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Committee approves Drug Court, changes Manor finance position

Nicola Maurer, Finance Dept. head ousted from finance manager position at Manor

POSTED February 2, 2017 10:07 a.m.

At a meeting that went over it’s allotted limit and covered several high profile issues, the Lafayette County Finance Committee got underway on Mon., Jan. 20, 2017 at 8:30 a,m, with Wayne Wilson, chairman calling the meeting to order.
    The first item on the agenda dealt with creating and establishing a “Drug Court” and “OWI Court” in Lafayette County. Duane Jorgenson, Lafayette County Judge, presented a plan that himself, District Attorney Jenna Gill and Sheriff Reg Gill are all on board with. Jorgenson pointed out that our neighboring counties are in different stages of doing this same thing.
    Instead of the current way the court handles drug and alcohol cases, incarceration, a Drug or OWI Court would treat the cases as an addiction and treat the underlying cause by placing the offender in a twelve week program. The treatment includes: assessments – 20 hours per year; Outpatient Group – 6 hours per week; Aftercare group – 3 hours per week; Thinking for Change Group – 3 hours per week; Individual sessions – 1 hour session, approximately 5 hours per week.
    The program looks to begin in Jan. 2018, and Jorgenson wants to see it included in the 2018 budget. Green County recently received a grant for $134,000 per year, with a 25% match (or $59,000 per year). The exact numbers for Lafayette County are not known yet. Jorgenson is looking at a State grant an/or a Federal grant.
    If the program works, the implication is that the county save money versus the current way the system works. Law enforcement, district attorney and court time and resources would theoretically be reduced, thus it would save the county money and free up time to work on other cases.
    Attic Correctional Services, Inc. would implement the program, Attic is a private corporation and was present to speak to the committee. The representatives spoke of success rates in other counties and how the program worked.
    Troy Loeffelholz Chief Deputy of the Sheriff’s Department, said, “We are onboard with this. It will be very beneficial to the county. This will be a program that has some bite to it. There are consequences and programs that will have to be followed.”
    Jorgenson said, “There will be judicial oversight, that is part of the deal. They will have to come and see me on a weekly basis. The evidence shows that is a critical element.”
     A Attic Correctional representative pointed out drug court is working with the offender, helping out with job training skills, housing, mental health, etc., it treats the entire person as opposed to just the addiction.
    A motion was made to move forward with the concept of Drug Court and OWI Court and the county will support the grant and the 25% matching funds. The motion was approved unanimously.
    Nicola Maurer, Finance Department head, explained the allocation of the remaining $2.4 million promissory note for highway work on County K and Communications tower building. The note was taken out in Dec. 2015 and was to cover County K purchase and remodel – $1,105,660 (excluding highway dept. charges $23,383), communications tower, Spillman project - $197,036, highway equipment - $400,000 and a built-in contingency. A question of what to do with charges from the Highway Dept. is pending.
    Two motions were made – First, the Finance Committee recommends the Highway Dept. cover $997 of the amount. Second - to utilize $22,622 contingency of the $2.4 million note to cover charges associated with the construction of the Highway Dept. Communication Tower preparation. Both motions approved.
Changes made - Manor Financial Manager
    The next item (Definition in duties of personnel in Finance Dept.) came up at the previous Finance Committee meeting.
    For background here are minutes from the Jan. 16, 2017 meeting: Lafayette County Clerk, Carla Jacobson, had previously informed Chairman Sauer that there was no reconciliation of health insurance done in all of 2016 by the Finance Department.  Chairman Sauer said he was informed by the County Clerk, of a few incidents where the County paid health insurance premiums in 2016 when they should not have. One employee retired last February from the County; the county paid premiums from March through December because the County Clerk’s Office did not receive the proper paperwork (payroll change notice) from the Finance Department informing the County Clerk’s Office of the employee’s retirement.  Due to the Finance Department not reconciling the health insurance in all of 2016, this was never caught.  Also, we had an employee who opted out of the health insurance in 2016.  The County Clerk’s Office terminated the health insurance online with a termination date of December 31, 2015, but ETF failed to remove the employee from the health insurance invoice so again the county paid the premium for all of 2016 because the invoice was not reconciled by the Department of Employee Trust Funds Group Health Insurance Program (ETF) is giving us credit for 6 months for that employee or $9,382.20.  The Finance Director told the committee that she did not have time to reconcile the health insurance and that the Payroll Manager also did not have time to do it.  The Finance Director told the committee it was her fault that no reconciling was done all of last year for 2016. Between the two employees, the county has paid approximately $16,000.00 in additional health insurance costs due to the invoice not being reconciled by the Finance Department
    Back to this meeting: Maurer listed the multitude of benefits and different combinations and the current steps needed to audit the health insurance system. She suggested that the Finance Dept. be responsible for the entire system and not involve, County Clerk, Human Resources, ETF, because communication between departments is difficult and not efficient. County Board chair Jack Sauer said, “ I think we’re melding too many things together here. At our last meeting we wanted to decide who was taking care of and making sure people weren’t getting benefits paid into the ETF that didn’t work for us anymore. It seemed to be working years before this, it didn’t work this year. We ended up with three – two families and a single. We didn’t make a motion of what department was in charge of making sure that we don’t have people getting insurance that aren’t working here.” A motion was made to have the Finance Department reconcile the health insurance. Motion passed.
    Discussion and suggestion were being discussed regarding refilling Account Assistant position in Finance Department. County Board member and committee member David Hammer made a motion. “In light of the recent happenings in the finance office, which have cost the county $20,000. I move that we fill the county finance position half time and have the new person take over the finance position half-time at the Manor. And have the Finance Department Head pay more attention to detail in the Finance office. The new position will pay up to $50,000 and cross training (for payroll) will be accomplished.” A second by County Board and committee member, Larry Ludlum who said, “As chairman of the manor, several months ago we thought the Finance Director could handle the duties at the Manor. Since then we’ve heard nothing from our Finance Director, except she needs more help and she doesn’t have enough time. Therefore I will second this motion to take away the Manor duties from the Finance Director.”
    Wilson, allowed Maurer to speak. Maurer said, “Like I said before I take responsibility for the fact that the health insurance was not reconciled in 2016. We had a new employee who was part-time hospital and part-time finance office and running all those new responsibilities did not give time for that health insurance reconciliation. However, that means it falls on me. In 2016 we had transition in hospital finance manager position as well as Human Services finance manager, I provided a great deal of support for both departments. I also provided a lot of support to this committee as we navigated through Home Care issues over the couple of years. I provided oversight for the hospital. In 2014 there was $20,00 in overage audit charges, because of lack of preparation. Those charges would have been higher had I not stepped in at that time. We did not have those charges in 2015 and 2016, because I was overseeing the audit preparation at the hospital. That would have been $20,000 in 2015 and $20,000 in 2016, in my opinion. I understand there was an error and I take responsibility for that. However, I do not support this motion.
    Wilson called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed 4-1, with Ted Wiegel voting no. This will not need to be approved by county board. Maurer asked, “So you are saying I am no longer the finance director at the Manor.” Sauer answered, “You are until they hire someone with the qualifications.”
    Gerald Heiman asked the chairman, “I would like all applications for this positions to be directed to HR and the Finance Committee review all the applications and be part of the hiring process, and I will make that a motion.” Motion passed.
    Maurer asked that the County Clerk read back the original motion. Carla Jacobson complied.
    A voucher/invoice approval policy for inter-department charges. A motion was made to accept the recommendation that the Audit Committee does not need to approve the Inter Department Charges Form (IDCF) charges, with the same time period as the system checks. Approved.
    The policy for payroll records was discussed. The policy is as follows: Additions of employees to the payroll records are initiated by the submission of a new employee form. This form must include the authorized signature of the new employee supervisor or department head and must be authorized by the Lafayette County HR Department by reference to the appropriate County Board action. Changes in classification, status and any other changes that affect an employees pay rate or benefits, must be authorized by the Lafayette County HR Department by reference to the appropriate County Board action. Name, address, account number changes, family status information must be authorized by a department head. Changes in payroll records must be reported to the finance department using the payroll change notice. This form must be filled out completely and must contain the authorized signature of an employee supervisor or department head. In the case of an across the board increase for a department one form may be use. The new employee forms must be submitted to the HR Department no later that three days prior the effective date of the change. This policy was approved.

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