County reps seeking even split on community service program funding
Representatives from Pierce, McHenry and Bottineau counties met as part of the Community Service Advisory Board on April 9 at the Pierce County Courthouse.
A motion was approved for representatives of all three counties to take a funding proposal to their commissioners. A joint-powers agreement, yet to be completed, would require all three counties to contribute equally to the budget and salary of the program’s director. If a shortfall occurs, the three counties would contribute equally.
Cities contributing to the program would have their portions factored into their respective county’s share of the budget.
The program is currently run by coordinator Yvonne Hagen, who also serves as a Pierce County dispatcher. Hagen has repeatedly expressed the desire to have the position be a 40-hour one because of a demanding workload. Pierce County Board of Commissioners chairman Duane Johnston proposed the position to be 32 hours per week with full-time benefits.
Law prohibits Hagen from making overtime because of working two county jobs. If another county took over as the primary employer for the community service position, Hagen would be able to work both jobs.
If that doesn’t happen, Johnston told Hagen she needs to decide between her two jobs by May 6 when the Pierce County commissioners meet. The three counties’ boards of commissioners are to confer that day on the advisory board’s proposal.
Hagen expressed concern that the program could be discontinued if the state decided to cut funding in the budget for the next biennium. The sheriffs, state’s attorney Galen Mack and Northeast District Judge John McClintock, who serves on the advisory board, described that scenario as unlikely.
Mack said the state is looking for alternatives to incarceration, like community service, as the incarceration rate rises with the population.
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