In September, the Pine County Board stated the preliminary budget was out of balance by approximately $1.6 million and they would need to make adjustments to department budgets to ensure the budget is near the approximate $1 million levy amount.
At the last county board meeting on December 7, the board approved two employee cuts, County Recorder Tammy Tricas and Family Services Aid Vickie Whitehouse, to balance the budget.
“In the general fund, the decision (to eliminate positions) was driven by budget needs and it was determined that eliminating the recorder position would have the most impact on budget and the least impact on services,” said County Administrator David Minke in a later statement. “The recorder duties … would be assigned to Kelly Schroeder and could evaluate again later.”
Currently Schroeder serves as County Assessor, Land Services Director and Solid Waste and Zoning Administrator.
Administrator Minke added there are three positions in the recorder’s office which he believes can handle the daily activity of the office, and that Schroeder would be responsible for the overall leadership and supervision of the department. He also felt the Planning, Zoning and Solid Waste and Assessor departments all have competent leadership on which she can depend.
This position cut would eliminate $91,000 in the budget. Administrator Minke added that in 2002, the county received special legislation to combine the recorder and assessor positions. Tricas has been county recorder for 13 years.
In regard to the cut in Health and Human Services, Administrator Minke stated, “Health and Human Services has a caseload problem in children’s services. By eliminating the Family Services Aid position (which is part-time, 30 hours per week), we are able to create a full-time social worker position.”
County Commissioner Steve Hallan said, “I believe what you’re doing, if you create a position of a higher level, is that you can get more reimbursement and larger caseload.”
No other discussion took place at the board meeting. The motion carried and the cuts were approved unanimously.
Don and Sharon Smith, of Duquette, spoke at the public forum regarding nuisance traffic occurring in a county gravel pit adjacent to their property. Don Smith stated he would like to see the county put a fence or barricade up where all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are crossing onto the county property. As reasons for the request, Sharon Smith referenced safety issues and also claimed they were threatened by an ATV user of the property. No response was given at the meeting by the county board.
As part of the consent agenda, the K9 Program received a $1,500 donation from Deep Rock Collision of Askov, and the Pine County Sheriff’s Reserve Fund received a $150 donation from the Hinckley Area Chamber of Commerce.