News
F&P greenlights PCSO ‘office specialist’ position

County Board will take up issue next

By Sarah Nigbor

The Pierce County Board’s Finance & Personnel Committee Dec. 6 voted unanimously to forward a new sheriff’s department clerical/office support position to the full county board for review; however, the sheriff doesn’t agree with the reclassification, wage decrease and job description change.

At the Monday, Dec. 6 Law Enforcement Committee meeting Pierce County Sheriff’s Office employees spoke up about a deputy/secretary/jailer position that has been removed from the collective bargaining unit and is proposed to be changed, as far as job description and pay scale go.

The position has been in the Jail Bargaining Unit for some time, but according to County Administrator Jason Matthys, the work performed in this position is not related to the jail or actual law enforcement and is secretarial, a point with which Sheriff Nancy Hove doesn’t agree. Matthys further said at the LEC meeting that the position is inappropriately categorized as an employee with “protective status,” but doesn’t meet the requirements set forth in state statutes.

“Effective Jan. 1, 2022, this position will be eliminated from the Jail Bargaining Unit and consideration is being given to the creation of a new position – to perform those clerical and other office support duties,” Matthys said in a memo dated Dec. 6.

Matthys and Human Resources Director Allison Preble reviewed existing county positions that perform predominantly clerical, and at times, specialized assignments including confidential matters, and decided the position is consistent with an Office Specialist.

In response, Hove provided a new job description for a Confidential Administrative Deputy, which listed multiple duties such as records management system data entry, train employees and field train officers in records management; create, prepare and maintain criminal, juvenile and forfeiture files for charging consideration and referral; direct information sharing and case referral with other law enforcement agencies and county departments, and many more.

In a letter to the Law Enforcement Committee dated Nov. 29, Hove said the job description Matthys had provided was “a somewhat generic job description for review, indicating any suggestions or input by me as it relates to the job description he presented be provided to him for consideration.”

She suggested a pay grade classification similar to district attorney’s office staff, who also handle highly confidential and specialized information, similar to the current deputy/jailer/secretary, whose current salary is $90,832.34. She has been with PCSO for 27 years.

Matthys stated he considered the sheriff’s list of duties and responsibilities and incorporated those pertinent into the Office Specialist description. While the newly reclassified position would pay 42% less (to start) of the current employee’s wage, Matthys offered a compromise: Ask the committee to redline the wage so that the current employee, if she chooses to accept the newly reclassified position, will keep her existing salary.

The F& P Committee voted to forward the request, along with the redlined wage, to the full county board at its Dec. 28 meeting.

The committee also voted unanimously at its Dec. 6 to forward the recommendation to the full county board to ratify the Wisconsin Professional Police Association (WPPA) Sheriff’s Department patrol and investigators subunit and the WPPA jail subunit collective bargaining agreements to for approval.

The agreements are for Jan. 1, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2024. According to Matthys, the changes mostly relate to cleaning up language and an acrossthe- board wage increase. The increase’s intent is to make pay in Pierce County more consistent with comparable counties.

“It will hopefully entice people to want to come work here and want to stay,” Matthys said. “While there’s no endless pot of money, we want to compete.”

Wages for patrol deputies, sergeants and juvenile investigators will increase by 2% in 2022 over last year. Wages will increase 3% in 2023 and 3% in 2024. Wages for jail sergeants and jailer deputies will increase by 4% in effective Jan. 1, 2022; by 3% in 2023 and by 3% in 2024.

Other business

•F& P voted to accept a Terminating Parental Rights (TPR) grant for the District Attorney’s office. The DA’s office and Pierce County Department of Human Services have been working together to apply for a grant that would reimburse the DA’s office up to 40% of the costs related to TPR cases. A private attorney in Barron had taken care of Pierce County’s TPR cases; however, the attorney retired and the DA’s office took on the responsibilities and costs associated with the cases. Any grant money received would be kept in the DA’s office budget.

•The committee approved an updated fair manager’s job description and increased it from a .66 FTE to a .8 FTE. Fair Manager Ann Webb Bluhm will retire Jan. 3 after 23 years. She donated more than 100 hours per year.

•The committee forwarded to the full county board a request to amend the Pierce County zoning ordinance related to permitting accessory residences and solar energy systems. It’s becoming more common for multiple generations of families to reside on a single parcel. The proposed amendment would require accessory residences to be a permitted use, not a conditional use permit, in agriculture and residential districts. If approved, an accessory residence could be no larger than 60% of the existing residence’s footprint with a maximum size of 1,500 square feet. Accessory residences would be limited to one per parcel or lot.

As for large solar energy systems, the amendment makes it clear that the Land Management Committee can establish setbacks, height, decommissioning and vegetative requirements.

•The committee approved a contract with Condor and a media conversion agreement with Fidlar Technologies for the Register of Deeds Office. The program will be used by trained Fidlar employees to add indexing to current documents in order to complete daily document recording during unexpected staff shortages. Fees would be billed on a monthly basis at the rate of $2.70 per document for the first 100 documents, and $1.80 per document for any over 100. This service will only be used as needed, if staff is unexpectedly absent.

The media conversion agreement is a full rescan of aperture cards for documents recorded in March 1975 to December 1997. The project was originally scanned in 2014, but much of it is not readable. Fidlar will rescan and replace the images at no cost to the county.

December 21, 2021