The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

December 17, 2013

Blue Earth County Board OKs pay raises, excludes own

MANKATO — For the vast majority of the hundreds of Blue Earth County employees, pay-raise day was an anonymous affair and came just hours before the County Board hosted employees for holiday cookies and punch.

The board approved a 2.5 percent pay raise for 2014 for the two unions that have settled contracts and the same bump for the county's nonunion employees.

But for eight employees, the annual salary-setting exercise was a bit more public. It also seemed to reveal a hint of the hard feelings related to a years-long dispute between the county attorney's office and the county administration over salary setting.

First came the five commissioners, who County Administrator Bob Meyer recommended give themselves a 2 percent raise. The commissioners didn't accept the recommendation, choosing to keep their salaries at the 2013 level of $33,842.

Then came County Sheriff Brad Peterson and County Attorney Ross Arneson, who Meyer recommended receive a 2.5 percent pay adjustment. The board agreed, meaning Peterson and Arneson will be paid $129,813 next year.

The proposed salaries for the commissioners, the sheriff and the county attorney were included in Meyer's memo to the board in the meeting's packet of public documents. Arneson noted that Meyer had chosen to single out his salary and Peterson's, even though the county engineer, the human services director and the finance director receive identical salaries and will receive the same 2014 pay raise.

"Bob started that practice ...," Arneson said of singling out the elected officials.

Finally was Meyer's salary, which he left to the board's discretion with no recommendation.

The meeting packet didn't include Meyer's salary, and the board voted simply to give its top administrator the same 2.5 percent increase as other county supervisors.

"He's done a good job, and he's part of the reason the budget's looking so great," said Commissioner Mark Piepho, offering sentiments that were seconded by Commissioners Will Purvis and Kip Bruender.

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