Finance and Personal Committee Meeting

The Richland County Board's Finance & Personnel Committee met on Tuesday, June 6th.

At the last Richland County Board meeting, supervisors approved the borrowing of $1,262,421 from the State Trust Fund. The purpose of the loan is to finance capital projects for the highway department which includes equipment, roadwork, and the purchase of a sandpit. The resolution was however amended from a ten year to a five year loan at three percent interest instead of 3.5 percent . At Tuesday's meeting Carol Wirth, the county's financial adviser with Wisconsin Public Finance reported to the committee that the board did not have the authority to amend a loan proposal to the State Trust Fund. Proposals have to be accepted or denied as presented. If denied the process must begin again. The committee looked at two options to present to the board. To close this application to the State Trust Fund and begin again, as a five year option, or to rescind the approved proposal from the last board meeting. Since the original ten year proposal was not defeated it could be brought back to the full board for consideration. After much discussion, the committee moved to rescind the motion which passed at the last board meeting and replace it with the ten year plan. It is important to note that the loan can be payed off with no early payment penalty. The committee also approved to bring back to the full board the State Trust Fund Loan proposal for $120,000 for the purchase of a new squad car. While the county only needs $30,000 for one squad car it was pointed out that it can still request the $120,000 and only use the $30,000 and return the other $90,000. It is important to understand that money borrowed from the state's trust fund loan can only be used for capital improvements and may not be used to meet operating costs of the county. The motion will be brought to the full board for approval at the next meeting on Tuesday, June 20th. If the full board approves the loan request from the State Trust Fund it will free up money for the general fund balance. The cost to taxpayers for taking a loan in the amount of $1,382,421 from the state trust fund will be about $16 per $100,000 on the tax levy.

Patrick Metz, Director of Health and Human Services, introduced a plan to help in the Health and Human Services budget brought on by increased services required. Metz proposed five mandatory layoff days around holidays, as long as it did not adversely affect the employees holiday pay or any other benefits from the cut in hours. The building would be totally closed to the public on July 3rd, September 1st and 5th, November 22nd, and December 29th. While there are federal mandates for offering lobby service at Health and Human Services, Metz says he will be meeting with the consortium to cover those times. Employees would not be eligible for unemployment for these layoff days. The savings to the department from the layoff days would be between $25,000 and $30,000. The Richland County Board's Finance & Personnel Committee approved to bring this resolution to the full board for consideration on a 6-1 vote.

The Land Conservation Department reported that its lease has expired and they are only paid up to the end of June. The problem lies in the fact that the counter offer from the landlord is still above the means of the department. The current annual rent is $11,884. While the department has been looking for places to relocate to, there are other monetary considerations. The cost to move once could potentially be $8,000 to $9,000. There are also other considerations of costs not currently incurred due to sharing with the federal office. One proposal is to move into the Health and Human Services building which would increase HHS building expenses $2,000 to $3,000 a year. In order to give the Land Conservation Department the time needed to find a solution the committee has recommended to sign the new lease through the end of the year, but work on finding a cheaper option by January 1, 2018.

The county and its employees are facing challenges elsewhere due to the financial situation. The mandated position of County Health Officer was recently opened due to the retirement of Marianne Stanek. The Health and Human Services Department is unable to fill that vacancy at this time due to budget restraints. In order to fulfill the mandate, Patrick Metz will add it to his duties for the interim. The hope is that it will be able to be filled in November. Julie Keller also reported that the Property Tax Lister has resigned. This position has to be filled as the duties are statutory. She has advertised for the position. In order to train a new hire the Richland County Board's Finance & Personnel Committee will recommend the board approve 30 days training. This 30 days includes 210 hours at $18.15 an hour. This will be the third hire in three years. Discussion was held as to why the county keeps losing its property tax lister. One observation was that the surrounding counties pay over $20 an hour while Richland pays the $18.15 per hour. The committee moved to place the discussion of a pay raise for the Property Tax Lister on the next Richland County Board agenda.

The Richland County Board of Supervisors will next meet on Tuesday, June 20th, at 6:00 PM in the County Board Room.