Commission will work on wage plan

Commission will work on wage plan by David Lias After meeting with the heads of various Clay County Departments, the Clay County Commission agreed Tuesday to concentrate its efforts on developing a position pay schedule and wage scale that may more fairly grant annual pay increases than the county's present system.

State's Attorney Tami Bern, County Health Nurse Marcy Lund, Sheriff Dusty Passick, Assessor Leonard Rasmussen, Treasurer Cathi Powell, Register of Deeds Betty McCambridge, Auditor Ruth Brunick and Highway Superintendent Art Leifgen were in attendance at the meeting as commissioners began discussing a proposed pay schedule and wage scale.

"We are going to individually go through this in a meeting we plan to have in the next week or so," Commission Chairman Jerry Sommervold said. "We want to make a decision on this that's correct and will last for a while."

"We just don't want to be forgotten about six months from now," Brunick said.

Some ripples of discontent have been detected among the county's work force since earlier this year, when the commission granted pay raises larger than just a cost of living increase to some employees.

Head and part-time jailers' pay was increased, as was the pay for deputies in the county sheriff's department, at a rate requested by Passick. He justified the pay increases by sharing data with the commission that showed that, when compared to similar law enforcement personnel in the state, Clay County's deputies and jailers were underpaid. He also noted that he had the funds in his department's budget to cover the pay raises.

Leifgen told the commission last week that his highway crew was unhappy that they didn't receive similar raises that would bring their pay more in line with those of surrounding counties.

"I think we need to improve our outlook," Brunick said. "Let's get up there so we're proud of our work and we're proud of our pay."

"Honestly, I think Clay County is one of the better employees around here," Sommervold said.

Commissioner Paul Hasse, who has noted his opposition to the wage increases approved earlier this year, lightheartedly suggested that the department heads likely would like to be somewhere other than at a commission meeting Tuesday.

"I'm sure that you people have better things to do right now," he said.

"I do think that this is an extremely important part of the department heads' jobs, Paul," Passick replied.

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