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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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County Board Okays $20,000 Raise For HHS Psychiatrist

Despite objections from several supervisors Marinette County Board at its meeting on Tuesday, March 25 approved a $20,000 annual raise in pay for the Health and Human Services Medical Director/Psychiatrist to be given half for 2014 and half for 2015. The raise will bring the annual salary for the position, held by Dr. Guy Powers, to $187,200 for 2015. Vote was 20 to 8 in favor of the raise.

Supervisors Cindy “CJ” Barrette, Russ Bousley, Ken Casper, Mike Cassidy, Melissa Christiansen, Gilbert Engel, Paul Gustafson, Kathy Just, Ken Keller, Nick Lakari, Tom Mailand, Al Mans, Ken Mattison, Larry Nichols, Don Pazynski, Joe Policello,Ted Sauve, Cheryl Wruk, Bill Walker and Board Chair Vilas Schroeder voted in favor and Joe Banaszak, Russ Bauer, Alice Baumgarten, Robert Holley, Shirley Kaufman, Al Sauld, Connie Seefeldt and Clancy Whiting were opposed. Mike Behnke abstained.

An attempt to cut the raise to three percent per year for each of the two years, rather than the proposed raise which totals 6 percent for each year, was defeated 19 to 9, with Supervisor Behnke abstaining. On this vote, Engel joined the eight who opposed the higher raise.

The salary adjustment had been unanimously recommended by the Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, March 12 after some discussion, and by the Personnel Committee at its meeting on Friday, March 14.

Efforts to reduce the amount of the increase were led by Holley, both at the Personnel Committee meeting and again on the board floor. Holley declared the total annual income for many Marinette County residents is less than $20,000 a year, and the average is $23,869 for an individual and $41,533 for a median household. “This salary is four times that!” he declared. “We have people living on Social Security who can’t pay their heating bills, and the Social Security raise this year was only 1.7 percent,” Holley said, adding that the proposed raise for the psychiatrist equals 12 percent for the two years.

He said according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a hospital psychiatrist is $164,000 a year, an average university professor of psychiatry earns $144,000 a year, and a psychiatrist in New York City earns an average of $250,000 a year.

“I’m not questioning the person’s worth, or the value of what he does,” Holley said. “What I question is the amount of the salary.”

Just, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, asked department administrator Robin Elsner to explain his reasons for requesting the increase.

Elsner challenged Holley’s figures, and said the $164,000 salary is the low figure, for beginning psychiatrists just out of medical school. The person in his department has 12 1/2 years of experience. Average pay for a full time psychiatrist, Elsner said, is $185,000 to $187,000 a year.

“Not according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” Holley declared. Holley had been upset enough over the proposal that he took time to attend the March 14 Personnel Committee meeting and speak in opposition during time for public comment. He is not a member of that committee.

Schroeder asked Holley if he would consider making an amendment to the proposed raise, and Holley proposed adjusting the existing salary upward by 3 percent retroactive to Jan. 1 of 2014, and another 3 percent on Jan. 1, 2015. He said the proposed raise equals 6 percent for each year.

The Personnel Committee had been asked to approve the entire $20,000 raise effective Jan. 1, 2014, but decided to split it into two parts, as had been done for other positions that recently received pay increases as a result of the WIPFLI study. Current salary for the position was $166,982 with a 1 percent increase for 2013.

Sauld asked Elsner why he had decided to request the raise. Elsner said he was trying to bring the salary to market, as had been done for other county employees in the WIPFLI study. County Administrator Ellen Sorensen said the intent was to bring the salary into line with pay of other psychiatrists.

The Personnel Committee motion recommending the raise had referred to the $187,200 as a “market midpoint” salary.

“As the man said, $20,000 is a lot of money. There are a lot of people in this county who don’t make that in a year!” declared Sauld at the full board meeting.

Engel said there is a difference in earnings for psychiatrists who work in hospitals, “versus those who work in this type of setting.”

The board packet included information from Elsner showing that the position generated $80,000 in revenue for the department in 2013, in addition to a contract with Florence County for psychiatric services which brings in $34,000 a year. The big difference, Elsner said, is in eliminating the need for many institutional placements, saving the county $209,370 in 2013.

He says the entire Health and Human Services staff consults with the medical director as needed. Because treatment can be provided locally, many county residents do not need to go to out-of-county institutions for treatment, which saves large amounts of dollars and is better for everyone.

Holley asked how the mid point range was determined, since the position was not included in the WIPFLI wage study. Elsner said Door County included the psychiatrist in its study, and the midpoint found there was $188,678.

The packet also included a reprint of an article from the Green Bay Press Gazette that spoke of a severe psychiatrist shortage in northern Wisconsin, and stated Wisconsin will need to hire at least 262 more psychiatrists to eliminate the shortage. There are 16 counties in the state, including Florence and Menominee counties, that have no psychiatrists within their borders. The story announced that the Medical College of Wisconsin had secured about half the funding needed to start a new residency program for training psychiatrists at St. Norbert College in Green Bay as early as 2016. According to that article, a residency costs about $80,000 a year.

During time for recognitions before starting its serious work for the day, the board was treated to a visit from the entire state champion Coleman Cougar wrestling team - all 24 members wearing identical black dress shirts, black dress trousers and kelly green ties. With them were the three team managers, Coleman High School Principal Doug Polomis, Superintendent Brian Walters, Head Coach Kevin Casper, and assistant coaches Jason Maye and Ken Daul.

On behalf of the entire County Board, Supervisor Ken Casper of Coleman, father of Coach Casper, presented the school with congratulations and a plaque commending their accomplishments. This was the 10th state championship for the Coleman matmen. Casper declared team members are champions on and off the mat, for the character they display and the family values they bring to the sport. Those values, he said, are carried on by the coaches, and passed on to younger team members by team veterans. “They represent Coleman High School wherever they go with the utmost class,” he declared.

Walters also spoke with pride of the team. hHe said he had challenged them to raise $500 for expenses, and promised if they could do that, he would accept a wrestling match challenge. They raised $750, and his bout did not turn out well for him, Walters said. “I tasted not only Coleman wrestling, but also the Coleman wrestling mats.”

“This team and what they accomplished is the pride of Coleman and anyone who has Coleman roots,” Coach Casper declared. “They exemplify the word ‘team’. They make everybody so proud!”

Without debate the board approved a resolution authorizing early redemption of promissory notes issued in August of 2006 for $3,250,000. The only dissenting vote was cast by Supervisor Shirley Kaufman. The early call will save the county about $90,00 in interest. Payment will use $1,250,000 in liquid surplus funds from early payment by the Stephenson Library Foundation for the 2006 renovation project and an internal loan of $1,000 from the county’s debt service account. Being called early are $150,000 maturing in August of 2015 and $2,100,000 maturing on Aug. 1, 2016. Both are costing the county 4.25 percent interest.

After a few questions and an explanation from Land Information Administrator John LeFebvre, the board approved a land trade that will settle a problem for Town of Stephenson property owners David and Linda Frink, and for the county. Currently, half of a cabin owned by the county as a result of a tax deed foreclosure is located on the Frink property that surrounds it in a horseshoe shape. Half of another cabin, owned by the Frinks, is located on the county property.

Baumgarten raised some objections to the information provided in the board packet and moved to delay the transaction for more information. LeFebvre explained the Frinks have a buyer and want the situation cleared up so their transaction can go forward. The trade results in each party owning exactly as much property as before, and the Frinks are paying for all the needed surveys and deed recordings, LeFebvre said. The county lot remains at 4.2 acres, but is in a slightly different configuration.

LeFebvre said more detailed information was presented at the Forestry and Lands Committee meeting than had been included in the board packet and once the lines are straightened out, proper certified survey maps will be recorded. Mailand asked how something like this could have happened, and LeFebvre explained in the old days surveys were not always done when properties were split. Baumgarten withdrew her objections and board approval was unanimous.

In other business:

*The board saluted outgoing supervisors Connie Seefeldt and Bill Walker, who are not seeking reelection, and recognized Supervisor Mel Sharpe, who passed away March 6 since the last board meeting.

*They heard reports from UW-Marinette Dean Paula Langteau and Sheriff Jerry Sauve.

*The updated Marinette County Hazard Mitigation Plan was adopted as recommended by the Law Enforcement and Emergency Government Committee.

*Targeted Runoff Management Grants for several area farms were approved as recommended by the Ag and Extension Committee.

*Bid for not to exceed $20,000 from Wireless Technologies for audio/video/data cable installations in the Health and Human Services Department conference room were approved, pending Corporation Counsel review.

*Purchase of Cisco switches, for the Courthouse, Law Enforcement Center, Job Center and Health and Human Services Building was approved as recommended by the Finance Committee, which oversees the Information Services department. Cost is not to exceed $350,000 with installation and service agreement. Money is to come from the Information Services cash fund and be capitalized over a 10-year period.

*An agreement with BayCom for a $139,119.05 expansion of the county’s camera system was approved, pending Corporation Counsel review, as recommended by the Law Enforcement Committee. Emergency Management Director Eric Burmeister explained there are outdoor cameras at strategic locations in Marinette, but none of the county facilities have indoor security cameras. Money will come from the county’s Capital Improvements budget.

*On recommendation of the Highway Committee, purchase of a 2014 2X4 one ton chassis and cab dually from Ewald’s Automotive Group was approved for a total of $32,028.

*A 2014 Traffic Maintenance Agreement with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for painting lines on state highways in Marinette and Oconto counties for a total of $78,500 was approved, as recommended by the Highway Committee.

*Some minor amendments to wording in the Marinette County Personnel Policies and Procedures manual in regard to vacations were approved as recommended by the Personnel Commitee. Engel felt the change contributed to inequality among employees and cast the sole opposing vote.

As preparations began to adjourn the meeting, Wruk questioned plans to suspend the normal board rules and not hold the usual annual orientation on the fourth Tuesday of April. Wruk asked how new board members would be initiated for their new responsibilities without the training. Schroeder said a day long series of presentations by department heads did not achieve the desired results, and instead reports will be presented at regular board meetings over the next several months.

The biannual reorganization meeting will start at 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 15.


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