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County looks at more shifting of job duties

Posted 8/23/16 (Tue)

By Jody Michael
Divide County Emergency Manager Jody Gunlock has volunteered to reduce his hours by about one-third in 2017, a move that would save the county as much as $28,000.
Gunlock’s proposal, which he presented to the county commissioners Tuesday last week, cited a slowdown in his zoning and emergency management workload and a wish to focus more on farming during the summer.
“The new hazard mitigation plan, the sirens, the emergency alert website -- all of that is complete now,” Gunlock said. “A lot of it now is just maintenance.”
The commissioners’ ongoing efforts to reduce its budget could also lead to a second county employee splitting hours with the Tax Equalization department.
Jan Jacobson, deputy for Emergency Services, would begin spending as much as 25 percent of her time assisting with tax assessments under plans currently being ironed out between the two departments.
The county had already been discussing a similar shift to Community Developer KayCee Lindsey’s hours, in which every fifth day would be in the tax assessor’s office.
“What we’re trying to do is, instead of hire someone new, utilize the people who probably don’t have the workload they used to,” Commissioner Doug Graupe said.
The Tax Equalization office is an outlier in that it has seen its workload expand greatly, especially as more cities and townships have recently begun to rely on the county to perform their own assessment work.
Commissioners expressed an unhappiness with the amount of overtime Tax Equalization Director Heather Kippen has been working as a result but were receptive to the idea of Lindsey and Jacobson assisting her.
While Lindsey would eventually be out in the field working on appraisals during her tax assessment hours, Jacobson requested to assist Kippen in a more office-oriented capacity.
“It’s very confusing for me what she does, I’ll be honest with you right now,” Jacobson said, “but I can do data entry.”
Kippen said Jacobson can receive training on the Vanguard appraisal software and will also have the option to join Lindsey in taking North Dakota assessment certification courses, some of which are online.
“In September there’s training through Vanguard,” Kippen said. “The state training is what KayCee would go through.”
Gunlock’s offer to shift to part-time led commissioners to question whether Jacobson  has enough work to justify full-time hours, but Gunlock said her current efforts to create an accurate geographic information system (GIS) database for the county are both time-consuming and important.
“We can keep her busy doing nothing but GIS,” Gunlock said. 
The commissioners took no action on Gunlock’s proposals but will be considering them for next year’s budget, which they plan to set in October.

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