Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.
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During its Feb. 2 meeting, the St. Croix County Board finalized union contracts that will give sheriff’s deputies, jailers, investigators and sergeants 2 percent pay increases. The three-year contract gives annual 2 percent, across-the-board increases to 46 primary services officers and 27 corrections officers in the Sheriff’s Department. The extra cost to the county for 2016 is estimated at $110,000 with similar incremental impacts in 2017 and 2018. The pay scale has starting salaries, increases after six months and then raises at each year to year six.
Three St. Croix County elected positions -- the county clerk, treasurer and register of deeds -- will pay 9.6 percent more when the new officers take office after the fall election. Last week the County Board approved the raises for 2017, followed by 2 percent increases the next three years of the positions’ terms. The salaries for county clerk, treasurer and register of deeds will be $69,749 in 2017; $71,144 in 2018; $72,567 in 2019; and $74,018 in 2020. Those figure to a 9.6 percent increase for 2017 and two percent increases the next three years.
In a primary election set for Tuesday, Feb. 16, voters across the state will be asked to cut the number of candidates for an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court from three to two. The three candidates are Rebecca Bradley, a former Court of Appeals judge who was appointed to the Supreme Court last fall; appeals court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg; and Milwaukee County Judge Joe Donald. The general election will be held Tuesday, April 5, at the same time as the presidential preference primary.
In a primary election set for Tuesday, Feb. 16, voters across the state will be asked to cut the number of candidates for an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court from three to two. The three candidates are Rebecca Bradley, a former Court of Appeals judge who was appointed to the Supreme Court last fall; Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg; and Milwaukee County Judge Joe Donald. The Spring General Election will be held Tuesday, April 5, at the same time as the Presidential Preference Primary.
State Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) claims a proposed change in state law relating to the use of small all-terrain vehicles and utility terrain vehicles by children responds to consumer demand and encourages family enjoyment of trail rides. But the president of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics argues that adoption of Senate Bill 381 and Assembly Bill 504 would be a step backward in protecting children from injury and death.
The St. Croix County Board agreed Tuesday to take the best of seven bids, voting to borrow the second $10 million for the Health Center project. Supervisors also formalized a State Trust Fund loan that allows the county to access another $5 million for other projects -- although there was agreement that only $3.7 million would be borrowed from that fund. The Health Center bond rate will vary from year to year, but the county will pay Stifel, Nicolaus & Company Inc. a true interest rate of 2.3114 percent for a cost of $3.136 million over the 20-year term.
Last week St. Croix County’s Administration Committee voted to recommend 9.6 percent pay increases for three elected officials, followed by two percent raises the next three years of their terms. The committee also endorsed a negotiated agreement that will give St. Croix County law enforcement officers two percent increases this year, in 2017 and in 2018. Both proposals will go to the County Board for a vote Feb. 2.
St. Croix County will spend about $350,000 to build a backup system to prevent a repeat of an incident that interrupted electrical service to the county’s 911 center, jail and Government Center. The transformer, which feeds the entire building, failed several months ago because it was not properly grounded when the Government Center was built, said Facilities Director Jim Elsbury, reporting to the Administration Committee Jan. 20.
During their January meeting, St. Croix supervisors began to address a question that has dogged them for months: Does the county need $16.7 million of unspent, unassigned money at the end of a year? $15.7 million? $12.7 million? Some argued that having a $16.7 million balance, 49.6 percent of the year’s expenditures, at the end of 2014 was unfair to taxpayers. Others countered that that was a snapshot taken out of context and the county has to be prepared for the unexpected.
A glitch in the process means Howard Novotny, who was elected in 2014, won’t have his name on the ballot for the District 4 seat on the St. Croix County Board. The only formal candidate for that position will be Tom Coulter. But Novotny said Monday that he will register as a write-in candidate. “The circumstances were quite unfortunate, but it is what it is,” he said in response to an email. “I have every intention of running for reelection as a write-in candidate and to continue adding my part to the momentum established by the 2014-2015 County Board.