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By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — The Elk Mound Village Board has decided to hold off for now on providing an administrative assistant for the police department.
The agenda item at the Elk Mound Village Board’s September 6 meeting was to have discussion and action on changing the clerk-treasurer’s office assistant position to full-time with the commitment of 10 hours per week as the administrative assistant to the police department.
Following a public safety committee meeting, the committee recommended increasing the office assistant’s position to full time and devoting 10 hours to the police department, said Tim Benjamin, village trustee and chair of the public safety committee.
Julie Conlin would like to work full time and is willing to do the administrative job for the police department, he said.
Part-time officers will not be hired for months yet, and having extra help in the office would help Police Chief Chad Weinberger, Benjamin said.
Police Chief Weinberger said he had concerns about the idea.
Increasing an office assistant’s position to full time and devoting 10 hours of time to the police department is “moving too fast,” he said.
The police chief said he had not yet done an analysis on the proposal and believed that hiring someone separate for the police department would be more cost effective at a wage of $12 to $15 per hour.
The office assistant already does work for the police department that comes out of the police department’s line item budget, he said, adding that he has not evaluated the cost of the work already being done.
An administrative assistant could fulfill records requests, catalog evidence, and file reports to the state, Police Chief Weinberger said.
The Elk Mound Police Department needs another officer. The police department has a five-year plan, a 10-year plan and a one-year plan, but the one-year plan has not even been followed yet, he said.
A Limited Term Employee (LTE) would be hired as a part-time officer for $15 per hour, and the office assistant doing 10 hours of work for the police department would be paid $18 per hour, Police Chief Weinberger said.
The police chief said he would not know how to justify to the LTE officer that the secretary would be making more money, but the LTE officer would be the one required to respond to calls out in the community.
The question is, “what does the community really need?” Police Chief Weinberger said.
The optics of a part-time police officer being paid less than an administrative assistant who does not respond to emergencies in the community would not be good, he said.
The village board agrees that Elk Mound needs another police officer, and the proposal to increase the office assistant to 40 hours per week, with 10 hours a week being devoted to the police department can be tabled, Benjamin said.
An administrative assistant for the police department can be discussed when the budget for 2023 is being developed, he said.
Since there will not be another full-time officer in the Elk Mound Police Department by the end of the year, an administrative assistant seemed like a decent solution, Benjamin said.
Police Chief Weinberger said he would have to figure out the budget impact of what the office assistant is already doing for the police department.
It might make more sense to hire someone for $12 an hour to do the functions that the office assistant is already doing, he said.
One village board member noted that Police Chief Weinberger needs help now and devoting 10 hours a week of the office assistant’s time would allow the police chief more time to be out in the community.
The police department would be better off with a part-time, 10 to 20 hours per week dedicated employee, Police Chief Weinberger said.
All areas of the budget will be a challenge. Elk Mound will be paying a $7,000 assessment in 2023 for ambulance service, noted Terry Stamm, village trustee.
Stamm attended the annual meeting of the Colfax Rescue Squad on August 31 as the representative for the Village of Elk Mound.
The Elk Mound Village Board approved tabling the proposal to change the office assistant to full time, with 10 hours per week devoted to being the administrative assistant for the police department.