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home : news : news February 26, 2015

12/18/2012 9:12:00 AM
Five Vilas County employees apply for voluntary buyout
County offered limited time buyouts as part of effort to reduce size of county's workforce
Janna Kahl
Vilas County human resources director
Janna Kahl
Vilas County human resources director
Vilas committee debates personnel shortage in IT Department
One employee takes voluntary buyout,
one other employee to be on leave for six weeks

By Joe VanDeLaarschot
of The Lakeland Times

An unexpected consequence due to Vilas County’s voluntary Reduction in Workforce (RIF) program is causing an employee shortage in the county’s information and technology department.

That department’s director, Chris Camps, told the county’s public property committee Friday that information technology specialist Tara Bellomy will leave the department soon because she has accepted a voluntary buyout from the county to give up her job. 

Camps also said that to add to the employee shortage another department worker will soon be taking an approved family medical leave for up to six weeks.

“So within a matter of days my department will be down to just two employees instead of four,” Camps said. “We need some kind of help so we can do everything that our department has to do on a daily basis.”

Camps asked the committee to forward a recommendation to the county’s personnel committee that would allow her to refill Bellomy’s position. But some committee members were concerned about refilling the position, despite Camps’ claim of the job’s importance, because Bellomy had left as part of the voluntary employee reduction program.

Camps also told the committee she had held discussions with Bellomy and Bellomy had indicated to Camps she would be willing to work as an independent contract on nights and weekends for an interim period until a final decision is made on refilling her former position.


Questions raised

Committee members said that proposal raised plenty of questions.

“Because he has taken the RIF, can we legally have her work as an LTE?” Supervisor Jim Behling asked.

District 18 Supervisor Lorin Johnson also seemed to express some uneasiness about Bellomy still working for the county after hours and after she had accepted a county buyout.

“As long as she has separated from Vilas County there is nothing to prohibit hiring her as an LTE,” Vilas County Clerk Dave Alleman said.

“I think we need to run this by the corporation counsel,” Supervisor Charles Rayala said.

Rayala also suggested that if the county were to outsource some of the information technology department’s work they wouldn’t be faced with such a situation.

“If we were contracting with someone for this they would have more employees and someone else could then step in to do the work right away,” Rayala said.

“We’ll have to eventually make a final decision on whether the position should be refilled or not,” Supervisor Gary Peske said.

Camps also suggested it’s possible that if the county were to contract with a company to provide the additional services they could also hire Bellomy to do the work while working for them.

After more discussion the committee voted unanimously to recommend to the county’s personnel committee someone be hired on a temporary basis to help the department get through this period of personnel shortages. Committee members agreed they need to act on the matter quickly so the personnel committee could make a decision on the matter at its Dec. 18 meeting.

“In the end it will be the county board’s decision,” Behling said

The issue of whether to refill the position permanently would be discussed and determined at a later date.


Department purchases

Included in the 2013 budget approved by the Vilas County Board was $6,500 budgeted for an experimental use of ThinkPads by some county supervisors – the experiment officials hope would demonstrate the practicality and cost savings if the county board would go to a completely paperless system. The system would use technology instead of paper to transmit and present documents and other information to county officials.

The members of the public property committee gave Camps permission to purchase the equipment needed to conduct a proper experiment with the paperless system.

The committee also approved spending totaling about $4,970 by the commission on aging to purchase equipment to enhance the patient waiting room for its clients and for enhanced training and conferencing ability by staff employees.

Included in the purchase would be computer monitors, a polycom phone for teleconferencing, a 32-inch TV/DVD system and mounting hardware, a 60-inch television monitor and mounting hardware and a PC wireless conferencing system.

Year-end leftover funds from the WIC program would be used for the purchase.

Camps told the committee there would be a payback to the county on the money spent because commission employees would have much less travel to far away conferences because they could attend the conferences using the new county conferencing system.

The committee also approved the spending of about $14,000 by the social services department for six laptop computers and all of the needed hardware and software.

The purchases will be paid from Community Option grant funds the department received in 2012.

Staff members will save time and work more efficiently. Instead of taking notes in the field and then transcribing them back at the office, the social workers will be able to write the notes on the computer immediately.


Office moves in courthouse

After discussing the matter several times over the last several months the committee approved moving the veterans service office from its location in the courthouse to office space formerly occupied by the information and technology department. That department moved to another location in the courthouse a short time ago – a location that had been formerly space occupied by the commission on aging which was recently moved out of the courthouse.

The tourism and publicity office will also be moved to space formerly occupied by the commission on aging.

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

Five Vilas County employees have applied to take part in the county’s voluntary reduction in workforce program.

In November the Vilas County Board of Supervisors, after rejecting the idea in October, took a second vote and approved the limited time program which offers county workers a one-time buyout if they agree to leave the county’s employment. 

The county had identified several employee positions (approximately 11) they could eliminate in 2013 to save tax dollars, but wanted to have volunteers who would be enticed by the buyout offer volunteer to leave their county jobs before they would lay off any county employees.

County human resources director Janna Kahl told the county’s personnel committee Tuesday five people volunteered to quit working for the county.

Those volunteering include one IT specialist in the information technology department, veterans service officer Scott Jensen, one commission on aging benefit specialist, the deputy treasurer and a jail sergeant.  

A deputy employee in the county zoning department has been approved by the county treasurer to transfer to that office to fill the deputy treasurer position.

The 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 was capped at $17,500. 

Due to budget constraints the county’s zoning department was ordered by the county board and the finance committee to reduce all its employees’ hours to 30 hours per week for the first few months of 2013. That will no longer be required because of the transfer of the zoning deputy to the deputy treasurer position.

According to Kahl, the savings from the zoning deputy moving to the other position and the non-refilling of the zoning position should be considerable.

“The salary for that position is $60,000 and when we then increase the zoning department employees’ hours to 40 hours a week instead of 30 that will cost an additional $26,000,” Kahl said. “That will give the county a net savings of about $34,000.” 

The personnel committee ordered the veterans service officer position be posted in order to seek applicants, but no action was taken yet regarding the filling of the other positions. Those decisions will be discussed at the personnel committee’s next meeting.

Kahl said the county has no choice and must refill the veterans service officer post because it is a statutorily required position.

“There could still be more people that volunteer for the program because the deadline to apply is Jan. 2,” Kahl said.

Kahl said the personnel committee also approved a motion that calls for any job openings in the county’s workforce to first be filled by current and qualified county employees if at all possible.

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

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