County to stay in SCDRCStutsman County will maintain its membership in the South Central Dakota Regional Council, its commissioners decided Tuesday. Though the vote was unanimous, most of the commissioners expressed reservations about the SCDRC board’s oversight of employees and the SCDRC’s efficiency.
By: By Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Stutsman County will maintain its membership in the South Central Dakota Regional Council, its commissioners decided Tuesday.
Though the vote was unanimous, most of the commissioners expressed reservations about the SCDRC board’s oversight of employees and the SCDRC’s efficiency.
“I don’t think I would be in favor of pulling out at this time,” said Commissioner Dave Schwartz. “… before I would be in favor of approving new money for budgets, I would like to see some justification as far as the executive director’s salary, and I would like to see a review of the (SCDRC) board — apparently the board isn’t very involved in what happens.”‘
Commissioners also agreed to review the SCDRC’s activities as part of the county’s ordinary budgeting process, which is normally complete in September.
Should Stutsman County withdraw its membership at that time, the SCDRC would have three months to plan its next course of action, said Commissioner Mark Klose.
“We’ve had some issues, and I think there’s been some progress made, as far as identifying some areas of weakness, or whatever you’d want to call it, to get us more bang for our buck, and that’s where this thing came from as far as I can see,” Klose said.
Commissioner Denny Ova said that when he spoke to members of the SCDRC board, they seemed to have little idea of the SCDRC’s financial state.
SCDRC Executive Director Deb Kantrud was not able to be at the meeting due to a prior work commitment, but Becky Meidinger, the SCDRC’s small business development consultant and former SCDRC board president, answered some questions about the organization.
“Unfortunately, the executive board we have right now has been somewhat stand-offish in some respects. They’re not as interactive” with employees as previous boards had been, Meidinger said.
She also said that Kantrud’s salary — currently $84,400 — had been increased by the board at one point because of turmoil in the SCDRC that resulted in Kantrud and one other employee being the only ones there. Kantrud’s salary and performance are reviewed each year.
“If they do this review every year, why don’t they know?” Schwartz asked.
“I’m sorry, but that information is provided (to the SCDRC executive board),” Meidinger answered, referring to the salary information.
“You need a new executive chairman,” said Commissioner Craig Neys said, referring to the president of the SCDRC executive board. “… he doesn’t have a clue.”
Schwartz pointed out that county representatives had spoken with the president about their concerns with the SCDRC, but the president had apparently not brought those concerns to the SCDRC’s executive board.
“All of a sudden it turns into a witch hunt in the media that we’re trying to pull out of the council,” Schwartz said.
Meidinger said she believed the county’s concerns had prompted positive changes in the SCDRC.
“You’ve caused us to re-evaluate our programs,” Meidinger said, referring to the SCDRC’s new Growth Committee and a priorities survey the SCDRC t is working on. “… the reality of it is, it’s the executive members and the rest of the board that have that responsibility. And we are trying to address some of the suggestions and the changes that have to be made.”
In other news Tuesday, the commission:
* learned the Stutsman County Courthouse’s hot water heater had broken and was replaced with a smaller model that would fulfill the building’s needs at $2,263.
* agreed to support a bill in front of the North Dakota Senate, which would allow counties to raise the mill levy for museums to three-fourths of a mill from half a mill if the counties choose to do so. Doing so would generate $36,000 for local museums, but Stutsman County could still opt to keep the levy the same.
* reappointed Char Freeberg to the James River Valley Library System Library Board.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at email@example.com