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Published February 05, 2014, 11:10 AM

Grand Forks County Commission hears answers on water board benefits

In January, Grand Forks County commissioners discovered county water board members are getting higher pay and more benefits because of its status as a separate entity.

By: Anna Burleson, Grand Forks Herald

In January, Grand Forks County commissioners discovered county water board members are getting higher pay and more benefits because of its status as a separate entity.

And it’s not about to change.

At a meeting Tuesday, Peter Welte, Grand Forks County state’s attorney, explained that the water board answers to the North Dakota State Water Commission and the Department of Agriculture.

The issue was raised when the weed board requested a raise in pay from $65 per meeting to $90, which was put into effect at Tuesday’s meeting.

“The weed board sees themselves as an arm of the commission,” Welte said.

The water board’s salary, however, is set by statute at between $75 and $135 per meeting and cannot be altered by the County Commission.

Commissioner Diane Knauf said she thought the difference in pay made sense due to the amount of hands-on work the water board does.

“I think personally they deserve every dime they’re getting,” she said.

The water board’s work is separate from city and rural water systems in that it administers water laws from the state to the county level. The board is also responsible for flood control and the Larimore and Fordville dams.

One thing still in question is the water board’s monthly health insurance stipend of $515.20. Welte said he was not sure if it was a separate allowance or if the stipend was actually breaking statute.

“I would suspect that its inception was around the same time that the county commissioners perhaps received health insurance coverage,” he said.

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