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Commissioners seek to engage public in 2018

Jason Majerus

The Goodhue County Board kicked off its first meeting of 2018 by electing new leadership. Jason Majerus has replaced Ron Allen as board chair and Barney Nesseth will now serve as vice chair.

An early agenda item on Jan. 2, which regarded meeting dates, prompted some discussion over how to increase public participation.

Currently, the board meets at 5 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month and 9 a.m. the third Tuesday. Some members felt that scheduling afternoon and evening meetings might buoy attendance.

"I've heard over the years the argument that there'd be more civic participation if you have it at 7 p.m. versus a 9 a.m. meeting. And what I've noticed in over 20 years of doing this is that if an issue's going to affect somebody, they'll be here even if it's two in the morning. So I don't see that it actually increases civic participation, regardless what time you pick," Administrator Scott Arneson said.

Allen noted that adding some afternoon or evening meetings could encourage neighbors to attend who are not directly affected by an agenda item but want to come out in support of it.

Majerus said that evening meetings would better accommodate his schedule, but all commissioners were mindful of the burden of cost that moving such meetings to the evening would have on staff resources. Though some staff who manage and speak at County Board meetings are salaried, many are not, and would need to be compensated for their extra time spent after hours.

Ultimately, commissioners decided to maintain their biweekly meeting schedule.

The board approved a 2.5 percent salary increase for elected officials County Attorney Stephen Betcher and Sheriff Scott McNurlin. Both men received $140,566.40 in 2017 and will receive $144,081.60 in 2018.

The board also approved the Red Wing Republican Eagle's bid to become the official publication of Goodhue County for publishing official meeting notices. The joint bid includes publication of notices in the Cannon Falls Beacon, Kenyon Leader and News Record of Zumbrota.

Those wishing to become involved in Goodhue County Board meeting proceedings can view past and future agendas, as well as a full calendar of meetings and videos of past meetings, online: www.co.goodhue.mn.us/731/County-Board-Agendas.