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County Wrestles with 2015 Budget: Approves Pay Raises

By Kristy McElhaney
Fall River County Commissioners met last Thursday at the Cottage Meeting Room of the S.D. State Veteran’s Home for their first meeting of September.
A resolution was passed to change the name of a county road from Ridgeview Court to White Pebble Court due to a duplication of road names in the county. Another road named Ridgeview Road was too similar and likely to cause confusion.
Commissioners appointed Joyce Farrell as Deputy Treasurer after the resignation of Kristi Hudson.
Commissioner Mike Ortner reported that there is a September 11, Patriot’s Day Event planned. The Community Potluck will be held at the American Legion in Hot Springs at 5:30 p.m.  Commissioners voted to donate $250 for food for the event.  
Also on September 11, at 11 a.m.,  there will be a Town Hall meeting at the DOM Auditorium on the VA campus and citizens are urged to attend.
A hearing was set for October 2, for taxation of properties not previously listed as taxable. This would include property sold by the county. Affected landowners will be notified.
Treasurer Kelli Rhoe met with commissioners to discuss the future sale of tax certificates. Presently, Fall River County (and five other counties in the state) sell tax certificates to third parties for unpaid property taxes. This program makes a lot of extra record-keeping for the Treasurer’s office and she recommends that we discontinue the practice for a few years to allow previous certificates to be cleared off the books.  The commissioners delayed action on this item in order to get input from the school districts and cities whose tax income would also be affected.
Eric Rounds, representing Butler Caterpillar, and Wade Isler, representing RDO (John Deere) Equipment both presented information to the Commissioners about their road graders with bid options from other counties.    
Ortner also reported that Heavy Construction is working on the county bridge near Igloo.  They are repairing a beam this week and will be jacking up the bridge for re-alignment next week.
Department supervisors presented their wage requests in open session. Commissioners then met in executive session with employees and union representatives. After the executive session, on motion by Cassens, a two year agreement was made with the union. The agreement, effective January 1, 2015, would provide the following:
– Pay raise of seventy-five cents per hour per employee in 2015 and again in 2016 for all full time hourly wage employees (beyond the three-year step scale) and all elected and appointed officials (except Commissioners)
– Starting wage increases and 50 cents per hour step increases for Jailers and Dispatchers
– Acceptance of Union Wellmark BC/BS Insurance to be offered to all employee with an approximate savings of $137,000 per year to the county.
Commissioners noted that federal PILT funding has not been approved for 2015 and if not received, nearly $400,000 would be lost from the budget which will result in employees being cut in every department.

Edgemont Herald Tribune
PO Box 660   |   Edgemont, SD  57735-0660   |   605.662.7201   |  tribune@gwtc.net

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