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Crawford County passes spate of resolutions, prepares for jail financing

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By Steve Van Kooten

 

Crawford County had a busy week with a Board of Supervisors meeting on Feb. 20 and a Finance Committee meeting following the next day. Both agendas were packed with reports from different departments and appearances from community groups.

“We have a large agenda, so we’re going through this fast,” Tom Cornford, Chair of the Crawford County Board of Supervisors, said in reference to the preponderance of resolutions and ordinances on the Board of Supervisors agenda.

 

Resolutions/ordinances

The Board of Supervisors approved several resolutions, including 1-2024 to include the Crawford County Independent for county postings, 2-2024 to carry accounts forward into 2024 and 3-2024 to carry an account from 2023 over to 2024 for the Veteran’s Affairs Office. The fund was given a separate resolution because it was a one-time carry over for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that had to be spent before Dec. 31, 2024.

Resolution 4-2024 allowed the county to cancel and destroy unclaimed checks from different departments in the county, including the Sheriff’s Office and Circuit Court. All affected funds had been held since 2013, according to Deanne Lutz, Crawford County Treasurer. The resolution was approved, which will allow the county to claim $1,535.60.

The board also approved Resolution 5-2024 to allow the county to begin a year-long process to notify, serve and collect delinquent property taxes from 2020. Lutz stated the list of mortgage and lien holders with delinquent taxes proffered to the supervisors would likely shrink as the year went on and people paid taxes to Crawford County.

Supervisor Craig Anderson asked, “Does that include the county getting a hold of all these holders [of delinquent properties]?”

“So, after this we order title work, we get a hold of the tax holders, the lien holders and we give them so long to pay. Then we give them a sixty day notice, and after sixty days it goes into the court system,” Lutz answered. If the process continued the county could acquire properties that remained unpaid.

Lutz also said the resolution also accounted for properties that were unclaimed or were not owned in the county. She explained that the upgrade in technology used by assessors sometimes located parcels that were not owned by anyone. If the property was land-locked between two or more properties, the county could facilitate negotiations between the owners to designate ownership or responsibility for the property. If the property had public access by land or water, Lutz stated the county was bound by law to put those properties on sale.

The board approved two ordinances. The first added a stipulation to the county’s credit card policy for employees, which required any department or individual who accrued late fees would have to submit a plan to the Finance Committee to have the card reinstated. The second increased paid holidays for county employees from 10 to 11 with the addition of New Year’s Day.

 

Peer support funding

At the county’s Finance Committee meeting Director of Emergency Management Jim Hackett appeared to request funds for training peer support employees.

Hackett stated the multi-departmental, volunteer group included two jailers, one dispatcher and three road officers. Members of the group would assist the police, fire department and other emergency service personnel after traumatizing cases. Hackett references an electrocution in Eastman where peer support workers were utilized by firefighters that responded to the call.

“It’s the band-aid to get through,” Hackett said. While other resources for personnel can’t react during or even immediately after an incident, peer support workers can provide a quick response as other services are accessed to ascertain a worker’s well-being.

“We’re at the limit of my ability to give them training,” Hackett said. “I’m the State of Wisconsin Department of Justice Peer Support Teacher for this region, and we are at the point we need more advanced training. That’s what this money would be set aside for.”

The board approved the allocation of $2,500 for the Emergency Management Peer Support Group’s training.

 

Command Post

Gary Koch, Chair of the Finance Committee, stated a resolution for initial borrowing was planned to go before the Board of Supervisors in April. After the resolution was approved, a bond sale was planned for August to gather bids for that month’s county meeting.

“We’re still on track to bid the project out in September to have funds available,” Koch said. “We’re going to see a large amount of their [Klein McCarthy Architects] fees paid probably [sic] prior or right up to when we bid.”

Koch stated the county had “idle money” available to cover the costs before bond money became accessible. Ideally, the bond money could then be used to replenish those “idle” funds. Koch stated this was the tentative plan in place. Hackett told the Press the post’s price had been locked in and the county would see reimbursement for some of the initial payment made for the unit.

Koch also said the county planned to buy the new command post for the Emergency Management Department by having it rolled into the jail’s bond issue. The money from the first $10 million bond would generate interest that he said could be used to cover all or some of the county’s cost for the vehicle as long as a description of the command post was included with an initial resolution approved by the Board of Supervisors.

When the county borrows the money, the resolution must include a description of all uses for the funds—which includes the interest—and the money can not be spent on anything that isn’t described in the approved resolution.

 

Other business

-Pete Flesch, a member of Driftless Development’s (DDI) Board of Directors, introduced the organization’s new Executive Director, Mark Lee, and stated former Executive Director Carol Roth would remain with DDI as a consultant and grant writer.

-Tom Nelson gave a report from the Prairie du Chien Memorial Gardens.

-Becky Koske, Director of Housing Community Services for Couleecap, provided the 2023 Emergency Housing Grant Report.

-Employees who had served five, 10, 15 or 20 years with the county received recognition from the board.

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