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EM village board approves cost-of-living increases, prepares to interview police chief candidates

By Cara L. Dempski

ELK MOUND — Elk Mound village employees will be seeing a slight increase in pay in 2018, 2019 and 2020 after the board approved a cost-of-living adjustment.

The president and trustees approved a three-percent raise at the November 1 meeting for the village clerk, office assistant and public works director starting in 2018. The two public works employees will receive a raise of $1 per hour for 2018, with three-percent raises in 2019 and 2020. The two will also earn an extra 50 cents per hour for each certification the earn.

The office assistant will receive a 75-percent health insurance stipend, and the other employees will see an increase of $50 for their monthly insurance stipends.

All the recommendations came from the employee relations committee, which met before the November 1 meeting to discuss the items. The items were approved despite the concerns of the village president and one of the trustees.

“I will say when I saw this on the agenda, I did some looking – social security and military income in Wisconsin,” president Steven Abraham said. “The number that keeps coming up, that I see, is two percent, pretty much across the board. I wasn’t really running across numbers higher than that.”

Trustee and public safety chairwoman Deb Creaser-Kipp echoed Abraham, saying the cost-of-living adjustments across the state seemed closer to two percent.

“I don’t know how we can ask taxpayers who are receiving only a two percent increase to pay more,” she said. “I’m not saying they (the village employees) don’t deserve it, but I’m just saying that I’ll probably only see a two-percent increase this year.”

Abraham said he was not certain how to justify the increase when most other communities are offering between 1.5 and two percent.

Trustees Terry Stamm and Greg Kipp took a slightly different view.

Stamm pointed out Dunn County has frequently seen people leave positions due to a lack of a competitive salary increase. Kipp said his research indicated inflation is projected to rise another 2.35 percent in the coming year, and informed the board employees who do not receive competitive pay could leave in the future because of greater income needs.

“The thing is, if you don’t pay your employees, they will say ‘well, I can’t pay for things’ down the road,” he explained.

When the employee relations committee was questioned on why a recommendation was made to increase the health insurance stipend by $50 to make it an even $600, public works director Mark Levra explained the three public works employees currently pay $21,000 annually for health insurance.

He divided that number by three, and then again by 12 to come up with just under $600 monthly per employee. Levra estimated that would mean the village was paying 71 percent of the health care costs for employees, with each worker picking up the remaining 29%.

Other items approved as part of the package were an annual payout of sick hours accrued after total hours exceed 720 for any employee, and a $2 monthly longevity payment for each month of employment after five years.

Police Chief

The board also unanimously approved the public safety committee’s recommendation for an interview committee comprised of Terry Stamm, Steven Abraham, Patricia Hahn, Deb Creaser-Kipp, Colfax Police Chief Bill Anderson and Dunn County Chief Deputy Marshall Multhauf for the six candidates being interviewed November 6 and 7.

The motion approved also allows interim chief Mike Tietz to put together a short list of alternate committee members in case one of the approved group is not able to make it to the interview sessions. A further motion authorized Tietz to complete background checks, and do so as soon as possible after the committee ranks the candidates in order of preference.

The president and trustees then moved on to approving the resignation of trustee Tony Schrantz before appointing Paula Turner to his vacated seat to fulfill his term. If Turner wishes to remain on the board, she will need to file paperwork for candidacy in the April 2018 election.

In other business, the board:

• Approved the removal of old playground equipment at the Village Park on a date to be determined.

• Approved the application for a mobile home park license from VLCL Properties – Nelson Mobile Home Park.

• Heard an update on Tyler Bauer’s Eagle Scout project to build a farmer’s market/picnic shelter on land east of the village hall.