Retirements and GIS position move spur hiring at county

By Jennie ZeitlerStaff Writer

The current geographic information system (GIS) manager has been working in the Technology Services department at Morrison County. Taking advantage of the opportunity presented by a resignation, the county is moving the position to a new department and doing some internal restructuring.

“The plan is to move this position to Planning and Zoning,” said Amy Kowalzek, Planning and Zoning director. “Many departments have come to rely on this person.”

The position change has been budgeted for 2013.

The Morrison County Board authorized the start of the hiring process for a replacement to fill this position. “We need some overlap for training to occur,” Kowalzek said.

“The general public uses the Beacon and Landshark programs extensively,” said County Administrator Deb Gruber. “There are 120 accounts accessing both of them, in addition to the countless members of the public using Beacon alone.”

The utilization of these programs reduces the amount of time needed by county employees to answer requests for basic information.

“I believe the reliance on this technology and the skilled labor it takes to operate it are only going to grow in the future,” Gruber said.

Since the GIS position will be moved out of the Technology Services office, that leaves a vacancy. Despite all departments turning to technology to increase efficiency and productivity, the Technology Services staff has been reduced over the past years.

“We used a retirement to redistribute workloads and have tried to keep the systems operating that the staff and taxpayers depend on,” said Mike Disher, Technology Services director. “We have seen the demands of this department grow such that we are unable to deliver the measure of service necessary.”

The result of the effort to make the department more efficient will be to assign one staff member to a more responsible position; to provide a single job description and grade for three other positions, and to form a new position, security and mobility specialist.

The County Board approved the start of the hiring process for this position.

“If we’re going to invest in an additional position anywhere in this building, we need to address the challenges in this department,” Gruber said. “It seems the time has come to take action to improve the workloads so they are at a manageable level and to help improve service to the departments that have come to rely on it.”

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  Other business that came before the Morrison County Commissioners Tuesday included:

• Honoring Gary and Susan Oberton and sons Will and Jim and their families as Morrison County’s Farm Family of the Year. Oberton Honey Farm near Randall has 2,500 bee colonies;

• Hearing a report from the Social Services department concerning children’s mental health trends;

• Approving an exempt permit for Ramey Morrill area Lions Club to hold a raffle Nov. 11 at the St. Joseph Parish Hall; and

• Approving an exempt permit for Horizon Health to hold a raffle Nov. 15 at the Falls Ballroom.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Morrison County Board will be Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 9 a.m. in the board room of the Morrison County Government Center.

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