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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Co. Personnel Committee Forwards WPPA Contract

A two percent raise every six months. That is the amount the Marinette County Personnel Committee is recommending to the County Board when it comes to wages for members of the Marinette County Deputy Sheriff’s Association Local of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association (WPPA). The wage raise is countered by steady increases by WPPA members in Retirement and also Health Insurance contributions.

If passed by the County Board, WPPA members will receive a two percent wage increase on Jan. 1 and July 1 in the years 2013, 2014, and 2015. For existing employees, 2013 will pay 2 percent of their contribution to the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS). In 2014, that percentage will hike to 4 percent. On Jan. 1, 2015, it will rise to 6% and on July 1, 2015, it will rise to the same level as the general county employee currently of 6.65 percent. All new hires will immediately contribute the same amount as general employees.

For Health Insurance, WPPA employees will pay 15 percent of their premiums, 12.5 percent if they undergo a Health Risk Assessment, as of Jan. 1, 2013. In 2014 and 2015, they will pay the same as other hourly employees, with the caveat that the percentage will not increase above 20 percent. The premium contribution in 2014 and 2015 with Health Risk Assessment will remain at 12.5 percent.

The contract also includes language clarification regarding payment of uniform allowance and duty incurred disability pay.

According to a spreadsheet prepared by the County Finance Department, the total contract including wage increases less WRS and Health Insurance employee payments will cost the county an additional $15,121.42 in 2013, and an additional increase of $14,597.56 in 2014, and an additional $8,373.31 in 2015.

The WPPA is the only remaining union in county government that can collectively bargain their entire contract.

In other matters before the Personnel Committee at their Thursday, Dec. 6 meeting, a recommendation through the Health and Human Services Department was forwarded to the County Board which eliminates a Mental Health Case Manager position and creates a Comprehensive Community Services Case Manager position. The change becomes effective Jan. 1, 2013.

The Committee held a lengthy discussion on a matter that was discussed and approved at the most recent Highway Committee meeting, namely, county employee use of county vehicles.

According to County Administrator Ellen Sorensen, the question was raised after the last County Board meeting. In the intervening time, she found that the matter is discussed in the County’s Policy and Procedure Manual. Any such use basically needs to be approved by the committee of jurisdiction, subject to control of the County Board.

Sorensen contacted all of the department heads on the matter and found that, for the most part, most departments may approve it if involves an employee attending a conference, meeting, or training session when the employee lives closer to the event than to Marinette. Sometimes, it may involve a weekend if the event is scheduled on a Monday.

The two departments which do allow it consistently are the Sheriff’s Department which has a long-established and necessary practice for only sworn staff and the Highway Department, which has the practice for the Commissioner, Highway Foremen, and the Shop Foreman.

Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison reminded the Committee that when this practice is used by the Sheriff’s Department and the Highway Department, the employees who received this benefit also are subject to IRS rules when it comes to being taxed for the privilege. Both Mattison and Human Resources Director Jennifer Holtger spoke of the highway leadership always being on call and that they do patrol the roads all over the county on weekends and nights when there is a weather event, both summer and winter.

Supervisor Ken Keller said he has concerns about private use of these vehicles, as he had been in the past for good reason.

Supervisor Connie Seefeldt asked about a possible mileage limit being placed on their use. She wondered how far away the county was going to allow people to lie and take vehicles home.

Following a discussion on whether or not the Highway Committee should ask the County Board to reaffirm the practice, the Committee realized they had no control over the matter and decided to take no action on this issue.

Continuing on, the Committee recommended to the County Board a reorganization of the Maintenance Department which reassigns a person from the Information Services Department back to Maintenance. The move is necessary because the County is now contracting out their photocopier service, but which to maintain the position as a Printer Technician with additional maintenance duties. The move, effective Jan. 1, is already included in the 2013 budget.

Approval was given to the Building and Properties Department to fill a Maintenance Technician position with two people for one week in order to provide an opportunity for the new employee to learn from the retiring technician.

Sorensen reported to the Committee her idea to add a Suggestion Box to the newly rolled-out County Intranet. The box would provide any employee to submit cost savings ideas directly to the Administrator. She explained that if the suggestion was a good one and is implemented, she is considering a reward program of some sort.

This prompted Supervisor Keller to respond, “It’s always good to listen to the employees.”

Under her Human Resources report, Holtger reluctantly informed the Committee that despite having a perfect record for 2012 so far, it looks like there will be a Worker’s Compensation claim that will result in lost time for the first time this year. She is estimating that the person will be out 10 to 14 days.

In the past month, there was one resignation in the county HHS Department, and two newly announced retirements in Forestry and Highways. There were no layoffs or dismissals.

November saw two new hirings, both in HHS, and four job postings in HHS, Sheriff’s Department, Dispatch and the Library.

Updating her work on reviewing all job descriptions to prepare for the wage study slated for 2013, Holtger said the goal of having only 30 position descriptions may not be reasonable because so many jobs are government mandated positions.

The Committee also discussed a request from the Library to have some of their positions in the study, but since the County apparently looks at the Library as their own entity, any inclusion in the study would require the Library to pay for that part of the study.

Sorensen reported to the Committee an update on Department Head meetings which she said were concentrating on finding greater efficiencies within their departments. She also noted that she is working to replace a retiring department head, which may result in title changes and appointments.

A review of the Invoices for which the Committee is responsible, members acknowledged the total of $1,035.39.

Veteran’s Service Officer William Kowalski presented his quarterly report, noting the tremendous amount of paperwork and veterans that flow through his office. The most recent years have shown there is an aging veteran base with a lot of benefit registration taking place. Of note were an increasing amount of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation requests for veterans exposed to Agent Orange and Asbestos related diseases. He also pointed to many more claims as Vietnam Veterans starting passing in great numbers.

Veteran transportation requests totaled 558 so far this year. Most are for transportation to the VA Hospital in Iron Mountain with 38 percent from vets in Menominee county, for which this department receives compensation through the State of Michigan.

With recent reorganization within the VA, Kowalski stated he is very impressed with the improving healthcare offered in Iron Mountain.


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