Multiple Union Contracts Settled; Continuing Work on Budget Swamp Polk County Negotiations

Multiple Union Contracts Settled; Continuing Work on Budget Swamp Polk County Negotiations

November 8, 2021 News -- KRJB-KRJM-KKCQ 0

By: Mary Balstad

Polk County, MN – As the calendar year of 2021 comes to a close, the Polk County offices are looking to conclude multiple contracts and budgets for next year. This includes, but is not limited to, union contracts, refinancing of jail bonds, American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funds, and levies for the budget. Polk County Commissioner Joan Lee spoke about these end-of-year topics on Monday, November 7th’s ‘Food for Thought’ program in the monthly Polk County update. The first talking point was on the union contracts. With 6 of 8 contracts settled, Lee states that wage increase will be made in growing increments at the start and mid-point of the year rather than all at once. From 2022 to 2024, this three year span will see little over 10% increase. Lee also says there were uncertainties with insurance plans for county employees for a time.

There will also be a forfeited property sale on December 9th. Starting at 10 A.M., the sale will have items forfeited back to the county government. Taking place at the Government Center in Crookston, various parcels will be available for purchase.

Lee then spoke about the refinancing of jail bonds. Officially refinanced on October 19th, the entity rewarded this refinance was the Bank of New York. With four years left on the jail bonds, the average saved over this time would be roughly $30,000 a year.

The Polk County offices are still looking at the guidelines for ARPA Funds received. No definite decisions of how to use the funds have been made. Lee says there are various possibilities on the fund uses, such as recovering lost revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic or expenses for next year on the levy that deal with COVID-19. There was also a presentation last week from the cities of Climax and Nielsville to implement a rural water system to connect to a pipe from North Dakota and along Highway 75. However, Lee says there are drawbacks to carrying out of this system.

Lee reports that the county office is approaching the ARPA Funds with caution due to the changing guidelines. Counties are in contact with one another on how they were audited by the state.

Finally, the work continues on the county budget. With most contracts agreed upon, this workload has been lifted off the county commissioners. However, the preliminary levy must be agreed upon as well.

The Polk County Commissioner’s update is every first Monday of the month on the ‘Food for Thought’ program starting at 8:45 A.M.