County board approves back pay for sheriff salary

Published 10:35 am Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved an increased salary for Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag each year for 2019 through 2021 as approved by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Kurt Freitag

The action sets Freitag’s salary at $113,952 for the first year, $114,521 for 2020 and $119,228 for 2021 and sets the sheriff up to receive about $44,000 in back pay for those three years after a lengthy court battle that started in December 2018 surrounding the salary. 

The court case started after the sheriff appealed the board’s 2019 salary for him of $97,020, which was set without offering any discussion or explanation as to how the decision was made. 

The salary case went all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court after the district court initially ruled in favor of the higher salary, and the county appealed and the Appeals Court reversed course. Freitag then appealed that decision, and the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals decision. After reversing the decision, the Supreme Court turned the case back over to the Appeals Court to determine whether the district court gave Freitag an appropriate new salary for 2019 when it set it at $113,952. The Appeals Court earlier this month affirmed it did.

Freeborn County Administrator Tom Jensen said Freitag will receive $16,932 in back pay for 2019; $17,501 for 2020, which included a 0.5% cost of living increase as given to all other county employees that year; and $9,810 for thus far in 2021. The county board had approved Freitag for 4.11% increase in this year’s salary. 

Jensen said he was unsure if Freitag would receive all of the back pay in one lump sum or how the payment would occur. County staff were working on getting that figured out.