Commissioners move to hire help for assessor

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In an attempt to achieveequity in taxation, commissioners voted three to two Tuesday, April 16, to advertise to hire two full-time employees in the assessor’s office following an appeal by Commissioner Duane Martin.

Commissioners Martin, Richard Godkin and Denis Arbach voted yes and Commissioners Don Leff and Phylliss Pudwill votedno.

The records are not current and assessed values of most properties in the county need to be reviewed and adjusted to reflect current market values, according to Martin. There are no funds in the assessor’s budget for two full-time individuals and benefits this year and commissioners are operating under fiscal constraints.

Martin suggested using the more than $600,000 in the general fund for the unexpected expense or it could be taken out of contingency. One deputy, Martin said, would meet and assist the public, answer and handle telephone calls, sort and handle mail, record and file property transfers, etc. The second deputy’s duties would include assisting Deb Kahl, the county’s only certified assessor, gather and assemble information required to maintain current records and arrive at equal assessed valuations, complete physical property inspection with photos, etc. In addition, Martin ‘s motion included the complete installation of the Vanguard computer system, saying, once this system is installed and records are brought up to date, two employees may not be needed. A point of contention was whether computers for the two employees should br ordered now or in the near future. Martin said he would like to go over the needs of the office with Kahl before unnecessary equipment is ordered and wiring installed.

In a brief conference call was held with Brennan Associates concerning the perceived inadequacy of the feasibility study for the jail, with the perception of those at Brennan that they fulfilled their part of the agreement. The firm billed the county for $20,000 for the proposed feasibility study, but only submitted preliminary drawings and some cost estimates. In order to support a proposal to the public for building and renovating the 32-bed jail, some basic facts or projections must be addressed including projected population growth to how fracking in northwest North Dakota, but may inadvertently increase the need for jail facilities. States Attorney James Hare will look over the contract and address whether they did, in fact, live up to their part of the agreement.

In other business, commissioners:

• Agreed with Landfill Supervisor Ryan Badten that Clean-Up week at the landfill will be May 13 through May 18. For more information, residnets should contact the landfill office. Advertising will be done in the two official newspapers.

• Bids for cell construction at the landfill will be opened Tuesday, May 7, for all interested contractors.

• Made an offer of extended maintenance duties to contractual snow removal and outdoors maintenance individual Kurt Wolf with per hour compensation paid beyond what is specified in his contract. The maintenance of the courthouse is a huge responsibility, Martin emphasized, and some routine maintenance may have prevented some damage that now must be addressed. Next year extended maintenance issues will be addressed and written into the job description. Wolf said he would like to see landscaping addressed including unkempt flowerbeds, etc. He doesn’t have his herbicide applicator license, he said, but Roger Walker, Weed and Pest Supervisor agreed to do some spraying for broadleaf weeds.

• Awarded the high bid for the 40-foot by 40-foot steel building at the landfill to Jason Walker at $1,500. The other bid was submitted by Blaze and Chuck Simonson of Herreid at $250. The building must be moved prior to the cell construction beginning May or June with the building paid for in advance.

• Heard Chief Deputy Josh Boll say that a virus had been discovered in the computer systems in the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office and had been addressed. The concern is if other offices can inadvertently access the sheriff’s department’s information, what would prevent a hacker for doing the same, compromising rights to privacy.

• Agreed with Martin, anyone using a county vehicle fill out a detailed log listing date, mileage, etc., which will be addressed at the next meeting. Making county employees increasingly accountable was further addressed at the meeting of department heads including: the use of computers for personal use including unauthorized E-mails, playing games that are already installed on the computers, Internet usage, etc., Facebook, and unauthorized cell phone use. Martin reiterated that accusations of this abuse is simply “gossip” and has no proven merit. If employees are not abusing policy they should not be worried.

• Approved the return of full-time seasonal highway department employee Jerry Kosters for 1,400 hours.

• Approved seeking contractors to reinstall three windows at the garage. The installation is estimated at approximately $400 for each window, etc.

• Heard custodian Leah Holder offer to do more custodial duties such as install faucets, etc.

– Sandy Bond –

 
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