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Politics & Government

Vilas County Board withdraws $1 million from general fund to recruit & hire county employees

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A special meeting of the Vilas County board of supervisors approved unanimously on a roll call vote to withdraw $1 million from the $10 million uncommitted general fund for the purpose of recruiting, hiring, and retaining county employees.

Board chairman Jerry Burkett indicated there was “a crisis” in at least two county departments, jail and social services, that are losing staff for higher wages in other counties.

“This is just a start,” Burkett stated.

He said if he had his way he’d ask for another million to finance wages of existing employees. He saw the implication of state-imposed levy limits placing a burden on the counties ability to offer competitive wages.

“I want levy limits to be relaxed, not removed,” said Burkett.

Supervisor Walt Maciag favored the action.

“I’m in complete support to get dollars to give to people who are underpaid,” Maciag said. “My only concern is question of the process, who will be in charge of increases and what those increases should be. What other employees will get wage adjustments other than the jail and social services?”

Burkett said to address these two first.

“Let’s get this done in two weeks, let’s get it right, we’ll have joint meetings with human resources and finance committees, and keep it professional,” he said.

Finance manager Darcy Smith acknowledged the general fund will again be needed for the 2023 budget.

“We are using our savings account now and will need another $1.5 million for next year’s budget,” Smith said. “The county sales tax has been very beneficial to us.”

Supervisor Marvin Anderson indicated social services department has two parts, adjustment of nine current employees with a one-time cost of $75,000 and three additional employees with an on-going cost of at least $150,000.

“Kate Gardner looked at 12 area counties and all are above our pay grade and they are recruiting our people,” said Anderson.

The board approved 17-0 using $1 million for keeping and attracting employees in the jail and social services on a roll call vote.

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