NEW ULM - By a 3-2 vote Tuesday, the Brown County Board approved a 2013 pay increase of $550 a year per commissioner.
Commissioners Richard Seeboth and Jim Berg voted against the measure. The action also doubles the additional pay for board chair from $500 to $1,000 a year and sets 2013 salaries at $21,800 a year. Base salaries were $21,250 in 2012. Per diem pay remained at $60.
Approval came after a failed motion to make no changes in salaries. Seeboth and Berg favored the wage freeze. Commissioners' salaries and per diem rates were unchanged from 2008 through 2011.
"I'm satisfied with our salaries," Berg said.
"We don't get paid what our neighbors get," Commissioner Andy Lochner said.
County commissioner salaries for 2012 in 15 area counties ranged from $18,850 in Watonwan County to $24,342 in McLeod, $26,460 in Nicollet, 26,915 in Redwood and $28,300 in Renville.
Commissioners unanimously approved:
2013 salary hikes of 2.4 percent to $86,000, sheriff; 2 percent to $81,203, auditor/treasurer; 2.5 percent to $64,831, recorder; $96,377, Family Services director; $100,052, highway engineer; and $101,706, administrator.
Adopting the $30,885,961 2013 Brown County budget and $11,384,513 levy, a $207,343 (1.86 percent) increase over 2012. The overall county budget increases by 12.4 percent.
"We're already using some reserves in the budget. We're buying down for constituents,"?said Seeboth. "I'm always an advocate of healthy reserves."
Commissioner Scott Windschitl said he thought the federal government may want to go over the fiscal cliff so nobody gets blamed. He said most county levy increases are more than 1.86 percent.
Schmidt Construction's $12,680 quote to clean out 9,600 feet of JD 35 R&B in North Star Township and in Redwood County due to sloughs and silting over the years. Rosburg Construction bid $13,550 for the job.
Supporting legislation to increase driver's license or identification card processing fees $1.50 to $2. The fee has not increased since 2005 Suzanne Jensen of the License Bureau said the increased fee would go to her office to help pay for work that has been shifted from the state to the local office.
Meanwhile, County Highway Engineer Wayne Stevens informed the board that his department is behind on road maintenance funding and county bridges were not built for heavier axle weights.
"We'd have to post bridges. It can be problematic," Stevens said. "...We don't want to lose roads. There is talk of it."