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Board adopts one person/one job rule

Perhaps a man can't serve two masters, but can he serve two committees?

The answer, at least in St. Croix County government, is maybe.

The question of whether Casey Swetlik can serve as both director of the St. Croix County Emergency Communications Center and as the county's chief medical examiner still hasn't been answered clearly.

The County Board voted last week to amend its rules to say department heads shall have only one job with the county and report to only one supervising committee. Exceptions to the policy can be approved by the full board.

County Board Chairman Buck Malick said the rule isn't retroactive.

But earlier this year, apparently in response of complaints of possible conflicts with job duties and loyalties, Swetlik submitted his resignation as medical examiner. Since then he has asked to withdraw the resignation.

Public Protection Chairwoman Julie Speer said her committee, which supervises the medical examiner, never acted on the resignation.

Corporation Counsel Greg Timmerman said a committee doesn't have to accept a resignation to make it official. He said he expects the Public Protection Committee will bring a recommendation to the County Board next month.

Swetlik, who has been working as medical examiner part-time for two years, was hired in April as director of the Communications Center. Prior to that, he worked as the center's assistant director. His pay as communications director is $66,837 a year, and he is paid $900 a month to serve as medical examiner.

Swetlik has worked in the dispatch center since 1988 and became medical examiner while working as assistant communications director.

A $3.4 million gap

Administrative Coordinator Chuck Whiting reported last week that county departments' 2008 budget requests are in and there is a $3.4 million gap between initial budgets and the county's anticipated revenues.

Since the Legislature hasn't adopted a state budget, counties don't know what their tax levy limits will be or details of other funding, said Whiting.

But, he said, the county's health insurance costs will be a little less than this year.

Whiting said there's always a funding gap when budget requests are first received.

About half the difference is fairly easy to resolve, but the rest is more difficult, he said.

PTO rule changed

The board approved a change in paid time off (PTO) donation policy rules to allow county employees to give time to co-workers dealing with a "seriously incapacitating illness/injury" rather than "life-threatening health issues."

The policy, adopted last March, allows employees to donate accrued PTO to fellow workers who have used all their PTO due to their own or a family member's health problems.

The change adopted by the board last week must be approved by unions before their members can participate.

Fewer counties?

The board adopted, with no discussion, a resolution opposing Assembly Bill 438. The bill proposes establishing a task force to develop a plan to reduce the number of Wisconsin counties from 72 to 18 or fewer.

The resolution adopted by the County Board says "Wisconsin citizens would be better served by a discussion of local government issues in their entirety rather than the creation of a task force charged with attempting to implement a subjective reduction in the number of counties."

Planning grant

The board approved applying for a Wisconsin Department of Administration grant to update the county's comprehensive plan.

The Planning and Zoning Committee will work with the West Central Regional Planning Commission to prepare the application.

If the county receives the grant, it must make a local match of $75,000. Planning and Zoning Director David Fodroczi said his department will use existing staff and services to make the match, so there will be no extra cost to the county.

Hotel rates

Despite considerable opposition, the board voted to exceed the usual maximum and pay $99 a night for County Board members to stay at the Kalahari Resort while attending the Wisconsin Counties Association conference Oct. 7-9.

County Clerk Cindy Campbell said so far 10 supervisors are registered to attend the conference and seven or eight rooms are needed.

The board's usual maximum allowable lodging rate is $62 per night. County Board members could stay at the nearby Wintergreen Resort for that rate.

If board members want to stay at the Kalahari -- where the conference is being held -- for personal convenience, they should pay the extra themselves, said Supervisor Chuck Struemke.

Staying at the conference is beneficial for reasons such as networking, said Supervisor Ron Raymond.

"I intend to say at the cheaper one," said Supervisor Chuck Mehls. Sometimes there is no choice, but in this case Wintergreen is fairly close, he said.

The motion to exceed the hotel maximum allowance was adopted on a 15-13 vote.