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Rep. Haley gives legislative update

Haley gave a legislative update, discussing a variety of topics including budgets and transportation to Goodhue County commissioners before the regular agenda. (photo by Kit Murray)

Rep. Barb Haley briefly dropped by the Goodhue County Board meeting March 21 after attending a day care discussion to provide commissioners with an overview of what she has been working on at the state level for the county.

"We're trying to get things to the governor early," Haley said. "Our budget target came out yesterday. What that means is, we have very early deadlines."

Projects on the radar, Haley mentioned, will be items such as reforming teacher licensing, tax credits for families saving for college and child care credits.

"It's been a busy session and I'm feeling good about where we're headed."

State transportation funding was another item that was touched on by commissioners.

"I encourage people to stay engaged and stay involved," Haley said. "It makes a difference."

Rising liability insurance raises concern

Lyle Lorenson, a part-time employer with county administration and human resources, has been doing background checks as a part-time employee and outside vendor since late 2015. Due to rising costs of liability insurance to cover Lorenson from potential employment claims, the county has been forced to decide whether to keep his position open.

"We want to be safe and hire the right people," Board Chair Ron Allen said.

While there is an investigator through Wabasha County, having Lorenson in Goodhue County would be beneficial to helping the county save money.

"At this point, I suggest we continue the way we are doing it now," Commissioner Barney Nesseth said. "I don't think it hurts to wait a little while," noting that the amount of funds allocated from the state are still undecided.

"We will do the background (checks) whether we have Lyle or not," said Scott Arneson, county administrator. "Waiting to see if we get funding, I don't think it impacts it. If we hire a full-time investigator for $80,000, Lyle is way cheaper than that."

The position covers employment background and a gun permit specialist. Goodhue County Sheriff Scott McNurlin mentioned that the time to issue permits to carry will hopefully be sped up with Lorenson's position as well.

The motion passed unanimously to hire Lorenson as a part-time employee for up to 14 hours a week.

Department changes lead to an open position

Goodhue County Human Resources Director Melissa Cushing requested the County Board approve the position of human resource assistant. With changes in the department, the position will be moved from court services to human resources.

"Now the court services department is continuing to reorganize their department due to retirement," Cushing said. "They are not needing this position any longer, they are combining two positions into one. Because of that fact, we're asking that position be moved to full-time."

Many of the employees may retire at any moment, Cushing said, which causes the issue to be time sensitive.

"We have 31 percent of our employees eligible to retire. That's over 100 people that could walk out the door today and be done and that's only going to continue," Cushing said. "The demands in the HR department are increasing."

"There's so much work in human resources," Commissioner Brad Anderson said. "There is a shortage."

The motion passed 3-2 with Nesseth and Commissioner Jason Majerus voting no.

Meeting watch

Tuesday's County Board lasted one hour and 39 minutes. All five commissioners were present.

— compiled by Kit Murray, staff writer

Kit Murray

Kit Murray joined Red Wing Republican Eagle in Aug. 2016, covering government, transportation and public safety. She is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead with a degree in photojournalism and philosophy. 

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