By Molly Miron, Special to the Pioneer
On a 4-1 vote in favor, the Beltrami County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a pay and benefits package for newly appointed County Administrator Kay Mack.
Mack will receive salary of $100,422.40 annually plus Public Employment Retirement Association pension, credit for 35 years of service to the county and 400 hours – the equivalent of 10 weeks – of accrued paid time off.
The extent of the paid time off was a sticking point for Commissioner Jim Lucachick, who voiced the no vote. Commissioners Quentin Fairbanks, Joe Vene, Jack Frost and Richard Anderson voted in favor of the contract.
Lucachick pointed out that the County Board hired Mack from her elected position as county auditor/treasurer. As an elected official, paid time off didn’t apply in Mack’s previous position. Lucachick took issue with granting such generous PTO to Mack, who is technically a new employee of the county.
Mack said elected officials can take as much time off as they think their constituents will accept, but in her 25 years as auditor/treasurer, she said she took maybe eight sick days and never a two-week vacation. She said she believes the commissioners should recognize her dedication with the PTO in the contract.
The contract was drawn up by Beltrami County Attorney Tim Faver, who also advised the commissioners on the process for filling Mack’s position for the remaining two years of her term. He said the County Board had the option of replacing Mack with someone from her office or advertising for applicants. Meanwhile, Deputy Auditor/Treasurer JoDee Treat will perform the duties. Mack recommended Treat as the interim appointee. Faver advised the commissioners to discuss and act on an appointment at the next meeting Dec. 11.
In other business, the County Board unanimously authorized Veterans Service Officer Scotty Allison to accept an operational improvement grant of $4,200 based on the county’s veteran population as reported by the Veterans Administration, and an outreach grant of $2,298 appropriated during the 2012 Minnesota Legislature.
The County Board also unanimously approved a request by County Assessor Duane Ebbighausen and recommended by Linda Tran of Beltrami County Human Services. Ebbighausen proposed taking Public Employee Retirement Association Phased Retirement Option to work 20 hours per week rather than full time.
Ebbighausen explained that residential sales have been slow since 2007, with 2012 recording 230 sales as compared to 500-600 during previous years. Ebbighausen has 37 years of experience with the county.
“This (half time) would not work if we had normal sales volume,” he said.
He said he would work as many hours as necessary during peak months of September to December and March to June, but cut time during the slow January to March and July to August periods.
The arrangement would save the county $44,755 in salary and benefits, but Ebbighausen would continue to receive the same hourly pay, holidays and accrual of paid time off based on hours actually worked.
“This is a good deal for the county; this is a good deal for Duane,” said Kay Mack, county administrator.