Rice County commissioners approve salary increases

The Rice County commissioners have approved 2005 salary increases for board members and elected department heads.

Members of the board will see pay increases of 2 percent, while the four elected department heads will receive 2 percent cost of living increases plus a $2,000 merit bonus. Board members will also receive a stipend for cell phone and Internet access.

County board members will be reimbursed 50 percent of the cost, or up to $35 a month, for a cell phone, and 50 percent of the cost, or up to $35 a month, for Internet access. Improved communications with constituents was the reasoning for the stipend.

The per diem payment commissioners receive for attending committee meetings will remain at $45 per day, after a motion to increase that payment failed to receive a second.

The wage increases for commissioners and department heads take effect in January, when three of the five current commissioners will be replaced by newly-elected county board members.

A reception was held at a recent meeting for outgoing commissioners Dan Minnick, who served 22 years on the county board; Heather Robins, 12 years; and Don Olson, eight years. The outgoing members received plaques in recognition of their service.

Once the 2 percent pay increase takes effect in January, county commissioners will receive $25,080 in annual salary. The board chairman will receive an additional 3 percent, increasing that salary to $25,832.

The 2005 salaries for the four elected department heads will be as follows: Rice County Attorney Paul Beaumaster, $89,166; Auditor-Treasurer Fran Windschitl, $87,792; Sheriff Richard Cook, $85,413; and Recorder Marsha DeGroot, $42,840.

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