Dunn County approves $188,000 loan to Dunn County Snowmobile Association

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE — The Dunn County Board has approved a loan of $188,000 to the Dunn County Snowmobile Association for purchasing a John Deere 6140R tractor for grooming snowmobile trails.

The county board approved the loan at the March 19 meeting.

Mary Solberg, county board supervisor from Menomonie and chair of the Community Resources and Tourism committee, noted that Dunn County has 300 miles of snowmobile trails and that the trails bring in tourism dollars.

In order to continue bringing in tourism dollars, the snowmobile trails need to be maintained, and the committee made a unanimous decision to ask the Dunn County Board to approve the loan, Solberg said.

Tractors with tracks rather than tires are the new standard in Wisconsin for grooming snowmobile trails, said Gene Smith, county manager.

According to the resolution approved by the county board, the money will come from the general fund and will be paid back in installments to the county by the Dunn County Snowmobile Association.

The first installment this year will be made from money the snowmobile association receives from the sale of the existing trail groomer.

Annual installments on the loan will be due each year in the amount of $20,000 on or before November 15.

The snowmobile association will repay the loan with interest at the current rate charged by the state for State Trust Fund loans.

The resolution notes that after the final payment, the Dunn County Snowmobile Association will have full ownership of the John Deere tractor.

According to background information that Smith provided to county board members, the snowmobile association’s payments are current on the $100,000 loan issued in 2010, with approximately $40,000 remaining to be paid back.

The snowmobile association will make an extra $20,000 payment this spring and the regularly scheduled annual payment of $20,000 in November.

The 2014 payments will nearly eliminate the 2010 debt.

Dental discounts

The Dunn County Board also approved a resolution authorizing participation in the National Association of Counties health and dental discount programs.

The program is a discount plan, not an insurance plan, and is available to all residents of Dunn County and not just county employees, Smith said.

Dunn County has been participating in the NACO prescription drug plan available to county residents for several years, he said.

“Implementation of these programs offers the Dunn County residents an opportunity to participate in programs intended to make health care more affordable,” according to Smith’s report to the county board.

For more information about the discount programs, visit www.NACO.org.

Jailer classifications

In addition, the Dunn County Board approved a resolution at the March 19 meeting to oppose proposed state legislation that would give counties the option of classifying jailers, detention officers and correctional officers as protective occupation participants under the Wisconsin Retirement System, even if they do not meet the requirements set by law based on their job duties.

According to the resolution, AB699 and SB663 “would open the door to other groups of county (employees) and other government employees to pursue protective occupation classification even if they do not meet the statutory standards based on their job duties.”

If enacted into law, the proposed legislation would “undercut the purpose of having protective occupation classification, which is to treat employees differently who work in higher risk occupations and retire earlier than other types of employees.”

Employees who have a protective occupation certification — such as law enforcement or fire fighters — work higher risk jobs, pay more into the Wisconsin Retirement System, retire earlier and their retirement benefits are calculated differently.

Other business

In other business, the Dunn County Board of Supervisors:

• Approved a resolution allowing Dunn County to enter into the Western Region Recovery and Wellness Consortium (WRRWC) for mental health and substance abuse services. Other members of the consortium include Barron County, Buffalo County, Chippewa County, Pepin County, Pierce County, Polk County and Rusk County. The state Department of Health Services has awarded a three-year redesign grant in the amount of $600,000 to implement system redesign.

• Approved new salaries for the Dunn County Clerk of Court and the Dunn County Sheriff as follows: sheriff — $85,263 (2015); $85,902 (2016); $86,546 (2017); $87,195 (2018). Clerk of Court — $61,121 (2015); $61,579 (2016); $62,041 (2017); $62,506 (2018)

• Approved a resolution opposing proposed state legislation to reduce local control of nonmetallic mining operations. According to the resolution, “AB816 and SB632 would greatly and unnecessarily restrict the ability of county and other local governments to regulate nonmetallic mining.” The legislation would, among other things, prohibit pre-existing nonmetallic mining operations to be subject to any new licensing ordinances. “Amendments to ordinances due to new technology and health impacts being identified would not apply to existing mining operations. Local governments should be able to amend their ordinances to incorporate reasonable regulations to protect public health and safety,” according to background information provided to the Dunn County Board.