From: Mena Kaehler
In my first term we successfully dealt with the big issues: reduced taxes, smaller government, responsible industrial sand review while improving services. Many letters to the editor had erroneous statements regarding my record to stir controversy instead of looking at actual issues. Below are corrections:
Recycling – In Aug 2011, the County Board unanimously approved the new county program. The $16 annual parcel fee has been in effect since the 1980s, while St. Charles’s started an independent program in the 1990s and was under contract when the county program commenced. The new countywide curbside pickup duplicates part of the $16, which may allow a partial reimbursement retroactive to Jan 2012 – resulting in a reduced recycling cost to St. Charles citizens.
Elected/appointed positions. There have been no board discussions to move elected officials to appointed. The County Board unanimously decided to merge departments to gain efficiencies. One merger will create a Land Records Department. It will include Auditor/Treasurer and Recorder – both elected positions. This new department allows for positions to remain elected, while their departments and staff fall under one merged department to gain cross-training and efficiencies.
Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD). No, I did not vote to eliminate funding for the SWCD. Commissioner Ward, the other rural woman commissioner, seconded the motion to cut funding levels at SWCD. I support the work that SWCD does. Its past turmoil has been addressed.
The County Administrator: He is the CEO of the county. The board sets all policy, the administrator oversees staff to implement it. Currently, Winona county is the 18th most populous of 87 counties. More than half of Minnesota counties have an Administrator model. This model fits our needs.
County Board roles: It is the responsibility of all commissioners to encourage a respectful workplace for employees. When one harasses an employee, the board should address it. If private conversations fail to show results, it is unfortunate that Open Meeting Laws require the board conversation occur in public. Our employees must be allowed to do their work without harassment from a commissioner and we need to follow Open Meeting Laws.
Hiring authority: The County Board has taken over hiring authority and then given it back to staff approximately 15 times over the years. The most recent policy change was in April 2005 when Commissioner Ward voted to take the commissioners out of the hiring process and give it back to the administrator. Motion passed. In Oct 2010, we voted to affirm this policy.
Well, I hope people will educate themselves on facts and issues. Check out both candidates. You’ll find my facts are documented.
Thanks for taking time to read this.