County sticks with council for at least three more monthsStutsman County will continue to pay dues to the South Central Dakota Regional Council — at least for the first quarter of 2013. Before that time expires, the Stutsman County Commission will reevaluate the SCDRC’s progress and decide whether to remain a dues-paying member of the SCDRC, the commission decided Tuesday.
By Kari Lucin
The Jamestown Sun
Stutsman County will continue to pay dues to the South Central Dakota Regional Council — at least for the first quarter of 2013.
Before that time expires, the Stutsman County Commission will reevaluate the SCDRC’s progress and decide whether to remain a dues-paying member of the SCDRC, the commission decided Tuesday.
“Are we getting our money’s worth out of this?” asked Commissioner Dennis Ova Tuesday.
In October, the Jamestown/ Stutsman Development Corp. executive board recommended dropping membership in SCDRC, only to reverse the action in November.
Earlier this month the JSDC followed the second recommendation of its executive board, voting to recommend that Stutsman County and the city of Jamestown remain members of the SCDRC.
Jamestown and Stutsman County together pay $32,000 in annual dues, which allows residents to use SCDRC economic development programs.
Stutsman County had already budgeted dues for 2013.
“There needs to be some way to verify that things are getting done,” said Casey Bradley, Stutsman County auditor/chief operating officer. “We want to make sure that what we’re spending is returning results for the community.”
Deb Kantrud, SCDRC executive director, told commissioners that Stutsman County and Jamestown receive more than 50 percent of every program the organization offers.
“You’ve blown this all out of proportion,” said Commissioner Craig Neys.
Neys said he felt like Kantrud had tried to make the commission look bad for simply wanting answers about what the SCDRC does for the county that justifies its dues.
“You get paid $84,400 a year. That’s a pretty good job in Stutsman County, wouldn’t you say? There’s not a lot of people here who make that kind of money and get the results you’re getting,” Neys added.
He also criticized SCDRC’s meetings, describing them by saying “you drag all the people in there, pay them mileage, feed them, we walk out of meetings every time and what has been accomplished? … everybody, they put their hands out. This free money is going to go away.”
Neys said in an interview after the meeting that groups requesting federal grant money at SCDRC meetings do not want to take initiative on their own, but want money from Washington, D.C.
“I don’t see why Stutsman County has to worry about what’s going on in Wells County and Barnes County. … we’re paying the biggest percentage of the dues,” Neys said, adding that most of what SCDRC does for the county, the JSDC could do instead.
Commissioner Dale Marks said that wages of SCDRC employees should be balanced against the grant money the organization brings in.
The commission unanimously voted to fund the county’s membership in the SCDRC for January, February and March — the county’s first fiscal quarter of 2013. In March, the commission will re-evaluate its membership.
In other news Tuesday, the commission:
* learned that a new lawn tractor will be purchased for snow removal around the courthouse.
* approved Courthouse Maintenance Supervisor Jim Fettig to write grant requests for improvements to the Stutsman County Courthouse, such as tiling the lobby area, adding more security key doors, upgrading the elevator, purchasing metal detectors and replacing heat pumps.
* reduced the value of a home from $45,000 to $24,000 after a recommendation from county staff, who had learned it had no drywall on walls and no flooring.
* agreed to send a letter of support to the North Dakota Department of Transportation for turning lanes at the intersection of U.S. Highway 281 and N.D. Highway 36.
* agreed to discuss how the county reimburses cellphones at future meetings, given that many employees would prefer to use a single phone rather than having a county and personal phone.
* approved a raise for a new employee in the Sheriff’s Office, who had been promised a step raise after six months of probationary employment, due to unclear language in the employee handbook. Commissioners discussed clarifying the language in the handbook’s next edition.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be
reached at 701-952-8453
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