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11/27/2012 9:31:00 AM
Vilas County board set to debate, approve 2013 budget Tuesday
Proposal calls for eliminating several county employees' jobs, buyouts for volunteers to leave their county positions

If the proposed Vilas County 2013 budget is approved as recommended by the county’s finance committee, county property taxpayers will see an increase in their property tax rate of 9 cents per thousand.

That would mean the owner of a $100,000 home would pay an additional $9 in taxes to Vilas County for 2013.

The full county board will meet today, Tuesday, Nov. 27, to debate and give final approval to the proposed 2013 spending and revenue plan.

The proposed budget calls for a total tax levy for 2013 of $13,143,711 – down $6,281 from the 2012 total tax levy of $13,149,992.

The county’s tax levy for 2011 was $1.74 per thousand while for 2012 it was $1.79 per thousand. 

The proposed spending plan calls for the county to spend 5 percent more in general government in 2013, but 11 percent less for conservation and development and 4 percent less for public safety and health and human services.

However, when the county board meets today at 9 a.m. it can still make changes to the plan before it gains final approval.

The proposed budget process has been further complicated due to the approval by supervisors at their Nov. 13 meeting of a program to make lump sum payments to county employees who volunteer to leave their county jobs. 

The plan had been rejected several weeks ago by the county board.

The recent reconsideration and approval of the idea means related financial information can not be included in the budget to be presented to county supervisors at the Nov. 27 meeting – meaning it could cause a delay in obtaining the budget’s final approval. It would be unknown to supervisors at that meeting how many county employees, if any, will take advantage of the program so the amount saved due to the resignations would also be unknown.

 

Buyout plan

The buyout proposal calls for employees who volunteer to leave county employment to receive a lump sum of 10 percent of their annual salary for each year of completed county service. 

The maximum any employee could receive is capped at $17,500 rather than $35,000 as had been proposed in the resolution that was rejected in September. At that meeting only three supervisors voted in favor of the idea. 

The payment cannot exceed the employee’s regular, straight time, annual salary. The employees will have a 45-day window to accept or reject the buyout. 

The county board could still make changes in the budget forwarded by the finance committee, but the recommended job cuts include:

• Three custodian positions in the county’s maintenance department. The county will research having a private company provide the same services for less.

• One employee from the information technology department. County Finance Director Jason Hilger said IT department director Chris Kamps had submitted a proposed budget calling for the elimination of one position. The committee had decided at one point to eliminate two positions in this department, but changed their minds and decided to eliminate just one position. 

• One deputy administrator position is to be eliminated from the county’s zoning and planning department.

• In the highway department, a secretary position is to be reduced to half-time after July 1, 2013. 

• One employee position in the treasurer’s office is to be cut.

• One support staff member position in the UW-Extension office is to be eliminated.

• One half-time child support staff position is to be cut in the social services department.

• One half-time position in the tax listing department is to be eliminated.

• The position of assistant corporation counsel was filled recently, but the person hired for the post resigned just a few weeks later. Corporation Counsel Martha Milanowski told the committee she may have difficulty refilling the position. 

Not included in that total is the elimination of positions in the sheriff’s department.

In that department, one law enforcement clerk’s position will be eliminated and a dangerous drug investigator position will not be refilled because the federal and state grant money for the post will not longer be provided after Jan. 1, 2013.

The county has long had a policy of not refilling positions created by grant money if the county must pay the cost to retain that position.

 

Union tries to sway public

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has been paying for recent advertisements that urge Vilas County residents to attend Tuesday’s meeting and fight against the elimination of any county employee jobs.

The union claims the elimination of the jobs will have a detrimental impact in the providing of county services to county taxpayers and residents.

Joe VanDeLaarschot may be reached at jvandelaarschot@lakelandtimes.com.







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