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Supervisors Vote On Salary Recommendations

By Staff | Dec 29, 2009

by Dan Voigt

With very little discussion, Palo Alto County’s Board of Supervisors froze the salaries of the county’s elected officials during a meeting Dec. 22.  The action came during the weekly meeting of the Supervisors, after the County’s Compensation Board recommended a one-percent raise for the elected officials during its meeting on Dec. 10.

In their meeting, the agenda item for action on the Compensation Board raises took less than a minute to decide. Supervisor Keith Wirtz moved to freeze the salaries of the elected officials for the upcoming fiscal year 2010-2011.

The motion was quickly seconded by Supervisor Jerry Hofstad. “In light of the economy, we have to do this.”

In other business, the board met with Tom Lee, Administrator of the Palo Alto County Hospital, and Peg McNally, Director of Palo Alto County Public Health Services, to discuss the coming year’s budget requirements.

Lee reported that the hospital would be asking for the same level of funding as it had last year, in the amount of $61,410.

“We will probably see a five to 10 percent cut in reimbursement from Medicaid in the coming year,”?Lee noted, “and at PACH, we are down 25 percent in the number of visits for last year. That includes the clinics, as well as inpatient and outpatient admissions. But, while the revenues are down, so are the expenses and we feel we can maintain at the same funding as last year.”

Lee went on to note that the hospital was in the black at this point of the year, budget-wise, and was well below budgeted levels, but those numbers were also lower for visits and admissions, as well.

McNally reported to the supervisors that budget cuts from the state were going to affect the Public Health department, but that even with cuts, Public Health had continued to provide services to the county’s residents.

“We have given over 3,000 H1N1 vaccinations since the start of the vaccination effort, and are now administering the vaccine to everyone, without charge, if they come to Community Health at the hospital.” McNally noted.

“I really appreciate  you coming in to visit with us and your efforts to hold the line, in light of the current times,”?Board Chair Ed Noonan told Lee and McNally as they concluded their presentation.

The Board also met with John Banwart, representing Riverside Cemetery at Rodman. The cemetery board was requesting the supervisors’ support in applying for a Palo Alto County Gaming Development Commission Grant for improvements to the cemetery.

Supervisor Keith Wirtz moved to introduce and approve a resolution of support for the group for its application. The motion was approved unanimously.

Mental Health Director Maureen Sandberg informed the board that she had received a letter from Seasons Mental Health Center in Spencer, proposing a 10 percent increase in the cost of services for the next fiscal year.

“The letter asks if you would be in favor of such an increase,” Sandberg  said.

“No we would not,”?replied Supervisor Jerry Hofstad, with the board agreeing with the response.

“I know Emmet County is also opposed to this idea,” Sandberg said. “We’re telling everyone else no as far as increases, so why should Seasons be any different?”

The board also met with Emmetsburg businessman and entrepreneur Mike Flannegan, who discussed his plans for a new entity, the Institute for Technology and Arts.

Flannegan discussed his reasoning in establishing the entity, and indicated he would like to visit further with the supervisors on the possibility of contracting with the county for economic development services in the future.

The board agreed to meet with Flannegan again in the future to learn more about his venture.