Office of County Administrator
Memo To: La Crosse County Board of Supervisors
From: Steve O’Malley, County Administrator
Date: August 4 , 2009
Re: August Monthly Report to the County Board
Attached is the August Monthly Report to the County Board, providing monitoring information about department activities to the full County Board instead of reporting only to governing committees.
REMINDER Monthly Reporting by roughly half the organization every other month. While you will receive this report each month, the reports do not cover every department each time.
August Settlement of Property Taxes, Special Assessments and Charges
According to State law, the County Treasurer must pay all delinquent property taxes to the Municipal Treasurers by August 20th of each year. It is within the discretion of the County Board to decide whether to authorize the payment of all delinquent special assessments and charges (about ½ the Counties in the State do not). This discretion does not permit the County to decide to pay these charges to some municipalities and not others. The recent vacant lot study brought to light the development in Rockland that includes streets and utilities for 60 lots (to be repaid via Special Assessments). The taxes and special assessments are currently delinquent and would require a payment of $107,000 unless County policy is changed. At the August 10, 2009 County Board Planning meeting, County staff will present a resolution to rescind the authorization for the County Treasurer to pay all unpaid special assessments. County staff and the County Board Chair have been in communication with all Municipal Treasurers on this issue and will present additional information at the meeting.
2010 Budget Priorities & Issues
Also at the August 10, 2009 County Board Planning meeting, the County Administrator will provide an overview of the significant Budget issues that will be considered for 2010, organized by Department and Committee.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me by phone or e-mail as soon as possible.
County Administrator direct line: 785-9789, cell phone 608-385-3316
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Planning, Resources & Development Committee
Metropolitan Planning Organization
As of my April report, I reported about $3,465,000 of stimulus funding that had been allocated to the La Crosse Area for transportation projects. I’m happy to report that we were able to secure another $530,000 in funding for the Mormon Coulee Road Path Improvement Project in the City of La Crosse. This project will help improve the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians traveling through the USH 14/61 / STH 35 intersection on the south side of La Crosse who are traveling to Southern Bluffs Elementary School, Goose Island and beyond. (And let me say that although I am proud of the work done by myself and my office in securing stimulus dollars, this has definitely been a team effort, with much time and good work devoted by cooperating municipal staff in the greater 2 state area.)
On Tuesday, July 14, I received a call from the US DOT Deputy Assistant Secretary for Governmental Affairs, Joanna Turner. Ms. Turner had reviewed the LAPC website while organizing a trip to La Crosse County by Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and was impressed with the cooperative work being done by the municipalities in this area. She asked me to set up a private meeting with the Secretary and local elected officials and staff. We met with Secretary LaHood, the three area mayors, Representative Shilling and Senator Kapanke and had a great discussion about area transportation issues and opportunities. I stressed the importance of a future high speed rail station in La Crosse, expanding the capacity of the locks on the Upper Mississippi, the importance of expanding transportation services to the rural elderly and disabled population and other things generally.
La Crosse County UW-Extension
Register of Deeds
June 10-12, Donna Hanson & I co-hosted the WACO conference at the Radisson here in La Crosse County. We had about 120 treasurers and registrars attend the 3 day conference. Thursday was our vendor day and we attracted18 different vendors showing their newest products. There was a lot of good feed back and many compliments on the conference and the city. At the conference we sold tickets on some of the donated prizes, then donated all of the proceeds ($478.00) from that raffle to a food pantry in both La Crosse & Vernon Counties. The conference was a lot of work, but it went smoothly and everyone had a good time. The treasurers & registrars really liked the parks, walking trail, shopping, restaurants and general atmosphere of La Crosse County!
One new change for the ROD office is, as of July 1st we no longer accept the green paper transfer returns. All transfer returns need to be the e-returns done on the State Dept of Revenue website. DOR will, in hardship cases, issue a waiver & then an individual can still use the green paper return. However, no waivers will be issued to attorneys, title companies, realtors or other professionals & the party must prove the hardship.
The other change which will begin Aug. 3rd is that this office will be filing the certificates & terminations of domestic partnerships. We are to treat them like a vital record, keeping a separate index & separate binder for these just like a marriage record. We will upon request (for those that have a right to the record) issue certified copies on security paper just like we do for marriage records. The cost for the certified copy will be the same as other vital records in the state, $20.00 for the first copy & $3.00 for each additional copy they get at that same time. We are scrambling to get a new index, binder & application for these & to set up a new line item in our computer system for accounting purposes for these domestic partnerships. However, a lawsuit has been filed with the Wisconsin Supreme court trying to invalidate the new law.
Currently I am the chairperson for my district in the WRDA, which is district 5. We (district 5) are the co-hosts of the WRDA Fall Conference in Eau Claire, Oct. 7-9, 2009. I have been involved with all of the planning for this conference as well as paying bills & wrapping up loose ends from the WACO conference in June. The 3 day conference in Oct. will have an education day, meetings, speakers, vendor show, banquet & auction. We are also having a food drive to benefit the Eau Claire food pantry. When 2009 is over I am going to be a very efficient conference planner!
Zoning, Planning and Land Information Department
Working Lands Initiative was approved as part of the 2010 – 2011 biennial state budget. A number of issues, including updating the county Farmland Preservation Plan and Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements will be discussed in the near future with the PR&D Committee. Staff continues to draft language for the update of the county Zoning Ordinance. We have now met three times with the La Crosse County Unit of the Towns Association to discuss these updates and gather their input. Our schedule continues to be looking towards an update completed in December of ’09.
Zoning permits issued through July 31, 2009:
Permits through 7/2009 222 permits with a value of $ 12,281,193
Same period in 2008 243 permits with a value of $ 17,661,048
This is a -8.6% change in number of permits issued, with a _-30.5_% change in value of permits issued.
Our primary focus in recent weeks has been reestablishing monumentation at the few remaining Section and Quarter corner locations in the Town of Washington as well as calculating accurate State Plane coordinate values on many of the established corners in the township. Those coordinate values are then provided to the Land Information Office for the Geographic Information System (GIS) and mapping program. This project also allows us to visit and, if necessary, perform maintenance on many of our existing Section and Quarter corner monuments. In rare cases, the monuments at these corners are in need of attention. In many cases, the corners are in need of one or more new ties. When needed, warning signs are also set at the corners. All of this work is in keeping with our departmental goal of maintaining a minimum of 5% of our Section and Quarter corner locations per year. The tie sheets for these corners will be updated at as time allows.
Projects for other Departments:
We have completed the field work and calculations for a Plat of Survey map establishing a sewer line easement for the Village of West Salem through Veterans Park as requested by the Facilities Department. We assisted the Land Conservation Department by providing the field work and calculations for a Plat of Survey map to revise an access easement for a dam in the Town of Washington. We worked with the Land Records Department and Corporation Council by drafting a revised legal description to correct an error in an existing deed for County Trunk Highway “T” in the Town of Farmington. We also assisted the Zoning department in various ways in recent weeks including a site visit of an encroachment onto County Lands near Lake Neshonoc.
To take advantage of weather more conducive to outdoor work, the County Surveyor records scanning project has been placed on hiatus. The project will again become a priority during the fall/winter months, when the weather is less favorable for field work.
We continue to review Certified Survey Maps of land divisions of 5 acres or less in the unincorporated areas of the County as required by the County Code. For 2009, we have reviewed 30 maps in this category. We do review all Certified Survey Maps brought in for recording, including those in incorporated areas. We also continue the intake, indexing and filing of all other survey maps that are brought in by land surveyors for filing. We also continue to maintain and update the County Surveyor files as needed.
As always we stand ready to assist the public and other County Departments with the many varied and challenging survey and land ownership questions which come to the County Surveyor Department. These questions come in via e-mail, telephone and face-to-face visits. One of the more interesting issues recently pertains to a proposed “green” cemetery for the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Inc. in Middle Ridge.
Bryan H. Meyer
La Crosse County Surveyor
Department of Land Conservation
The La Crosse County Department of Land Conservation develops strategies, implements programs and provides technical assistance to protect and enhance the soil and water resources of the county.
The 2009 construction season for conservation practice installation is in full swing. The La Crosse County Department of Land Conservation has several large projects scheduled for installation this summer. One project recently completed is the Travis Kramer Farm in the Burr Oak Watershed. This project included the installation of a barnyard runoff control system which reduces the amount of manure runoff leaving the barnyard and entering Burr Oak Creek; a roof runoff control system to collect clean rain water from building rooftops and out-letting it away from the barnyard; a grassed waterway to repair erosion caused by an active gully; a cattle/machinery crossing to protect the grass waterway from animal and equipment traffic and a grade stabilization structure to prevent erosion at the outlet of the grassed waterway. These practices will reduce the amount of agriculture related pollutants that enter Burr Oak Creek and degrade its water quality. The goal of this project will be to lower the total phosphorus levels in Burr Oak Creek. Phosphorus is a nutrient that can cause harmful algal blooms and fish kills when it is present in lakes and streams at levels higher than which occurs naturally. Most sources of phosphorus pollution in Wisconsin water bodies are agriculture related. Manure runoff from animal feedlots and barnyards, as well as sediment from cropland erosion are the prime sources.
The Department of Land Conservation is nearly finished with the Storm Water Pollution Loading Analysis that is required by the DNR to satisfy the County’s Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) Storm Water Permit. Because La Crosse County is classified as an “urbanized area” by definition established by the Environmental Protection Agency, La Crosse County must evaluate its storm water runoff conditions and comply with mandatory pollution reduction requirements. The Department of Land Conservation hired a consultant to run a computer program that models the amount of pollution that is carried by storm water runoff from County owned facilities including the Highway Shops at Midway and West Salem, Hillview Campus and those stretches of County highway within the designated urbanized area. Final reports indicate that the County has met its pollution reduction goal of 40% of Total Suspended Solids (TSS) well before the 2013 deadline.
Public Works & Infrastructure
Henry A. Koch, PE
Judiciary & Law
9-1-1 Calls 2,467 (average of 82 per day)
Answered within 10 seconds: 95.3%
Answered within 20 seconds: 99.4%
Answered within 40 seconds: 99.8%
· 3 calls more than 40 seconds
Total Calls 26,856 (average of 895 per day)
Calls for Service
Law Enforcement 10,056
Fire Fighting 184
Emergency Medical 524
9-1-1 Calls 2,430 (average of 81 per day)
Answered within 10 seconds: 95.5%
Answered within 20 seconds: 99.6%
Answered within 40 seconds: 99.9%
· 2 calls more than 40 seconds
Total Calls 26,852 (average of 895 per day)
Calls for Service
Law Enforcement 9,642
Fire Fighting 183
Emergency Medical 511
National Emergency Number Association Standards:
o 90% (during the busy hour) within 10 seconds
o 95% within 20 seconds.
In the first six months of 2009, 9-1-1 calls are down 3 % compared to 2008. A big reason for that drop was that February 2008 was very active while February 2009 was more in line with a typical February. The Communications Center has seen an improvement in its 9-1-1 answering times, partially due to this decrease in 9-1-1 calls. In 2008, 9-1-1 calls were answered within 10 seconds 93.2 % of the time. So far this year, 94.8% of 9-1-1 calls are answered within the 10 seconds.
Non-emergency calls in 2009 are 4% lower than the first six months of 2008. Despite the drop in telephone calls, law enforcement calls for service have increased 3% and emergency medical calls have increased 5%. Fire calls for service are down 7% county-wide, although there has been a 10% increase in the City of La Crosse.
Public Safety Communications has added two telecommunicators. Erin Bunke is originally from La Crescent. She has experience as a law enforcement officer and a telecommunicator with the Gilbert (Arizona) Police Department, before returning to this area. Dustin Wood is switching careers. For the past two years he has been working as a special waste technician with the La Crosse County Household Hazardous Material facility. PSC now has all staff positions filled; however will operate with two positions short while Erin and Dustin complete training.
Residents may soon notice a 75-cent, per month charge added to its bills for devices that could call 9-1-1. The original intent of the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee was to provide a 9-1-1 grant program. In June, the Governor’s budget proposal changed the intent of this surcharge to become a police and fire protection fee, with the proceeds being redirected to the shared revenue program. The Senate and Conference Committee retained this language, but adjusted it to stipulate that in two years the surcharge would end. Then the surcharge would be recreated as a funding source for a 9-1-1 grant program in 2011. However, the Governor vetoed the restoration of the 9-1-1 grant program before signing the budget.
The Wisconsin Counties Association and Public Safety Communications professional organizations in the State of Wisconsin were looking for a source to help fund the ever-growing technological needs of 9-1-1 communications centers in the state. Technology is bringing a whole new generation of devices and means for requesting emergency services, such as text messaging, images, video and use of the internet. PSAPs do not have the means of answering these calls, nor automatically locating those callers. As it stands, Wisconsin counties will continue to be solely responsible for funding any improvements to gain these capabilities.
Technology Coordination (Al Blencoe)
Mapping and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) continue to be a major topic for discussion and consideration as our capabilities improve. This, in turn, stimulates ideas and understanding of how GIS can be used to improve Public Safety in La Crosse County. In some ways, we are leaders in this area and Al Blencoe has been invited to be part of a panel presentation on Law Enforcement mapping at the Governors Conference on Highway Safety in August.
A recent meeting with representatives from the SE Minnesota Regional Radio Board provided insight regarding what Minnesota is doing with their radio implementation project and also issues we will need to consider as we move forward with our radio planning.
In the current fiscal climate, changes in technology challenge our ability to fund projects while at the same time offering efficiencies and insight that hold the promise of greater value for money invested in technology. Because of this, it is important to cultivate a continued atmosphere of learning and planning for the future even though there is no current funding.
Emergency Management (Keith Butler)
The County Emergency Management office assisted the City of La Crosse Municipal Airport with the development and facilitation of an Airport Emergency Exercise designed to satisfy the Federal Aviation Administration requirement for a tri-annual, full-scale exercise. County Emergency Management personnel developed a functional ‘walk-through’ exercise in April and the full-scale exercise on June 11. Nearly 65 exercise participants practiced responding to an aircraft emergency with an emphasis on mass fatality management. This event required months of careful planning and documentation. A Homeland Security exercise grant was obtained to help off-set some of the costs of conducting an outdoor exercise.
The County Hazardous Materials Response Team participated in a joint exercise with military troops in the City of La Crosse on June 18 as part of a national “Red Dragon” training and exercising program. Military responders trained alongside civilian responders in a simulated weapons of mass destruction scenario involving hazardous chemicals on a barge on the Mississippi River. This exercise served to enhance the ‘lessons learned’ from the Heartland Defense exercise held here in 2004 and provides the greater La Crosse area with a better understanding of the use and interoperability of military forces and specialized resources in a civilian environment. The County Emergency Management Coordinator served as the Planning Section Chief during a portion of the three-day exercise.
A Winona State University graduate student, Nancy Carlin, has been providing GIS service for the Emergency Management office as an intern. Nancy’s project involves the plotting and analysis of the damages from the 2007 and 2008 flash flood disasters in La Crosse County.
The State radio interoperability project, WISCOM, is in need of a County representative and Keith Butler has been asked to serve on that State committee as well as serving as the Wisconsin Emergency Management Association representative to the Office of Justice Assistance Homeland Security Grant committee. Butler already serves on the WISCOM State System Management Group Technical Sub-Committee which reviews radio interoperability proposals and other technical documents.
The County Emergency Management Coordinator facilitated a tabletop exercise of the Town of Greenfield Emergency Operations Plan on June 22. The After-action Report for this exercise was posted on the Wisconsin Emergency Management e-sponder web site as an example of good exercise reporting.
The Tri-State HazMat Group has once again selected La Crosse County as a regional training site for oil spill boom control training which will occur in September. Emergency Management officials will meet here on July 29 to select the appropriate training locations along the Mississippi River.
The proposed 2010 Emergency Management budget was prepared and submitted to the Finance Department during this reporting period and reflects a 5% decrease in funding.
La Crosse County has been awarded a $25,000 Homeland Security Radio Interoperability grant to install base radio stations that would allow the 9-1-1 Dispatch Center to provide MABAS (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System) dispatch service to area Fire Departments.
Clerk of Courts
Security training was held the end of June for courthouse staff. The training was presented by Sgt Robert Riechel of the La Crosse County Sheriff Department. The training was done in three different sessions to accommodate staff and coverage of the offices. The presentation included a walk around of the building, power point presentation and questions staff. The training was a recommendation of the courthouse security committee. Staff felt the training was very good and felt is should be done periodically. The security committee will be meeting to go over the feedback of staff.
On July 14th, the courts received all new computers and monitors as part of the equipment allocation policy of CCAP. The state provides the software and hardware for all court staff including judges, family court commissioner and their support staff. This is a big savings to each of the counties.
CCAP is also providing in house training by a CCAP support specialist. Wendy will be here the week of July 27th to meet with all court staff. She provides on hands training and tips and tricks of using the software.
Child Support Report to the Board – August 2009
Listed below are the agency performance numbers ending June 2009.
June 09 June 08
Performance Measure #1 – Court Order Establishment = 90.30% 89.00%
(measure of cases where order needs to be established/total cases)
Performance Measure #2 – Paternity Establishment = 104.53% 104.24%
(measure of cases where paternity needs to be established/total cases)
Performance Measure #3 – Current Support Collections = 73.74% 73.26%
(measure of current support collected/total amount of current support due)
Performance Measure #4 – Arrears Collections = 66.42% 66.67%
(measure of single
payment on an arrears case during the fiscal year – this number usually
increases consistently throughout the fiscal year as more payments are made
on arrears cases)
In the last board report provided in June 2009, it was reported that the agency would be receiving funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for the period 10-08 through 9-10. The conditional use for these funds requires that child support agencies do not supplant spending already earmarked in the budget (including tax levy amounts.) There is a resolution seeking Board approval to spend the funds. The agency is considering using the funds for the following:
State Biennial Budget:
Wisconsin Act 28 creates a continuing General Purpose Revenue (GPR) appropriation to fund the child support program in 2011. This GPR was repealed when ARRA funds became available to counties, but is being proposed to be replaced in 2011 when ARRA funding ends. If Congress reinstates the ability for counties to match federal child support incentive payments at a rate of 66% or more, then the state will again repeal the GPR.
Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act of 2009:
Senators Evan Bayh (D‐IN), and Representative Danny K. Davis (D‐IL) introduced
the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act of 2009 on June 19, 2009. The
bill is identical to a bill introduced in the Senate last year by Senator Bayh and then‐
Senator Obama. It will provide support to fathers by providing job training and job
opportunities and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit. It also eliminates a
marriage penalty in the tax code and directs child support payments to children and
families, not the government.
Of particular interest to Child Support is the provision to ban the recovery of birth costs for Medicare recipients. Currently county child support agencies recoup 15% of any birth costs it collects on MA. In 2008, this amounted to $70,000 in revenue for La Crosse County CSA and is projected to be about $60,000 in 2009. This revenue item if not eliminated by the bill above will continue to decline due to changes in the payment application structure to take effect October 1, 2009 whereby interest accrued on uncollected arrears will be paid to families first rather than to birth costs. This will mean an overall decline in birth cost collections and therefore the corresponding revenue.
On the brighter side, the
act also includes restoration of the Federal funding cuts from the Deficit
Reduction Act which allows child support agencies the ability to match
incentive payments at 66%.
The Jail Division is busy with the new jail expansion. A group of jailers have volunteered to serve on a transition team to help implement new policies and procedures to make the operations in the new facility a smooth transition. The jail is also in the process of hiring three new jailers and they will begin a 12 week training program with a training jailer.
Several employees of the Sheriff’s Department volunteered their time at the annual Kicking Bear event held at the West Salem Rod and Gun Club on July 24th and 25th. This event had approximately 100 children along with parents and other adults participating. The event is an opportunity for children that might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities including camping, archery, etc. The department along with Tri-State Ambulance and Medlink Air displayed vehicles and held safety demonstrations.
The Sheriff’s Department K-9., “Cliff”, has had a very busy summer. In July alone he was deployed 27 times and was involved in 9 arrests where illegal contraband was located. He was deployed on 4 tracking missions to locate criminals and also was present at both the county fair and the Kicking Bear event.
The boat patrol has been working every weekend this summer with the exception of a couple of rain dates. The activity has been surprisingly quiet with no major incidents to report.