F&P recommends salary hikes for sheriff, clerk of court

Posted 2/15/22

Delinquent tax properties addressed By Sarah Nigbor In order to keep Pierce County competitive with other counties, the Finance & Personnel Committee voted to forward the following salary …

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F&P recommends salary hikes for sheriff, clerk of court

Posted

Delinquent tax properties addressed

By Sarah Nigbor

In order to keep Pierce County competitive with other counties, the Finance & Personnel Committee voted to forward the following salary recommendations for elected officials to the full county board for a vote. The salaries would be for Clerk of Court and Sheriff for the 2023-2026 term, if approved by the county board.

Clerk of Court – A 2023 base salary of $68,682, with a 1.5% increase effective Jan. 2, 2024 to $69,712, followed by a 1.25% increase in 2025 to $70,583 and in 2026 to $71,465. The Clerk of Court currently makes $67,500 in 2022.

In 2022, the salaries for first-tier counties (around Pierce) are as follows: Dunn County Clerk of Court reports a salary of $71,638; Pepin County is $60,011; and St. Croix County is $70,236. Second-tier counties include Barron at $77,905, Buffalo at $60,294, Chippewa at $79,376, Eau Claire at $83,555 and Polk at $70,596.

Sheriff – F& P is recommending an increase of 6% from $88,445 in 2022 to $93,752 effective Jan. 1, 2023. The salary would then be increased by 1.5% in 2024 to $95,158; by 1.5% in 2025 to $96,585. And by 1.5% in 2026 to $98,034.

This would make the Pierce County sheriff’s salary more competitive with surrounding counties, whose salaries are as follows: Dunn County is $99,472; Pepin is $78.635; St. Croix is $104,000; Barron is $97.783; Buffalo is $90,000; Chippewa is $103.362; Eau Claire is $111,606; and Polk is $99,165.

A few years ago, Chair Jeff Holst said, the cunty had an issue where Pierce County elected officials’ salaries were “out of balance” with other county peers.

“Some patrol people will make more than the sheriff and I don’t like it,” Holst said. “They need some incentive.”

Tax deeds

F& P approved a resolution to order the issuance of deeds to Pierce County for properties that have failed to pay property taxes. These will be forwarded to county board for approval and authorization to be sold. The properties are as follows:

•Town of El Paso, 40 acres at N4758 350th St., Elmwood; Alma Bottom Ventures LLC/Stuart West. Taxes have been unpaid 2014 through present.

•Town of Martell, N7848 535th ST., Spring Valley; Ronald Tomczak/Linda S. Kyllonen. Taxes have been unpaid 2014 through present.

•Two lots at N1431 810th St., Hager City; Island Country-side Builders, Inc. Taxes have been unpaid 2015 through present.

•W225 Cleveland St., Spring Valley; John D. Litzell. Taxes have been unpaid 2011 through present.

•Two lots at S207 McKay Ave., Spring Valley; Regina Sorenson. Taxes have been unpaid 2014 through present.

•120 S. Ninth St., River Falls; Herbert & Constance Cudd. Taxes have been unpaid 2013 through present.

All the parcels listed have significant amounts of unpaid taxes, said County Clerk Jamie Feuerhelm. Deeds must be issued to Pierce County or the county risks having to write them off. The best-case scenario is a property appraises for the amount of taxes owed, but typically, that doesn’t happen, Feuerhelm said. Often times, the properties are undesirable as they are land-locked, dilapidated or contaminated.

“In my experience, there’s a reason we get it,” Feuerhelm said.

Tower shelter replacement

Pierce County’s public safety radio equipment is located and operated off six radio tower sites; the county owns and maintains four of these sites in the Village of Ellsworth, Town of Spring Lake, Town of River Falls and Town of Clifton. Each sites consists of a radio tower and a tower communications shelter that houses public safety radio equipment and a backup generator.

In 2017, the Ellsworth equipment was moved into a renovated garage stall next to the tower. The remaining three shelters desperately need replacement due to their age and condition, said County Administrative Coordinator Jason Matthys in a memo to Finance & Personnel Committee members.

The project will cost $755,000 and be performed by a company called Sabre; the committee voted to approve the request that the money come from the undesignated General Fund and forward it to the full county board for a vote.

Matthys said the wheels have been in motion for this project for a while; however, it’s an expensive project and has been put off since the equipment was working. Recently, water intruded at the Prescott site and all sites are at their 30-year mark. Rodents have also caused significant damage to generators in the past five to six years. Once this project is complete, the equipment and shelters should last 40-45 years, Matthys said. Timing is of the essence, due to a 40-week lead time to order replacement equipment.

ATV routes

The committee unanimously approved the following ATV routes, per the request of the Pierce County ATV Association. The routes had been reviewed and approved by Traffic Safety Commission and Highway Committee.

1. Town of Isabelle, County Road EE from 170th Avenue to Highway 35. Working on gaining access into Bay City businesses and the park.

2. Town of Trimbelle, County Road K from 810th Street west to 820th Street; County Road K from 430th Avenue south to 360th Avenue; County Road K from 340th Avenue to 840th Street. This route will allow Trenton and Trimbelle residents access to other areas of Pierce County to visit food and fuel locations. The preferred (safest route) is County Road K from 430th Avenue to 840th Avenue; there are less turns and good sight views at intersections.

3. Town of Oak Grove, County Road QQ from 570th Avenue to 1090th Street. Residents will be able to access other parts of Oak Grove to avoid higher traffic in other areas.

4. Town of Trimbelle, County Road OO from Highway 10 south to 500th Avenue; County Road OO from 450th Avenue south to 430th Avenue. This will help reduce and manage ATV/UTV traffic and dust problems for area residents.

5. Town of Trimbelle, County Road O from 480th Avenue south to 430th Avenue. This will help reduce and manage ATV/UTV traffic and dust problems for area residents.

6. Town of Union, County Road S from 370th Avenue to 180th Street. This will provide multiple routes into Plum City from Pepin and Dunn counties. Multiple routes reduce traffic, making them much safer for ATV/UTV travel.

7. Town of Maiden Rock, County Road UU from County Road U to County Road SS. This will provide multiple routes into Plum City as well, reducing traffic and increasing safety.

“I’m tired of all of this s& %* coming before us all the time,” Holst said. “Let’s do all we need to do and get it done with.”

Committee member Michael Kahlow chimed in. “It must link all the bars by now,” he quipped of the approved ATV routes.

Other business

•The committee approved the COVID-19 immunization budgets for Public Health for 2021 ($55,612) and 2022 ($22,188). The budgets come from state and federal funds with no county tax levy.

•The committee approved revised 2021 and 2022 surveillance and prevention budgets for Public Health. The funds support required disease investigation and community education activities. The funds were previously approved, but Public Health spent significantly more in 2021 than predicted, but received more than predicted from the state’s Department of Health Services. The projected spending in 2021 is $461,000 and $245,000 in 2022. No county tax levy is used.

•The committee approved four revised budgets for Public Health’s reproductive health and family planning programs. Previously, the funding fell under one budget. The state now requires the budgets to be broken into four, one for each grant received from the state/federal government and one for fee-generated revenue. The total remains the same.

•F& P unanimously approved a resolution to amend fees for issuing permits and making inspections and investigations of certain types of establishments. The change is regarding licensing categories for food facilities, which are based on risk and complexity vs. sales. No fee increases are requested at this time, but may be coming in 2023.

•F& P unanimously approved a resolution accepting a $55,305 donation from Badger State Sheriff’s Association for a drone, 15 ballistics vests and five ballistics shields. The personal safety equipment will be used by sheriff’s office employees when managing or handling high-risk incidents.

•The committee unanimously approved a resolution to use $73,322.31 from the Jail Assessment Fund to finish the licensing and conduit installation for the jail security camera project. The matter will be taken up by the County Board at its February meeting. Finance Director Julie Brickner confirmed a total of $256,000 remains in the Jail Assessment fund.

•The committee unanimously approved a change to the Human Services mental health therapist job description, which included adding duties to provide clinical coordination for the Community Support Program five to six hours per week. There will be no change in wages.