Contract awaits signature of county’s new administrator

Sherburne County commissioners have sent a contract to new county administrator Steve Taylor seven days after the board was unanimous in making him their pick.

The board was split on the contract’s terms, however, and Commissioner Bruce Anderson, of Elk River, voted against the final draft because of severance pay that the contract promises with conditions.

Taylor, who is currently the assistant county administrator for Carver County, is scheduled to begin work for Sherburne County on Monday, Nov. 4. He will start with an annual salary of $130,000 and will have annual reviews and salary adjustment considerations after an initial six-month review.

Board members said they want to see Taylor work many years for the county as this new chapter begins, but in the event he should be terminated after 12 months, the contract allows for him to receive severance totaling six months of his pay rate with his final check.

Anderson voted against the contract because if the board should feel that any administrator has not done the job with satisfaction to the point of voting for termination, then that employee would not have earned a severance package, Anderson said later. The retired Sherburne County sheriff added that he would not support any level of severance.

He said there were two other minor points of disagreement that did not affect his vote. Anderson said that he disagreed with starting Taylor with a bank of 40 hours’ paid time off, before the candidate can accrue any hours through his service.

The county, through this contract, is also pledging to pay Taylor’s membership dues for any area civic clubs or organizations that he could join with County Board approval. Anderson said that he began his own membership with the Elk River Rotary Club while serving as sheriff, but he paid his own dues from the start and he said that should be the expectation from any department head or other employee.

Gary Weiers, a search consultant that the board had hired to find Taylor and other candidates for the county administrator’s job, expressed surprise to be hearing any contention on the contract.