GRANITE?FALLS?-?The Yellow Medicine County Board authorized a potential $500,000 of equipment purchases, authorized the sale of four properties for public auction, and denied a grievance filed by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council (AFSCME) 65 at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday.
Commissioners voted unanimously to deny a Step III grievance brought before the board by Paul Schwarz, staff representative of AFSCME Council 65, based on behalf of four courthouse employees reclassified in the reorganization of county departments put into effect Nov. 1.
The first step of the grievance was received by the county Feb. 3 and related to the transfer of certain employees to new positions in the reorganization.
County Administrator Ryan Krosch said the employees were placed on one-year probation status in accordance with the union agreement with the county concerning new hires, transfers, and promotions.
Furthermore, the contract stipulates a deadline of 10 days to file a grievance, and the union filed months after the reassignments.
Schwarz said the union's position is that the employees are doing the same work and only the job titles have changed. The union is demanding the employees put on probationary status be immediately taken off and claims the denial of steps I and II of the grievance violates the Minnesota Public Employee Labor Relations Act.
Schwarz said he's going straight to arbitration.
At the request of Property and Public Services Director Janel Timm, the board scheduled a public auction of two delinquent tax properties in Clarkfield and two in Granite Falls 10 a.m. on April 18.
The Clarkfield properties are vacant lots with assessed values of $500 each, according to Timm. The Granite Falls properties have structures on them and assessed values of $4,000 and $250.
The figures represent the minimum acceptable bids, Timm said.
The board also approved a request by County Engineer Andy Sander to purchase a model 7600 International truck and plow equipment for a total cost of $143,000, and a backhoe for $89,000.
On the recommendation of Sheriff Bill Flaten the board voted to enter into a contract with Motorola to buy equipment for the Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response (ARMER) system that is replacing current communications systems in the county and statewide.
The equipment includes consoles, microwave connectivity, and installation costs, for an estimated maximum of $534,000, of which $283,000 will be covered by matching grants. Total cost of the project to date has been $892,000.
"ARMER provides inter-operations communication for police, fire, hospitals, utilities, other government and private entities that want to be part of it," Flaten said. "It's a robust, awesome system."
According to Flaten, the ARMER system also enables out of area emergency responders to hook into local communications immediately upon arrival in the area.
Flaten said the county was on target to have the new system fully operational by October-November.
"Well that's a half-million dollars in 30 minutes," Board Chairman Gary Johnson said jokingly.