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Monday, March 19, 2018

County officials struggle with separation solution


By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

The Dawson County Commissioners are still in disagreement over how best to physically separate from one another.

The issue was first raised at the commissioner’s meeting in early February and flared up again at a meeting last week.

For years, commissioners have shared the same office in the Dawson County Courthouse.

Commissioner Adam Gartner has pushed the issue, saying he believes having separate offices would help make commissioners “more transparent,” and arguing that the three of them sharing an office violates state law.

The commissioners previously received an estimate of $31,000 to put up walls and doors in the former assessors’ office to create individual offices for each commissioner.

But they balked at that cost at their early February meeting. Instead, Commissioners Jim Skillestad and Doug Buxbaum proposed getting estimates on temporary dividers.

At their March 4 meeting, commissioners received a quote from Boss of $1,873 for temporary dividers.

Gartner has remained steadfast, however, in his stance that the commissioners need fully separate offices to be in compliance with state law.

Both Buxbaum and Skillestad prefer using dividers, and reiterated that stance at Tuesday’s commissioners’ meeting.

“We did get an opinion back from (Dawson County Attorney Olivia Norlin-Rieger) that we need space, we need our own area,” Buxbaum said. “But my opinion is I don’t want to be secluded.”

Gartner opened a bid from Almond Construction for building separate offices that the county received unsolicited. 

Almond’s bid for the work was $13,200, but Skillestad and Buxbaum both said they felt the cost was still too high for the county to bear.

Discussion of the issue ended with Buxbaum saying he wanted commissioners to visit business offices using dividers to get an impression of how well they functioned.

Reach Jason Stuart at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

Get the whole story in the March 27 issue of the Ranger-Review.
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