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Sheriff to appeal 2021 salary

Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag has notified the county he will appeal his 2021 salary set by the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners earlier this month.

Kurt Freitag

The board at the Dec. 1 meeting set Freitag’s salary at $101,010.

The sheriff in his notice stated his basis for the appeal was that the Board of Commissioners in setting his salary “acted in an arbitrary, capricious or oppressive manner, and failed to sufficiently take into account the responsibilities and duties of the office of sheriff, the sheriff’s experience qualifications and performance.” 

Freitag had requested a 2021 salary of $122,370 heading into the board meeting. 

He also alleges the board’s resolution about the salary violated Minnesota State Statute 387.20, Subdivision 2, which deals with the board procedures for setting a sheriff’s salary. 

At the Dec. 1 meeting, the commissioners had a prepared statement, read by 5th District Commissioner Mike Lee, that stated the board had considered the “duties, responsibilities, education, experience and performance of the sheriff, as well as the supporting documents/documentation provided. With the salary currently under appeal — the open salary for 2020, as well as the current economic conditions of the county and COVID-related impacts, and have made the following determinations.”

The commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of the $101,010 salary, with commissioners Dan Belshan and Chris Shoff voting against and commissioners Glen Mathiason, Jim Nelson and Lee voting in favor. 

Freitag, who is in his sixth year as sheriff, received a salary of $97,020 in both 2019 and 2020, as a separate salary appeal works its way through the court system. 

In that appeal, a district court judge sided with Freitag for his 2019 salary, stating the board did not sufficiently take into account the extent of the sheriff’s responsibilities, experience, qualifications and performance when it set his salary. That decision was later reversed by the Minnesota Court of Appeals. 

Freitag appealed that decision, and the case is now before the Minnesota Supreme Court and is awaiting an order. 

During the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday morning, the commissioners approved a resolution appointing law firm Barna, Guzy & Steffen Ltd. as the county’s legal counsel for the case.