Fillmore County's commissioners discussed how to hire replacement accounting staff during its Tuesday, Feb. 5, meeting.

The question at hand was how hiring new staff might alleviate current staff shortage problems, as a Feb. 28 fiscal officer's retirement had been announced in the Social Services finance department at the same time that the county had been examining creating central finance operations.

County auditor/treasurer Shirl Boelter sat before the board of commissioners and expressed that she felt that the position should "be filled as soon as possible," though nobody had applied in response to an advertisement asking for an accounting technician. "The main concern is getting the Social Services position filled. Nobody applied in-house because it wasn't a merit job. I think we need to get someone with experience, someone in-house to apply and then share our programs, work backwards instead of starting new."

Debate arose as Commissioner Duane Bakke read the draft minutes of the Jan. 22 meeting, pointing out that the minutes state that the board "has held discussions on options to handle this work...the recommendation is to move those functions to the auditor/treasurer office to centralize finance and utilize accounting skills that are already there." He asked Boelter to define "centralized finance."

She replied, "We're looking at how we can do more the highway shop, we could put some receiving out there. We're looking at this as an opportunity to learn, to take down the silos of 'I need' and give access so that we're not printing something three times...I don't think we can centralize yet...I think we need to work on this more."

Bakke countered, "Two weeks ago, we said we'd started centralized finance, and if we continue to do this, we'll take people and put them in the treasurer's office, and that puts them all in one place...which doesn't make any sense."

Conversation turned to how staff is cross-trained in other departments, and Fillmore County Human Resources Officer Kristina Kohn stated that while the human resources department strives to cross-train staff "two deep," it would do well to cross-train "three deep" so that if a person with accounting experience in one department is gone for a day or an extended amount of time, another could easily assume that person's duties.

She noted that the advertisement for an accounting technician could be canceled and the position re-posted with a merit system requirement. The commissioners voted to cancel the current ad and re-post the position, asking for a fiscal officer instead of an accounting technician.

In other business, highway engineer Ronald Gregg presented several change orders for work done at the highway shop building, now under renovation. The first was a proposal to do unanticipated floor preparation due to uneven floors, the second, a proposal from Schwab, the firm handling the renovations, to change the flooring from tile to carpet, and the third, a proposal to change the restroom wall tile to match the flooring tile.

Commissioners questioned the carpeting change order, as the carpet incurred a $4,453 charge. No decision was made whether to tile or carpet the flooring, but the restroom will have matching walls and floors.

A final payment of $724.49 to Kane & Johnson for architectural services rendered on asbestos abatement done at the highway office was paid, as were two payments to Schwab, the first, $95,160, and the second, $31,065 for work done on the building. The last payment made was an invoice for $4,000 for work completed.

Information systems manager Jeff Cooper updated the board on the new county website, proposing that the county engage SiteGround as a host for the site at a cost of $62 per month. "We've been looking at different hosting sites and this has the best price and terms, and it also has a phone number I can call instead of e-mailing for service." The board approved use of SiteGround.

Also, in administrative items, commissioners passed motions to accept the annual wellness grant of $2,250 from the Southeast Service Cooperative, and approved the Minnesota Department of Corrections Act subsidy 2013 budget for Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted County Corrections.

The consent agenda included granting a pay step increase for Social Services supervisor Wendy Ebner, unpaid administrative leave for an employee for up to six weeks due to lack of family and medical leave, appointing Matthew J. Opat to the Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted Corrections advisory board beginning Jan. 1, 2013, and ending Dec. 31, 2014, appointing Jenifer Hungerholt as an at-large member of the Fillmore County corrections task force for the same term, Philip Burkholder to the community corrections task force to replace Kristi Tangen as District 5 representative with a term expiring Dec. 31, 2013, appointing David Harrenstein to the Southeastern Minnesota Association of Regional Trails with a term expiring Dec. 31, 2013, appointing Shirl Boelter to the county's community services committee, appointment of Minnesota Counties Computer Cooperative delegates (MCCC), payment of the first quarter SELCO library funding invoice of $52,128, and payment of the Soil and Water Conservation District invoice of $30,381.92 for the 2013 Natural Resources Block Grant.

Instead of adjourning, the commissioners continued the meeting by holding a walk- through of the county office building to examine central access and security situations, as well as consider where to place a computer kiosk to provide the public with access to Social Services information.

The Fillmore County commissioners meet each Tuesday morning - except the fifth Tuesday of a month - in Preston at the Fillmore County Courthouse conference room at 9 a.m. Citizen input time is included in each meeting.