Office of County Administrator
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
MONTHLY REPORT TO THE COUNTY BOARD
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.
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.
Bryan H. Meyer
La Crosse County
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.
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.
MONTHLY REPORT TO THE COUNTY BOARD
MONTHLY REPORT TO THE COUNTY BOARD
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.
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
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.
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).
During the months of February and March 2009 the Medical Examiner’s office investigated the following cases:
February 2009 – March 2009
Natural Deaths: 19
Pending Tox 00
Pending Pathology 01
Cremation Permits Issued: 66
Autopsies Ordered: 2
Total Revenue from Certification and Cremation Permits: $7900
John W. Steers, Medical Examiner
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.