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No contract settlements in Swift County

BENSON -- Contract negotiations are continuing in Swift County between union employees and the county commissioners.

So far there's been no agreements reached with any of the unions representing county employees.

The county is currently offering a "slight increase" in salaries in the proposed three-year contract, Auditor Byron Giese said.

The county has 105 employees, which includes union and non-union employees, department heads and elected officials.

Meanwhile, the commissioners intend to start holding meetings next month with the auditor, treasurer and recorder to find out when these elected officials intend to retire. The discussion will help the commissioners plan for the future, which could possibly include revamping some positions.

Many counties, for example, have a combined auditor and treasurer official that's elected. Some counties appoint, rather than elect, their recorder.

Because the county has no administrator, Giese currently does much of the work that an administrator and human resource director does, as well as the auditing duties.

Giese, who has held the position since 1981 and was re-elected in November to a four-year term, said in an interview Monday that he intends to retire sometime before he's up for election again.

Giese said he didn't know exactly when he would retire but said the earliest he would be eligible to retire would be October of 2012.

He said he promised the commissioners he would give them at least a six-month warning.

The commissioners approved a joint powers agreement to be part of a multi-county Supporting Hands Nurse Family Partnership. The community health program matches registered nurses with vulnerable women who are pregnant with their first child.

The preventative program, which continues through the child's second birthday, is designed to improve the health and welfare of the child and mother. The program includes 15 western Minnesota counties. It gets underway Jan. 1 in Swift County.

Costs for joining the partnership are covered by Countryside Public Health, which is a collaboration of Swift, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Yellow Medicine and Big Stone Counties.

In other action:

- The commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2011 levy at 6 p.m. Dec. 21 at the Courthouse. They are expected to take action after the hearing.

- A plan approved 10 years ago that limited a Commissioner's term on a county committee to nine years may be revoked. The Commissioners will continue discussing the self-imposed ban at later meetings.

- E & M Electrical of Benson was awarded the bid for retrofitting lights in county buildings to meet new standards. The county is expected to recoup the investment in about two years through reduced energy costs.

- The commissioners updated the tobacco ordinance to include new products that have become popular since the ordinance was last updated.

- The commissioners heard a report on the 2010 Swift County Fair.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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