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Columbia County Board gives itself raises
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Columbia County Board gives itself raises

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Columbia County Board members voted to give themselves at the Wednesday night council meeting.

“I just have one question – Why?” Supervisor Harlan Baumgartner asked.

Corporate Council Joe Ruff said the reason for the raises was to stay competitive with wages compared to surrounding communities. Supervisors are paid per meeting they attend. They used to be paid $60 per county meeting, $45 per committee meeting.

Supervisors will now be paid $70 per meeting and $60 per committee meeting. The annual salary of the County Board chair was raised from $7,500 to $12,500 and the vice chair salary more than doubled from $4,000 to $8,500.

In Sauk County, Supervisors are paid $90 per county meeting and $75 per committee meeting. The Sauk County Board Chair is paid a salary of $650 a month — $7,800 a year. The rules for the Sauk County Board do not mention any salary for the County Board vice chair.

The raises will not go into affect until the new board of supervisors is elected in April 2022.

The motion carried with four opposing votes from supervisors Denise Brusveen, Adam Field, Jon Plumer and Eric Shimpach.

Spending relief funds

The Columbia County executive committee has already approved allocating almost $5 million of federal funds. The county has $6.2 million that needs to be allocated by 2024.

The American Rescue Plan Act was signed by President Joe Biden in March. The $1.9 trillion emergency legislative package is designed to provide immediate assistance to communities handling COVID-19.

Shonna Neary of the Columbia County Accounting department gave a presentation on the funds Wednesday night at the monthly board of supervisors meeting.

Columbia County is set to receive just over $11 million dollars of federal funding. The county received half of the funds this year and will receive the other $5.5 million sometime in 2022.

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Neary said the Columbia County executive committee has approved an estimated $4.9 million in spending. This includes all employees will receive a premium pay bonus of $1,200.

“We’ve allocated those funds for all employees through 2024,” Neary said. According to county documents that is $2.4 million, the largest request that have been approved.

Neary said other large expenses are personal protective equipment for all departments.

One supervisor asked Neary if there will be any oversight from the full board or if decisions were only going to be made solely by the executive committee.

Neary said the department has a form for other departments to fill out. Departments throughout the county then would fill out the form and the accounting department and the executive committee would see if it was a proper request within the parameters of the ARPA funds.

The ARPA funds need to be committed to a project by 2024 and the project must be completed by 2026.

There are specific guidelines for how the funds can be used. Those include that funds can be used for one-time expenditures and not operating costs. The money allowable uses include support public health expenses, address negative economic impacts caused by COVID-19, replace lost public sector revenue, provide premium pay for essential workers and invest in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

The funds cannot be used for pension funds, debt service payments, to offset a reduction in net tax revenue and general infrastructure spending.

Supervisor Char Holtan

Char Holtan was sworn in as the newest Columbia County Supervisor on Wednesday night by Judge W. Andrew Voigt at the County Board of Supervisors meeting in Portage.

Holtan was approved by the county board earlier this summer to fill the District 9 seat in Columbia County after former supervisor Don DeYoung died in June.

Holtan spoke briefly following the swearing in. She said she has live in Friesland for many years and wants to support the community in her new role.

“Right now, I’m learning and getting educated in this position,” Holtan said. “I’ll soon be ready to support my community in the best way possible.

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