McCOOK, Nebraska -- It'll be really hard to replace 59 1⁄2 years of knowledge and experience, but that's what Red Willow County, Nebraska, commissioners are facing.
Here it is almost March 1, said commission chairman Earl McNutt during a commissioners' meeting Monday morning, "and before you know it, it'll be July and time to start thinking about budgets."
Fellow commissioner Vesta Dack agreed: it's time to start thinking about a replacement for Shirley Volz, who wrote Red Willow County's budgets for the past 591⁄2 years and retired earlier in February.
Commissioners are wondering if there is someone within the ranks of county employees who is qualified and wants to step into the budget clerk position, or if they start looking for a new employee, or maybe hire an outside CPA firm.
County clerk Pauletta Gerver told commissioners that state legislation in 2002 removed the county budget from the duties of the clerk's office. Volz worked as part-time budget clerk, basically July, August and September, in addition to her duties within the clerk's office.
Volz's salary as part-time budget clerk -- $4,150 in 2010-11 -- was paid from the commissioners' county board budget.
Gerver said that the MIPS Inc. computer program made available to counties by the Technology Services Division of the Nebraska Association of County Officials can make the budget process very efficient. Gerver explained that "every expenditure, every line item" is automatically rolled into budget documents by the computer program. She said that the state auditor's office is always available for assistance and to answer questions.
McNutt said the budget clerk would be responsible for "plugging in" those figures, as well as understanding and being able to comply with rules regarding the state budget lid and interlocal agreements.
Any county employee who wants to visit with commissioners about the budget clerk position is encouraged to contact a commissioner.
Commissioners took no action after a 15-minute closed session with county attorney Paul Wood to discuss pending litigation regarding Thomas K. Leach's lawsuit against Red Willow County.
Leach contends that he leased machinery and equipment to Ron Willocks of Pawnee Aviation -- equipment that Willocks claimed as collateral on a $300,000 county loan. Leach wants the equipment returned to him before the county has an auction of properties seized from Willocks.
County surveyor Gary Dicenta discussed a fracture critical inspection performed by Mainelli Wagner and Associates of Lincoln of a two-lane bridge over the Silver Creek in southeast Red Willow County. MWA found no deficiencies and made no recommendations for maintenance and/or repair.
The deck and substructure were upgraded from 5/Fair to 7/Good.
Dicenta and commissioners decided that a bridge replacement over Red Willow Creek north of the former Republican Valley Junior/Senior High will have side-mount, not deck-mount, bridge rails.
Dicenta also told commissioners that armor coating may cost about $18,000 a mile this year, up from about $17,000 a mile last year because of increases in the price of oil. "The price of armor coating can be scary," McNutt said, 'if gas is $5 a gallon by Memorial Day.'
McNutt and commissioners will start to determine what roads need an overlay this year. McNutt said, "People are already hollering about potholes."
Commissioners asked Ray Meyer and Ryan Thiess of Cobecon, the county employee's health insurance provider, to study possible changes to the health insurance program. Changes discussed included increased deductibles, co-insurance and prescription coverage. Commissioners may also decide that the county will offer coverage to the individual county employee; coverage of his/her spouse and/or family members may be at an additional charge to the employee.