Colfax approves salary for new police chief

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board has approved a salary range of $41,000 to $52,000 annually for the new police chief who will be hired to replace Pete Gehring upon his retirement in April.

Benefits of 18 percent of the salary paid into the Wisconsin retirement system and $900 per month paid into a health savings account are in addition to the salary, noted Jackie Ponto, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, at a joint village board personnel committee meeting December 18.

Board members agreed that the wages should range from $20 to $25 per hour for the new police chief, depending upon experience and qualifications, but they could not agree on whether the new police chief should be a salaried employee or an hourly employee.

A police chief wage survey of nearby municipalities compiled in 2012 that Ponto received from Glenwood City shows that some are paid hourly while others are salaried.

Clear Lake’s police chief is paid $24.06 on an hourly basis and receives both overtime and compensatory time.

Boyceville’s police chief also is an hourly employee who is paid $22.85 per hour and also receives both overtime and compensatory time.

Woodville’s police chief, however, is a salaried employee who is paid the equivalent of $27.97 per hour, does not receive overtime pay but does receive compensatory time.

The police chief in Roberts also is a salaried employee who is paid the equivalent of $23.27 per hour, does not receive overtime but does receive compensatory time.

Currently, Colfax pays the police chief $25.09 per hour on an hourly basis and pays both overtime and compensatory time.

Ponto pointed out that Police Chief Gehring already is technically retired and that the village saves a certain amount of money because no benefits are paid into the state retirement system for him.

Scott Gunnufson, village president, said that whether the new police chief is paid hourly or is salaried, the board should consider leaving room in the compensation for merit increases.

Rick Johnson, village trustee, wondered about the wages paid to the full-time police officer employed by the village.

The full-time officer currently is paid $17.50 an hour and receives a 50-cent raise every six months so that by the time the person has been in the position for two years, the wage will be $18.50 an hour, Ponto said.

The village board should establish a pay range now so that the information can be included in advertisements for applicants, she said.

Ponto said she believed the village would receive more applicants for the police chief position if a salary or hourly wage were included in the advertisements.

Several village board members noted that including a pay range would also weed out certain applicants who would never consider taking the job, anyway, if the pay were not as much as they had anticipated.

By the time the village board is interviewing applicants, board members should have established whether the pay is hourly or salaried, Ponto said.

At the time the village decides whether the pay is hourly or salaried, board members can also decide whether the new police chief should receive overtime and/or compensatory time, said Mark Halpin, village trustee and chair of the public safety committee.

The Colfax Village Board voted unanimously to set the pay range from $41,000 to $52,000 per year, which translates to $19.71 to $25 per hour.

In addition to Gunnufson, Johnson, and Halpin, Beverly Schauer, Annie Schieber, Mike Buchner and Susan Olson serve on the village board.

Susan Olson was absent from the meeting.

Other business

In other business, the Colfax Village Board:

• Learned that during Bremer Bank’s holiday open house on December 13, the Colfax Commercial Club and the Sesquicentennial celebration in 2014 had been chosen as the holiday charity. A total of $316.40 was collected during the open house. Bremer Bank matched with $316.40 for a total of $632.80.

• Approved moving forward with a post-employment health care plan for Police Chief Gehring that will be administered by North Shore Bank. Local banks do not offer a similar program, Ponto said. The post-employment plan will put money into a trust fund for health insurance premiums for Police Chief Gehring, she said. The village board also will have to approve a resolution for setting up the plan, she said, noting that the cost is $18 per year for North Shore Bank to administer the plan.

• Discussed completing an employee handbook. Ponto said she had been working on certain sections off and on for the past six months. The village has assorted employment policies but no employee handbook to establish continuity and consistency for certain items, such as vacation, she said. Village board members agreed that after the first of the year, a personnel committee meeting should be scheduled to discuss the employee handbook. After the village board has completed the handbook, it will be sent to an attorney for review.