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County Board looks at consolidating 3 departments

The McLeod County Board declared its intent to merge the planning and zoning and environmental services departments with the solid waste department at a workshop Tuesday morning.
The conversation came as the County Board debated whether it should fill its currently vacant solid waste director position, or create a combined position to oversee all three departments, with coordinator positions for each of the departments under the supervision of the director.
Commissioner Paul Wright said that he would have different considerations for hiring a director depending on whether the county was just hiring a solid waste director, or hiring a director with oversight of all three divisions.
“It’s a different position, in my mind, if you’re looking to put environmental services and planning and zoning in with solid waste,” said Wright.
The county has been without a solid waste director for nearly two years, after then director Ed Homan took a long-term leave, and then reached a separation agreement with the county.
Sarah Young, the solid waste coordinator, has been the acting director in the interim.
Young told the County Board that it needed to take some action to fill the position, and to get going quickly.
“If the goal is to start looking at combining departments — then start; if not, then we have a need to fill that director position right now. There are too many things falling through the cracks,” Young said.
Commissioner Ron Shimanski asked if there was room at the Solid Waste facility to bring all three departments under one roof, or if a new director could supervise at different buildings.
“Could this director manage without relocating these departments immediately?” asked Shimanski.
Wright said he didn’t feel the county would maximize efficiency without getting them all under one roof.
“Until you get them all in one building, you aren’t getting the full benefit,” said Wright. He added that having them in one building would facilitate cross-training and help eliminate duplicate positions.
County Attorney Mike Junge said the board needs to decide on a direction, and then figure out how to make it work.
“You have two questions — one is whether you should do it, and the other is how you should do it,” said Junge.
Commissioner Sheldon Nies agreed.
“If we’re going to try to line up all the stars before we decide, we’ll still be here next year,” said Nies. “We need to make that decision and get out there and hire that director. If we wait to figure that out, we’re going to wear that young lady (Young) out.”

For more, see the Sept. 7 print edition of The Chronicle.