Office of County Administrator
Memo To: La Crosse County Board of Supervisors
From: Steve O’Malley, County Administrator
Date: October 1, 2009
Re: October Monthly Report to the County Board
Attached is the October 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.
During regular committee
meetings this month, we will review the Top Budget Issues by Committee and
answer any questions that County Board members have about the 2010 Proposed
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 email@example.com
Planning, Resources & Development Committee
Metropolitan Planning Organization
In this report I’ll follow up on previous information on the I-90 Dresbach Bridge replacement construction planned for 2013 – 2015.
I serve on both the Technical Advisory and Policy Advisory Committees for the bridge replacement and am pleased to report that there has been significant progress made in bridge planning this summer. The “Gateway Crossing” preliminary design and environmental study is just about done, with a public hearing planned for November, 2009 in La Crescent.
The public hearing will highlight the final design for the bridge and approach roadway interchange in Minnesota. The new Mississippi River bridge will be concrete box construction, with a profile similar to the current bridge. The new I-90 / USH 14/61 interchange will address geometric design safety issues and will includes enhanced access to the rest area, boat launches and lock and dam site from I-90 eastbound. The interchange will also include safe bicycle accommodations along the Great River Trail connecting Winona with La Crescent.
Here are pictures of the proposed bridge and interchange design:
Construction of the new bridge and interchange will occur in 5 stages over about three years; the actual starting time for construction has not been determined. No long-term detours are planned. There may be short-term traffic detours or delays as the new bridge is tied into the existing highway. During construction, four lanes of traffic will remain open over the Mississippi River, using the existing bridge until new lanes are available. This will keep traffic flowing for commuters between La Crescent and La Crosse.
I am working with the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin to ensure that sufficient financing is available in the LAPC Transportation Improvement Program to cover the anticipated bridge and roadway cost. The 2010 – 2013 improvement program was adopted at the September 16, 2009 LAPC meeting. Included is $20 million in Wisconsin funding and $150 million in Minnesota funding, thanks to Minnesota’s 2008 gas tax increase partially dedicated to “budget buster” bridges.
La Crosse County UW-Extension
Register of Deeds
We have started scanning plats into our computer system. Printing dept. is doing the actual scanning on our new large format scanner & then I import them into our IDOC system. This is great because our customers will be able to view the plats online and there is an actual back up to the paper documents in our office.
Zoning, Planning and Land Information Department
Staff continues drafting an update of the Zoning Ordinance. Staff welcomed new County Board Member, Tina Wehrs to our Planning, Resources and Development Committee with an orientation on zoning and planning ordinances. Staff is working with Towns who have completed their comprehensive land use plans to bring them forward for consideration of an amendment to the County’s Comp Plan. The 2010 Census continues to move forward. Jeff Bluske will be forming a “Complete Count Committee” to promote timely and accurate response from all residents of La Crosse County for the US Census survey.
Zoning permits issued through September 30, 2009:
Permits through 9/2009 285 structures with a value of $ 15,141,753
Through the same period in 2008 401 structures with a value of $ 23,630,207
It’s hard to determine when the freefall in the housing market will subside, maybe when unemployment goes down! The unsold homes market is still in competition with those foreclosed homes and those homes that have been taken off the market and changed to rentals. Even though housing starts are slow in the towns, our cities and villages are not showing that steep a decline; being aided better by tax incentives, low interest mortgages, short commutes and access to mass transit as ways to lower costs. The towns tend to see more existing home improvements than new home construction in depressed times.
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 has come to a close. September 15th of each year signals the last day in which a construction site can safely be seeded and mulched to stabilize the site and protect it from future erosion. To do this any later in the growing season greatly increases the chances that the new seeding will “freeze out” or “winter kill” leaving the site vulnerable to erosion by wind and/or water. Another annual deadline that halts conservation construction is October 1st when the DNR prohibits any in-stream or adjacent stream bank work on state waters that are classified as trout waters. This deadline is imposed because trout spawn in the Fall of the year and their spawning habitat needs to be protected from disruption or destruction from construction activities. This construction prohibition also protects the trout eggs from being buried under sediment which can suffocate the developing embryos and lower in-stream fish populations.
2009 was a good construction season considering the recent economic slow down in the farming sector. Record low milk prices have caused farmers to put off expenditures this past year, including costs for installing soil and water conservation measures. Because most of the conservation programs provide cost share assistance to landowners, we were able to continue conservation work in selected project areas by offering financial assistance. The following agricultural conservation practices were installed during the 2009 construction season;
Burr Oak Watershed Project
1 ea Barnyard Runoff Control System with Roof Runoff Management
150 ft Underground Outlet
1 ea Grade Stabilization/Rock Chute
3 ea Cattle Crossings
1 ea Machinery Crossing
839 ft Grassed Waterway
230 ft Cattle Lane
2,926 ft Protective Fencing
Gill’s Coulee Creek Watershed Project
5,773 ft Stream bank Protection Rock Rip Rap
500 ft Stream Crossings
4 ea Rock Lined Outlet
2 ea Grade Stabilization Structures with Diversions
1 ea Plunge Pool
4,060 ft Protective Fencing
310 ft Cattle Lane
49 ea In-Stream Vortex Weirs
Soil and Water Resource Management Program
1,075 ft Grassed Waterway
1 ea Rock Machinery Crossing
1 ea Rock Cattle Crossing
2 ea Grade Stabilization/Rock Chute
134 ft Underground Outlet
All of the above conservation practices were cost shared using funds from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service and the La Crosse County Environmental Fund.
Public Works & Infrastructure
and everything went well on the project. The old narrow bridge was replaced with a double barreled concrete box culvert which now allows for a wider shoulder and up to date beam guards. This project was funded with 80% Federal Bridge Replacement Funds.
Henry A. Koch, PE
Judiciary & Law
9-1-1 Calls 2,682 (average of 87 per day)
Answered within 10 seconds: 94.5%
Answered within 20 seconds: 99.4%
Answered within 40 seconds: 99.9%
· 1 call more than 40 seconds
Total Calls 27,479 (average of 886 per day)
Calls for Service
Law Enforcement 10,007
Fire Fighting 197
Emergency Medical 561
9-1-1 Calls 2,488 (average of 80 per day)
Answered within 10 seconds: 93.9%
Answered within 20 seconds: 99.3%
Answered within 40 seconds: 99.9%
· 2 calls more than 40 seconds
Total Calls 26,105 (average of 842 per day)
Calls for Service
Law Enforcement 9,783
Fire Fighting 182
Emergency Medical 516
National Emergency Number Association Standards:
o 90% within 10 seconds (during the busy hour)
o 95% within 20 seconds.
What affects call answering times? There are many factors, most of which are out of the control of the 9-1-1 dispatchers. On average, the call volumes are manageable when you look at an average of under 90 9-1-1 calls for a 24-hour period. However, the ability to answer a 9-1-1 call diminishes when multiple 9-1-1 calls ring at, or near, the same time.
As an example, take a fairly routine two and half minute period on August 5, just after 4 p.m. Three of the four dispatchers on duty are answering phone calls, including one 9-1-1 medical call. Another 9-1-1 call rings in reporting a multiple-vehicle accident. Within the next 17 seconds, five more 9-1-1 calls ring in. The longest answering time of these calls was 21 seconds and all five were reporting the same accident.
By the time the two and a half minutes were up, there had been 13 phone calls, including 10 9-1-1 calls. In addition, the staff had dispatched three police units, two fire apparatus and notified an ambulance for the accident, plus sent police to two other non-emergency calls for service and made another request for an ambulance transport.
The result - six of the 10 9-1-1 calls had an answering time ranging from 11-21 seconds. For all of 2009, 9-1-1 calls have been answered within 10 seconds nearly 95% of the time. However, with the popularity of cell phones, visible incidents can create challenging moments in the 9-1-1 center.
Al Blencoe’s job has been reclassified as the Public Safety Communications Manager. Al had served nearly six years as the county’s coordinator for public safety technology. Now his focus will be on all the services provided in communications center. Al started with La Crosse County in 1984, working as a telecommunicator for five years and as a supervisor for 14 years.
Emergency Management (Keith Butler)
August began with extensive efforts to prepare the 2010 budget and to complete the remaining Emergency Management Performance Grant and EPCRA grant Plan of Work deliverables. The NIMSCAST report, a Federal project designed to inventory the current status of training and implementation of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System, was updated during this period. Several gaps remain in the implementation phase for La Crosse County and were noted in the updated report.
Local Public School systems and the three area Higher Education campuses worked diligently with the Public Health Department and Emergency Management to prepare for the anticipated influenza outbreak that may elevate to a global pandemic this Autumn and early winter.
Several new initiatives were either developed or moved along during these two months:
Clerk of Courts
September is Juror Appreciation month throughout the State of Wisconsin. In LaCrosse County, we celebrated by putting posters up, an article in the tribune, the county board adopted a resolution, and treats for the jurors. The State Senate also adopted a joint resolution proclaiming September juror month also. The Courts feel everyday is time to appreciate or jurors.
In August, La Crosse County was the pilot county for the State for processing substitute judge requests. CCAP created an interface with the District Court Administrators software and the Court software to allow the process to be done electronically.
In September, the Seventh Judicial District, which includes La Crosse County, started the interpreter pilot program for the State of Wisconsin. The District Court Administrator is now coordinating the district in scheduling and paying for interpreters. The hope is to reduce expenses for each of the counties by coordinating resources.
Child Support Report
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.) The Board approved use of these funds and the agency is in the process of hiring a Support Specialist. This position will replace one of two staff who plan to retire in 2010.
DCF 150 provides that Child Support agencies in the State of Wisconsin make determinations about health insurance for children that is available at reasonable cost and/or reasonable contribution by the non-insuring parent. This new provision will have a performance measurement attached to it in the future which will provide performance funding for the child support agency. This will create another layer of information gathering and calculation for Support Specialists, but could have a positive effect in reducing tax payer’s expense related to Badger Care/Medical Assistance program.
On September 22nd, we launched the WI-VINE service, an automated service that notifies registered crime victims and other concerned citizens when offenders are released from jail, and also provide around-the-clock access to offender information either by telephone or use of the Internet. In addition to crime victims, the VINE system can be used by family members, neighbors, business owners, law enforcement officers, criminal justice professionals – anyone impacted by crime – who is interested in knowing the location and custody status of criminal defendants and offenders housed in the County jail. The WI-VINE service is funded by a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice and is in more than a dozen other WI counties.
Our boat patrol ran from Memorial Day through Labor Day; as it has in past years. We encountered no major issues. A full report will be presented at the October Judiciary and Law Enforcement meeting.
The opening weekend of this festival went smoothly. Our call volume was comparable to what we see on a typical weekend and the jail bookings were down from what we have seen in the past few years. A breakdown of the bookings/releases can be seen below.
Jail Transition Update
In August the jail transition team, composed of three jailers and one Sergeant, was organized to plan for the move to the new direct supervision pods and remodeled jail facility. The Sheriff requested technical assistance support from NIC (National Institute of Corrections) to assist the team in development of an efficient approach to transition planning. The request was approved and a four-day HONI (How to Open a New Institution) program was presented by two trainers from NIC. The training provided the team with the tools needed to implement the Jail Occupancy Action Plan Timeline, begin creation of scenarios designed to assist all staff in understanding how the new facility will operate and set in motion the plans for policy and procedure updates. Jailers on the transition team are dedicated full-time to the project and are looking forward to the opportunity to solve problems, develop written procedures and maintain a safe and secure facility.