By Craig Moorhead

The Caledonia Argus

Houston County commissioners wrapped up some year-end business prior to their “workgroup” session on Tuesday, Dec. 22.

The board approved an addendum to their professional services contract with CEDA (Community Economic Development Associates). 

Houston County already utilizes CEDA’s small cities development program specialist Allison Wagner on the existing contract (three days per week). The addendum will add eight hours per week for some entirely different tasks, including attending Tuesday morning county board meetings and work sessions, maintaining accurate records of board proceedings (including the minutes), drafting the agendas for the board, and organizing that with department heads. 

The person will also handle various communications that need to be drafted, including posting of public notices for the county board.  

The new agreement will be up for review in 45 days, when the actual hours spent on the new set of tasks will be checked against the eight hour estimate, personnel/facilities director Tess Arrick-Kruger stated. It is unclear whether Wagner or another CEDA employee will take on the assignment.

“This isn’t about contracting with a person, this is about contracting with CEDA for two different jobs,” Arrick-Kruger said. “One is for the EDA services that they provide... and this is actually for a different job.” The director also suggested that the person who provides the additional services should not be privy to closed sessions, and will not advise the county board.

Commissioner Eric Johnson said the action was in response to eliminating the position of county administrator. 

“We know that Donna (Trehus) is short on help, she’s very busy in her office so we looked for a way to find somebody who could fill in this position as clerk of the board.” Trehus serves as Houston County auditor/treasurer. The addendum includes 416 hours of services for $20,092.

In other ballots, commissioners voted 3-2 to assign Cindy Cresswell-Hatleli to the position of accredited Minnesota appraiser effective January 1, 2020. Cresswell-Hatleli currently serves as Houston County assessor, but was not reappointed to that post for 2021. The latter action is now the subject of a labor grievance. The board will have 90 days to appoint a county assessor in 2021, Johnson said.

Before adjourning to begin their workgroup session, the board also approved the re-hire of temporary/casual employee Dillon Felten, who has been helping citizens with appointments at the historic courthouse, unlocking the door for those who have business there, and guiding them to the proper office while limited-access provisions are in place. 

Commissioners also approved property tax abatements for Tony Becker of Hokah, and Michelle Benson of Spring Grove.

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