Board recommends 5 percent wage hike for conservation employees
BY BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
Christmas may be history but the after-glow was present for the Henry County Conservation Board of Directors during the board’s regular meeting Jan. 9.
During the meeting, the board recommended 5 percent salary increase for the director, operations supervisor and naturalist.
John Pullis, executive director, had passed out two surveys to the board during its December meeting. One of the surveys was of county conservation department salaries in Iowa’s 99 counties and the other was the salary of Henry County Courthouse employees.
The conservation board made its salary recommendations based on those two surveys, he said.
Board members were told that the department’s online registration system is nearly completed. “We are still planning to have a rollout in January,” Pullis remarked. He said that all the information is in place but have to test the site with a credit card transaction before determining it is a go.
The department has received a deluge of applications for the assistant naturalist position. “We have had 21 or 22 applications from as far away as Oregon, New Jersey and Mississippi,” Pullis recounted. He said most of the applicants have a bachelor’s degree, or an associate of arts degree with considerable experience.
Pullis said the finalists for the position would be interviewed soon.
A new secretary — Becky Thornton of Salem — started work with the department last week and is doing well, Pullis commented.
In remaining agenda items, Henry County Naturalist Cari Nicely said she and Trent Hoekstra, a former ranger/naturalist with the department, gave 674 programs attended by 17,278 people during 2016. That compares with 547 programs and 14,193 attendees in 2015.
A final agenda matter had the board approving the department’s annual report.
Monday night’s meeting was the first for new board member Tim Batey.
Pullis also presented the department’s fiscal 2018 budget to county supervisors Tuesday. The budget includes $660,116 in expenditures, but the property tax asking is down by $28,706 to a total of $511,116.
The conservation board meets again in regular session Monday, Feb. 13, at 6 p.m., in the conservation office at Oakland Mills.