Watershed board approves salary increases for staff members

Published 10:02 pm Wednesday, August 15, 2018

After internal reviews, salary increases between 5 and 13 percent are part of the plan to retain a staff the Shell Rock River Watershed District board chairman said works hard and works well together.

In addition to approving this year’s raises, the board approved working with Noah & Associates, Inc. on formulating future proposed salaries.

“We need something to ensure we maintain our great staff,” chairman Mick Delger said.

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Delger said the Watershed District’s personnel committee checked with other watershed districts on staff salaries to have a point of comparison, which informed their numbers.

Also included in the consideration was extra work put on each staff member’s plate after the Shell Rock River Watershed District staff team downsized by one following former district administrator Brett Behnke’s resignation in January.

The board approved 5 percent raises for the District administrator its resource technician and its financial clerk. They also approved 8 and 13 percent raises for its administrative assistant and conservation technician, respectively.

Delger said personnel evaluations went “very well.”

Shell Rock River Watershed District Resource Technician Courtney Phillips said as of Wednesday, dredging has removed 150,000 cubic yards of sediment from Edgewater Bay. The district hosted a pre-bid conference for construction of Confined Disposal Facility cells 2 and 3, which the Shell Rock River Watershed District will use to contain sediment dredged from Fountain Lake as the restoration project continues. Phillips said 10 contractors attended, three of whom presented good bids for the construction of cell one.

“That looks promising that there’s quite a bit of interest on that,” Phillips said.

Bids for construction of cells two and three are due Aug. 29. Stage one of construction is intended to begin in the fall, with stage two following next year.

The Watershed District board also approved a resolution to award the bid for FEMA grant dollars for fixes to Wedge Creek following the 2016 flood event. District Conservation Technician Scott Christenson said Wedge Creek is one of the larger tributaries to Fountain Lake.

“Getting these fixes done in a timely manner is really important, especially with the dredging,” he said, noting its upcoming move to the northern portion of Edgewater Bay.

The contract was awarded to lowest bidder Barth Construction Inc. out of St. Charles for $61,000.

In other action:

Certified Public Accountant Andrew Bernau with Hill, Benda, Skov and Bernau walked the watershed board through highlights of the district’s 2017 audit. His only recommendation for the board was to ensure all expenses were approved at a board meeting before they are paid out. He noted a few district checks written out were not on an approval sheet to be approved at a board meeting before they were paid. Bernau said the expenses were not payroll and were all legitimate. Overall, Bernau said the audit looked good. He submitted the audit to the state Wednesday.

Lakes Foundation President Brian Hensley said Saturday’s Albert Lea Floats event drew between 175 and 200 participants to Albert Lea Lake to use canoes, paddle boards and kayaks.

“People loved it that are able to get on the water and it’s just a great opportunity for them,” Hensley said.

This year’s event was the last to use funding from Michelob Golden funds, also used to create the canoe and kayak launch on Albert Lea Lake. Hensley said the foundation will be looking for a way to replace that funding. He said the event is relatively inexpensive, but costs include renting equipment from Albert Lea Community Education.


Salary changes

Administrative assistant: 8 percent, $41,860 to $45,208

District administrator: 5 percent, $95,000 to $99,750

Resource technician: 5 percent, $52,000 to $54,600

Conservation technician: 13 percent, $36,150 to $40,850

Financial clerk: 5 percent, $58,466 to $61,368

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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