County supervisors look at future planning, budgeting

JEFFERSON — The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors approved several semi-related actions on future county planning and budgeting issues during its first meeting of the year Tuesday.

First, the board approved the creation of a Steering Committee to provide oversight of the updates to the county’s Comprehensive Plan and Farm Preservation Plan. Those two plans are a major aspect of the recently completed Strategic Plan.

The Steering Committee will have 18 members that draw upon, as stated in the resolution, “various stakeholder groups in the county.” The board will appoint the members; however, board Chairperson Jim Schroeder and some county staff members will serve as ex-officio members to assist the appointees.

The appointees will include two county board supervisors who currently serve on the county’s Planning and Zoning Committee; one at-large county board supervisor; and appointed representatives from the “functional areas” of the developer/building/real estate industry; a large agricultural producer; a small agricultural producer; and representatives of environmental; tourism; business (the chairperson of Thrive); a city; a village; three townships; K-12 education; post-secondary education; a non-profit entity; and health/human services.

The Steering Committee is expected to meet four times and provide updates to the full board on the progress of the plans.

The board also approved updates to the Jefferson County Hazard Mitigation Plan for the years 2019-23. Under federal law that was passed in 2000, all local governments must have a hazard mitigation plan in place in order to receive federal relief funding through FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Officially, the board held a public hearing on the mitigation plan at the start of Tuesday’s meeting; however, no one from the public was present to speak on the plan.

Jefferson County’s first mitigation plan was put into place in 2008, and then updated in 2013. The current update will serve for the next five years. The resolution was approved by the county Law Enforcement/Emergency Management Committee prior to the full board’s approval.

The plan, which is about 146 pages long, is available on the county’s website.

Also Tuesday, the board amended the Jefferson County Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan so the county could remain eligible for state Department of Natural Resources Stewardship Grants that would allow the county to purchase more structures built in floodplains for the purpose of demolishing those properties.

In one other eye-to-the-future aspect regarding planning and many other attributes of the county government, the board approved adopting “the Results Matrix for Priority Based Budgeting,” which will be utilized in future development and adoption of county budgets.

The matrix itself is a way to score and rank, using multiple criteria, the various services the county government must provide under law and services it chooses to provide. The idea of the matrix is to incorporate “the specific values and goals” of the county’s strategic plan. The matrix provides a framework for scoring the various services and programs, and should align the budget process with the strategic plan’s vision, according to county finance director Marc DeVries.

The broad categories for the scoring included resources, decisionmaking, workforce, collaboration and compliance; compliance in this context refers to state and federal policies; and regulations to which the county must adhere. The strategic plan covers areas such as safety, economy, infrastructure, health and well-being, smart growth and natural resources.

Taken as a whole, these plans and budgeting methods point toward the future of the county, according to County Administrator Ben Wehmeier, who commented afterward.

“If you look at all the things we are talking about tonight, we are trying to look at our vision and focus on those decisions that we are looking at five to 10 years from now and how the impact of our decisions will take place,” he said. “We want to make sure we have the data, the education, and the things in place that when we talk to the county board or other elected officials, and members of the community, we have purpose behind there.

“When you look at the matrix, you start asking ‘why?’ Why are we doing this and how does it occur? What does it mean for cost? As we look at this part of our goal is to educate, part of it is how do we change that conversation so that something is no longer just a line-item in a budget but talk about policy, and that policy effects the stakeholders of Jefferson County,” Wehmeier added.

In other matters Tuesday, the board:

• Unanimously passed a resolution in memory of longtime District 11 Supervisor Donald Reese, who passed away last month. The resolution, which recognized his devoted commitment to civic service, was read by County Clerk Barb Frank.

Additionally, Schroeder has announced that he is accepting applications to serve on the Board of Supervisors representing District 11 to finish Reese’s term, which expires on April 21, of 2020. The district includes the Town of Aztalan Ward 2, Town of Farmington (Wards 1 and 2), and Town of Concord Ward 2.

Residents of District 11 interested in serving on the County Board should send a resume and cover letter with your name, address and phone number to Jim Schroeder, 311 S. Center Avenue, Room 111, Jefferson, WI 53549, by Friday, Jan. 18. 

For further information concerning the county board or the district, contact Jim Schroeder at (920) 728-2182 or

• Approved a $132,486 contract with the firm Ayres and Associates to conduct a survey of county terrain mapping using updated LiDAR equipment. LiDAR is Light Detection Ranging, which is, according to the approved resolution, more detailed than previous digital modeling.

Jefferson County was one of five counties that received a collective grant for the updated survey from federal and state agencies, however, the county’s land information program will put $16,243 toward the costs.

• Approved an amendment to the county’s personnel ordinance that will allow limited-term employees and project employees access to health and dental insurance through the county. In short, under the America Cares Act, it is less expensive for the county to offer the insurance programs than to be penalized by such employees who seek insurance in health-care marketplaces through the ACA.

• Approved creating a mobility manager project employee through a one-year grant that is designed to improve mobility among senior citizens and residents with mobility disabilities. The program will be supervised through the county Human Services department. The county will contribute $5,914 to the program that is being funded through an $80,000 state grant and a $17,000 grant from Easter Seals.

• Approved creating a full-time jail-based public health nurse position and another jail public health nurse supervisor. The approved resolution removed one part-time jail nurse position.

The supervisor position is not yet funded, but will be at a future date. According to the resolution, the county has had a long-term issue with nurse recruitment and staffing part time hours.

• Approved a reorganization of the Clerk of Courts office. It is expected to create a savings of about $11,453.

• Approved various supervisor appointments to committees. Appointed were Lloyd Zastrow to the Planning and Zoning Committees; Walt Christensen to the Highway Committee; and Kirk Lund to the Parks Committee.

Additionally, the board approved Matthew Zangl, “for an indeterminate term,” to serve in the joint position Head of the County Zoning Agency and the Director of Planning and Zoning.

• Recognized employees who retired in the last quarter: Dale Naatz, with 32 years in the Highway Department, and Deputies Michael Gosh and Randy Podratz, who served in the Sheriff’s Office for 28 and 31 years, respectively. In total, that amounts to 91 years of experience in Jefferson County.