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County Public Services Discuss Jailer Protections

Issue Date: June 9, 2022

The Marinette County Public Services Committee was called to order by Chris Gromala Tuesday June 7 at 1:30 p.m in the Court House. Present were Supervisors Tom Buelteman, Chris Gromala, Chris Norton, Tim Pelzek, and Gail Wanek as well as County Clerk Kathy Brandt, Deputy County Clerk Bobbie Borkowski, County Board Chair John Guarisco, County Administrator John LeFebvre, Sheriff Jerry Sauve, Medical Examiner Kalynn Van Ermen Jail Administrator Bob Majewski, Lieutenant Chris Lesperence, Child Support Director Brian Barrette, Corporation Counsel Rebecca Lindner, DA DeShea Morrow, Peshtigo Times and Bay Cities Radio. Supervisor Rick Thill and Communications Director Kirsten Burmeister were absent.

After approval of the current agenda, the minutes of the May 10 meeting were approved. There were no correspondences to go over, no public comments, and no reports outside of agencies to be heard.

Sauve reported that interviews for a new Corrections Officer were being held June 8 with three more interviews to go on June 9 and background checks were being made, for Deputy Sheriff candidates. He also announced that the security of the Court House would be checked by the State Secretary for a report and critique. Sauve added that even though, like everyone in these times, they're struggling with recruiting and maintaining staff, they will continue to try their best. "It'll be one long, hot summer," he said, concerned about the amount of crime in the area.

Van Ermen reported the total deaths for Marinette County in May as 13, all of them natural. There have been 365 deaths for the county so far this year including 92 natural deaths, one overdose, one off-road accident, six suicides, and two motor vehicle accidents.

The board discussed the presentation of paid invoices and the update status of accounts turned over for collections, but made no motion for either.

The schedule of appropriation entries, a Speed Grant in the amount of $5,000, was approved unanimously. Along with this, the board voted unanimously to approve the collection of uncollected accounts worth $75 and write off/turn over accounts to the Finance Department for Collections with a total of $30,283. $258 from Sheriff Administration and $30,025 from the jail.

Long and careful deliberation was held during a discussion of local community EMS staffing. All parties acknowledged the need for more paid and volunteer Emergency Response Technicians and First Responders. Pelzek expressed community concerns about the delay in arrival of First Responders for Marinette County. Wanek acknowledged these concerns, but reminded the board that Marinette County is the third largest county in Wisconsin, made mostly of rural land. It's often hard to get from place to place with the lack of resources and expansive area to cross at a moment's notice. Various other members such as LeFebvre reminded his peers of the immense tax hike it would cause to have dedicated full-time First Responders spread through the entirety of the county. Guarisco shared a bit of his experience from the time he served on the Wausaukee Rescue Squad and how he noted that these people are still human and can make mistakes like forgetting to turn on their pager. At the end of the discussion, it was unanimously agreed to gather actual Deputies, Officers, First Responders, and volunteers into the next meeting in order to get a valued opinion from those on the job.

Gromala then started an equally long discussion about whether to classify Marinette County jailers as Protective Occupation Participants. The Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds, grant or object appeals by employers to change the employee into different WRS (Wisconsin Retirement System) categories: General, Executive/Elected, Protective Occupation Participant with Social Security and Protective Occupation Participant without Social Security. Being classified as a POP means the individual is active in law enforcement, active fire suppression or prevention, provided the duties required frequent exposure to a high degree of danger or peril and also require a high degree of physical conditioning. The board questioned the subjective terms being used to describe the degree of danger or physical conditioning the individual does, as the ETF Board might think "high" is different from the Public Service Committee's definition of "high". LeFebvre relayed from Finance Director, Laura Mans, that it would be an extra $83-85,000 per year for Marinette County taxpayers. Wanek argued that those who work at the jail deserve to be protected just as other law enforcement jobs are like Probation and Parole Officers, Firefighters or Sheriffs. The board ultimately found that they want to show support for their jail employees who deserve the protection.

The Committee okayed a motion to have EMS staffing and allowing Jaliers to be classified as Protective Occupation Participants on the next agenda. The next meeting is set for Tuesday July 5.


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