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Commissioners Turn Down Attorney’s Pay Request

On a split vote, Roosevelt County Commissioners didn’t approve a pay raise request by county attorney Frank Piocos for an attorney office employee.

Piocos asked that Erika Fyfe’s pay be increased from 80 percent to 84 percent of the clerk and recorder’s salary. Piocos noted the key role that Fyfe plays in the office especially since deputy legal assistant Donna Reum is retiring on Sept. 30.

“She’s doing an excellent job,” Piocos said of Fyfe.

Commissioner Gordon Oelkers said it usually takes deputies four or five years to reach that figure. He said in private business, employers can reward their top employees, but the county needs to keep a balance or “it falls apart.”

Roosevelt County Sheriff Jason Frederick spoke of the importance of keeping a valuable player satisfied in the attorney’s office.

“When Donna leaves and, if Erika isn’t here, the office completely falls apart,” Frederick said. “Pay her. In the long run, you’re saving money.”

Piocos noted the challenge isn’t a budget issue since the office is operating without a deputy county attorney.

“I’m trying to hold the office together,” Piocos said. “She’s doing an excellent job. It’s a lot of responsibility.”

Commissioners said there has been only one applicant and no interviews conducted for the deputy attorney position.

Oelkers voted in favor of a motion for the pay increase. Commissioner Duane Nygaard voted against the motion. Commissioner Gary Macdonald was absent. Oelkers said the issue can be brought up on a later date with more information.

In other business, commissioners approved a request to have town submit projects for state ARPA funds that was allocated to counties. With $921,000 eligible for the county, the towns can make applications to the state. The projects must be water, sewer or broadband related. Wolf Point and Culbertson have already applied for funds.

Commissioners approved an Interstate Engineering task order for Road 2051 bridge replacement located north of Bainville.

During the public comment portion, Frederick questioned what authority the commissioners have in placing an employment advertising and spending his budget’s funds. Oelkers said, “If we did, it shouldn’t happen.” Frederick was upset that commissioners approved an ad in The Free Trader. Frederick noted he advertises only with The Northern Plains Independent and the Job Service.

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