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Vilas County considers administrative assistant reclassifications

June 30, 2020 by Kayla Houp

The Vilas County board’s law enforcement and emergency management committee heard a request from Vilas County Sheriff’s Office regarding the reclassification of two administrative assistant positions with the sheriff’s office.

“We’ve been working with the administrative staff for the last year, looking at where we compare both internally and externally,” chief deputy Pat Schmidt said. “What we have found is that our administrator II, internally, compare with legal secretaries in the DA’s office.”

Schmidt said it was important to understand the responsibilities of the administrative assistant II position as the “funnel” to the DA’s office and the court system.

“They take all of the reports, they take all of the body cam(era)s, they’re going through all the body cams, all legal requirements to get that case to the DA’s office in order to do the charges,” Schmidt said. “So, they have to have the legal expertise, the legal experience, all the different things that are needed to make sure that all that information is getting there.”

Schmidt said not comparing the administrative assistant II position to legal secretaries was a “slap in the face.”

“Because that’s exactly what they’re doing,” he said. “They’re doing a lot more work these days, with all the additions of the body cams, the footage, all that stuff.”

He added the administrative assistant III was also seeking reclassification.

“One of the big things that’s never been addressed is the system administrator for Spillman,” Schmidt said. “Spillman is our records management system.”

Schmidt said the system was extremely in-depth and many agencies had their own system administrator for the system.

He stated their current system administrator had been doing so for approximately 24 years.

“Quite frankly, what she’s doing right now, all she’s doing is voluntarily,” Schmidt said. “She is not compensated at all and it is not a job description.”

Committee chair Jerry Burkett halted the conversation, stating that as Schmidt had given the employee’s name.

“This is not a rebuke,” Burkett said. “This is for privacy.” 

‘Leaders in training’

Schmidt addressed ongoing national events during the committee’s letters and communication section on the agenda.

“You guys as county board supervisors, and you are the contacts for the law enforcement committee that represents the sheriff’s office, I want to make sure that you understand one of the most important things I got out of the national academy was understanding the quality of officers we have, not only in Wisconsin, but in Vilas County,” Schmidt said.

He stated “all the police reform” being discussed nationally was already being done in Wisconsin.

“We’re far ahead,” Schmidt said. “We have that done. Wisconsin is usually looked at as the leader in training for the nation.”

Schmidt urged the board members on the committee to let people know Wisconsin, and Vilas County, was “the best of the best.”

Schmidt added he had been able to see and hear of the problems other departments had.

“It’s a good feeling knowing that you’re doing things right, that you’re doing things that you’re supposed to be doing,” he said.

Boat patrol

The committee also heard correspondence from the Town of St. Germain regarding boat patrol presence on St. Germain lakes during its letters and communication agenda item.

According to an email from town supervisor Ted Ritter, Big and Little St. Germain Lake districts had expressed interest and the town was willing to contract with the sheriff’s office using funding provided by participating lake organizations pending approval by electors of those lake districts.

Ted Ritter’s request was for an “average of 20 hours” per week on both Big and Little St. Germain lake for a total of “480 hours over 12 weeks.”

“The cost of that per hour would determine if house could be increased or would need to be decreased,” Ted Ritter’s email read.

“In St. Germain, do they have the wherewithal that if they hire a constable, they’d have their own boat patrol?” Burkett asked.

“What St. Germain is asking for and what the state DNR reimburses are two different things,” captain Gerard Ritter said.

Gerard Ritter stated the sheriff’s office wouldn’t meet the obligation sought after by St. Germain, and that if St. Germain wanted to hire their own person, that individual would have to be certifiable in order to get reimbursed through the state.

“There’s 1,300 lakes in this county,” Burkett said. “I understand that we want to uphold all laws, but this could become a very, very, very huge taxation burden, even if they are reimbursing.”

Burkett said while the county could provide guidance and he understood Ted Ritter’s concern, he didn’t know “how much more” the county could do.

“We barely got the school liaison officer through, we won by one vote, so I don’t know how we’re going this through,” Burkett said, adding all of the county board members had lakes they knew needed attention. “We all have that.” 

Kayla Houp may be reached via email at [email protected]

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