Written by John Plestina
Roosevelt County Commissioners delayed a final decision for one week after discussing offering all county employees a stipend between $200 and $300 monthly — above and beyond their salaries — as an incentive to remain on the job during the weekly commission meeting.
“What we’re looking at is it’s been real tough to keep employees, especially on the east end of the county,” commission presiding officer Duane Nygaard said.
He added that it is difficult to compete with oil industry salaries and very low unemployment in the Culbertson, Bainville and Froid areas.
The proposal is to offer the monthly stipends as bonuses to all employees ‘about 100’, working in all departments and in all parts of the county. Fourteen people work for the county on the east end, including sheriff’s deputies. The stipend for part-time workers would be prorated.
Oil and gas severance revenue would fund the stipends.
“If that [severance funding] goes away, this would go away,” commissioner Gary Macdonald said.
“If our oil and gas revenue drops below a certain point, the stipend would go away,” Nygaard said, adding that if that happened the oil boom would be over and the stipends might not be necessary in that event.
In response to a question about county employees in the Wolf Point area, Nygaard said, “We have several positions that are open on this end of the county, too.”
Nygaard responded to a question that the commissioners would also receive the stipend.
“We based this on what the Culbertson School District has done with their employees,” he said.
Tina Bets His Medicine, a Sheriff’s Office employee, said a deputy employed on the east end of the county had to move because a rental house was sold and an affordable rental cannot be found. That deputy has four children.
“A deputy’s salary is not going to be enough,” Bets His Medicine said. “It’s $2,800 a month for a house [on the east end].”
The commissioners will make a decision Tuesday, July 22.
In other business, the commissioners approved a Fair Board request to accept the lowest bid to build a new wash bay for animals at the fairgrounds in Culbertson.
Bainville Concrete Construction submitted the low bid of $5,650, with the understanding that volunteer labor would help. The highest bid was $9,500.
The commissioners also approve a planning department request to life agricultural only restrictions on the Lodahl property near Froid.
The commissioners must approval lifting agriculture only restrictions every time such a property is slated for development.