides other bridge materials.

There are three bridge culverts that are critical and have to be replaced yet this year. The others will be replaced as needed and as crews have time, Summerville said.

It takes about two weeks for crews to replace the concrete boxes.

Funds from this line item also will be used for the engineering of the joint bridge project with Dickinson County.

— After three executive sessions during the course of Monday morning's meeting, the commission decided to start an administrative assistant for county zoning administrator/sanitarian Bobbi Strait at $1,713 per month with a $50 raise after six months and a $43 raise after one year which would put the employee in the 88 percentile of median wage for that position.

The approval had the stipulation that the position, not necessarily the employee, would be reviewed on a quarterly basis to determine if it merited a full-time person instead of a part-time or 1,000-hour-per-year employee.

It began when Strait asked for a 10-minute executive session for personnel. Another seven-minute session was called with the meeting reconvening with no decisions.

Later in the morning, another executive session was called by the commission for 20 minutes that included Strait and county public health administrator Diedre Serene. Serene left the executive session with about five minutes remaining. The executive session then continued for another 10 minutes.

When the commission returned to open session, commissioner Dan Holub made a motion to hire the administrative assistant at the before-mentioned rate of pay. Commission chairman Bob Hein then asked for a second to the motion but none was heard.

Hein instructed Strait to continue negotiations with the applicant. The commission was in agreement to hire the individual at $13 per hour for a maximum of 1,000 hours and no benefits.

Holub asked what would happen if the applicant didn't accept the part-time position. Strait said she had five applicants, interviewed all of them, and this applicant was the most qualified.

Commissioner Randy Dallke then suggested the position be evaluated on a quarterly basis to make sure the position is justified.

The commission agreed it would wait at least one year before making a decision to eliminate the position.

With that, Dallke made the motion that was approved with Holub seconding. The motion passed, 3-0.