WALKER — Cass County board approved the final 2013 levy Tuesday, setting it at the same annual dollar amount as the county has operated on since 2009 — $20,046,613.
This includes the $461,000 that is levied only against people owning property within the Longville Ambulance District, which support that emergency service.
The total county budget approved Tuesday calls for income in addition to the levy from state, federal and other grant sources to provide the county a total of $49,974,560 income in 2013, with expenditures expected to run $49,487,647.
The board set commissioner wages at $23,596 per year each, the same as their pay has been since 2010. In 2009 and 2008, the commissioner salaries were $24,326.
Commissioners also earn $75 per day for attending meetings the board approves, but are not paid a per diem for the first regular board meeting each month or for the board of auditors, board of equalization or canvassing board meetings.
Elected officials County Attorney Christopher Strandlie ($106,974), Sheriff Tom Burch ($89,585) and Recorder Katie Norby $66,664) will be paid at the same annual rate as 2012, with the qualification that if wages are raised for county employees through union negotiations for 2013, these officials will receive the same percent pay raise as granted in those contracts.
Sheriff Burch will qualify for a step increase in July 2013 to $92,269. Strandlie and Norby are already at the top of their pay grades.
The board authorized continuation of all benefits for all employees until June 30, 2013, pending the outcome of labor negotiations. Retroactivity will be considered in labor contracts.
Teamsters Local 320 (which represents deputies and jailers) has indicated an interest in seeking a separate public employee health insurance program. Tuesday, the commissioners indicated they plan to continue their current policy of contributing only to a county plan, which currently amounts to about $900 per employee per month.
The board authorized paying citizen appointees to county committees $75 per meeting per diem.
Cass’s mileage rate paid to county employees was set at the IRS standard rate for 2013 of 56.5 cents per mile. If a county car is available to an employee, but the employee chooses to use his/her own vehicle, Cass pays only 28 cents per mile.
The board approved 2013 capital expenditures for new equipment. Most purchases will be for desktop or laptop computers or county vehicles. This includes two tandem trucks for the highway department costing an estimated $150,000 each. The total will run $1,477,075.
Central Services Director Tim Richardson must approve all technology purchases before they are made. Administrator Robert Yochum or Chief Financial Officer Larry Wolfe must approve all other purchases before they are made.
The board approved a $13,618 annual membership in Association of Minnesota Counties.
Before approving payment of $1,400 to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for extending a lease to cross the Paul Bunyan Trail, so the county can have an access driveway to the county transfer station north of Pine River, the board asked that local state legislators be asked to evaluate the need for the state to charge the county to use its own driveway that crosses the state trail.
The commissioners did not think this was a fair charge.