The Door County Board on Tuesday approved financial transfers to fund retirement payouts, dredging at Chaudoir’s Dock County Park, and upgrading the county’s emergency radio system.
Due to changes in the county’s policies as of Jan. 1, 2014 that would have cut the number of accumulated sick leave and vacation hours for which they would be paid, 13 county employees retired at the end of 2013.
The changes in the county’s administrative rules covering the vacation-sick day payout were triggered by the 2011 adoption by the Wisconsin Legislature of Governor Scott Walker’s Act 10 that all but eliminated union bargaining for most public employees in the state.
The retirements were of workers in the county Human Services, Public Health, Highways, Emergency Services, and Maintenance departments, plus employees of Sheriff, Clerk, Clerk of Courts and University of Wisconsin-Extension offices.
The retirement payouts – amounting to slightly more than $223,000 – weren’t included in the county’s 2013 budget, resulting in the need to transfer the money from a payroll contingency fund the County Board set up in 2008.
The resolution approved by the board on a 20-0 vote – Supervisor Susan Kohout was excused – noted that if all employees with more than 20 years of service were to retire at the same time, the total liability for the accumulated leave would amount to more than $930,000.
The transfer for the dredging of the harbor at Chaudoir’s Dock Park was needed after the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources found trace amounts of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in samples of the material on the floor of Green Bay at the site in the town of Union.
The DNR requires disposal of PCBs in sealed containment sites. The DNR rejected a plan to use a county-owned quarry a short distance from the park.
Trucking the dredged material to an approved site in the town of Nasewaupee would “quadruple the transportation costs,” Airport and Parks Committee Chairman Charlie Brann told supervisors Tuesday, resulting in a smaller project at the park, at a cost of $152,000.
The resolution approved by a 20-0 vote allocated money from an account funded by boat launch fees at all county ramps to pay for the work.
The board also approved a resolution setting aside $750,000 for work on the county’s emergency radio system.
Through a Sister Bay Fire Department grant application, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has allocated $1.125 million to improve police, fire, ambulance and other emergency radio communication on the peninsula. Another $200,000 in county funds has already been budgeted as the local matching share required by the grant.
The FEMA grant provided money to erect additional towers synchronizing the signals sent from each radio transmitter site.
The chairman of the board’s Emergency Services Committee, Dale Wiegand, said that now a page for firefighters could be sent from Sturgeon Bay and not be heard by responders in Egg Harbor.
The FEMA grant allows for all parts of the county to receive emergency pages on one of four frequencies the county uses.
While the work is being done under the grant, the contractors would upgrade three other frequencies at of cost of $750,000.
If done separately, Sister Bay Fire Chief Chris Hecht said each upgrade would cost around $1.2 million. By bundling the work with the FEMA grant work, the county would realize a substantial cost saving, he said.
In other action, the board approved the appointment of the new director for the county’s Emergency Medical Services Department. Danny Williams has filled the post on two other occasions since the mid 1980s, and has also served as the Wisconsin emergency services director.
County Administrator Maureen Murphy said Williams would step into the post immediately following County Board approval.