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Vilas County Board hears report

November 15, 2019 by Abigail Bostwick

In its last meeting of supervisors for 2019, the Vilas County Board heard reports of several ongoing county efforts Tuesday morning. 

For a number of years, the county Land Information Department has been working towards integrating tax, mapping and register of deeds public access websites to work together as one, relayed Barb Gibson, geographic information systems (GIS) coordinator and land information officer.

“It’s a statutory requirement to have public access through the internet,” Gibson explained to the full board. “It’s been 29 years we’ve been working on this.”

The department worked hard to keep the project off the tax levy, utilizing funding obtained from recording fees at the Register of Deeds office, Gibson said. Of that $30 fee, the state takes $7, the county general fund $15 and the remaining $8 goes to the land information department. That $8 portion is what was saved and used, Gibson indicated. The majority of the entire project further was funded by retained fees and grants through the Wisconsin Land Information Program. The only levy expense incurred by the county as to purchase Image Mover, a $3,000 program which allowed county employees to convert existing image files into the current file formation, Gibson said. 

“I’m so extremely proud of our employees for the work we’ve done with all these departments, to give the public an incredibly great product. I think the county is way ahead of others,” Gibson said. 

Compiled have been the county’s hardcopies of deed books, certified survey maps, miscellaneous books, grantor/grantee indexes, tract books, plats and all county records stored on Micro-fiche. Sensitive personal information had to be redacted from all documents, and cross-referencing had to be implemented for efficient use within the final website software program, land information officials noted. 

“We wanted to integrate them all so no matter where you start, you can get to them all,” Vilas County GIS analyst Adam Grassl said.

Now, the county offers an integrated map application, Integrated Land Records, which links to the register of deeds real estate records service, the tax data webpage as well as zoning and septic permits. Creating the map in-house saved Vilas county $2,400, Gibson said. 

“The integration resulted in a massive spike in credit card revenue in October 2019,” said Grassl of the recent changes. “We’re hoping that continues, and is indicative of how valuable this product is. The previous year was at $800.”

While land owners can view documents for free at the county office, a fee is imposed for those utilizing the online system, Grassl said. 

The final land record integration product offers “one-stop-shopping” for recorded document and land records users. It is utilized by county employees as well as its residents, visitors, real estate professionals, title searches, attorneys, assessors, surveyors and more, Gibson told the board. 

“It’s amazing, the information that is available,” county board chair Ron DeBruyne said. 

Vice chair Gerald Burkett noted that as a real estate professional, the product is vastly useful and a great asset to the county. 

“It’s not only fabulous, it’s the best you can find anywhere you go,” Burkett observed. “It’s the best program by far in the state. You should be commended.” 



Other news

In other business, the board:

• Heard a report from supervisor Marv Anderson concerning the EMS and Paramedic Ad Hoc Committee. That committee recently decided not to proceed with recommending advanced life services on the county level, Anderson indicated. 

“We’ve been working on this for some time,” Anderson said, adding the committee met with towns and municipalities within the county as well as individual EMS providers over the last several months. The ad hoc committee also examined call data, response time and locations. “We had not only thoughts, but data on where these thoughts are coming from.” 

About half indicated they would financially and departmentally supporting advanced life services with Vilas County, while about half would not, Anderson said. 

“We could not recommend that to the board,” Anderson concluded. 

Supervisor Erv Teichmiller said he expected the Board of Health to continue to periodically review the issue. 

• Unanimously supported creating a new, full-time position of maintenance technician. 

“The maintenance technician … was always a contracted employee,” DeBruyne said. “This year, the contracted costs were much greater than the cost to actually hire an employee to do this job.”

This will save at least $6,000 to $12,000 when hiring the job as a county employee, DeBruyne added. 

The job will be posted for hire effective after the first of the year. The person currently doing that job is expected to apply and be “… very high on consideration ….” county clerk Dave Alleman said. 

“I think this is a good way to move at this time,” supervisor Carolyn Ritter said. “It becomes fiscally responsible to do this (and it will) help the maintenance department.”

• Reviewed an approved reauthorizing the current school resource officer (SRO) deputy position. It is jointly funded between Vilas County and Northland Pines School District in Eagle River. 

The SRO is currently a staffed deputy with the sheriff’s department and provides additional school safety and security. The three-year salary is at $202,580, of which $37,366 comes from the county’s sheriff’s office budget. 

In the other parts of Vilas County, Lac du Flambeau has an officer perform security measures at their school while Phelps hopes to have some SRO presence in the future via a patrol deputy who will stop once a week. Arbor-Vitae Woodruff Public School nor North Lakeland wish to have an SRO, sheriff Joe Fath said. 

Some supervisors expressed an interest in seeing or hearing a report from the SRO position during the year. 

• Unanimously OKed creating a new position of financial specialist in the Aging and Disability Resource Center. 

“This is not another position, it’s eliminating an administrative position and putting a financial specialist in that place,” county ADRC director Sue Richmond said. “Since we became a standalone ADRC, the job duties have changed dramatically … it was time to redo that job description and upgrade it.”

The wage will increase .91 per hour.

• Approved the Land Information Department to apply for a 2020 Wisconsin Land Information Grant requesting more than $81,000 in funding for increasing map accuracy that will allow for more staff efficiency and modernized land information via the internet. Also approved was a grant support for Vilas County Conservation Department to apply for 2020 Healthy Lakes projects. There was no opposition on either matter. 

• OKed a town of Presque Isle zoning ordinance and the 2020 Vilas County library service agreement. 

The full board will not meet again until Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. 

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