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Crow Wing County Board keeps its salary unchanged, votes for increase for other elected officials

Crow Wing County Board members deadlock momentarily Monday on wage increases for themselves.

Commissioners must set the elected officials salaries before the end of the year. The board met on New Year’s Eve. Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom was absent, which came into play as commissioners were evenly divided on the question of a salary increase.

In recommended compensation for elected positions, Human Resources Director Tami Laska provided a 2013 salary range, including a $701 increase to $28,752. Comparable averages listed a commissioner annual salary at $31,221. Laska said the commissioner’s wages were 11 percent below their peers.

Commissioners approved the wage increases for the other elected officials but set their own pay raise aside for a separate vote.

Commissioners Paul Thiede and Rosemary Franzen voted against the increase. Chairman Doug Houge and Commissioner Phil Trusty voted in favor.

Thiede said it was a fatal error to put the commissioners’ compensation in with the other increases. Alluding to Nystrom’s absence, Thiede said the board was one vote shy Monday and there would likely be three votes to pass it without that absence. With that in mind, Thiede said he was not sure it was worth the fight Monday.

In the end, the board approved a motion to keep the salaries unchanged and at the 2008 level.

In making a decision on setting salaries, the county board is directed by law to consider the office’s duties and responsibilities, the office holder’s experience, qualifications and performance.

Laska’s report on her salary research included looking at ranges for positions from counties with similar populations.

Laska noted the county’s move since 2007 to establish wages competitive with the market on wages and benefits, looking at private and public sector employers in the region along with surveys to determine annual compensation increases.

In the area, the county looked at businesses with 100 or more employees. The recommendation was for a 2.5 percent increase for the county attorney, recorder, sheriff and commissioners and a 3 percent increase for the auditor/treasurer.

In the recommendation for an increase of $2,786 to $114,234 for County Attorney Don Ryan, Laska noted the salary range for the position is $83,095 to $121,675. Laska said the county attorney was 6 percent lower than his peers.

County Auditor-Treasurer Laureen Borden’s wage was increased by $2,560 to $87,908. Laska said Borden’s salary was 21 percent below peers, noting part of that was from Borden’s lack of experience in the auditor’s position. The salary range for the position is $73,954 to $108,291.

County Recorder Kathy Ludenia was increased by $1,883 to $77,199. The salary range for the position is $58,579 to $85,777. Laska said Ludenia’s salary was 3 percent below her peer group.

County Sheriff Todd Dahl’s salary increased by $2,337 to $95,827. The salary range for the position is $73,954 to $108,291. Laska noted the sheriff’s post was 21 percent below the peer group.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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