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Pierce County adds 5 new positions in 2022

Employees to get 1.25% salary increase

“The point is coming soon … pretty quick our employee needs or uses is going to extend past our budgets,” said County Board Chair Jeff Holst. “It’s getting to a point that when we add one, we’ll need to cut two. It gets tougher every year to balance the budget and personnel is our biggest expense. There are tough decisions coming for future boards.”

Holst’s warning came after the board voted unanimously at its annual budget meeting Nov. 9 to approve new county positions for 2022. New positions for 2022 include:

•Pierce County Sheriff’s Office corrections officer, $43,266 (position begins July 1, 2022 with 2,196 hours for the year). Annual salary is $84,532.

•PCSO corrections officer sergeant, $2,484. The cost for this new position is offset by the elimination of one corrections officer position, for the net new cost.

•Human Services (ADRC) nutrition coordinator, $82,846 annual salary

•Human Services worker, $82,846 annual salary

•Human Services social worker comprehensive, $12,000. This position is currently contracted out; the cost savings by providing service internally is $25,646. Reimbursement for this position will be received in 2023; the remaining cost will be funded through Medicaid reimbursement.

Two positions previously approved for immediate effectiveness in 2021 were COVID-19 investigation lead ($86,491) and PCSO corrections officer ($84,532).

In another personnel-related resolution, the board unanimously approved 2022 salaries and benefits, which includes a 1.25% increase for employees on the salary matrix. Employees on the self-funded health insurance plan will continue to contribute 10% toward their premiums if wellness initiatives are met and 15/18/20% if they’re not met. Employees on the high deductible health plan/health savings account will contribute 5% toward premiums and 15/18/20% if wellness initiatives aren’t met. The county will also appropriate $1,000 to HSAs this year.

Annual budget

The board approved the 2022 tax levy and budget totaling $20,369.671, comprised of the operating levy ($16,447,652), the debt service levy ($3,215,088), and special purpose levies: County library ($506,931) and Bridges ($200,000). This is an increase over 2021 of 3.2 percent.

Thanks to the county’s equalized valuation ($4,028,225,000) and a Tax Increment District closing, the mill rate will decrease by 3.81 percent. The proposed mil rate of 5.152176 means on a $200,000 property, a property owner would pay about $1,030 for the county portion of their property tax bill.

Levy limits provide the maximum amount of money a town, village, city and county may implement as a property tax levy on properties in their boundaries.

The county’s standing committees approved department budgets totaling $16,832,103 and forwarded to administration/finance for consideration, which was $384,451 above the allowable levy limit.

To have a balanced budget without using reserve funds, the county needed to either reduce expenditures by $384,451 or find that money by fine-tuning department budgets.

The Finance & Personnel Committee approved the following proposal to balance the budget, which the full county board also approved.

Option 1 (totals $384,451)

•Remove budget funds: Leave liability $10,000

•Increase sales tax revenue: $105,200

•Increase revenue, interest on investments: $80,000

•Increase revenue, interest on checking accounts: $10,000

•Purchase body cameras and taser with budget funds in 2021, not 2022: $89,000 (due to staffing shortage in the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, $440,000 was unspent in 2021.)

•Reduce jail health insurance: $37,985 (five vacancies, not all take the family plan)

•Hire a new corrections officer July 1, not Jan. 1, 2022: $42,266

•Increase revenue in Register of Deeds: $10,000 Redistricting

During the public hearing concerning the county’s redistricting plan, which is required after each census every 10 years, Supervisor Jeff Bjork said he felt the county “could’ve done better” as far as taking the county’s population growth trends into account when adjusting the district boundaries.

Supervisor Mel Pittman said he understands Bjork’s concerns, but was heartened that the new map improved upon the previous redistricting by a few percentage points.

The county’s population grew from 41,019 in 2010 to 42,212 in 2020. Each of Pierce County’s 17 supervisory districts has roughly 2,483 people; the most populous district has 2,592 people, while the least populous has 2,379 people.

The 2020 Census results per municipality and how they differ from 2010 are as follows: Township 2010 2020 Clifton 2,012 2,117 Diamond Bluff 469 460 Ellsworth 1,146 1,175 El Paso 681 717 Gilman 959 1,007 Hartland 827 866 Isabelle 281 294 Maiden Rock 589 610 Martell 1,185 1,208 Oak Grove 2,150 2,293 River Falls 2,271 2,318 Rock Elm 485 494 Salem 510 524 Spring Lake 563 580 Trenton 1,829 1,847 Trimbelle 1,679 1,678 Union 609 597 Villages 2010 2020

Bay City 500 494 Ellsworth 3,284 3,355 Elmwood 817 794 Maiden Rock 119 117 Plum City 599 594 Spring Valley (Pierce portion) 1,346 1,339 Cities 2010 2020 Prescott 4,258 4,203 River Falls (Pierce) 11,851 12,527 River Falls (St. Croix) 3,149 3,636 River Falls total 15,000 16,182 The board voted 15-1 (Bjork voting no) to approve the final supervisory district plan.

Other business

The board unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the Land Conservation Department to apply for a cost-share grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to be used for a stream bank stabilization project on Plum and Rock Elm creeks within Nugget Lake County Park. The grant request is for $25,000 with a 35% match required.

The board unanimously approved payment of claims for listing dogs, which totaled $1,593. The county is required by state law to pay the people responsible for “listing” dogs in the county at 50 cents per dog.

The board unanimously approved payment of $7,230 to local cemeteries for the care of soldiers’ graves at a cost of $3 per grave. Supervisor Mel Pittman asked the board to consider raising the amount in the future. The last time the amount changed was in November 1977, when it was raised from $1 per grave to $3.

“Many gave the ultimate sacrifice and they have us the freedom we enjoy today,” Holst said. “Local cemetery boards are running out of money.”

Supervisor Bill Schroeder said he donates $500 per year to Trenton Cemetery and suggested everyone consider donating to the cemetery of their choice as they’re able.

•The board unanimously approved a resolution to cancel outstanding county orders from 2018 totaling $10,647.44. County Treasurer Kathy Fuchs outlined the process her office uses to contact people, who have 10 years to redeem their check. The money stays set aside until the 10 years is up.

“You can only ask someone so many times to cash a check,” Fuchs said.

•The board unanimously approved a resolution to amend the county’s personnel policy, authorizing the implementation of a tax preferred account (TPA) benefit plan for payout of employees’ accumulated sick leave, vacation and PTO. The amendment will go into effect Jan. 1.

November 16, 2021