Davison Co. commits to hiring a staff HR person

Only 8 of SD's 66 counties have a full-time staff member dedicated to employee matters

Davison courthouse 2.JPG

After more than a year of trying to determine how to handle human resources, Davison County intends to hire a full-time employee to take charge of employee matters.

That announcement was made this week at the Davison County Commission meeting, with Commission Chairwoman Brenda Bode saying that decision came after extensive study, led by Commissioner Kim Weitala. The county’s government, which includes 109 employees, as of 2019, ranges from elected officials and at-will employees and part-time employees, and some who are union employees.

Over the last year, the county has discussed outsourcing its HR or trying to address it with a part-time person, or potentially try to purchase services on an as-needed basis. But Bode said that with more study, it became increasingly clear that the county needs to have its own person.

“We need an on-site full-time person,” Bode said, adding that the county's study of the topic showed it would be cheaper to have HR personnel on staff.

According to a 2019 wage and benefit survey conducted by Planning and Development District III and sponsored by the South Dakota Association of County Commissioners, eight of the state’s 66 counties employ a full-time, dedicated human resources staff member. According to the survey, Davison County is the fourth-most populous county in the state without a full-time staff HR employee, behind Codington, Lawrence and Yankton counties. (Earlier this year, Codington County approved outsourcing human resourcing duties to an outside firm.)


The next step for Davison County is to get information from each department leader on what a new human resources person could help with. The eventual hire’s pay range and job description still needs to be finalized.

Until now, the human resources duties have been handled by numerous employees, ranging from Auditor Susan Kiepke, the respective department heads in county government, and to a lesser extent, the county commission.

Weitala described the HR issues as something that has been “on various burners of the stove” but is now being moved to the forefront.

“We will have someone that will help out with the various employees and committees that the county has, and can help with training and work improvement plans,” Weitala said. “Having someone to go to, working in our county will be important.”

Department heads, Bode said, would still take the lead on conducting performance evaluations for employees, but having an HR person would be able to assist with questions and how to conduct the job review in a uniform manner across the county.

A specific timeline and salary range for the new position have not been determined.

Plan for major software change to move ahead

A large-scale change is planned in the coming months for Davison County’s software that helps run several key departments.

Bode said this week that the county is planning to go forward with developing a new software system that impacts five major county departments: auditor, treasurer, register of deeds, planning and zoning and equalization. The current system, Bode said, is having trouble working with newer software for specific departments, which is necessitating the change.


“This is the software that ties together the information that the auditor, treasurer, register of deeds, (director of equalization) and planning and zoning all use. If you own a house, you’ve got property records, the legal description, the taxes, all of that goes to different departments and they’re all working in the same system with software that has to talk to each other.”

Bode asked each department to spend the next 45 days developing a needs assessment and lay out details they want in the new software. She said there’s urgency to get it done, but any major changes won’t occur until after Election Day.

“We’re going to work through this in steps. We want to see this from different angles,” she said.

It’s not clear what the cost to the county will be, but it’s expected to be significant. Bode joked that it’s “another thing that has way too many zeros behind the number” as it relates to cost, but said she is committed to making this a top priority.

“We’ve known we’ve needed a better platform for a while,” she said. “It’s going to be a win but it’s also going to be hard work, as well.”

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at
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