Taylor gets contract with county

Staff Writer
Ken Francis


In a 4-1 vote Tuesday, the Sherburne County Commissioners approved a contract to hire Steve Taylor as the new county administrator.
Under the contract, Taylor will be paid $130,000 a year and gets an immediate 40 hours of paid time off (PTO). His starting date is Nov. 4.
The contract also gives Taylor a six-month severance package if he is terminated after 12 months.
That was one of the terms in the contract that Commissioner Bruce Anderson objected to and also why he voted against approving the contract.
“I like Steve. I think he’ll do a wonderful job,” said Anderson. “I just don’t feel the severance package is something I would support.”
Anderson said the severance package is not something that is offered to other employees.
“I know some counties have followed it and some counties have not followed it,” he said. “But we may open the door with other elected officials that might have concerns. They have at-will employees. Do they offer them that same package?”
He said the county already has personnel policies that deal with employees, and Taylor should fall under those policies.
Anderson also questioned the decision to offer Taylor 40 hours of PTO from the first day of employment, and offer to pay Taylor’s expenses for membership in civic organizations.
Commissioner Ewald Petersen said he talked to a number of commissioners from other counties that have dealt with hiring an administrator about a severance package.
“It appears virtually every county has it in their contract,” he said.
Gary Weiers of David Drown & Associates, who was given the job of negotiating a contract with Taylor, said the terms offered to Taylor were not unusual.
“It’s standard operating procedure, in my opinion for a county administrator,” he said.
Anderson said it wasn’t standard everywhere.
“There are counties that border us that do not have that in their agreement,” he said.
Weiers said it was reasonable.
 “Yes, it’s not the case in every place,” he said. “But I don’t think this is exorbitant by industry standards.”
He said Taylor asked for the 40 hours of PTO because he has a family with younger kids. “If there’s an emergency situation and he needs to take time off, that’s what he was asking for. In my mind that’s an understandable request,” he said. “This is not your regular employee of the county. This is not like the rest of your workforce. I think this is what it takes to attract quality people.”
Commissioner Felix Schmiesing said he was in support of the contract.
“I think that he was clearly the candidate we wanted to bring to Sherburne County,” he said. “He was not asking for the top of the pay range and he’s going to have a commute.  When we started to look at contracts, I think that there’s a lot of them that support exactly what we’re doing here. He had a reasonable commitment to us and I think this is a reasonable commitment back.”
The board voted, 4-1 to approve the contract. Commissioners Rachel Leonard, John Riebel  Schmiesing and Petersen voted in favor. 
Anderson voted against.
“All I’m trying to do is lead by example and make sure as a county commissioner, that I’m not treating our at-will employee differently than an employee that currently works for us,” he said. “I want to make sure we’re treating everybody the same and that we don’t have two different standards here.” 


George I. Florek

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