County retirement policies revamped
BY DALE HOGG
On one hand, Barton County Employee Relations Committee President Wendy Birzer said the want to honor retiring county employees, but on the other hand cost for these celebrations continues to climb.
She lamented this during the County Commission meeting Tuesday morning and suggested changes in the employee handbook to help balance the two interests. The amendments approved by commissioners established guidelines for the retirement recognitions.
“As a public entity, we are limited as to what we can do for employees,” Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. But, “we need to show our appreciation.”
The policy sets a tiered system for retirement gifts based on years of service with a maximum gift value of $100. It also caps the cost of receptions at $40.
Looking at the average of the past four years, retirement observances could cost between $500 and $600 per year. The money will come from the general fund.
In addition, the practice of awarding stone-encrusted pins to retirees will be stopped because of the cost. The county will continue to help maintain the pins that have already been awarded, but no new ones will be issued.
When the Barton County Treasurer’s Office first filed on properties with delinquent taxes in March, there were 129. Now, with the county’s annual tax sale looming, there are only 64 parcels on the list, Treasurer Kevin Wondra said.
Wondra told the County Commission Tuesday morning that owners are able to redeem parcels until Noon, Friday, Oct. 7. The sale will be held at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 11, in the courthouse conference room on the first floor of the courthouse.
As the cutoff approaches, Treasurer’s office staff is sending letters to property owners outside of Barton County. They are also fanning out within the county to contact folks in person.
This is not an easy task, he said. “They’ve been notified several times. Some, we’ve never heard from.”
The staff is also taking photographs of the remaining parcels and posting them on the county’s website. This way,anyone who is interested in purchasing them can track their status and see if they have been redeemed or are still available.
“We don’t want people to wait to the last minute” to come in a take care of their bills, Wondra said.
To avoid having a property sold at auction, owners must pay all taxes. There is also a redemption fee of $170, court costs, abstracting fee and interest.
This is not something the county looks forward to, Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. “It is never the intention of the county to sell a property out from under someone.”
Wondra agreed, saying they want to get as many cleared up before the sale as possible. “It’s our duty to get property back on the tax roll.”