Buffalo Lake water levels are being lowered this week, as athe dam rehabilitation & public facility project begins.


Executive Finance tables dredge bank road agreement

The Executive Finance Committee of the Marquette County Board voted to table an agreement requested by the DNR regarding the county’s in-kind work on the upcoming repair and enhancement of the Buffalo Lake dam and the dredge bank road in Montello.  The committee is asking for more information before committing to allow the highway department to do any work on the project.

The $9 million project begins with a drawdown that starts September 11, 2012.  The engineering plans are due to be finalized and shown to the public in October.  The DNR has received all permits required to begin the work.  The letter asks for the county to complete several phases of roadwork on the dredge bank that costs out, according to the letter, to about $382,000.

County Board member Gerald Hebert II, who represents Neshkoro, said that he has heard nothing about what the City of Montello or the Town of Montello are going to contribute to the project and said he believes this sets a bad precedent for the county to approve doing work on a DNR and city road.

“The county is not in the business of doing city or town roads,” Hebert said, and made a motion to disapprove supporting any of this request. That motion failed to get a second, and a prior motion to table the request until further information was gathered had already failed to pass.

County Highway Commissioner Brendon Rhinehart said that he was never shown the figures included in the letter by the DNR and could not finish figuring out costs to do the work listed because enough information was not provided.  He also said that they’d have to pay prevailing wage for any county workers who work on the project and that, in his opinion, doing the dredge bank road work would take away from doing county highway department work.

“I believe we have to take care of people in this county first,” said Rhinehart.

After more discussion, the committee voted to table the agreement until after a meeting on September 20 between the DNR, engineers, city, town and county.  Mike Raddatz said that Buffalo Lake is important to the county and the county should have some obligation to the project, but that more information is needed.

In other business, Administrative Coordinator Brenda Jahns-Gram reported that employee health insurance rates for next year have risen an average of 8.2% and that the proposed budget which included a 5% raise will have to be adjusted. She also said that the Sheriff’s Department patrol deputies are in arbitration after failing to come to an agreement on their contract.  Until arbitration concludes, that budget proposal cannot be finalized.  The Union offered no concessions, she said, while the county offered to pay the employee part of retirement. 

The committee voted to amend the Highway Department overtime policy to pay time and a half on weekends.  They had done this until a change was made last year.  After showing results of a study on costs in 2008, a very bad winter, and 2010 that showed that weekend overtime cost the county a total of $72 a year per worker in 2008, Commissioner Rhinehart asked the committee to amend the policy in order to assure that workers would continue to make themselves available on weekends to come into work. 

District Attorney Chad Hendee informed the committee that revenue in his department will be down next year due to a decrease in state reimbursement for victim witness program and a loss of $10,000 due to the change in charging people for deferred prosecution fees. 

“I don’t believe that charge is statutorily supported nor do I believe the DA should be in the business of raising revenue,” Hendee said.
County Attorney Ben Bult asked the committee to rescind an inter-jurisdictional agreement policy put in place last year that made outside counties responsible for emergency placement costs for residents they placed in Marquette County at residential facilities.  Bult said that this policy has caused difficulties in placing residents from other counties into Marquette County nursing homes and assisted living homes.  In addition, the State Ombudsman told Marquette County that they were restricting free movement of elderly people who wished to reside in the county.  The policy could lead to a lawsuit against Marquette County, Bult said.  The committee passed rescinding the policy and moved this to county board.