MARSHALL - A request to hire an additional employee in the Lyon County engineering department led to a lot of discussion and a close vote at the Lyon County Board's regular meeting on Tuesday. Lyon County Public Works Director Suhail Kanwar said an additional engineering staff member was needed to design construction projects. Engineering has been short one position since the assistant county engineer's retirement last year.
Kanwar said the county could contract with an engineering firm for county projects, or hire an engineering technician or project engineer.
"This position will bring us back to normal staffing levels," he said.
"Didn't the three-year plan say we didn't need this position?" asked Commissioner Rodney Stensrud.
Kanwar said county plans didn't allow for additional highway department staff. Additional engineering staff was needed to help meet county engineering needs. For example, he said, some counties have a full-time bridge inspector, while Lyon County may have one engineer trying to do both bridge inspections and project designs.
Some commissioners suggested that if an additional engineer was hired, he or she should be required to get a commercial driver's license. The requirement wouldn't necessarily mean that the engineer would be responsible for tasks like plowing snow, commissioners said. However, "I think it would give him more flexibility," said Commissioner Mark Goodenow.
The board voted 3-2 in favor of hiring a project engineer, with the condition of the new engineer getting a CDL within a year of being hired. Commissioners Rick Anderson and Stensrud voted against the motion.
Discussion of safety improvements in the Lyon County District Court continued at Tuesday's meeting, with a request by Sheriff Mark Mather to purchase a new metal detector. People entering the courtroom area of the county Government Center currently pass through a metal detector. However, Mather said, that metal detector is about 20 years old.
"It's outdated," Mather said, which raises concerns about its accuracy and whether it would be possible to repair it in the future. He recommended the county buy a newer model, with better sensors and features like a traffic counter.
"I like the idea that we'll be able to monitor the number of people coming through there," Mather said.
The new metal detector would cost a little less than $4,000, Mather said. Funds for the metal detector would come from the county's criminal justice account.
Commissioners voted in favor of purchasing the metal detector.
The 2013 budgeting process has begun for Lyon County. Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg presented commissioners with preliminary budget figures. The budget proposal calls for a preliminary levy of $12.1 million, the same as in 2012. However, as the board went through individual budget items, Stomberg cautioned, "These numbers are very preliminary and subject to change."
The board will have a special meeting next week to discuss the 2013 budget in more depth. The meeting will be at 9 a.m. on Aug. 28, in the commissioners' rooms at the Lyon County Government Center.