County administrator to earn starting salary of $116K

Published 9:33 pm Monday, October 2, 2017

New Freeborn County Administrator Thomas Jensen will earn an annual salary of around $116,000.

Jensen, who started in his position Sept. 25, will be eligible for a raise that ranges between $2,000 and $3,000 in July, said former interim Freeborn County Administrator Kelly Callahan, who noted Jensen’s salary was set after Callahan informed the board a qualified person for the administrator position would likely require a yearly salary in the range of $110,000 and $120,000.

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Jensen, a 1984 graduate of Albert Lea High School, graduated from Minnesota State University-Mankato with a degree in corrections and a minor in law enforcement. After working at correctional positions in other parts of the state, Jensen was hired in Freeborn County in 1997 and promoted to court services director in 2000, where he worked until becoming administrator.

Callahan said Jensen’s salary is comparable with administrators in other counties and less than what other local government officials are making.

When Freeborn County Administrator John Kluever resigned in May after a drunken driving arrest in Albert Lea, he was earning a salary in the range of $120,000, Callahan said.

Callahan said he is pleased with the work Jensen did in his first week in the position.

“He’s taking the reigns and has done, in the few days he has been up there, done things that have needed to be done and is moving forward,” Callahan said. “I think it will work out OK for the county.”

Freeborn County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jim Nelson said commissioners decided to hire Jensen at a similar salary he was making as court services director. Though the board could have offered to hire Jensen at a lower salary, Nelson said doing so would have hurt the county’s chances to hire him based on what his salary was as court services director.

District 2 Commissioner Dan Belshan noted differences between the county administrator and city manager positions.

“The voters in the county elect commissioners to represent them, and the administrator coordinates departments and carries out the directions of the board of commissioners,” he said. “Tom Jensen’s resume included glowing letters of recommendation from people with whom he had worked. I certainly wish him well and am hopeful that he will be a positive influence for the county.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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