SIOUX CITY -- Non-union employees working in Woodbury County departments are in line to receive pay raises of 3 percent next year, after the county board of supervisors talked through other potential wage amounts Tuesday.

After two weeks of discussion, the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors in the weekly meeting settled on the 3 percent raises to go to the 36 non-union county employees for fiscal year 2019-20.

One week ago, the supervisors deadlocked in a 2-2 vote on a proposal to give a 2 percent raise. In that meeting, Supervisor Rocky De Witt said non-union employees should get raises of 3 percent, while Keith Radig favored 2.5 percent and Matthew Ung supported 2 percent.

Most of the 400 county employees are union members, and have raises coming for 2018-19 roughly in the 2.5 to 3 percent range. The supervisors in recent years have the practice of giving raises to non-union personnel which are in line with those negotiated by union workers.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Jeremy Taylor opened the discussion with a proposal for a raise of 2.75 percent, although it didn't advance to a vote.

De Witt returned to his 3 percent recommendation, saying he is mindful of keeping "quality" employees in a time of low unemployment. Ung spoke against that, saying it is "overdue" to have pay be based on performance by employees, as he said is done with private sector businesses.

Supervisors candidate Matthew Ung

Matthew Ung, candidate for Woodbury County Supervisor in District 4, is shown Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, during a meeting with the Sioux City Journal editorial board. Sioux City Journal photo by Tim Hynds

The 3 percent amount was set on a 3-2 vote, with Ung and Radig voting against it, and De Witt, Taylor and Marty Pottebaum voting affirmatively.

By comparison, one year ago the supervisors passed a budget motion to give raises of 2.75 percent to non-union employees, which includes some department heads.

The raises for non-union employees, like every element in the 2019-20 budget, won't officially be set until the county supervisors approve the final version, which is slated to take place after a public hearing on March 12.

Over six meetings since the beginning of January, the supervisors have worked through issues related to a county budget that was proposed at $56.9 million, or $2.3 million more than the current year, when talks began.

Going into the Tuesday meeting, county Finance Director Dennis Butler's projection showed the property tax rates at $7.34 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for city residents and $9.77 per $1,000 for rural residents. The tax rates in the current year are $7.29 per $1,000 for city residents and $9.53 per $1,000 for rural residents.

The budget covers the period from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.

Also in the meeting, the supervisors approved a $1,000 mileage expense to travel to Minneapolis, in order to meet with federal agency officials to discuss a possible revenue source for the county.

Radig said it is a small amount to pay, because much more money could come back to the county in future revenues from that for-now unnamed federal agency, which could be put toward jail improvement costs.

County officials three years ago discussed more than $10 million in improvements in the Woodbury County Law Enforcement Center jail wing, which opened in 1987. Then Sheriff Dave Drew in January 2018 said the expansion was not needed, due to fewer inmates in the facility.

Now, county officials want see if the federal revenue sources could be a financial stream for any jail modernization projects that ultimately come back in the future. The trip will include a few county officials, plus a consultant from the Goldberg Group Associates, who has given input on jail needs in recent years.

Radig said the name of the agency will be released once a concrete proposal is settled.

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