Stevens County Auditor-Treasurer Neil Wiese has filed a civil suit against Stevens County, appealing his 2013 salary established by the Board of Commissioners and the budget set by that board for the Office of the Auditor-Treasurer. The appeal alleges the board acted in an “arbitrary, capricious, oppressive…” manner when setting the salary and budget.
In a review of elected officials in late 2012, Wiese reported to the board on his job performance over the last year and suggested he would be asking for a pay increase during salary negotiations for 2013. In 2012, the Stevens Auditor-Treasurer salary was $71,001. Wiese offered several comparisons to establish his request for a higher salary. Pope County’s Auditor-Treasurer, he said, was paid $78,562 last year. Other comparably-sized west-central Minnesota counties pay both an Auditor and Treasurer, for combined salaries more than $60,000 over the salary currently paid Wiese.
At their December 31 meeting, Stevens Commissioners voted to increase Wiese’s Cost of Living Adjustment 1.5%, to a total salary of $72,066. The board voted to increase other elected officials’ salaries by 2.5%. Although Commissioner Ron Staples, with a second from Commissioner Phil Guasman, made motions to keep all elected officials’ salary increases to 1.5%, the full board voted to increase the salaries of the County Attorney and County Recorder by 2.5%.
The suit, filed in Stevens County, has been passed to Eighth District Court Judge David Mennis, seated in Swift County. Stevens County’s seated judge, Gerald Seibel, recused himself from the case. Stevens County Attorney Aaron Jordan has also declared a conflict of interest; the county will be represented by Minneapolis-based Attorney Ann Goering. Wiese is represented by Attorney Thomas Klecker, who has a practice in Alexandria.
The legal action will not determine if Wiese will receive a higher salary or budget, but will decide if the board must review their previous decision.