By Emily Bialkowski
In what might be charaterized as a win for kids, the Houston County Board agreed to fund the 4-H coordinator position full time instead of at .75. The decision, made during the Aug. 13 regular board meeting, aligns the county with its neighbors and was spurred by the resignation of Meghan Wall, who accepted a full-time job in La Crescent. The new coordinator will be the third person to serve in the role in less than two years.
The biggest obstacle to funding a full-time position was finding $16,000 in the budget. That said, budget talks have just begun, so the opportunity to make a change was well timed.
County Finance Director Carol Lapham explained that early estimates indicate a little wiggle room in the budget in 2014 – to the tune of $28,700.
“I personally feel it’s really worth it. I think that’s one area that can reach everybody. People I’ve talked to like the idea, and I think it’s $16,000 well worth spending,” Commissioner Teresa Walter said.
Though supportive of the concept, Commissioner Dana Kjome said he personally struggles with the fact that the University of Minnesota Extension sets the salary. “We lose control,” he said.
Nicole Pokorney, extension educator, said the control issue is addressed in the memorandum of understanding, or contract, the county has signed with the Extension. She said the salaries are set the same across the state so no single county has workers flooding to it for better pay.
“We do so many things because we have to – and we seem to be taking care of a certain part of our population – but there’s a whole other part of our population that is getting missed,” Commissioner Judy Storlie said in support of the program.
Her sentiments were duly noted with a unanimous vote in favor of a full-time coordinator.
The total cost to the county for the positon is $64,900, which includes salary, benefits, mileage training and supervision. It does not represent the coordinator’s salary alone.
In other news
The board made quick work of other requests, and:
• Awarded a peddler’s license to Charles Swartz.
• Approved a flood repair agreement with Joel and Jennifer Alameida for work adjacent to their Brownsville home.
• Approved final payment to Bruening Rock Products for maintenance rock for county roads.
• Approved the annual airport maintenance agreement and operations grant.
• Approved a $500 grant agreement with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for victim services.
• Agreed to advertise for temporary home health aides in an effort to increase the on-call roster.