Board, Bensen hopeful

by Paul Rignell

Contributing writer

After starting to review Administrator Brian Bensen’s work in open session May 7 on his request, the Sherburne County Board continued their review behind doors in closed session with Bensen present May 14.

When those talks ended, only Commissioner Rachel Leonard, who is chairing the board meetings in 2013, gave a public statement before adjourning business for the day.

“We’re working on the issues, and hope by next week to have them resolved,” Leonard said, sounding upbeat.

Commissioner and retired Sheriff Bruce Anderson, who is newest to the board after his election last November, called for the board to review staff concerns, and they began a discussion May 7, about a month ahead of when Bensen has been reviewed in previous years.

One issue to be raised that day was whether all other employees have had performance reviews by administration and department heads before being approved for pay increases. Bensen replied that in recent years, the coordination of those reviews had been tasked to his deputy administrator, a position  filled by Luci Botzek starting in May 2006. That position was discontinued effective Feb. 1.

Botzek is now Sherburne County’s lead lobbyist at the Capitol regarding Northstar Commuter Rail.

Star News asked Bensen on May 14 whether he was as optimistic for resolutions next week –the board will meet 9 a.m. May 21 – as Leonard had sounded.

“I’m hopeful, sure,” Bensen said. “No guarantees.”