THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
County Finance Okays Contingency Spending
The Marinette County Finance and Insurance Committee approved expenditure of up to $6,000 to add multi-media equipment to the County Board for a better overall presentation capability. The plan includes installation of 60 inch LED-CD HDTV to the front of the room and moving an existing unit to a position where it can be viewed by those sitting in the front of the room. The quote from Camera Corner-Connecting Point of Green Bay also includes minor audio enhancements. The money will come from the countys contingency fund.
In other matters discussed at the Monday, Jan. 28 meeting, the contingency fund was also pegged to pay for retaining the legal services of the Phillips Borowski Law Firm to represent the county in a case related to union arbitration from last year. The arbitration matter appears to be headed for Marinette County Circuit Court. If it does finally end up in Circuit Court, or if it eventually gets grouped together in another court with other similar cases, the county will have adequate representation. The total cost should stay under the $15,000. limit, over which would require County Board approval.
In a third instance of the Contingency being tapped, the Committee approved funding an unbudgeted additional health insurance cost resulting from the elimination of a seasonal Forest Equipment Operator position and creation of an additional 12-month Forest Equipment Operator position. The salary difference between the two positions was included in the 2013 budget, but the benefits were not. In the past, the seasonal position person had chosen not to take the Health and Dental benefits, but may choose to do so when he becomes full-time. The fiscal impact will be between $10,458and $31,410, depending upon the family situation.
Information Services Director Larry Schultz updated the committee on the many projects ongoing in his department. Most of the new copiers are installed, with the exception of some library branches.
Schultz reported the virtual server project is ahead of schedule. The server will be installed in late February.
The Emergency Notifica-tion program is in the process of being installed. The fiber optic internet access is operational and the load balancer/ server will be updated shortly. The project to perform maintenance on the fiber optic cable that connects the Courthouse with the Law Enforcement Center is just starting.
In preparation for applying and operating a virtual county network, the Committee authorized a $5,495 expenditure from the IS budget for an IT employee to attend a very intensive five-day program training class. The class is out of state, but the cost includes airfare.
The Committee discussed the ongoing iPad pilot project being tested by the members of the Finance Commit-tee. The Committee reiterated that only the five County Board members on the Finance Committee are beta testing the iPads. The county had purchased only five (5) units, just for the five (5) Finance Committee members to use. They belong to the County. iPads were not purchased for the entire County Board, as was falsely reported in a recent letter to the editor in the newspaper. The Finance Committee is testing these units only and exclusively for committee and County Board business. They are not for personal use.
In that regard, the Committee members discussed the issues and problems they have been having in using the iPads, most of which were related to connectivity and customizing for individual productivity. Since several on the County Board have asked about how the test project is going, the Committee discussed what to do next to possibly expand the project.
Approval was given to the Marinette County Wellness Committee to oversee all vending machines located in the Marinette County buildings and to use all vending machine profits to promote county employee wellness. The Wellness Committee has expressed interest in stocking the vending machines with more healthy options. There has also been talk of installing vending machines in county campgrounds like Twin Bridge and Morgan Park.
Finance Director Pat Kass delivered the monthly and semi-annual investment reports. As of the end of December, the countys investments have a market value of $35,591,381.54. This represents an average yearly performance rate of 2.136 percent for the portfolio, down from 3.2 percent six months ago. The drop is the result of lower returns on short-term reinvestments the county has had to make recently.
The semi-annual report shows that some leveling off of rates appears to be taking place, thus leading Kass to consider shorter terms for some investment now with the hope that longer term rates will rise next year.
All-in-all, Kass noted the countys investments do reflect the national market forces and fluctuations everyone is presently seeing.
Besides several minor appropriation entries approved by the Committee, a major entry was forwarded to the County Board was $120,000 from the Informa-tion Services (IS) fund balance to update the hardware and network architecture to install the virtual network for the countys system. This project was moved from the Capital Improve-ment Project list because of server problems and failure.
County Administrator Ellen Sorensen reported that preliminary information is beginning to arrive from the ongoing Telephone Audit. The full report will be presented at the next Committee meeting, but based upon what she has seen already, the county could save about $7,000 per year by following the recommendations of the audit.