Environmental services director to step down

Published 11:28 am Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Freeborn County commissioners decided on Tuesday to allow the head of the county’s Environmental Services Department to step down into a part-time position as part of a phased retirement option.

Freeborn County Director of Environmental Services Randy Tuchtenhagen will retire from his full-time position as director on March 31, and continue as a part-time solid waste officer starting on April 1. The agreement is for one year, and can be renewed between Tuchtenhagen and the county for up to five years.

Freeborn County Administrator John Kluever said he made the recommendation to give the county some time to think about its options, such as combining this service with the city of Albert Lea in the future. The agreement also allows the county to continue using Tuchtenhagen’s knowledge and experience.

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Kluever will oversee the department until the board decides whether to fill the position on a full-time basis. He said the agreement also allows for a smoother transition once a decision is made.

Tuchtenhagen said he had talked with Kluever about retirement when Kluever mentioned the part-time agreement to him.

“The more I thought about it, I thought, ‘What am I gonna do with all this time on my hands?’” said Tuchtenhagen. “I’ve always enjoyed the recycling and solid waste part of it, so now I’ll be focusing on that rather than the planning and zoning part.”

Under this agreement, Tuchtenhagen will work an average of 20 hours a week at $26.96 per hour. He is not allowed to work more than 1,044 hours per year and the county will no longer make contributions to his benefits. Tuchtenhagen will begin to draw from his retirement benefits as well as continue on the county’s group insurance plan.

Kluever said the county will likely save between $55,000 and $60,000 with this agreement versus hiring someone full-time.

Tuchtenhagen said he will see how things go in his first year before making the commitment to stay on in future years. He plans to assist with some larger projects the department will be working on in the next year, including a new solid waste management plan for the county.

In additional business, the board:

• Passed a resolution to support the 2011 bonding request by the city of Albert Lea for the Stables area sewer and water extension.

• Authorized repairs to county ditch No. 17.

• Approved the Environmental Services Department to issue a conditional use permit to Brady Jensen for a swine finishing barn in Bath Township.

• Voted to allow the Environmental Services Department to move forward with Winnebago Cooperative Telecom Association to install fiber optic lines in the county road’s rights of way.

• Allowed Freeborn County Public Health to continue participating in a clinical experience program with students from Minnesota State University in Mankato.

• Declared the third Monday in May each year as Relay for Life day in Freeborn County.