Rice County Administrator Sara Folsted continues to earn praise from her bosses, the county Board of Commissioners.
On Thursday, the board reported that Folsted's job performance “successfully meets expectations” and/or “consistently exceeds expectations” in all of eight the categories assessed. They are Organizational Management, Fiscal/Business Management; Program Development; Relationship with Board; Long-Range Planning; Relationships with the Public, Public Relations and Interagency Relations; and Professional/Personal Development.
"Sara is always looking for opportunities to secure more funding for the county to support programs & initiatives," said one commissioner. The review was done during a closed meeting as allowed by state statute, and select comments were provided to the News by County Human Resources Director Carol Kritzer. "Good work on getting loan/grant dollars to businesses with significant financial needs due to COVID-19. Appreciate the creativity and thought that goes into preparation of budget and funding special projects."
Commissioners felt Folsted is detailed-oriented and dependable, and said she works hard to build relationships with surrounding cities and the private sector. At least one commissioner praised her response to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Sara put in the extra effort and seemed to manage an ever-changing landscape of policies and guidelines issued by state and federal agencies," commented one commissioner. "(She) transitioned staff to different models of working while maintaining service level expectations and safe environments for staff and the public."
The board did ask Folsted to improve her performance in a couple of areas:
• Continue exploring ways to streamline electronically to improve customer service
• Help board through the strategic planning process to develop realistic and attainable goals. Help all of us to understand the resources needed to accomplish the plan (staff time, funding and realistic timeframes).
Following the closed session, the board approved the performance evaluation and an increase for the administrator, who is celebrating her five-year anniversary with Rice County. Previously, she worked as administrator in Renville County. Folsted's salary will increase by 3.8% to 166,358 annually. That percentage is in line with increases given other county employees.