Green argues pay increase for county highway workers

Perkins County Highway Superintendent Cody Green would like more money for his workers. Last Tuesday, he presented the County Commission with his proposed pay hike that would add about $15,000 (slightly more than 1%) to his current budget but would still keep him within his approved budget for this year.  
Green has seen a number of highway workers come and go in recent months. “It’s kinda hard to keep new people around here,” he told the five-man county board. He believes that more money might make a difference in employee retention. 
His proposal favors merit pay for job performance and various skill levels, “bumping” those who deserve more money while other employees would stay at their current pay grade. 
Skill levels would start with his own and the foreman positions at the top, followed by those who operate the blades, those who haul gravel, mower operators, laborers, etc.
Commissioner chair Kyle Carmichael questioned the possibility of losing employees who would feel slighted when new hires would be earning more per hour than seasoned employees. He also asked how it would affect county employees who work in the courthouse, begin employment at a base wage, get a 10 cent longevity increase every year on their anniversary date and receive the same annual increase.
“Are we going to open a can of worms?” he asked.
A resignation on last week’s agenda leaves Green, once again, with less than a full crew. Otis Funk tendered his resignation, effective April 27. He’s moving out-of-state “for more money,” according to Green.
Green had a full crew for exactly 1-1/2 months and will now be advertising again. If he can’t hire within this budget year, he’ll have approximately $47,000 left in his budget at the end of the calendar year, even after his proposed changes.
Because Funk was Green’s foreman, he named a new one on Tuesday. Bailey Escott will assume that position after Funk leaves. His new salary will be set at a later date and could depend on whether or not the commissioners approve Green’s new salary proposal.
Commissioners need a little time to study the proposal and will address it again in a special session on April 25th.
Bids were opened for the full depth reclamation of Summerville Road this coming summer.   
Two out-of-state contractors submitted bids. Border State Paving, Fargo, ND was awarded the bid for $1,209,561.90. Brosz Engineer Jason Hanson was present to double check those figures, reporting them “good to go.” 
The other bidder was Bituminous Paving, Ortonville, MN who came in at $1,276,341.30. Both were in the ballpark of the engineering estimate, which was $1,243,147.20.
Border State will already be in the area, completing a project on Highway 212 and 73 (south of Faith) and will move to Summerville Road when that project is complete, finishing the Summerville job in late summer or early fall.
The Summerville Road project is a joint venture of Game, Fish and Parks and Perkins County.  GF&P will pay $725,737.14 and Perkins County the remaining $483,824.76.
In other highway department business, Green has sent a request to FEMA to ask that money already received for the repairs of Foster Bridge be used instead for replacement of the bridge. According to Engineer Hanson, that project should be bid-ready by the first of the year with completion of the project in 2024.
 Green will be renting an excavator and a packer from Caterpillar to do culvert work in June. He estimates a minimum of 20 culverts that will need replacing throughout the county.
U.S. Forest Ranger Kyle Dalzell visited last week’s meeting to give an update on a proposed land exchange in north central Perkins County. Ryan Hermann has 40 acres in Liberty Township that border forest service land on three sides. The Forest Service would swap him 40 acres in exchange. 
Dalzell explained that it’s a lengthy process. Already three years into the planning stages, it’s not actually apt to happen for another two years. “We keep a-movin’ because it takes time,” he said. 
Finance Officer Sara Stadler had a number of topics on her agenda to discuss with the board.
She will need to file reports for the coronavirus money that the county received both last year and this year as to how it will be spent. The board wants to use that $456,000 for future gravel crushing and chip sealing.
Stadler had three properties to request tax abatements for. A house at 18005 130th St. near Bison has shifted from its foundation and is no longer habitable; another house at 808 2nd Ave. E. in Lemmon was partially adjusted for parts of it that have no cement foundation; and a Lemmon Housing Authority building at 206 6th St. E. should’ve been taken off the tax roll last year but was missed. All three were approved by the commission.
Traditionally, the Board of County Commissioners meets once each year in Lemmon. They have scheduled that meeting for June 13 in the Three Rivers conference room.
Immediately following the close of their regular monthly meeting, the commissioners reconvened, taking oaths as supervisors for the Perkins County Equalization Board to open this year’s equalization books. 
They approved the long list of tax-exempt properties and also a property split for Quentin Gerbracht, which will change his current assessment. The board will meet on April 25 to hear five appeals from the City of Lemmon and five stipulations prior to closing the books for another year. In the meantime, Director of Equalization Corina Kocer is looking at those properties and will make her recommendations to the board when they meet later in the month.

The Pioneer Review

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Philip, SD 57567
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