County board sets minimum salaries for sheriff, attorney for 2023

Published 12:07 pm Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday set the minimum salaries for both the county sheriff and attorney in the event a new sheriff or attorney are elected this fall. 

County Administrator Tom Jensen said state statute requires county boards to set the minimum salaries and also lets potential candidates know what their lowest salary could be if elected. 

The board can raise the salary depending on factors such as experience, but cannot lower it, he said.

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On Tuesday the board approved the minimum sheriff salary at $110,000 and the minimum attorney salary at $120,000. 

Jensen said when current Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag started, the minimum salary was $75,000, but even at that time that was considerably lower than the chief deputy position. 

The chief deputy currently makes $102,000, and Jensen referenced lieutenants with the Albert Lea Police Department maxing out at $104,000. 

He talked about the importance of having a competitive salary to attract good candidates. 

Jensen said he was not sure whether Frieitag was running for re-election, but said he thought County Attorney David Walker was still interested in another term in his role. He said the top attorneys in his department make $99,000. 

Commissioner Dan Belshan referenced the current job climate and said he thinks it’s more important now than ever before to set a salary that would bring in good candidates. 

Commissioner Ted Herman pointed out all the employees the sheriff oversees, including those in the jail, employees in the records department, dispatchers and patrol officers. 

The board also discussed other educational requirements for each position: the sheriff must have a two-year law enforcement degree and the county attorney requires eight years of education and being certified by the state bar association. 

In other action, the board:

• Approved a resolution extending the city of Albert Lea’s amended housing tax abatement program. 

Jensen said the county has been a part of the city’s abatement program since 2019, and the new program has made some substantial changes in regards to energy efficiencies and remodels. 

The program encourages people to build or remodel in the community. 

The agreement is through 2026.

• Accepted the resignations of Sara Wilson, eligibility worker specialist, and Marc Johnson, detective in the Sheriff’s Office. The board voted to fill both positions. 

• Approved an abatement totaling $86,310 for 75405 240th St. in Albert Lea to correct an error that had been made in Good Samaritan Society’s 2021 payable tax. The issue has now been corrected and other similar type properties have been reviewed to ensure classification codes are being reported correctly. 

• Approved the assignments and appointments for the members of the county board. They will be the same as 2021. 

• Amended the Board of Commissioners rules adding the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of all board meetings.

• Approved several resolutions regarding the County Ditch 15 repair.

• Authorized loans from the general fund to ditches with shortages for 2021.

Designated specific fund balances, including $466,844 in the trail maintenance fund that was previously budgeted but not used; $200,000 for computer purchases that was previously budgeted but not used; $300,000 for the 27th payroll that was previously budgeted but not used; $2.27 million for road maintenance, including $2 million budgeted for 2021 but not used and about $270,000 from the Minnesota Department of Transportation allotted to the county from the American Rescue Plan Act funds; $1 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to expand coverage of broadband; $750,000 for economic development from the American Rescue Plan Act; $700,000 for fairgrounds infrastructure from the American Rescue Plan Act.