Office of County Administrator
Memo To: La Crosse County Board of Supervisors
From: Steve O’Malley, County Administrator
Date: June 3, 2009
Re: June Monthly Report to the County Board
Attached is the June 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.
Hillview Assisted Living Facility The County Administrator, Finance and Hillview staff continue to work on addressing the questions raised by the County Board and revising budget numbers and assumptions. In addition, several options and site considerations will be discussed with the Aging & Long Term Care committee at the June 8 regular committee meeting. Staff is planning to present information to the County Board at the Policy Planning committee of Monday July 6, 2009.
State Budget Update At the Monday June 8, 2009 Policy Planning meeting, I will provide a verbal report bringing the County Board up to date on the status of the work of the Joint Finance Committee on finalizing the State Budget. A summary prepared by the WCA staff will be included in the agenda for notice for the meeting.
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 had not received “official” notice of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“ARRA” – “stimulus”) funding in the La Crosse and La Crescent Area. This month I am happy to report that I have received official notification of the following funding:
STH 16 “Monegan Overpass” Concrete Deck Overlay, $738,000
Oak Avenue South from Oak Forest Drive to Enterprise Avenue, Reconstruction and Bike Lanes, $1,300,000
La Crosse Municipal Transit Utility, Various Capital Improvements, $1,127,000
Onalaska, Holmen, West Salem Public Transit, Various Capital Improvements, $208,000
La Crescent Transit, Various Capital Improvements, $92,700
Of special note is the Onalaska project. I’m pleased to note that the Oak Avenue project was the only one of its kind awarded in the small metropolitan areas in Wisconsin.
Another round of applications was due at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation on April 8. Four local projects were determined to be eligible in that round; notification of funding should be received soon.
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. Much recent discussion concerns the “Wagon Wheel Trail” project, designed to provide much needed safe bicycle and pedestrian accommodations between La Crosse and La Crescent.
Please see the LAPC website at www.lapc.org for more information on this exciting bicycle plan.
Economic Development Update
Lakeview Business Park – While our contacts from prospective new businesses in the park have slowed down, the park and the TIF continue to be a success. The increment that has been created is enough to finance the phase 2 infrastructure projects that have been completed, and we were able to payoff the majority of the debt from phase 1 construction using the land sale income from the last few sales.
Collaboration Projects – We are still working with the School District of La Crosse and City of La Crosse, to study the potential for using a universal, place-based scholarship program as an economic development tool. We hope to complete that study of the potential effects and the feasibility of funding such a program soon – at which point we will make a presentation to the County Board, the City Council, and the School Board.
The high definition aerial video footage project that we partnered on has produced some great footage that will be used to promote our region. It will mainly be used in cooperation with Film Wisconsin to promote the area to potential movie and television project, but will also be a great tool to promote the region to other potential businesses and to tourists. Due to some weather issues at the first shoot, they will be shooting additional footage this week. Once we have all of the footage put together, we will share the finished product with the County Board.
Revolving Loan Funds – The Economic Development Fund continues to review loan applications for use of our three revolving loan funds. These funds have been successful at leveraging a considerable amount private funds into economic development projects that have created significant tax base and jobs in the County. The Fund is working to develop new ways to track the use and effect of these revolving loan funds.
County Collaboration Conference – We have started planning the 2009 County Collaboration Conference, which will take a look at some troubling development trends that we are seeing in La Crosse County, and then will explore some potential solutions that could work to reverse those trends. The conference has been tentatively scheduled for the morning of Friday, August 21, 2009, so please save the date and plan to attend.
Holmen Newsletter – We have been working with the Village of Holmen Economic Development Committee to create a quarterly newsletter for Village residents and businesses. The goal is to keep citizens in touch with the Village and inform them about economic development opportunities that exist in the community. The second edition was recently completed.
Zoning, Planning and Land Information Department
State Budget and its affects on Zoning issues, staff has kept up to date on the Working Lands Initiative proposed in the State Budget and its affects on our Farmland Preservation Program.
Zoning permits issued through May 31, 2009:
Permits through 5/2009 81 permits with a value of $ 3,523,332
Same period in 2008 173 permits with a value of $ 11,315,389.
This is a -53.1% change in number of permits issued, with a _-68.86_% change in value of permits issued.
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.
Budget concerns have been on everyone’s priority list as local units of government await proposed spending reductions from the Joint Committee on Finance and eventually the full Legislature. The La Crosse County Department of Land Conservation was also awaiting news of additional cuts after receiving an initial staffing grants reduction of approximately $14,000.00. On Saturday, May 23rd, the JCF approved a motion to increase solid waste tipping fees to help restore funding to a number of environmental and natural resources programs. The action by the JCF restored funding to the Clean Sweep Program, Recycling Grant Programs, Nonpoint Source Pollution Programs and other important environmental programs. The increased tipping fee also helped to restore staffing grants to County Land Conservation Departments and provide cost-share assistance funds to landowners participating in valuable conservation programs. Representative Jennifer Shilling was instrumental in assuring that the JCF did what was necessary to ensure that Wisconsin’s natural resources received the protection they deserve. The JCF, by raising the tipping fee will ensure a long-term source of funding to keep environmental conservation activities alive and well.
A sure sign of a slow economy is reflected in the number of erosion control permits issued by the Department of Land Conservation. Land disturbance activities that expose the soil surface from 2,000 to 4,000 square feet or place more than 400 cubic yards of fill material to a site need to apply for an erosion control permit. The permit ensures that there will be adequate erosion control measures in place while the land disturbance activities are taking place up until the time the site is stabilized. Most of the erosion control permits issued in the past were for new construction of 1 and 2 family residences, driveways and logging roads. Some numbers from this week show that we have issued 32 permits as of May 27th, 2009. A year ago we had issued 45 permits by that same date. If we continue at our current pace, will we issue approximately 77 erosion control permits. This compares to total permits issued in 2007=166, 2005=308 and 2003=323.
La Crosse County UW-Extension
Register of Deeds
Tuesday, March 31, 2009, La Crosse County Register of Deeds office e-recorded its very first document. The mortgage submitted electronically took about 30 seconds to proof, stamp, scan & return. Since that first document, we are now electronically recording about 10 documents per day and that number should increase as more customers become aware that we can now accept documents electronically. This is another milestone for the Register of Deeds office and shows our progressive direction and vision for the future.
Public Works & Infrastructure
Henry A. Koch, PE
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) has re-directed work activities to crews performing maintenance work on the Federal/State Highways statewide. The directive reads as follows
§ Opening of all seasonal waysides shall be delayed until May 21. No work to prepare for those openings shall be done prior to May 11. ( no effect in La Crosse Co)
§ Assure maintenance work zone practices described in the policy for mobile work zones are being followed. These adjustments are necessary for the safety of workers and those traveling through the work zones. (we follow now)
§ Litter control is being limited to once in the spring. Adopt-A-Highway efforts are encouraged and counties should respond as necessary to gather and dispose of the bags of litter collected by volunteers.
§ Surveillance shall be limited to once a week on backbone and backbone connector routes, and less often (twice a month) on other routes.
§ Mowing efforts are to be reduced. The service to be provided is mowing only a shoulder cut, once a season, with one mower pass (no aesthetic cleanup). The exception is for spot locations where vision is a safety issue for that specific area. Mowing for woody vegetation to the clear zone shall not be done as a standalone work activity, but shall be accomplished with the normal shoulder cut. Such mowing will be in accordance with the thresholds and cycles prescribed in the maintenance manual.
§ Concentrate maintenance and roadway maintenance activities on higher priority items such as shoulder work, pothole patching, and items directly affecting safety, including repair of damaged safety appurtenances or signs.
Pavement preventative maintenance activities, specifically routine crack sealing and non-emergency concrete repair for preventative maintenance purposes should not be undertaken as routine maintenance. This type of preventative maintenance activity does not meet the threshold for routine maintenance priorities. In some cases, the region may be able to accomplish some of this work through other programs.
Finally, as in previous years, but now made even more urgent given the state’s overall fiscal condition, the department must carefully manage the fiscal year spending levels as well as the work accomplished through the calendar year routine maintenance agreements. While the work focus needs to be on safety related activities, the maintenance budget needs to be closely monitored throughout the calendar year.
Note: I and all other Southwest District Highway Commissioners understand the need to be as efficient as possible and strive to stay within the Routine Maintenance Budget. But we feel some of these directives place more liability on the counties, especially the mowing policy. We will be working with the Wisconsin County Highway Association to work through this situation. I will keep you posted.
Judiciary & Law
Clerk of Courts
As of Friday, May 15th, La Crosse County now has another option for people to pay fines. With the coordination of CCAP and US Bank, a new statewide procedure to pay fines on line has been created. The information is on the courts’ website at wicourts.gov. There are currently 27 of the 72 counties signed up to use this new feature. The service fee is very minimal. When the payments are received on this site, the money is automatically receipted through the CCAP system. We have already received 3 payments as of May 19th.
April and May were very busy months in the courts for our local students sitting in on court and getting tours of the courts. Students also learned about jury duty.
9-1-1 Calls 2,142 (average of 69 per day)
Answered within 10 seconds: 94.6%
Answered within 20 seconds: 99.0%
Answered within 40 seconds: 99.9%
Total Calls 24,763 (average of 799 per day)
Calls for Service
Law Enforcement 9,166
Fire Fighting 145
Emergency Medical 481
9-1-1 Calls 2,303 (average of 77 per day)
Answered within 10 seconds: 94.5%
Answered within 20 seconds: 98.7%
Answered within 40 seconds: 99.8%
Total Calls 25,776 (average of 859 per day)
Calls for Service
Law Enforcement 9,218
Fire Fighting 229
Emergency Medical 509
In April, La Crosse was host to public safety professionals from throughout the Midwest when APCO’s (Association of Public-safety Communications Officials) North Central Regional Conference was held at the La Crosse Center. The conference was a success with many opportunities for training, networking and previewing the latest public safety technology. A highlight of note was Emergency Management Coordinator Keith Butler being one of the facilitators in a Cyber Terrorism exercise. Other County participation included many 9-1-1 Dispatch personnel, Information Technology, the Sheriff’s Department and members of the Judiciary and Law Committee.
The Communications Center will be benefiting from a mapping system upgrade that was installed in mid-May. The upgrade automatically displays and helps dispatchers manage public safety events as well as providing additional reference information.
Emergency Management’s Keith Butler and Technology Coordinator Al Blencoe are making preparations for a new radio system core team to help facilitate a county-wide discussion of the significant pending changes in the public safety radio communications systems. Short-term goals include the formation of a county-wide panel of public safety agency representatives to prepare the County plan for the FCC mandated narrow-banding and future radio systems needs.
Technology Coordination (Al Blencoe)
Emergency Management (Keith Butler)
There have been the following recent developments in litigation involving La Crosse County:
Jamie Anderson v. County of La Crosse, Sheriff Steve Helgeson, Retired Sheriff Mike
Weissenberger, et. al. In U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, The Honorable Barbara Crabb, District Judge, presiding
Plaintiff Anderson was assaulted by another prisoner while both were incarcerated at the La Crosse County jail in May 2006. In this lawsuit brought under 42 U.S.C s. 1983, Anderson contends that the defendants should be liable for failing to prevent the assault. On April 27, 2009, the District Court filed its Opinion and Order that granted the defendants Motion for Summary Judgment and dismissed this lawsuit. The Court agreed with the defense position “that neither (Anderson’s) note (about the other inmate’s threatening behavior) nor anything else that defendants saw would allow a reasonable jury to find that plaintiff meets the standard for establishing liability under s. 1983: that defendants were actually aware of a substantial risk that plaintiff would be seriously harmed.” In reviewing the facts, the Court found that many of the “typical warning signs of a pending assault” were not present before Thompson (the other inmate) struck Anderson. The Court also agreed that Anderson failed to demonstrate that the jail erred in classifying him or in monitoring him. The plaintiff has 30 days to appeal this decision dismissing the case. To this date, the Court has not received notice that the case has been appealed.
Jeremiah Shefelbine v. Terry Clark, Andrew Raymer and La Crosse County
In La Crosse County Circuit Court, The Honorable Todd W. Bjerke, Circuit Judge, presiding
In this case, Plaintiff Shefelbine is a former La Crosse County jail inmate. He alleges that on September 3, 2007, “he slipped and fell in the La Crosse County Jail community restroom, located in H-block, due to an unsafe condition, consisting of dim lighting and a flooded floor.” The case came before the Court on May 13, 2009 to consider a motion for summary judgment presented by counsel for the County and the jailers (Raymer and Clark). The plaintiff failed to make a timely response opposing the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, but did advise the court in writing that he does not oppose summary judgment. As a result, the Court did grant the summary judgment motion of the defendants and ordered dismissal of all claims against the defendants on the merits and with prejudice and with statutory costs and disbursements. This a final order in the case subject to the plaintiffs right to appeal within 45 days.
Thomas M. Lynch v. County of La Crosse, West Central Family Care MCO.
Before the State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Equal Rights Division
Administrative Law Judge Gary Olstad, presiding
As previously reported, Complainant Lynch alleged that the County violated the Wisconsin Fair Employment law by not giving him an interview for the Executive Director position of Western Wisconsin Care (WWC). A determination finding no probable cause for this complaint was issued by the Equal Rights Division on January 13, 2009. The Complainant did appeal this decision and a Probable Cause Hearing was scheduled before ALJ Olstad on May 20, 2009 at the Cartwright Center in La Crosse. At the hearing, it was determined for the first time that the ALJ had a personal relationship with the Complainant and his wife going back a number of years. Defense counsel and the County Personnel Director decided that this personal relationship may be prejudicial to the County’s case and therefore requested that the ALJ recuse himself from the case. This request was granted and Mr. Olstad removed himself from the case. The case will be assigned to a different ALJ with the hearing to be rescheduled to a different date.
The above concludes my report on pending litigation.
Wisconsin Municipal Mutual Insurance Company (WMMIC)
WMMIC is the liability insurance carrier for La Crosse County and 16 other municipal entities in the State of Wisconsin. The company is owned and governed by the 17 municipalities. Each governmental entity has a member representative who is appointed by the entity to represent the interests of the entity on WMMIC committees and Board of Directors. I have been privileged to represent La Crosse County at WMMIC meetings since the retirement of Jerry Seubert as the Administrative Coordinator. At the annual meeting of WMMIC members held May 7, 2009, I was elected as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of WMMIC. The company has a capable staff that effectively runs the day to day business of the company. I am pleased to be elected Chairman of the Board of this company. WMMIC has done a great job in providing the County with liability insurance coverage and defending the interests of La Crosse County in a number of lawsuits including the three cases described above. I believe that this position will not affect the performance of my job duties for the County as your Corporation Counsel and will provide a benefit to the County as a result of my being in a position to have a voice in determining WMMIC policies.
Child Support Report
Listed below are the agency performance numbers ending April 2009.
Apr09 Apr 08
Performance Measure #1 – Court Order Establishment = 90.76% 88.96%
(measure of cases where order needs to be established/total cases)
Performance Measure #2 – Paternity Establishment = 101.72% 100.86%
(measure of cases where paternity needs to be established/total cases)
Performance Measure #3 – Current Support Collections = 73.71% 73.67%
(measure of current support collected/total amount of current support due)
Performance Measure #4 – Arrears Collections = 61.16% 62.68%
(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 February 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.) To that end, the Child Support Agency is working to secure a Support Specialist position that will sunset in September 2010. The agency is considering use of private investigation to assist in determining when payers work for cash and for those that are particularly difficult to locate. The agency is also purchasing a phone system that has intercom capabilities so the agency Secretary doesn’t have to walk the hallways to announce visitors and can determine if someone is currently on another call.
The agency is utilizing a process of direct phone calls from inmates incarcerated on child support warrants to Support Specialists to negotiate release. This process has facilitated better communication and the ability for the workers to ensure that payers understand their obligations. It has also sped up the release process with minimal effort needed from other departments.
Increasing Collections and Decreasing Arrearages:
The agency has been considering its collections and current support and arrears. In an effort to improve performance in both Performance 3 and 4 categories, the agency utilized a brain storming session to generate raw ideas. From there two groups selected the best options to be researched and/or implemented related to customer education and increasing collections. A few of the ideas include creation of an introduction letter and FAQ sheet to put in new order packets as a guide to the most important aspects of child support. Workers will also be staffing court hearings in an effort to discuss what transpired during the hearing and answer any questions the parties may have.