Office of County Administrator
County of La Crosse, Wisconsin
County Administrative Center
400 4th Street North • Room 3300 • La Crosse, Wisconsin 54601-3200
(608) 785-9700 • Fax (608) 789-4821
www.co.la-crosse.wi.us

Planning, Resources & Development

Public Works

Judiciary & Law

Memo To:  La Crosse County Board of Supervisors

From:  Steve O’Malley, County Administrator

Date:  April 2, 2009 

Re:  April Monthly Report to the County Board 

Attached is the April 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

February, April, June, August, Oct. & Dec. 

 

January , March, May, July, September, November

Planning, Resources & Development

Public Works & Infrastructure 

Judiciary & Law Enforcement

Corp Counsel & Child Support

Health & Human Services

Aging & Long Term Care

County Clerk, Finance, IT

Printing, Personnel, Treasurer

 

“OF INTEREST” 

Update on selection of Solid Waste Director

Following a national search, the County received a total of 25 applications for the position. The Personnel Department completed a detail screening of the qualifications of the applicants, and in consultation with the County Administrator, the field has been narrowed to five candidates.   

These candidates will be interviewed by two separate panels on Thursday April 16, 2009:   

Peer Panel   Highway Commissioner, Assistant Finance Director, Assistant Corporation Counsel, Facilities Director, DNR representative and led by Assistant Personnel Director Mary Marco 

Committee & Administrator Panel  County Administrator, Personnel Director, Finance Director. 

Members of the Public Works & Infrastructure Committee and Solid Waste Policy Board will be invited to attend and participate.  (Other interested Board members are welcome to attend as well.) The process and questions will be reviewed at April 13 committee meeting.   

The interviews will be in closed session and the applicants names are not public information at this time.

The out of state candidates will be given a tour of the Solid Waste facilities on the same day, including a chance for the department employees to meet the candidates.   

At the conclusion of the interview, a decision will be made about the next steps in the selection process.

 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  steve.omalley@co.la-crosse.wi.us

 

MONTHLY REPORT TO THE COUNTY BOARD

 

Planning, Resources & Development Committee

April 2009

 

Metropolitan Planning Organization

Well, as you can imagine, much of my time lately has been in helping municipalities understand and prepare applications for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (economic stimulus) program, and to prepare the required planning documents to support the requests.  On March 6, I submitted a Transportation Improvement Program with about $10,000,000 worth of requests for stimulus funding in the La Crosse and La Crescent Area.  As of this date, I have not received “official” notice of funding but I expect that we will receive at least $1,000,000 for local transportation construction projects.

Another round of applications is due at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation on April 8 and I expect that many additional projects will be submitted.

As I mentioned last time, the La Crosse Area Planning Committee is updating the regional bike plan with a series of public meetings to discuss accommodations on area regional corridors.  Meetings have been held for the State Highway 33, the La Crescent and the Onalaska/Holmen Corridors.  Excellent suggestions have been made for these corridors and recommendations have been summarized by roadway segment.

Please see the LAPC website at www.lapc.org for more information on this exciting bicycle plan.

Zoning, Planning and Land Information Department

 

Zoning Ordinance Update:  Staff has presented drafted concept for the new zoning ordinance to the PR&D Committee, and the La Crosse County Unit of the Towns Association.  We are scheduled to present a full ordinance late in 2009.

 

Town Comprehensive Plans:  The Towns of Washington, Barre and Medary have adopted Plans.  The Town of Bangor, Farmington and Hamilton and the Village of Rockland have completed drafts and are approaching approvals for their draft plans.  This means that within a few months, we will have 16 of our 18 county municipalities with completed and adopted plans.

 

Zoning permits issued through February 28, 2009:

 

Permits through  2/2009          4 permits with a value of $ 39,750.00

 

Same  period in 2008             12 permits with a value of $ 1,454,400.

 

This is a -50% change in number of permits issued, with a _-97.3_% change in value of permits issued.


 

County Surveyor

 

Our primary focus in recent months has been scanning the documents in the County Surveyor files. This process began in December with our Section and Quarter corner tie sheets. These tie sheets were first assigned a “Romportl Number”. This number assigns each Section and Quarter corner in La Crosse County a unique 11 digit identifier recognizable state-wide. The sheets were then handed over to Jeanne Smaby in the Document & Graphic Services (DGS) department who scanned each of the ties sheets. We were then able to import the scanned documents into our “Alchemy” indexing software. The data fields were then filled in and now we can perform a search to recover the scans we need. Special thanks to Todd Clark from the IT Department for his insight and advice on getting the scanning project off the ground.

 

We had a very productive winter working with the County Surveyor files which are continually being maintained and upgraded. Over the years these maps have become faded, worn and torn through regular use and handling. Senior engineering aid Pete Follansbee has been repairing and rehabilitating the maps found in the County Surveyor files.

 

We are now in the process of scanning the other maps located in the County Surveyor files. Pete has been scanning larger maps (those larger than 11”x17”) working with the large format scanner found in the DGS Department. I have been working on the scanning of smaller maps in the files using the copy/scanning machine in the Zoning Office. To date we have the Villages of Rockland and Bangor completely scanned as well as the Towns of Bangor and Medary.

 

We were also privileged to have a meeting on coordinates and coordinate adjustments with John Ellingson. Mr. Ellingson is the Wisconsin State Advisor of the National Geodetic Survey (NGS). He gave a power point presentation on the history of geodetic survey adjustments in America and why adjustments are necessary. Our Department, along with members of the Land Conservation and Zoning Departments took part in the session which was very well received and very much appreciated. In January, Pete and I also attended the Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyor’s Annual Institute in Green Bay. The three day session covered a wide range of survey issues and concerns and was very much worth the trip.

 

As weather more conducive to field work approaches, we look forward to putting a newer truck to work. Our main focus as always is with the maintenance of our section and quarter corners and our GPS network. The plan for 2009 is to visit at least 5% of our existing Section and Quarter corner monuments. We will address those corners in immediate need first but we do plan to focus on monuments in the Town of Washington. We have also been asked to provide some survey services for the Facilities and Zoning Departments and look forward to assisting them with their needs. And as always we handle the many questions which come to our department from other departments and the general public.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

 

Bryan H. Meyer

La Crosse County Surveyor
 

Land Conservation

 

Mission Statement

 

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 Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have announced the approval of the 2009 Grant Allocation Plan to local units of government. Governor Doyle’s administration has indicated that there will be reductions in state funding for programs such as Soil and Water Resource Management aids and Nonpoint Source Pollution Grants as well as other aids to County governments. The 2009 allocation kept the staffing and support grant at the expected $154,000.00 mark as well as grant monies for Land and Water Resource Management Plan implementation at $61,000.00. The only reduction in Land Conservation funding came from the nutrient management planning grant where the amount was reduced to $12,000.00 from a proposed $31,000.00. The nutrient management planning grant monies are used to assist farmers who develop manure and commercial fertilizer application plans for their croplands. The intent of the plans is to prevent the over application of plant nutrients to crop fields thereby reducing nutrient runoff to lakes and streams where they severely degrade water quality.

 

Grant allocation requests for 2010 appear to be in line for heavier cuts as the Governor’s proposed budget cuts includes the reduction of more than $500,000.00 from the state-wide Land Conservation Staffing and Support Grant. Preliminary numbers appear to reduce individual county grant amounts by $12,000 to $14,000. The Department of Land Conservation will actively pursue other state/federal funding sources to off-set the expected reduction.

 

The first quarter of this year is looking very slow in the new construction arena, especially for new home construction. As of April 1st, 2009, the Department of Land Conservation has issued just three erosion control permits. There is no indication that demand will increase in the near future. We have not issued a permit under the County’s recently passed Storm Water Management Ordinance. There are no planned developments in our jurisdiction that requires a storm water permit as of April 1st, 2009.

 

There is some good news to report this year. Water quality monitoring indicates that several project areas in La Crosse County are continuing to improve and benefit from cleaner, healthier environmental conditions. Adam’s Creek in central La Crosse County has shown dramatic improvement in water quality after the Department had assisted several farmers with installation of conservation and animal waste management practices. These practices removed large amounts of agricultural pollutants from entering Adam’s Creek that had decimated aquatic life and created conditions unfit for native fish populations. Water quality monitoring numbers indicate that Adam’s Creek has returned to a more “average” condition, as compared to other county streams, and that fish populations should return after some additional in-stream habitat work is completed.
 

La Crosse County UW-Extension

 

·         Five training sessions on becoming a facilitator and the Ken Miller Change Agent process were presented for thirteen county employees, ending in March.  Eight participants completed the full 15 hours of training, and the remaining five employees participated in 6 to 12 hours of training.  These individuals now have the basic knowledge, skills, and tools to serve as Change Agents for La Crosse County Process Improvement teams. 

·         Community Resource Agent facilitated four groups of Coulee Cap employees in order to help prepare Coulee Cap for projected doubling of State resources for energy efficiency projects.  Coulee Cap determined methods of ramping up production within their organization, and externally in order to meet upcoming demands in services.  

·         Continued facilitating the Urban Stormwater Group as they reviewed Marketing/Education consultants. A final company was decided upon by the group, and contracts are currently being reviewed.

·      Currently the Village of Rockland Planning Commission is finalizing their first draft of their Comprehensive Plan - with the public review anticipated for summer 2009.

  • Nine new operators developed nutrient management plans on 2,270 acres of cropland.  Land Conservation, NRCS and UW-Extension also assisted 51 landowners in updating 12,425 cropland acres.  Total cropland acres enrolled in the program are now 25,504 (or 34% of an estimated 74,500).  

  • A dairy research project started this month on four La Crosse County dairy farms in cooperation with UW-Extension and The University of Wisconsin-Madison.  This statewide research project will study the economic impact of five dairy cattle clinical diseases over the next nine months on at least 30 farms in the state.

  • Over 180 participants, both youth and adults, took part in this day of experiential learning - learning done the 4-H way - at the annual 4-H Clover College. Participants learned through hands on activities in their choice of classes taught by over 50 adult and teen 4-H volunteers as well as area community business professionals and university students. There were more then 30 sessions taught, all of which relate to various 4-H project areas.

  • Recent 4-H Arts Festivals involved over 200 La Crosse County youth in musical, drama, public speaking presentations or individual arts and crafts exhibits.  Youth that participated further developed their skills in the performing and visual arts.  Each group and participant received feedback to help improve performances and exhibits.

  • WNEP staff taught a series of 5 nutrition sessions to 3rd graders at Franklin Elementary School that consisted of a lesson, activities and food samples that highlighted each food group from the USDA MyPyramid.  At the conclusion of the classes 21 out of 30 students (70%) indicated that they now like and would eat a fruit or vegetable that they previously didn’t like or hadn’t tried before. 

  • Fifteen Salvation Army residents attended a WNEP session on how to use a spending plan and stretch your food dollars.  An evaluation showed that 87% heard at least one new way to get more for their food dollars that they plan to use in the next month; 87% heard something new about using store specials and coupons to help them save food dollars when shopping; and 93% heard at least one way to eat away from home once in a while without spending too much. 

Register of Deeds 

March 1-4, I attended the WCCO conference in Madison at the Inn on the Park.  We had many good speakers with an emphasis on condominium plats & declarations, HT110 and TOD110’s, Dept of Revenue, and Dept of Vital Records.  We went to the capital & met with our legislatures, toured State Vital Records and ate really well. 

I have approached Jeff Bluske & Bryan Meyers regarding possibly trying to pass a resolution to review condo declarations and condo plats for a review fee.  Many other counties in Wisconsin have started to do this, & I have contacted them for further information.  We have a lot of issues with condos and the attorneys & surveyors seem to be relying on us more & more to do their work so it is only reasonable that we charge them a review fee. 

We have finished our huge project of rescanning all documents for the years 1992-1997 and re-indexing them.  What a huge difference it has made in the quality of the images for those years & more information from the documents is available to the searchers.  We are now moving on to scanning military discharges, scanning the real estate books from 1963 backwards, and indexing documents from 1987 backwards.  Again, these are all huge projects but need to be done, for our customers, disaster recovery & for historic preservation. 

2009 statistics

 

Birth Certificates

Real Estate Documents

Total Revenue

Jan.

474

2115

$51,529.53

Feb.

512

2657

$57,694.16


 

MONTHLY REPORT TO THE COUNTY BOARD 

Public Works & Infrastructure

April 2009 

Solid Waste  

  • The landfill site is transitioning from the winter season into spring. We have been coordinating with the landfill operator on site cleanup and working to ensure the onsite roads and entrance into the active cell are graded and well maintained for our customers.

  • The drop-off site for La Crosse County residents has been busy and usage is picking up. The Household Hazardous Materials site is also being well utilized.

  • The annual report is being finalized and will be submitted to the Department of Natural Resources soon.

  • Bid specifications and bid letting timelines are being finalized for the 2009 Phase 7 Module 1 Liner Construction. A contractor pre-bid meeting has been scheduled for early April with bids being opened in early May. The estimated construction cost is $2,000,000. The construction is slated to be completed by October and be put into use this fall.

  • The proposed State Budget will eliminate The Clean Sweep Program which will have about a $100,000 effect on the La Crosse County program and proposes to raise the Recycling Fee from $4.00 per ton to $5.00 per ton and the Environmental Repair Fee from $1.60 per to $5.00 per ton. The staff is working with Administrator Steve O’Malley on the effects and possible adjustments to work through this budget crisis.

Dennis Osgood

Interim Director

 

 

Highway Department

 

  • Seasonal Weight restrictions were imposed on several County Trunk Highways (CTH) on March 13, 2009. Historically these restrictions stay in effect until mid-April depending on how fast the frost leaves the road bed. It has been another rough winter on the roads but so far we have not noticed any large areas of pavement breakup.

 

  • The new salt storage building has been completed and we have ordered our remaining 600 ton of reserve salt from the 2008-2009 contract. We participate in the State Department of Transportation (DOT) salt bidding process and bids for the 2009-2010 season are being considered at this time.

 

  • The DOT has started a project on I-90 in our county from mile post 13 east to the Monroe County Line. It will consist of reclaiming the asphalt off the old concrete surface, fracturing the old concrete and then paving a new hot mix mat. Several bridges in this section will also be reconditioned as part of this project. Two of these bridges are located on CTH Highways that go over I-90. One is on CTH J in Rockland which has caused the closure of “J” with traffic being detoured onto CTH “B” which will also be restricted to one lane over the bridge crossing I-90 near the Bangor High School. Work is expected to go from late March to the end of June.

 

  • County highways that are scheduled for reconditioning this season are CTH “G” from Sate Trunk Highway 33 to the Vernon County Line and CTH “V” from CTH “T” to CTH “Q”. Both of these roadways will be reclaimed and old blacktop used as base, add extra base in needed areas, correct drainage problems, repaving and shouldering.

 

  • Early spring work being done at this time includes sweeping and street cleaning, crack patching and sealing, guardrail repair from winter damage, brush and tree trimming in planned construction areas and around bridges, minor bridge maintenance and washing, building repairs, detour signing and sign repair

 

  • Two projects have been submitted for WisDOT Economic Recovery Stage 2 funds. They are CTH “C” – from CTH “DE” north to STH 108 and CTH “B” from Greenwood Drive to 500’ east of Sablewood Road. It will be several months until we hear if these projects are awarded stimulus dollars.

Dennis Osgood

Highway Commissioner

MONTHLY REPORT TO THE COUNTY BOARD 

Judiciary & Law

April 2009 

Clerk of Courts 

The new county bonds software project is going well.  We are now into our third whole month of entering bonds electronically. The bonds software was created by the County IT Department after careful coordination with all departments including IT, DA, Clerk of Courts, and all police agencies in the county.  As with any software, we will be making modifications and updates as users request.  A committee of users has been formed to monitor the software and requests and suggestions as to upgrades and enhancements to the system.  This project shows the coordinated effort of departments in La Crosse County.   

The contract for court appointed attorneys and guardian ad litems has been signed and are effective as of February 15th.  This project was another coordinated effort between the county administrator, county board chair, corporation counsel, courts and private attorneys.  The contracting was done for a couple reasons – consistency in representation of people and budgetary needs of the county taxpayers. 

The beginning of March, the State held its first annual Courthouse Security Training in Green Bay.  The seminar was attended by Judge Gonzalez, Sgt Robert Riechel, Deputy Jeff Neitzke, Head Scanner John Wittenberg, District Court Administrator Patrick Brummond and Clerk of Courts Pam Radtke.  Also present for La Crosse was Captain Uting and Officer Baldwin from the City Police Department.  La Crosse County had the most representatives per county attending the 2 day conference.  By Supreme Court rule, each county must have a courthouse security committee.  The committee is chaired by Judge Gonzalez and meets quarterly.  The information gained will be used to enhance La Crosse County’s courthouse security plan.   

Emergency Services   

Public-Safety Communications  

January

Telephone Calls

9-1-1 Calls       2,361 (average of 76 per day)              

          Answered within 10 seconds:      93.9%

          Answered within 20 seconds:      99.1%

          Answered within 40 seconds:      99.9%

Total Calls     25,697 (average of 829 per day)  

Calls for Service

          Law Enforcement        8,221

          Fire Fighting                 187

          Emergency Medical        501 

February

Telephone Calls

          9-1-1 Calls       1,772 (average of 61 per day)

                   Answered within 10 seconds:    95.2%

                   Answered within 20 seconds:    99.6%

                   Answered within 40 seconds:     100%

                   Total Calls     21,370 (average of 737 per day)

Calls for Service

          Law Enforcement          8,153

          Fire Fighting                     99

          Emergency Medical           457

 

February had a dramatic drop in phone calls, especially 9-1-1 calls.  Overall we dropped an average of nearly 100 a day from January.   9-1-1 calls dropped to an average of 61, down from 76 in January.   Although February was colder than average, there were few adverse weather events which tend to create the higher call totals.     

The PSC staff is in the process of conducting telecommunicator testing which will provide a list to draw prospective employees from.  The emergency dispatch center is currently operating one (of 22) position short.   

Upcoming Events: 

April 12-18 is National Telecommunicators Week. 

April 26-29 – La Crosse will be site of The Association of Public-safety Communications Officials’ (APCO) 2009 North Central Regional Conference.  This is a wonderful opportunity for our area and our communications center.  This region covers 13 states and the regional conferences are mostly held in larger cities.  The conference features a presentation from Captain Al Haynes, pilot and hero of United Flight 232.  The conference provides the opportunity for many of our staff to participate in the training, learn about the new technologies and services available, plus meet other public safety personnel. 

Technology Coordination (Al Blencoe) - One impact of the current fiscal situation seems to be a shift in thinking that finds less room for exploring possibilities and planning for future opportunities.  Still there is no shortage of projects and needs that exist and my activities are somewhat less “technology” and more “Coordinator” in recent weeks.  Following are some of the highlights:

·         Several training sessions for facilitators.

·         Preparation continues for Regional conference in La Crosse in April.

·         State of Wisconsin Traffic Records Coordinating Committee.

·         Help Facilitate a State/Federal news conference on flooding and insurance.

·         Business Continuity Planning for the County.

·         Back up PIO for Public Health Emergency Plan.

·         Participate in detox/crisis focus group.

·         Facilitate automated access to criminal records for DA. 

The on-going technical activity continues with daily meetings, correspondence and phone contact for existing projects and commitments. 

Emergency Management (Keith Butler) - Much of the Emergency Management office activities during this reporting period were focused on the completion of the Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) Plan of Work First Half Year requirements.  The Emergency Management Performance Grant provides a significant portion of the over-all County Emergency Management Office program budget ($56,750). 

·         Several EPCRA (Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act) plans were reviewed and updated including both of the local Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores (sulfuric acid in automotive batteries), the Rental Service Corporation facility (sulfuric acid in industrial batteries) and the primary Kwik Trip facility (Kitchen, warehouse and the new ice plant).

·         The Emergency Management Coordinator completed a two-day Wisconsin Emergency Management Emergency Operations Center (EOC) training course in Wisconsin Rapids in February and conducted an on-site review of the Village of West Salem EOC.

·         The Town of Holland completed a comprehensive update of the Town Emergency Operations Plan with guidance provided by the County EM Office and conducted a table-top exercise of the plan on March 3.

·         FEMA and WEM continue to provide Presidential Disaster project payments to local municipalities and these checks are processed through the County EM office.  Most of the 2008 flood projects have now been closed.

·         The Communications and Command Vehicle required some extensive work (mostly engine block heater replacements) during February.

·         A new regional exercise planning team has been formed and we met in Neillsville on February 18.  The multi-county exercise will focus on long-term electric power disruption, which is most likely to occur from an ice storm.  This exercise will provide opportunities to test and evaluate regional public safety communication systems.

·         The Public/Private Partnership Grant program moved forward with a media conference and interviews and the first of two “Open for Business” presentations.

·         The Emergency Services Department hosted a public safety communications forum on February 26.  Information was presented regarding the current state of public safety communications infrastructure in La Crosse County and several options for achieving interoperability and compliance with new Federal regulations.

·         The Prepare Now! campaign launched the 2009 program with a well-attended meeting at the Hmong Community Center on March 3.  Efforts are underway to schedule a full year of monthly programs and meetings in support of Special Needs and Vulnerable Persons and the agencies and organizations that provide service or support to those persons during disasters.

·         The Flood Awareness Week campaign included local radio and television interviews as well as a special news conference in La Crosse featuring Federal and State officials.

·         The Mass Casualty Team assisted with the Farmington EMS Open House activities on Sunday, March 22.

·         Several local public safety exercises are being developed and much work has been devoted to the completion of the required documentation (APCP Regional Cyber-terrorism, Airport tri-annual emergency response, and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Rail Road tornado exercise). 

Medical Examiner 

During the months of February and March 2009 the Medical Examiner’s office investigated the following cases: 

   February 2009 – March 2009   

     Natural Deaths:              19

     Accidents:                    02  

     Suicide                         01

     Undetermined                01

     Pending Tox                  00 

     Pending Pathology          01   

      Total                           24   

Cremation Permits Issued:     66  

Autopsies Ordered:                2     

    Total Revenue from Certification and Cremation Permits: $7900 

                                                                                 Respectfully Submitted 

                                                                                John W. Steers, Medical Examiner 

Sheriff’s Department 

In March, several deputies from the Sheriff’s Dept. donated their time conducting interviews for the Investigative Discovery show “Call 911”.  For several months, producers from California have been coordinating the taping of a show on the Phillip Schuth stand-off which occurred on April 22, 2005.  At this time it is anticipated that the show will air on Friday, June 5th, however that has not been finalized at this point. 

The department is completing the annual inservice training.  Both Patrol Deputies and Jailers will have completed the training.  This training is required by the State of Wisconsin to ensure that all personnel receive 24 hours of updated training.  The training covers a wide variety of topics including self defense, firearms, emergency vehicle operation, dealing with the mentally ill, etc.  The training is conducted in-house by Sheriff’s Department Staff.  Several other local agencies also participate in the training to keep costs minimal to all agencies. 

In the next month we will begin the annual training for boat patrol officers.  Once again the Sheriff’s Dept. will patrol the Mississippi and its tributaries on weekends from Memorial Day through Labor Day including holidays and special events.  We will also be adding staff working patrols at Goose Island Co. Park. 

District Attorney 

The District Attorney’s office welcomed Assistant District Attorney Gary Gomez to our staff on March 2, 2009.  He has been a welcome addition to our office. 

We have also been fortunate to have two part time, and one full time interns over the past few months.  They have come from various area colleges, each with different course of studies, to assist them in there growth as students and to gain knowledge of the legal system as they complete their college careers. 

We have had some very successful trial and sentences handed down over the past few months.  Attorney Tania Bonnett successfully tried and convicted a child sexual predator who was recently sentenced to a 30 year total length of sentence.  Attorney Dean Syrjanen successfully negotiated plea agreements for two separate domestic abuse cases which resulted in 2 years prison time for both cases.   

Corporation  Counsel  

Mississippi Valley Health Services Commission.  In March 2009, a copy of a letter was received from Karen Timberlake, Secretary of the State Department of Human Services (DHS), to Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen requesting a formal Attorney General’s opinion regarding the creation of Mississippi Valley Health Services (MVHS) Commission by La Crosse County and its member counties.  This letter was good news in that DHS put their stamp of approval on the legality of the MVHS Commission.  Secretary Timberlake stated in her letter, “This Department’s Office of Legal Counsel has reviewed the proposed lease and IGA (Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement) as well as relevant provisions of law and has advised that payments by member counties to the Commission in connection with services provided by the Commission’s nursing home (Lakeview) to patients placed by member counties would not violate state and federal prohibitions against supplementation. …”   

Following the receipt of this encouraging letter from DHS, a meeting of MVHS Commission members was held at Lakeview on March 25, 2009.  At the meeting, it was announced that the County Boards of La Crosse, Monroe, Vernon, Crawford, Juneau, Sauk, Richland, Chippewa, Marinette, Rock and Trempealeau had all passed resolutions authorizing the Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement creating the MVHS Commission.  As a result of the approval of all of its members, the Commission will now proceed with becoming the entity licensed to operate the nursing home and certified to be reimbursed by Wisconsin Medicaid for services provided by the nursing home.  The expected cut-over date to the operation of Lakeview by the MVHS Commission is expected to be July 1, 2009.  We were advised that the Wisconsin Counties magazine will publish an article in an upcoming issue on MVHS discussing the first ever multi-county collaboration in Wisconsin to operate a Medicaid certified nursing home as a commission under the authority of Wis. Stat. s. 66.0301.   

Minutes of Committee Meetings.  Currently, the recorder of minutes for committee meetings places the following disclaimer at the end of the minutes: “The above minutes may be approved, amended or corrected at the next committee meeting.”  The minutes are then placed on the County website prior to being approved by the committee at its next meeting.  The County Administrator pointed out that the disclaimer is not currently removed from the minutes and that anyone wanting to read the final approved version of the committee minutes would have to read the minutes from the date of the meeting and those minutes from the following meeting to determine if any amendments or corrections had been made in the minutes.  

The Corporation Counsel and County Clerk reviewed the policy provided to the recorders for taking minutes and made changes to this policy to eliminate the problem of requiring readers of the minutes to review two sets of minutes to determine what was finally approved by the committee.  The most significant change in the policy is to require the recorders to delete the disclaimer at the end of the minutes and substitute in its place the following when the committee approves the minutes: “Approved, (date of approval), Mary Smith, recorder.”  If the committee makes a correction in the minutes at the following meeting, the recorder will make the necessary corrections in the minutes as directed by the committee and then file the official “Approved” minutes with the County Clerk.  The County Clerk or her designee shall then be responsible for placing the approved, corrected or amended minutes on the County website.  This updating of the minutes after committee approval will ensure that any person reviewing the minutes on the website will know if the minutes have been approved or not.  This will eliminate the need to review two sets of minutes to determine the approved official version of the committee’s minutes. 

Child Support Report 

Listed below are the agency performance numbers ending February 2009. 

                                                                                              Feb 09         Feb 08

Performance  Measure #1 – Court Order Establishment =                          90.37%          87.919%

(measure of cases where order needs to be established/total cases)

Performance Measure #2 – Paternity Establishment =                              98.70%             97.30%

(measure of cases where paternity needs to be established/total cases)

Performance Measure #3 – Current Support Collections =                      73.43%              73.49%

(measure of current support collected/total amount of current support due)

Performance Measure #4 – Arrears Collections =                                    53.25%              56.03%

(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) 

ARRA:

Funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides a temporary reinstatement of federal matching funds on state incentive payments (10-1-08 through 9-30-10).   While this is great news, determinations need to be made by the state how much of the funding they will pass along to the individual counties and how much they will retain for statewide improvements to the child support infrastructure.   

At this time it is understood that the state will use the funds to replace General Purpose Revenue (GPR) the state provided to the counties to back-fill the losses under the Deficit Reduction Act.  Preliminary discussions to determine how the additional funds will be spent center on technological improvements that will benefit the Wisconsin Child Support program into the future.  Some of these ideas include an upgraded processing system, optical imaging and a centralized state call center.   

The Wisconsin Child Support Enforcement Association will be meeting with the Bureau of Child Support (state oversight) on April 2nd and 3rd in Stevens Point to discuss the counties views with regard to how the additional money should be spent.  

Jail Overcrowding: 

The Child Support agency is doing its part to work with the judiciary to release child support payers from incarceration to ease the jail overcrowding during the jail renovation.  At this time, most if not all child support payers have been released to Justice Sanctions electronic monitoring.  The agency is working out some of the details of the release with Justice Sanctions to ensure good communication.