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Wages increase for Sheriff’s Department

DARLINGTON – The wage increase approved by the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night, Dec. 10, will help the county retain officers for the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department.

The board approved an agreement with the Wisconsin Professional Police Association for a successor to the current collective bargaining agreement.

Human Resources committee chair Larry Ludlum stated the committee met on Dec. 6 and worked on the agreement for 2-3 hours with some very productive discussion.

“We came up with what I hope is a workable agreement,” Ludlum stated.

The agreement will begin Jan. 1, 2020 and end Dec. 31, 2022. Much of the agreement was changed to help it be consistent with what the county already has. It clarifies days allowed to take in the event of a family members death or that of a partner’s family member.

“We are not limiting them to those days,” Ludlum clarified. “They have personal days they can use. We are just trying to keep it consistent with other family policies in the county.”

It also states the county will no longer be paying a premium for life insurance, again trying to stay consistent with the rest of the county.

Ludlum then addressed wages. He said they found out that Lafayette County is very much behind on wages and the committee proposed a flat increase of $1/hour for 2020, then a 4% increase in 2021 and 2022.

“We understand the implications of this,” Ludlum explained. “We discussed this at great length. We feel that if we are going to be with our comparables, be competitive and maintain our staff, this is something we feel we have to do.”

Ludlum made the motion to accept the agreement with Scott Pedley seconding.

Tony Ruesga commented that the committee worked really, really hard and thoroughly thought it through.

“This is something that is near and dear to my heart. Public safety is by far the most important thing this county has and it should be maintained,” Ruesga said.

He continued that in order to retain officers, the county would need to increase the pay.

Ruesga said that whenever someone leaves, it costs the county thousands of dollars.

“I can’t stress this enough: it is not only the right thing to do but the responsible thing to do. It is very important we take care of that branch of government,” Ruesga finished.

Finance Director Lindsey Van Matre addressed questions pertaining the raise. She stated this was not on top of the 2% raise the county receives. That raise is for non-represented employees and the sheriff’s department is represented.

She said the fiscal impact of the $1/hour increase would increase the sheriff’s department’s 2020 budget by $30,731. In 2021, the impact would be $69,000, so the 2021 budget would increase by approximately $99,800. Depending on where the sheriff’s department ends at the end of the 2020 fiscal year, the $30,000 could come from the General Fund.

Chairman Jack Sauer stated he was prepared to come to the board that night and argue against the 4%. He though it was difficult to give them that increase when the rest of the county only get 2%.

“The fact of the matter is we are low on this. I trust the committee on this. I’m not going to fight it,” Sauer stated.

Supervisor Scott Pedley stated that even with the increase, the county is still $2-3 behind competitors. It is a significant step toward aligning the county’s hourly compensation with them.

“We have fallen behind. It is not unusual that we are behind because of our financial limitations. There are intangible benefits that reinforce the need for our focus to be on retention of professional staff in our sheriff’s office. This makes the retention rate better. We are making a good wise decision for these professionals,” Pedley said.

The agreement passed unanimously.

Other Business

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors also approved:

-purchasing two quad-axle trucks with an estimated cost of each truck of $148,000 for a combined total of $296,000. It will not be included in the 2019 or 2020 budget but will be funded with approximately $110,000 of Highway Department cash on hand. It was discussed to go with three trucks but by the time the decision was made, one of the truck s had already been sold.

Sauer asked if the $148,000 was the trade in price.

Highway Commissioner Tom Jean stated it was and they were buying them from Truck Country in Shullsburg. Lakeside International from Monroe had trucks that were $17,000 more in price.

-appointing Tim McGettigan to the Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission for a three year term.

-the election of Tom Jean as Highway Commissioner.

-the Lafayette County Wind Energy System Siting Ordiance

-the Lafayette County Broadband Ordinance.

-Resolution 56-10: approving the construction and borrowing of funds for the MHLC Primary Care Clinic in Argyle, which according to Resolution 60-19 (which was also approved), will not exceed $1,300,000 and is included in the 2020 budget.

-Resolution 57-19: authorizing borrowing a sum not to exceed $258,000 in the 2019 budget for the Manor, maintenance work and I.T. projects.

-Resolution 58-19: authorizing borrowing a sum not to exceed $400,000 in the 2019 budget for Highway Department capital assets.

-Resolution 59-19: exceeding the Lafayette Manor 2019 budget by $40,700 for the replacement of the generator.