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Watershed board approves cost of living increases

Published 6:48am Sunday, December 16, 2012

Managers voted on purchase option for former Albert Lea country club

The Shell Rock River Watershed District board of managers this week approved a 2.5 percent cost of living increase for the watershed district’s five employees.

Recommended by the district’s personnel committee, the managers also approved various performance bonuses to be given in 2012.

Watershed District Administrator Brett Behnke said this was the first year the board has approved bonuses. In the future, the board hopes to develop a policy where staff can be evaluated.

Behnke said in the last three years the staff have brought in an average of $2 million in grant dollars — or $6 million total — to assist the district with projects.

Behnke will receive $5,000, Andy Henschel $4,000, and Jared Stricker, Carmen Christensen and Connie Kaupa $2,500.

The managers also certified the 2013 administrative levy at $250,000, which is no change to that of previous years.

The managers approved the overall sales tax budget at about $6.7 million, with $100,000 to go toward the district’s cost-share program, more than $500,000 to go toward dredging efforts, more than $2 million for storm water management and $1.8 million for the Albert Lea Lake Dam replacement, among others.

Behnke said 2013 will be the first year that money for the dredging project has been included in the budget. These funds will go mainly toward planning, designing and engineering with no dredging likely to take place yet.


Country Club purchase option

The Shell Rock River Watershed District board of managers voted to move forward with a purchase option for a portion of the former Albert Lea Country Club property.

The option gives the district staff one year to further evaluate the land.

The goal is to purchase the wetland area of the property and a portion on the east side along Lakeview Boulevard. Behnke did not have the exact number of acres being considered with him at the time he talked with the Tribune.

The property, previously known as the home of the former century-old, 18-hole Albert Lea Golf Club, is owned by American Bank after it went into foreclosure by commercial developer Scott LaFavre.

Behnke said the details of the potential purchase remain under negotiation with American Bank.