By: Nathan Bloechl (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Humboldt, Iowa – In a stunning 3-2 roll call vote, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors approved an amended contract extension with County Engineer Paul Jacobson.
The amendment gives Jacobson, who has been under public fire lately, six more months under his current position to change behavior that the Board has deemed off-putting to general taxpayers within the county.
Jacobson has been the County Engineer in Humboldt County for sixteen years, but the board indicated this is really one of the first times they have had Jacobson in for a formal contract discussion.
The board was visibily split on how to best handle Jacobson’s contract negotiations.
On one hand, many in the board agreed that Jacobson is extremely fiscally responsible.
“[Paul] does a really good job financially” Chairman Rick Pederson explained. “And really, that’s what is important, because if he screws up financially, he costs tax payers everything.”
Supervisor Dave Lee agreed, but said that Jacobson does not deal well with the public.
“I believe Paul is a good man, but he doesn’t handle the public the way he should.”
Lee said that 75% of Jacobson’s job is based upon dealing with the public and based on public input to him, he felt Jacobson was not adequate enough in that sector.
Erik Underberg concurred with Lee’s remarks stating he believed that there was simply too much public concern with Jacobson to move forward with him as the county engineer.
Long-time Humboldt Supervisor Carl Mattes was the first to suggest to the board to allow Jacobson a six-month grace period to see if he can change his attitudes toward the public. Mattes said it would be unfair for the board to pull the carpet on him now, without giving him a chance to prove his worth.
Mattes cited his time in the public school system as a reason why the board should allow Jacobson to continue for another six months.
“Yeah his communication and input needs to be improved, but you can’t please everyone. He’d get in trouble with us if he didn’t follow policy, and he gets in trouble with the public for following policy. When you’re in the public like he is, you’re always going to have someone breathing down your neck” Mattes explained.
“When I was Superintendent, I always had someone mad at me” Mattes said, “but I always had the support of the board.”
Unanimously, the board denied Jacobson’s request for a 3% increase in salary.
When asked how Jacobson’s changes will be measured, Chairman Rick Pederson said: “I think we’ll just know, I really do.”
Rick Pederson, Bruce Reimers and Carl Mattes voted yes, while Dave Lee and Erik Underberg voted no.