homepage logo

Quietly, Faribault County is eliminating several positions

By Staff | Jan 25, 2010

It was not announced with much fanfare at the Faribault County Commissioners meeting last Tuesday morning.

In fact, it wasn’t announced at all.

While Faribault County Library Director Pauline Siem was busy giving her report on how the county library system is being reorganized, no one mentioned one major casualty of the plan.

Siem herself. Her position is being eliminated. Her function of operating the seven small station libraries in the county is being taken over by three of the city libraries in the county.

It isn’t a coup, with the city libraries in Winnebago, Wells and Blue Earth forcing a takeover of the county system. No, it wasn’t their idea at all.

The Faribault County Board instructed the Library Board to make a new plan. The County Library Board has spent many months and countless meetings developing the plan and getting everyone on board with it.

When it all gets boiled down, the plan makes sense. The city libraries will be furnishing materials to the smaller town libraries.

In the past, Siem rotated a limited number of books and other items between the seven station libraries in the county. Plus, she requested books from the Traverse Des Sioux Library System.

Now, it will be up to the libraries in Blue Earth, Winnebago, and Wells to supply the smaller libraries with books and other materials.

It should mean more material shared between all of the libraries in the county.

Plus, a bonus will be more assistance with computers and access to the internet.

One added benefit to the new plan is to bring the county into compliance with state law concerning levying a tax to support a library system – known as maintenance of effort.

Apparently the county has been out of compliance for a long time. Faribault County Auditor John Thompson estimates 30 years or more of non-compliance.

The culprit? Faribault County had never operated a bricks and mortar County Library. Instead, they have operated a system of small library stations in seven of the smaller towns in the county.

I guess that didn’t count.

And now that they have brought in the libraries of the three larger cities in the county to operate the system, the county is in compliance.

At least, everyone thinks that is the case.

The vote by the county board last year to combine the office of county auditor and county treasurer together, is another case of the way things have changed at the courthouse.

Voters had a right to file a petition if they didn’t like the proposal, but no one seemed to care.

Faribault County is not the only one in the state with the idea of combining these two offices. At least half of the counties in the state have done so.

So far, it seems to be working. Plus, it seems to be saving some money in the budget, an important consideration in these times of state unallotments.

Also on the front page is a story about the county hiring a conservation engineer.

This is actually part of another reorganization plan, this one involving the Soil and Water Conservation office.

Michelle Stindtman and her staff took over duties which had been performed by the County Zoning Administrator, Bruce Blakesley, before his sudden death.

That position has been revamped into something new, with the staff at Soil and Water doing a lot of the work, plus some duties which will be performed by this new employee.

There also is the case of the economic development director.

Zoa Heckman had recently been hired to fill the position, before it was suddenly eliminated by the EDA after the county board funded Go Minnesota and not the county EDA.

It all seems to be a pattern of the county re-inventing itself, staff-wise, and developing a plan as to how the work should be done, and by whom.

So far it seems to be working, but only time will tell for sure if they are making all the right moves.