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Commission questions community planner position

Stutsman County officials questioned the addition of a new community planner position to the South Central Dakota Regional Council Tuesday, and intend to discuss the issue with the SCDRC at a later date.

"This is getting out of control, this budget," said Stutsman County Commissioner Craig Neys, who has criticized SCDRC meetings and the pay of its executive director before.

Neys spoke after Mary Geffre, SCDRC grant administrator, gave the Stutsman County Commission the organization's quarterly report Tuesday. SCDRC Executive Director Deb Kantrud was not at the commission's meeting because she was at a different work-related meeting, and Geffre said she could not answer the commission's questions, requesting that they instead speak with Kantrud.

Nine counties are members of the SCDRC, and Stutsman County contributes the largest amount of dues to the organization.

Neys requested a meeting with Kantrud to discuss SCDRC's addition of a position to the organization's 2013-2014 budget, and the commission agreed.

He wasn't the only person with questions for Kantrud and the SCDRC, however.

Commissioner Dave Schwartz also questioned why additional staff is needed when the organization's numbers have dropped, referring to the number of jobs created and the number of loans written on behalf of small communities. County Auditor/Chief Operating Officer Casey Bradley expressed concern about hiring new staff without being able to generate the revenue for it.

"Where are you guys going to generate $104,000 of billable services for that?" Bradley asked. "... I mean, it looks like the budget deficit has increased 63 percent since last year."

The board agreed to discuss the issue with Kantrud at its Oct. 1 meeting, which will begin at 3 p.m.

In other news Tuesday, the commission:

* set its budget hearing for 6 p.m. Oct. 1.

* accepted North Dakota Department of Transportation grants for the Stutsman County Sheriff's Office for $14,000 - $10,000 for overtime enforcing laws against driving under the influence, $2,000 for overtime enforcing laws against underaged drinking and $2,000 for overtime enforcing seat belt laws.

* heard from Sheriff Chad Kaiser that he was one of 26 sheriffs nationwide who attended a course for first-term sheriffs at the National Sheriff's Institute in Aurora, Colo., last week. Kaiser called the course "very good training."

Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email