MASWCD Conference Call

August 18, 2008

8:00 p.m.

 

 Present

 

Fred Feldmann, President

Steve Radcliff, Area 2/Vice President Bruce Biermann , Area 1

Kenny Lovelace, Area 3

Beverly Dometrorch, Area 4

George Engelbach, Area 5

Marie Iiams, Area 6

Sharon Gifford, Area 7

Peggy Lemons, Executive Director

Steve Oetting, Past President

Bill Foster, DNR Soil & Water

Bill Wilson, DNR Soil & Water

 

President Fred Feldmann opened the meeting at 8:00 p.m.

 

The first item discussed was the recently released work study.Bill Foster indicated the purpose of the work study was to get information to give to the Supervisors so they can make their decisions and give them a perspective and see if we need to do a comprehensive work study.He stated they had received questions about addressing equal work since equal pay was being addressed.The auditors have been concerned about 25 counties where the labor costs are 5-6 times the cost-share output.When questioned as to how many hours the consultant worked on the work study, Mr. Foster replied he did not know.Bruce stated that he felt everyone agreed that every district has a different workload.When questions as to who the auditors are that are referred to, the answer was the DNR contract auditors.Steve Radcliff stated he didnít think a lawsuit would happen as the 114 offices all have different county average salaries.When asked if bids were requested for the work study, Mr. Foster replied that there were 3 companies contacted, and all originally put in a bid; however, 1 bid was withdrawn before the decision was made.(Lean Breakthrough Consulting in Florida, Berkshire Advisors in Ohio, and Business Solutions in Gideon, MO.)Of the other 2 bids, one was extremely high from a company that has done work with DNR in the past, and the other bid was from a Missouri company that is just getting started and bid low to get their foot in the door.Mr. Foster stated that Milton Barr of the Program Office was the person working with the companies bidding; he wrote the specifications for the bids.When questioned on who approved the funding and where it came from, the reply was that it was approved by DNR and the funds were part of the Research category of the budget.

 

The topic then turned to budget discussion.When the SALT program goes away, what happens to that money?The answer is Ė The cost-share will be at approximately $25 million and the SALT funds for personnel are already being used through the personnel grants.When asked about the amount of funds not used and rolled over Mr. Foster explained what the process has been.When SALT projects are approved, a CD is set up to cover the costs of the SALT project.Those CDís are the major part of the funds in the account that are not used and rolled into the next fiscal year.Of the $34 million balance, it is estimated $28 million is SALT CDís.With the SALT cost-share funds being included in the state-wide cost-share funds, the erosion only regulation needs to be changed.This was supposed to happen in the Legislature this past year, but part of the amendment got left off and only part of the change in wording was included in the bill.This will be fixed in this upcoming Legislative session and the wording will be changed from erosion only to erosion and water quality.This will then allow the districts to have cost-share practices available to their landowners that have only been available in the SALT projects in the past.This also is where the districts can use their 5-year needs assessment to let DNR know what practices are needed in their district and if not currently part of the cost-share program, work with DNR to develop a pilot for the practice.

 

The next questions were about the Technician training.It will be ready hopefully to test around September 15.The plan is to have all Technicians who want to test to become Technician IIís.A district will be able to have more than one Technician II.Then the Technician IIís can decide with their Board, what practices they want to be able to certify and if there is more than one Technician II, decide which practice each will test on to be able to certify.The suggestion is for the Technician IIís (if more than 1 in a county) to divide up the practices and each take different ones to test on for certification.The question on funding for these Technicians was answered by Mr. Foster saying that the majority of the increase in funding for District Assistance this fiscal year is being held to cover the increase in salary that will come with the Technician Iís passing the tests to become Technician IIís and then also the increases that will come with practice certification.Mr. Foster stated that they donít plan on firing anyone, but when someone leaves a district position, they may not need to be replaced.

 

Mr. Foster stated that 11 of the 16 Soil Scientists have not found jobs at salaries either equivalent to what they were making or more.He also stated that he hopes the Boards will discuss local funds at the Training Conference and come up with a mission for the local funds.He stated that the Legislature always asks about the $34 million in the sales tax fund, as well as the $6 million in local funds that carry over into the next fiscal year.He stated he thought an excellent mission for local funds would be information education to the local students.

 

Bill Foster and Bill Wilson then left the conference call.

 

The Board discussed registration for the Training Conference.The computer program used in the past by DNR is evidently not compatible with the MASWCD laptop.The choices are to purchase a newer version of that program, purchase a different registration program, design something using what programs we already have, or use an on-line registration company.Information on an on-line registration company with a bid for registration for the Training Conference through them was discussed.After considering the costs for each choice and the labor time with each of the choices, a motion was made by George Engelbach to go with the on-line registration company EPly.Steve Oetting seconded the motion.Motion carried unanimously.Other Training Conference issues discussed were meals, the Board decided to go ahead and have a breakfast each morning.The time for the Opening Session on Monday was then discussed.Without having a meal at the session, the time can be moved to several different time slots.The Board made a decision they would like to see the Opening Session time set at 7 p.m. and last for no more than 1 hour, then have some kind of door prize drawing, etc., in the Trade Show following the Opening Session.This would make the Trade Show stay open longer than has normally been the case.The planning committee will work on this to see if everyone agrees on handling it this way.

 

There being no further business, a motion was made by George Engelbach to adjourn. Motion seconded by Kenny Lovelace. Motion carried.Conference call adjourned at 10:35 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

  

Peggy Lemons

Executive Director

Fred Feldmann

President