County Board Update – June 6, 2013


“The punishment which the wise suffer who refuse to take part in the government is to live under the government of worse men” -Plato

Kewaunee County Board Activities Update, June 6, 2013

By: Ron Heuer, District 12 Supervisor, Kewaunee County Board

Kewaunee County Employee Salary Status Update
You may recall from the last update, I had completed a Kewaunee County Employee Salary Study that illustrated our county employees were being paid on average, $3,700 higher per employee than employees of comparable counties.  For the most part, my study produced results that paralleled the salary information the county received in the Carlson Dettmann study (by the way, the county paid $5,000 for the Carlson Dettmann study).  I was allowed to present my salary study information to both the Kewaunee County Board as well as the Personnel Committee.

What’s Next?
The Personnel Committee is now in negotiation with the various unions to determine what will be done with salaries for the FY2013.  A 2% across the board salary increase was put in the budget for 2013, but that has not yet been acted upon.  My study of 172 county employees showed only a handful of employees should be considered for any increase and the Carlson Dettmann information revealed pretty much the same results.  So, the message should be quite obvious to the Personnel Committee members, that being, many salaries should be frozen.

Although I have attended these Personnel Committee union negotiation meetings, I am not at liberty to report on those specific meetings as they are held in “closed session”.  So it is up to you to communicate directly with these committee members to let them know your position on salary increases.  I have once again included those committee members’ names and contact information for you.  When you are considering your position, perhaps a recap of the Kewaunee County financial position is in order:

  • Out of 72 counties in the state, Kewaunee County has the 5th highest tax levy with a 2012/2013 levy of $7.77.
  • We have a debt in excess of $17,000,000 which totals to over $23,000,000 in debt and debt service.
  • With the closure of the Kewaunee Nuclear plant, the county will be losing an estimated $700,000 annual revenue from that closure with no plan as to where or how that revenue shortfall will be made up.
  • A comparison of our county employee’s salaries revealed over  90% of our county employees are being paid annual salaries averaging $3,700 higher per employee than employees of comparable counties.
  • The consequence of losing the nuclear plant and the employment it sustained will cause a reduction in commerce across the county going forward.   This will further erode the taxing opportunity in the county.
  • Our Highway Department has lost $1,984,242 over the past 4 years (more detail on this, below).

Personnel Committee Members

Robert Weidner Chairman Tel:  920-845-5463
James Barlow Member Tel:  920-487-3783
Kaye Schillin Member Tel:  920-388-2654
Chuck Hutter Member Tel:  920-487-2172
Bruce Heidmann Member Tel:  920-487-3710
David Mayer Member Tel:  920-360-9336
Brian Paplham Member Tel:  920-255-1468
Charles Wagner Member Tel:  920-837-7712
Linda Sinkula Member Tel:  920-388-3251


As a Member of the Kewaunee County Board of Supervisors, who do I represent?

I represent all the people who live in my District.  I heard it loud and clear from constituents that they were not happy about the way the county was being managed, specifically the issue of taxes and spending are high priority.  Recently in an open session of the Personnel Committee after I presented my salary study information the District 3 Supervisor Charles Wagner commented, “I would like to commend Mr. Heuer for the work he has done on the salary information, but Mr. Heuer is biased.  He is biased in favor of the taxpayer.”  This statement really set me back as I have been under the impression that I am to be representing the taxpayers.  If not the taxpayer who am I supposed to be representing?  Perhaps you should contact your District Supervisor and ask them who they represent as there obviously is confusion on this issue.

Kewaunee County Highway Department Review

In our July 2012 Board Meeting we learned from the Administrator’s (Mr. Dorner) report that the Kewaunee County Highway Department has lost $695,000 for the FY2011.  This department is supposed to operate at minimum a zero budget.  I asked the obvious question, “Why did we have to wait seven months into the new fiscal year to learn we had that kind of loss?”  I was informed it took until June for the audited numbers to be presented.  The next question was, “What will the next 12 months bring us?”  Mr. Dorner informed the board at that time we’d more than likely continue to lose money given the high cost of depreciation on our little used equipment and/or unless the townships would give more work to the Kewaunee County Highway Department. 

Following this July 2012 meeting, I met with Mary O’leary, the Highway Office Manager who did an excellent job in walking me through the entire budget process at the Highway Department.  I would add this is quite a complicated budget as there is a merging and tracking of various Federal, State and local funds.  We spent a couple of hours going over this process and following this overview, it was quite  apparent to me that unless major operational changes were made in the Highway Department the department would continue to lose money.  Mr. Jandrin joined us at the end of that meeting and he agreed changes were necessary.

Well that was a year ago, and now we have learned the Highway Department has lost another $848,787.  But now this is a real problem as we have “hit the wall” because the Highway Department no longer has any surplus to cover this loss.  We had a surplus of $824,897 which means we have a shortfall of some $24,000.  This shortfall has to come from somewhere, more than likely the General Fund.  This is not acceptable from a management perspective as there were actions that should have been implemented that could have eliminated, or at a minimum reduced these losses – but nothing was done.  As you will see from information presented below, this is an ongoing issue.

I would like you all to understand the “chain of command” for the Kewaunee Co. Highway Department.  Several months ago, while attending a Highway/Solid Waste Committee meeting, I was observing and was quite surprised at the lack of progress the committee was able to make with the Highway Department.  So I probed, I asked the question, “Where does the buck stop with the Highway Department?”  “ Is it with Mr. Jandrin, the Commissioner?”  Mr. Dorner was in attendance and he informed me that Mr. Jandrin reported to him directly and therefore, ultimately the performance of the Highway Department rests with him.   The Highway/Solid Waste committee is a policy setting committee and does not manage nor is not responsible for the management of the Highway Department.

I have placed below a table with some updated financial information on the Kewaunee County Highway department for the period 2003 – 2012 (these numbers have been provided by the highway department directly) I summarize the performance as UNDERWHELMING!  Let me be very clear about this though.  I do not find fault with the individuals who work in the highway department.  We have some very capable, responsible employees in that department who are dedicated to providing good service, to and for the county.  I do however, find fault with the senior management and leadership in that department as they are not efficiently managing the results of the Highway Department.

Kewaunee County Highway Department Financial Review- Prepared by R Heuer (with information provided by the Highway Department)
May 29, 2013  (CLICK on the table to enlarge it.)

Note 1 – Look at the cost of employees.  In 2003, 49 employees, $1,955,310 salary — 2012 10 fewer employees, with a payroll of $2,079,953 in salaries.  Average salary cost per employee increased by $12,753.  This is base salary only and does not include any benefits, which are an estimated 84% of the salary number.

Note 2 –  For the period 2009 – 2012 the Highway Department has lost $1,984,242.

Note 3 –  For the period 2009 -2012 the Highway Department billed the Kewaunee County Landfill  $1,749,975.  Had this work not been available for the Highway Department, the department would have lost $3.7M during that same window of time.

Note 4 –  2009 – 2012 – 7 miles of road built and 27 miles of roads resurfaced.  (2009 included work on AB to J, County Rd X -57 to Cardinal Rd, Cty C – S to Cardinal, Cty D, S to X, Cty S, FS to H)  AB work was funded as part of a $6M grant.

Note 5 – We have now hit the wall.  In 2007 we had a surplus of $2,098,196 and from 2007 through the end of year 2012 we have burned through that surplus and are now left with a $23,890 shortfall that must be made up from the general fund or some other source.  Also, we are now 5 months into the new year and no action has yet been taken to adjust any expenses at this time.

Note 6 – Between the stimulus money and the Surface Trans. Program (Obama stimulus money) the county has received $1,693,806 of Federal funds that have been spent by this department.

Why do I delve into the issues I report on?
I am quite attuned to the activities in our government both on state and national basis.  As we can see on a national basis, with the IRS Scandal, the Sebelius Obama-Care shake-down, the Attorney General Scandal, the Benghazi Scandal, our bloated, costly government seems to be out of control.  Our government is too big, unwieldy with hundreds of overlapping departments that justify their existence by rolling out, what they consider, new innovative programs that are many times already offered and funded through other departments.  This kind of inefficiency, waste and bureaucracy exists at all levels of government and, having the personal experience of operating businesses in the private sector, I am appalled with the lack of management and attention to detail that I see in government.  No one wants to be held accountable for their lack of leadership and management.  That is unacceptable to me and I will not sit idly by while our tax dollars are wasted.  My mission is to hold the public sector management of Kewaunee County responsible for the efficient management of our tax dollars.

Ron Heuer
District 12, Supervisor
Kewaunee County

Posted in County Update