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County sets salaries for 'team leaders'

A new year equals new leadership for the Douglas County Board of Commissioners and new salaries for four elected officials.

At its organizational meeting Tuesday morning, the five county commissioners voted Paul Anderson in as the new board chair.

Outgoing board chair Bev Bales shared a few words before handing the gavel off to Anderson.

"Thanks to all of you for your patience and for putting up with me," Bales told everyone in the nearly full room.

Before the vice chair and secretary/clerk could be voted in, Anderson addressed the other commissioners and county employees at the meeting.

Anderson explained that he had a "buzz word" for 2010 - respect.

He said that although the commissioners may not always agree, which he viewed as good, they need to respect each other's decisions. When making decisions, Anderson said the commissioners need to not only take into consideration residents in each of their districts, but also how their decisions will impact the entire county.

"We are not always going to agree and we know that," said Anderson. "But we are here for the health, safety and welfare of all of Douglas County."

He went on to say that he would like to make a change in the name for the county's department heads.

After talking with several other commissioners from other states, Anderson said he feels the county's department heads should be called team leaders.

"It's not going to affect cost, but it may affect attitude," he said. "When everyone is part of a team, it creates a sense of responsibility."

As the new chair of the Douglas County Board, Anderson shared some of his goals for 2010; one of which is to get a group together to start talking about an auditorium.

He made it very clear, however, that it would not be built with government dollars.

"But I do have it on my schedule for 2010," he stated. "Let's face it folks, we are a regional center and we want to keep it going."

He also added that much of his and the other commissioners' time is going to be spent on budget and cost cutting this year and that he intends to work hard on long-range planning.

After his speech, Anderson continued with the agenda items, which included voting in Commissioner Norm Salto as vice chair and County Coordinator Bill Schalow as secretary/clerk.

The board made the decision to keep its regular meeting times and dates the same - the second and fourth Tuesdays at 9 a.m.

However, there will now be a separate meeting - the third Tuesday of each month at 9 a.m. for just Douglas County Public Health and Douglas County Social Services issues.

Elected officials salaries

After a failed vote at the last board meeting to give the four elected officials - county attorney, auditor/treasurer, recorder and sheriff - a straight across-the-board 3 percent raise, the commissioners brought the vote back to the table at Tuesday's meeting.

Commissioner Dan Olson, who made the motion last time for the 3 percent raise, made a motion this time to increase the yearly salaries as follows (their 2009 salary is shown in parenthesis):

•Chris Karpan, county attorney - $1,000 ($106,034).

•Tom Reddick, auditor/treasurer - $1,500 ($90,555).

•Dawn Crouse, recorder - $1,800 ($60,000).

•Troy Wolbersen, sheriff - $1,500 ($86,169).

"Everyone deserves something," Olson said. "I would have liked to do the 3 percent, but that didn't go last time."

Anderson seconded the motion for discussion.

Bales spoke up and said that if a dollar amount was to be given instead of a percentage, it should be the same amount for everyone. She asked that her idea - giving everyone a $1,500 increase - be taken into consideration.

It was brought to light that giving all four elected officials $1,500 would be more than what Olson suggested.

The increases suggested by Olson amounted to $5,800, while Bales' suggestion amounted to $6,000.

When Olson's motion was called to a vote, it failed by a 2-3 vote - Olson and Anderson voted for it, while Bales, Salto and Jerry Johnson voted against it.

Bales then made a motion for the straight across-the-board $1,500 raise for each of the four elected officials.

It passed, despite costing the county more, by a 3-2 vote - Bales, Anderson and Olson voted for it and Salto and Johnson voted against it.

In other action

•County Attorney Chris Karpan asked the commissioners to approve a settlement between Jerry Roy, who was in charge of the company that worked on the courthouse re-roofing project, and the county.

Roy, who ended up in prison on drug-related charges before the contract was finished, eventually sued the county for $40,000. This was the amount of money the county held back as a result of discrepancies over the quality of some of the work that was done, Karpan said.

After a long process, Karpan explained that a settlement was reached. At Tuesday's meeting, the board approved the settlement, which resulted in paying Roy a sum of $5,750.

•The Echo Press was awarded the bid for publishing the county's annual legal notices, financial statement and delinquent tax list. There were no other bids submitted.