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home : news : news May 24, 2016

1/15/2013 8:59:00 AM
Fifteen Vilas County employees participate in buyout program
Buyout of employees will cost county more than $245K

Fifteen Vilas County workers have accepted buyout offers from the county and are no longer on the county payroll.

County human resources director Janna Kahl made the announcement at Thursday’s meeting of the county’s personnel committee.

Kahl told the committee the buyout of the 15 employees cost the county $245,521.

The full county board in October agreed to allow the voluntary reduction in workforce to save the county money. Savings could come from not refilling county positions or lowering the salaries of the positions the county does decide to refill.

But due to the voluntary departures the county is also faced with a shortage of workers in some departments. Decisions will have to be made quickly as to what positions should be refilled and when.

Two employees from the department of social services and another two from the county’s highway department agreed to take part in the program, leaving both departments shorthanded for now. The courthouse maintenance department also lost three employee who took the buyout offered by the county.

The county employees, their position and departments, the amount of their buyout payment and their estimated 2013 salary, including benefits, are as follows:

• Tara Bellomy, information technology specialist with the Information Technology Department, $16,941; $70,312.

• Scott Jensen, director, Veterans Service Office, $20,624; $49,412.

• Peggy Cleveland, deputy treasurer, County Treasurer’s office, $16,185; $48,319. 

• Connie Gengle, benefit specialist, Commission on Aging, $16,565; $61,105.

• Rodger Haugen, jailer, County Jail, $21.060; $71,898.

• Jean Billings, deputy zoning administrator, Zoning Department, $20,238; $55,066.

• Keith Numrich, road foreman, Highway Department, $22,807; $54,826.

• Keith Kuckenbrod, supervisor, Courthouse Maintenance Department, $9,003; $74,796.

• Stephen Ray, general highway worker, Highway Department, $21,361; $51,482.

• David Buckton, correctional officer, County Jail, $19,396; $45,470.

• Renee Ryan, social worker, Department of Social Services, $3,246; $59,887.

• John Sprague, maintenance technician, Courthouse Maintenance Department, $18,137; $64,844.

• Sally Walker, economic specialist B, Department of Social Services, $6,372; $59,113.

• Marge Favorite, law enforcement clerk, Sheriff’s Department, $17,399; $61,078.

• John Tatro, custodian, Courthouse Maintenance Department, $16,182, $59,961.

The total combined 2013 projected salaries and benefits for the 15 employees who accepted the buyout would be $887,569. The total for 2014 would be $900,805.

“The committee intends to look at each position to decide if they should be refilled,” committee chairman and District 17 Supervisor Jim Behling said. “The positions that we decide to refill will first be posted internally to see if we can hire a qualified candidate from our current county employees. Then the committee will examine the future of the position that the employee may be leaving to move to the other position.”


Employee benefits changes

The committee forwarded a recommendation to the full county board that they approve a significant change in the leave benefit for county employees.

The proposal, if given final board approval, combines all the existing forms of leave for county employees, vacation, sick and personal days, into one leave account of paid time off (PTO).

The committee proposes the new leave system go into effect June 23, 2013.

The committee also agreed a new short- and long-term disability benefit go  into effect on the same day the new PTO system begins.

Under the new leave policy, county employees will:

• Earn PTO for every pay period based upon the number of hours the employee is regularly scheduled to work (excluding overtime or additional straight time).

• PTO will be added to the employee’s bank upon completion of each pay period.

• For purposes of calculating years of service, employees with a hire date before Oct. 1 shall use a starting date of Jan. 1 of the year of hire. Employees with a hiring date after Oct. 1 will use a starting date of Jan. 1 of the year after the date of hire.

In a fiscal note attached to the proposed resolution, County Finance Manager Jason Hilger said “implementation of the PTO will provide for more manageable and productive time for Vilas County.”

“Implementation of the PTO will provide a cost savings because proverbial PTO banks will be increased at the dollar value of the current rate of pay when time is awarded and will be decreased at the dollar value of rate of pay when the time is utilized,” Hilger said in the fiscal note. “In addition, there are forfeiture provisions and conversion rates in the policy which may provide cost savings to the county.”

Vilas County correctional officers, dispatchers, non-correctional staff and supervisory staff in the county jail and sheriff’s department sent a joint letter to the committee requesting they not approve the leave changes, but the committee gave its final stamp of approval to the changes.

“The plan will give an overall increase in benefits,” Behling said. “They will just be managed differently.


Closed session

The committee also went into closed session and took action on three employee-related items. 

The committee:

• Recommended ratification of the last Wisconsin Professional Police Association offer to the county board for a two-year agreement. The contract covers deputies and detectives in the sheriff’s department.

• Posted internally the zoning department deputy vacancy.

• Transfered Extension secretary to social services secretary at the current salary. The salary will be reviewed based upon evaluation of the employee in the new position after six months.

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

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