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Vilas County hears department reports

January 24, 2020 by Kayla Houp

The Vilas County board’s public property committee heard several reports on Jan. 14, from information technology director Mike Duening including digital video retention and the county’s website. 


Digital records retention

In his first report to the committee, Duening explained the county’s current digital records retention and the potential cost savings in reducing digital records retention for non-law enforcement records.

“We have a bit of an issue as far as cost and how much it costs to maintain the required amount of video,” Duening explained.

Vilas County retains two different types of videos, the first being law enforcement related video and the second being non-law enforcement related.

Law enforcement related video is stored for 121 days.

“When this building was built, we added roughly 60 to 70 cameras in this building and in the existing courthouse building,” he said.

According to Duening, it was currently corporation counsel’s opinion that the county needed to retain non-law enforcement video for the same amount of time as law-enforcement related video.

“If that’s the case, that’s fine,” Duening said. “It’s more that I wanted to make the public property committee aware that there was a large cost to that length of storage.”

According to Duening, most places did not store non-law enforcement related video for 121, with most storing theirs for anywhere between 30 and 90 days.

“My personal position, and I’m not a lawyer by any means, is that we’re going to know before 121 days the incidents that we probably need to save,” Duening said.

The cost to store non-law enforcement video over five years was approximately $180,000, Duening said.

Website policy

Duening presented a draft version of the county’s revamped website. 

While the drafted website received praise for its layout and accessibility, the county’s website policy was brought into the discussion.

Duening said an email was received from committee member Holly Tomlanovich that conveyed a request from the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation director that the county put a link to the VCEDC website on its website.

While Duening said adding the link was a good idea, it brought the website policy to his attention.

“We need to address that. I need to redo that policy and get it back in front of you guys,” Duening said.

Right now, Duening said the county was not following its website policy and hasn’t been for “quite some time.”

According to Duening, the policy stated a change to the county’s website had to go to the public property committee for approval.

“The worry is always that you’re going to have a rogue person who has the ability to change the website and put nasty things on there, but there’s so many checks and balances in place that, even if that did happen, other people would be able to quickly undo that,” Duening said.

Committee vice chair Steve Doyen asked if the policy could be brought to the committee at its next meeting to be dismissed.

“The best thing to is to keep the policy enforced because there are provisions in it that still pertain. We’re all aware that certain portions of the policy are being routinely violated because they have to be,” county clerk Dave Alleman said, adding that the “best way” to handle it was to bring revisions to the policy to the committee for review.

“In other words, everybody’s alright with continuing the way you’re going with no regard to the policy?” Doyen asked.

“I think that where there is a violation, there’s a reason for it,” committee member Carolyn Ritter said. “We know that it needs to be re-written.”

Duening agreed to email the existing policy to the committee and work on a draft policy for the March meeting.

Maintenance report

While buildings and grounds maintenance leader Russ Szuta was absent from the meeting, Duening provided some information on his behalf.

“We’ve been running into situations where there’s been a lot of reorganization of office spaces,” Duening said.

Doyen asked how the moves were taking place without the knowledge of the committee.

Alleman explained the moves were taking place within departments, space that was already approved and assigned by the public property committee.

Doyen branched off, asking a question regarding the maintenance budget and what the process would be should an issue come up that wasn’t addressed in the budgeting process.

“The process is that a committee could take action to approve a repair contingent upon finance, and finance has to adjudicate whether they will expend money from contingency or not,” committee chair Ron DeBruyne said.

“We don’t have any media here ... I don’t want to say I’m walking a fine line, but I don’t know,” Doyen said.

Doyen was then informed by DeBruyne that a reporter with The Lakeland Times was in attendance.

DeBruyne said concerns could be brought to the appropriate committee’s attention before being forward to the finance department. 

Other items

• Approved a motion granting a request from the Vilas County Sheriff’s Office for office space at the Arbor Vitae highway shop on U.S. Highway 70.

The request came after Probation and Parole approached the sheriff’s office with a need for office space between Lac du Flambeau and Eagle River to expand areas where they can meet with clients.

• Heard a report from Duening regarding the disaster recovery project.

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

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