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No raise for Davison commissioners

The Davison County commissioners decided not to give themselves raises this year.

The commissioners voted 3-2 to keep their salaries the same, at $14,803.09 annually, during a regular meeting Tuesday morning at the courthouse in Mitchell.

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“Taking a year hiatus, I think it is standing up to the plate and saying we’re OK,” Commissioner Kim Weitala said. “This isn’t our main source of income.”

And while the commissioners decided not to give themselves raises, they did approve raises of 2 percent plus 50 cents an hour for other county employees. The amount of the 2 percent raise will vary depending on an employee’s existing wage, while the 50-cent raise equates to an extra $1,040 per year for a 40-hour-per-week employee. The raises equaled ones the commissioners gave last week to other county elected officials (the sheriff, register of deeds, auditor, treasurer and state’s attorney).

Commissioner Gerald Weiss originally made a motion for a 1 percent plus 25 cents per hour raise for the commissioners, but he then motioned to keep the commissioners’ wages the same after nobody seconded the original motion.

Commission Chairman John Claggett and Denny Kiner both voted against the motion. Gerald Weiss and Weitala voted in favor of the motion, and Randy Reider was the tiebreaking vote in favor.

Claggett voted against keeping wages the same because of inflation, he said.

“I don’t think you want to go backwards, and zero is going backwards,” Claggett said.

Weiss responded by saying, “I understand that, but it’s the people out there that will have to pay for it,” Weiss said. “They have costs going up, too. Let’s try and give them a break this year.”

Kiner showed support for keeping wages the same, but he also was concerned about the pay scale staying low, which he said could make the county commission position less appealing in the future.

After the meeting, Kiner said he thought he voted to keep the commissioners’ salaries the same, but The Daily Republic recorded Kiner as voting no, as did Davison County Auditor Susan Kiepke.

“What my position is, I didn’t want the commissioners to get a raise, and maybe I voted no,” Kiner said. “If I voted the other way, I voted against what my feelings are. I might have screwed that up and I wasn’t listening close enough.”

Last year, the commissioners gave themselves a 2 percent plus 25 cents per hour raise, which equated to a 5.7 percent raise. The previous year, Davison County commissioners gave themselves a 1.2 percent raise.

Claggett, Weiss re-elected as commission heads

After two secret votes that included a spoiled ballot, Claggett was re-elected as commission chairman, which will be his fourth consecutive term in the position.

Claggett and Kiner were each nominated. Claggett opened nominations and said, “I’ve done it for three years, and I wanted to see if we could make a move. Denny would be a good choice.” Weitala seconded.

Weiss nominated Claggett, saying he has done a good job serving as chairman. Commissioner Randy Reider seconded.

Kiepke decided to have what she called secret ballots. She handed out sheets of paper for each commissioner to write their vote for chairman.

“I’ve never had this happen before, so I’m winging it,” she said.

Kiepke had the ballots opened in front of The Daily Republic and a local radio news reporter, and the first vote had two votes for Claggett, two for Kiner and one vote that read, “Denny Claggett,” a combination of Denny Kiner and John Claggett. Kiepke said that was a spoiled ballot, and told the commissioners to revote. The second vote was 3-2 in favor of Claggett.

“Why change something that’s working?” Kiner said after Claggett was selected.

Weiss was then selected unanimously to be re-elected as vice chairman.

Other business

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners:

Signed and verbally read oaths of office to renew their seats on the Davison County Commission.

Welcomed Nathan Wegner, new deputy planning and zoning/emergency management director, who started his new job with the county.

Designated The Daily Republic as the county’s official newspaper for 2014.

Approved a motion for setting rates for 2014, including allowable meal expenses paid in-state for breakfast, $5; lunch, $9; and supper, $12; allowable meal expenses paid out-of-state, breakfast, $8; lunch, $11; and supper, $17; travel rates set at 40 cents per mile for county employees and 37 cents per mile for elected officials; and lodging rate of $50 per night in-state and $150 out-of-state/convention/workshop rates; among other rates.

Adopted a policy regarding the purchase of county real estate information, welfare assistance rates, an election worker resolution and a travel resolution for 2014.

Approved a motion, at the recommendation of Tech Solutions Division Manager Ramon Shultz, to purchase 15 new computers to replace old ones and purchase 20 licenses for Office 2013 Standard Edition at a total cost of $19,819; and approved a motion to purchase one Windows server 2012 standard license and 30 Windows server 2012 user access licenses at the cost of $1,614.

Approved a motion to allow Director of Equalization Kathy Goetsch to attend a conference in San Antonio for a new program that further studies geographic information system (GIS) usage.

Approved a motion to sign a letter of support for Poet Biorefinery to maintain national renewable volume obligations.

Approved a resolution prohibiting campaigning in polling places that are conducting advance balloting tabulation.