Chippewa County
Wisconsin

Action Item
3400

Winter Maintenance Funding

Information

Department:Highway DepartmentSponsors:
Category:Budget

Meeting History

Jan 26, 2017 8:00 AM  Highway Committee Regular Meeting

Kelley distributed a list of the 2016 overtime hours. (Copy on file) He explained what each line was for and why it was needed. Supervisor Gerrish asked if they could get a breakdown of how many employees this was for and how many hours per employee. Supervisor Hull questioned if this amount was with benefits also and Seelow stated this was just labor costs. Discussion was made about what percentage would be added on to that total if benefits were included and which items were reimbursed by outside entities. Supervisor Sikorski requested more information at the next meeting on the costs of the guaranteed overtime and questioned if any other counties do any kind of contracting out. Kelley stated that all Counties in Wisconsin utilize County forces for routine maintenance of the County & State systems. Sikorski questioned the need for the fuel position and Kelley stated that it is a necessary position as it handles many other duties in the shop. The fuel system upgrades were needed for better efficiency, especially with the Sheriff’s Department and others not having to come back into Chippewa to fuel up. Supervisor Steele stated he would like to see a more itemized list at the next meeting with the overtime that is not reimbursable, total costs with benefits, guaranteed overtime versus regular overtime and ways to save with preventative maintenance. Kelley mentioned that he has been to seven surrounding counties this week to see how they operate and will be going to four more in the next few days. Supervisor Sikorski stated that the committee could benefit from seeing a summary of these visits at the next meeting.

Feb 21, 2017 8:00 AM  Highway Committee Special Meeting

Kelly presented phase one of the Vehicle Registration (Wheel Tax) Fee Analysis. (Presentation copy on file) Discussion was made on the interpretation of Ordinance 10-14 to sunset the vehicle registration fee. Supervisor Hull was under the understanding that the $550,000 wasn't meant to be a sustained amount but an amount to be met prior to sunsetting the vehicle registration fee. Supervisor Sikorski felt that the goal should be coming up with $250,000 per year as an average over ten years to remain sustainable. Pascarella stated he believed the $550,000 was to be a sustainable amount by June. Supervisor Gerrish questioned Kelley what amount they would be looking for and Kelly stated without the transfers they would have needed an average of $250,000 additional each year over the past ten years. Kelley discussed meeting with other area counties on their staffing levels, overtime, safety and training along with other options. Kelley provided three options in this phase for providing a sustainable alternative to the vehicle registration fee. Reducing the number of plow routes, establish a minimum snow accumulation policy and changes to overtime policies. Kelley stated eliminating plow routes will eliminate as many as three positions with a savings up to $182,908 but then would have to hire three seasonal employees for summer maintenance at $60,000 making the savings actually $122,908. Kelley discussed the current plow routes for all the Chippewa County sheds with their levels of service, miles and cycle times and compared those to what they would be if they eliminated one, two or three routes. Kelley stated an accumulation policy can be looked into, however that can have a negative effect as hard-packed ice can accumulate and remain on the roadways which will only increase material usage. Kelley also discussed the estimated average savings of only $4,452 if they went with the elimination of the guaranteed overtime policy. Pascarella stated eliminating one or more options from what is being presented today would help streamline the process instead of looking at all of the options in the end. Supervisor Gerrish stated since they have not been presented with all the information yet that they need to look at the whole picture and then go through the options to narrow it down. Supervisor Steele recommended prioritizing the three options and then integrating those with future options to determine which to eliminate.

Motion (Steele/Hartman) to prioritize the three different options proposed today and continuously integrate with options from future meetings. Eliminating 1 to 3 winter patrol sections was number one, modifying overtime policies as number two and snow accumulation policy as number three at this point in time. Carried by Roll Call. All Supervisors present voting Aye except Supervisor Gerrish. Motion carried by 4-1 vote.

Mar 8, 2017 8:00 AM  Highway Committee Special Meeting

Kelley presented four options in phase two of the Vehicle Registration Fee (Wheel Tax) Analysis. (Presentation copy on file)

Option one is to Decrease Highway Construction. Kelley stated that he had visited 10 area counties. The average pavement replacement cycle was 29 years, with 43 years being the highest. Chippewa County is replacing pavement every 49 years at the current funding levels. 25 years is a standard design life span for an asphalt roadway. Kelley broke the proposed cuts into three different options. First is a $300,000 overall cut reducing 9.9 miles of paving to 8.5 miles while increasing 18.7 miles of chipseal/rut paving to 23 miles. Pavement replacement cycle will be increased from 49.4 years to 57.5 years and will allow for 3 less seasonal workers. Second is a $200,000 overall cut reducing 9.9 miles of paving to 8.9 miles while increasing 18.7 miles of chipseal/rut paving to 23 miles. Pavement replacement cycle will be increased from 49.4 years to 54.9 years and will allow for two less seasonal workers. Third is a $100,000 overall cut reducing 9.9 miles of paving to 9.2 miles while increasing 18.7 miles of chipseal/rut paving to 23 miles. Pavement replacement cycle will be increased from 49.4 years to 53.2 years and will allow for one less seasonal worker.

Option two is to Decrease the Highway Equipment fund. Kelley explained how the County purchases between $1.0 - $1.2M of equipment annually, depending on the funds available in the machinery account. Kelley explained the state’s machinery rates and depreciation schedules. Patrol truck replacement cycles were discussed and Kelley stated that some counties opt for an 8 or 9 year cycle as the trucks still have higher resale value at this point and demand for them is good. Chippewa County typically replaces patrol trucks in 15 years. At that point the maintenance and repair expenses are high and resale value is lower. If they only replaced two patrol trucks per year that would result in a 24 year life cycle. Kelley explained that replacement cycle impacts maintenance costs as in 2016 average repairs & maintenance per hour on trade-ins were $33.57/hour of operation while a 1-year old patrol truck averaged at $8.82/hour of operation. The trucks traded in 2017 averaged $21.79/hour of operation and 1-year old trucks averaged $4.57/hour of operation. Kelley stated there are also several future equipment needs which consist of the brine making system, asphalt paver, excavator, vehicle maintenance information system, and quad-axle haul trucks.

Option three is to Modify Shop Staffing Levels. Kelley reviewed the recommendation of eliminating the fuel/utility position for a savings of $68,825 per year. He explained all the essential duties this position performs such as maintenance and repairs of all fuel/oil dispensing equipment at all locations, plans fuel deliveries, maintains inventory, routine equipment maintenance, plows snow in the winter and will also be responsible for the brine system. All of these duties will fall to other staff and supervisors if eliminated. Kelley evaluated the existing shop staffing levels by analyzing the vehicle to technician ratio, vehicle equivalents per mechanic, and mechanic & repair unit methods which all show that the shop is properly staffed. Kelley mentioned staggering staff schedules has no identifiable direct cost savings in doing so as preventative maintenance is currently being done when equipment is not in use. Kelley suggested shift differential pay for non-standard hours may be necessary and has concerns about recruitment and retention of quality staff.

Option four is to maintain the Vehicle Registration Fee. According to the Wisconsin DMV’s website there are 20 local units of government with a vehicle registration fee on average around $19 per vehicle. The current $10 per vehicle registration fee they obtain results in an average annual revenue of $544,825. If it were increased to $20 per vehicle it would average $1,089,650 and if it were decreased to $5 it would average $272,413. The DMV website does not list which municipalities have vehicle registration fees with sunset dates.

Kelley explained ongoing/future shop efficiencies such as the Fuel Management System and the Vehicle Maintenance Information System. Staff also conducted a cost/benefit analysis of installing natural gas heat at the hotmix plant along with adding recycled asphalt pavement to the hotmix, both of which are not cost effective at this time.

Discussion was made on the option of leasing patrol trucks as this was being done in another area county. Kelley stated that this is an option for counties with much older fleets, however it would not be his recommendation for Chippewa County. Paul Mohr mentioned leasing trucks would be difficult with all the specialty winter equipment they need for the trucks as the leasing companies typically try to provide standard trucks that can be used in other industries at the end of a lease. Supervisor Sikorski questioned the use of staggered mechanic schedule and Mohr stated he had concerns about the logistics of this. He felt that there will be difficulty in recruiting/retaining quality mechanics and more times when mechanics will be forced to work on a specialized piece of equipment that one of the other mechanics may have been able to handle more efficiently.

Discussion was made on the viability of maintaining a vehicle registration fee. Pascarella stated that the committee needs to find cost savings within the department and bring them to the County Board. Supervisor Hull mentioned that there appears to be a revenue shortage and that there may not be internal options that will come up with the money needed. Sikorski stated they were given directive from the County Board to come up with options to eliminate the wheel tax so they need to come up with the savings that creates the least heartache to the citizens and let the board make that decision. Discussion was made on how to rank the options together from phase one to phase two. Maintaining a vehicle registration fee beyond 2020 will be left on the list as this is an option, however the committee determined that the board is looking for a way to end the fee so this would be ranked at the bottom of the list.

Motion (Hartman/Steele) to agree to the following priority ranking: 1. Reduce Number of Light Plow Routes 2. Reduce Highway Construction 3. Reduce Equipment purchases 4. Modify Overtime Policy 5. Develop Snow Accumulation Policy 6. Modify Shop Staffing Levels 7. Maintain Vehicle Registration Fee. Carried by Roll Call. All Supervisors presenting voting Aye. Motion carried.

Kelley discussed the agenda for the next meeting. Reviewing findings of WisDOT Plow Route Optimization Study, binding referendum to increase Tax Levy. Non-sustainable options to be discussed will include increasing highway tax property levy without a binding referendum, transfers from the General Fund, and continuous bonding.

Apr 6, 2017 8:00 AM  Highway Committee Special Meeting

Supervisor Steele asked to speak first as he needed to be excused from the meeting shortly. He stated that the approach to solving the winter maintenance funding issue should include a variety of pieces that are put together. He felt that the committee and staff have looked at detailed policy-level items from within the Highway Department operations and stated the savings need to come from both processes and practices. These processes and practices need to be looked at within the Highway Department, but also need to be looked at across the entire County. He was concerned with the reluctance of staff at the last meeting to identify any areas within the department that can be reduced.

Pascarella went through a detailed presentation covering the proposed time frame for addressing the vehicle registration fee, background, sustainable options and non-sustainable options. (attachment). He discussed how the County’s 0.5% sales tax is distributed and which sales tax allocations are required annually by County Board ordinance. The Debt Service Fund receives 30% of sales tax and Property Tax Relief receives 25% of sales tax annually. The Highway Department typically receives $1.3M/year, which is 24% of the sales tax distribution.

Pascarella discussed the logistics of a binding referendum, which would be necessary to increase the County’s tax levy limits if that direction is chosen. Pascarella reviewed the statewide local units of government that are currently utilizing a vehicle registration fee and pointed out that Chippewa County and Marathon County are the only counties with sunset clauses in their vehicle registration fee.

Pascarella covered several options that were identified as being non-sustainable. He explained how the equalized value and amount of debt service affect tax levy limits and explained why there needs to be some cushion below the levy limit in case equalized value decreases in the future. Simply transferring funds out of the County General Fund into winter maintenance is not a sustainable solution and would lead to a depletion of the unassigned fund balance. With a current percentage of unassigned fund balance to general fund expenditures of 34.8%, the County is able to maintain a good bond rating. Reducing this percentage could result in a lower bond rating and, in turn, a higher interest rate in future debt service packages. Pascarella discussed the current bonding plan to borrow $2M in 2018 for 2019 and $2M in 2020 for 2021 to utilize funding of $1M per year for Highways from 2019 thru 2022, but stated bonding continuously is not practical due to other needs in the County.

He pointed out that there was a $5M jurisdictional transfer in the mid-2000’s that helped fund construction for a number of years, but that money was spent several years ago. The Chippewa County Board has generally taken a conservative county approach to spending and worked to keep our tax rate the lowest in the area under maximum allowed by levy limit.

There was a discussion as to what amount of funding would be necessary to make winter maintenance sustainable. Kelley pointed out that the fund was under-funded by $2.5M over 10 years, for an average of $250,000 per year. Roach also stated that this number is approximately $400,000 per year if you take only an average of the past 5 years.

At the end of the presentation, Pascarella gave the recommendation from he and some of his staff which included:

1. Reallocate annual levy increase of $50,000 from highway road construction to winter maintenance for the remainder of the ten year transportation plan. This would be thru year 2023, however Pascarella stated that the increase would likely continue beyond that time frame. Kelley pointed out that this $50,000 is added to the road construction fund each year to address increasing costs.

2. Maintain $150,000 in additional levy for future years. He stated that the $300,000 of additional levy allocated to the Highway road construction fund by the County Board would be used for that purpose in 2017, however half of it could be maintained in future years for winter maintenance.

3. Move an additional $50,000 per year in road construction tax levy to the winter maintenance budget during the 4 years of borrowing for road construction (2019 - 2022). The approximately $1M of borrowing will be a boost to the road replacement cycle, however $50,000 of levy in those years could be used for winter.

4. The Highway Department would be required to identify and implement efficiencies for the remaining amount as determined by the Highway Committee.

5. Combining all of these recommendations, along with maintaining the vehicle registration fee until sunset, should result in a base of about $450,000 on 1/1/2020.

Supervisor Gerrish was concerned that this approach does not do enough to address inflation for winter and road construction. Since sales tax generally increases each year in line with inflation, he suggested that a higher percentage of sales tax be allocated to road construction in order to provide some increase for inflation. He would like the plan to be sustainable for the long-term and not just act as a band-aid that needs to be looked at again in a few years. By increasing the Highway Department’s share of sales tax from 24% to 26%, there would be some inflationary increases. Pascarella reiterated that there are sales tax allocations mandated by ordinance and many other capital improvement needs throughout the county that utilize the sales tax funds each year.

Supervisor Hartman asked Kelley what reductions at the Highway Department would occur first. Kelley stated that the top-ranked option by the committee thus far is winter maintenance, due to the fact that our service levels are higher than most other counties. Kelley would like the committee and board to provide him with the dollar amount to cut and he would work internally to identify the ways to cut winter maintenance with the least possible impact. He also felt that this is best handled thru attrition and stated that 2 of the current 6 vacancies at the Highway Department will remain unfilled until this process is completed and a determination will be made on whether or not to fill them. He will also work with the Wisconsin DOT to study the most optimal plow routes and material usages on the county system to achieve the necessary savings. Kelley does not want to phase in these cuts. His recommendation is to make the cuts all at once and be done with them. Designing new plow routes is a time-consuming process and he would only like to do it one time. Hartman asked what the winter maintenance fund balance is currently. Kelley stated we are at a positive balance of $262,686 at this time due to all of the tax levy for 2017 being applied. There will be additional costs to get thru the end of 2017.

Supervisor Hartman questioned why they can’t transfer $250,000 from the County’s general fund. He pointed out that there were several other one-time transfers within the Highway Department in the past to address winter maintenance. Pascarella doesn’t want to be dependent on taking out of the fund balance as it is not sustainable and is a one-time fix. Roach stated that if we take from the general fund it will affect our bond rating and can lead to a higher interest rate in future bonding packages. Hartman asked where the $1.3M of year-end closeout money went at the end of 2016. Pascarella said it went to two large projects at the Sheriff’s Department in order to minimize the amount of future bonding that is needed for them.

Supervisor Hull felt Pascarella’s proposal makes sense and meets the Board’s directive. Since the 10-year average is $250,000/year additional money needed for winter, using a sustainable amount of $350,000/year should cover the issue of inflation.

Motion Hull, Second Sikorski to leave the first 7 priority rankings the same. Binding referendum will be #8, Increase property tax levy will be #9, Transfer from General Fund #10, and Continuous bonding will be #11. Motion carried (3 ayes, Hartman abstained)

Bremness pointed out that the upcoming committee schedule will not allow this resolution to make it to the May County Board meeting. The committee agreed to meet on April 27th to give staff final direction on the resolution language. Then a special committee meeting will be held in early-May to approve the resolution in order to make it to the Executive Committee and the June 13th County Board meeting.

Apr 27, 2017 8:00 AM  Highway Committee Regular Meeting

County Administrator Pascarella reviewed the Vehicle Registration Fee memo that was prepared for the meeting. Then he discussed the draft presentation that staff have prepared, which is a summary of all of the past meetings on Vehicle Registration Fee and asked for feedback on any changes that should be made before it is presented to the Executive Committee and County Board. The committee was showed the draft resolution language that staff have prepared, as well as a spreadsheet that summarizes the multi-faceted approach being discussed. Pascarella reiterated that the information was prepared by staff based on minimal input from the committee and it can be changed however the committee sees fit. He stated that utilizing the proposed funding strategy would have a projected base amount of at least $550,000 in the winter maintenance fund on 1/1/2020 when the vehicle registration fee sunsets.

Supervisor Sikorski questioned if this approach will take until 2023 to be considered self-sustaining. Pascarella stated that we could have a positive balance in the winter maintenance fund as early as the end of 2017, depending on the severity of the remainder of this year’s winter. He also stated that the department would need to implement efficiencies and service reductions in order for the plan to work.

Supervisor Hartman asked if the $150,000 of additional tax levy would need the County Board’s approval since it was designated for road construction. Kelley stated that the $300,000 of additional levy that the board allocated to road construction in 2017 will be used for that purpose. The $150,000/year in 2018 and beyond is not designated as road construction levy money and can be used for winter maintenance if approved in the budget. Pascarella told the committee that it would be difficult to move more than $150,000 in additional levy to winter maintenance due to a variety of pressing issues in other departments.

Supervisor Hartman asked if Highway Department sales tax funding for road construction was reduced from $1.5M to $1.3M in the 2017 budget. Pascarella stated that sales tax funding for road construction was at one time $1.5M and agreed that it was $1.3M in 2017, however historically there has been much less than that put into road construction. Many years there was no sales tax money put towards road improvements. Sales tax money is also utilized for a wide variety of items including debt service payments, property tax relief, non-highway vehicle fleet replacement, and computers.

Supervisor Steele asked what the cost savings would be to have one level of winter maintenance service county-wide vs. having a higher level of service on high-traffic highways. Kelley stated that he estimates a savings of approximately $24,000 in labor and equipment by reducing the number of hours on the County #1 routes down to the same as the County #2’s. Kelley stated that there will be additional hard-packed snow that needs to be removed by not being out there as much during the overnight weather events, so simply stating that less labor and equipment hours will be the true savings may not be accurate due to the increased use of materials and plow blades. Steele would like to know how much the savings would be to reduce the maximum hours of service for plow drivers from current levels to 16 for all patrol routes. Kelley stated that he did not have that information available. Pascarella pointed out that the hours of winter maintenance are open for discussion and can be made part of the recommendation to the County Board. Supervisor Gerrish felt that this was an operational issue for the highway department staff to address based on available funding and not a policy-related issue for the committee to address.

Supervisor Steele commended the staff for such a thorough analysis of the Highway Department and feels that the department is simply underfunded. He stated that all departments should be required to report on how they are continuously improving each year and that reallocating funds from other departments needs to be part of the discussion. He also feels that the vehicle registration fee should sunset at the end of 2017. Pascarella stated that the Highway & Sheriff Departments are two of the biggest users of tax levy dollars. Many other departments that utilize tax levy are much smaller and primarily budget for labor & benefits. He agreed with Steele that it may be beneficial to report to the County Board annually on efficiencies and continuous improvement practices. Steele feels that requiring all departments to find improvements and efficiencies will allow the County to end the vehicle registration fee early.

Supervisor Sikorski stated that if the vehicle registration fee ends one year early, we would need to find an additional $540,000 to build the fund balance. Finance Director Roach stated that if you take that $540,000/year out, we would have projected negative fund balance of roughly $200,000 at 2019 year end.

Supervisor Hartman asked if anything further was done with Supervisor Gerrish’s request at the last meeting to provide additional sales tax funds to the Highway Department. Pascarella stated that staff were not directed to look into this option, but it can certainly be added to the resolution if the committee chooses. Hartman stated that the vehicle registration fee should sunset at the end of 2017.

Supervisor Gerrish wanted to know how the Chippewa County mill rate compared to other counties. Roach stated that Chippewa County has the 4th lowest mill rate in the state. Pascarella stated that the cushion between our current levy amounts and the state-imposed levy limits is small and the county needs to manage tax levy usage very carefully. Many counties opted to increase their tax levy amounts just prior to the state imposing the levy limits, however Chippewa County did not.

Supervisor Gerrish wanted to know if other county highway departments are having the same issues. Kelley said that the counties that he visited did not mention having major issues with winter maintenance funding, but most are challenged to keep up with highway construction. Chippewa County, however, was behind all of these counties in road construction funding.

The committee as a whole felt that another special meeting was warranted prior to moving a recommendation forward to County Board. A special committee meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, May 3rd at 8:00 AM. Pascarella stated that his understanding from today’s meeting was that the committee brought up two additional items for future consideration: efficiencies & service reductions outside of the Highway Department and additional sales tax funds for highway road construction.

Motion Steele, Second Hartman to sunset the vehicle registration fee on 1/1/2018.

Motion failed: 2 ayes - Steele & Hartman, 2 nays - Sikorski & Gerrish

County Board Supervisor Albarado reminded the committee that they were tasked with coming up with a sustainable funding solution to replace the vehicle registration fee. The County Board had already determined that the vehicle registration fee should remain in place until the year end fund balance reaches $550,000 or the fee sunsets on January 1st, 2020. He does not feel it is up to the committee to decide that the vehicle registration fee should end in another manner.

Motion Steele, Second Hartman to amend the motion to state that the winter maintenance fund shall have a fund balance of at least $550,000 on 1/1/2018 and will sunset at that time.

Amendment failed: 2 ayes - Steele & Hartman, 2 nays - Sikorski & Gerrish

Pascarella feels that it is not the Highway Committee’s role to decide that other departments become part of the winter maintenance funding solution. Albarado stated that options that impact other departments can be discussed by the full County Board. Steele stated that other departments can be given an amount of required improvements & efficiencies to achieve. Pascarella stated that efficiencies don’t necessarily always save money. The only way to guarantee financial savings is to reduce services. Steele disagreed and feels that efficiencies will cut costs. Pascarella agreed that some efficiencies and improvements have saved the County money, but gave examples of the county’s print management program and laser fiche software that did not save the County money.

Sikorski asked what will happen if the committee is unable to agree to a solution to bring to the County Board and Pascarella stated that the committee needs to forward something to the board for them to vote on.

Motion Gerrish, Second Sikorski to move the draft resolution forward to the County Board as presented

Motion failed: 2 ayes - Sikorski & Gerrish, 2 nays - Steele & Hartman

Supervisor Hartman felt the resolution had some positives, but still needs to be tweaked.

May 3, 2017 8:00 AM  Highway Committee Special Meeting

County Administrator Pascarella discussed that the draft resolution and presentation provided in the agenda packet were the same as what were provided to the committee at the April 27, 2017 meeting due to no additional information being requested by the committee at that time.

Supervisor Sikorski read the entire draft resolution aloud, line by line. Comments and format changes were suggested for the updated version to bring back to a special Highway Committee meeting on May 31, 2017.

Supervisor Hartman asked what percent the County’s undesignated fund balance is at in comparison to the overall County budget. Finance Director Roach stated that it will be at 35.2% next week when the closing of the 2016 books is presented. Hartman recalled that the accounting firm recommended at least a 25-33% balance at a 2016 County Board meeting. Roach advised that our financial consultant has since said they preferred 35% at a minimum in order to ensure a good bond rating for future debt services packages. Sikorski asked what additional costs there would be if we had a lower bond rating. Roach stated that it could cost an additional $25,000 to $40,000 per bonding package if the bond rating drops. Roach also stated that the majority of area counties have a higher undesignated fund balance than Chippewa County.

Supervisor Steele questioned why the Highway Department should be given until 1/1/2020 to find the $100,000 in efficiencies and service cuts to winter maintenance. Pascarella indicated that the Highway Department plans to implement the reductions in 2018, but the 1/1/2020 date provides some leeway. Steele would like the completion date for winter service reductions to be 1/1/2018. Kelley stated that the likely means of accomplishing these reductions will be the elimination of 2 positions that are currently vacant. He will be working with Wisconsin DOT to optimize the County’s plow routes in order to minimize the impacts to the public. Implementation of these reductions would occur in late-2017, so a 1/1/2018 completion date will be achievable. Sikorski asked if WisDOT will be recommending the elimination of positions and Kelley stated that they base the route optimization study on the number of available drivers. Kelley will let them know how many drivers we are working with and WisDOT will determine the most efficient plow routes across the entire County system. Supervisor Gerrish asked what will happen to road construction costs if full-time positions are eliminated and Kelley stated that costs could increase due to the need to pay overtime if the schedule gets behind. Kelley stated that a completion date of 1/1/2020 for the reductions to road construction and equipment purchases would be preferred so that the department has time to plan for them. He noted that the 5-year road construction CIP was just submitted and did not have any of these construction reductions included.

Supervisor Hartman was concerned with the reductions in road construction to fund winter maintenance as the replacement cycle for highways is already behind schedule. Pascarella discussed the plan to borrow $1M/year from 2019 to 2022 in order to boost road construction. This bonding money would be combined with existing tax levy and the $1.3M of sales tax. Pascarella also reminded the committee that there wasn’t historically any sales tax provided for road construction, even though recently that amount has been as high as $1.5M.

Corporation Counsel Sherman discussed the current sales tax ordinance and how it is only allowed to provide for property tax relief, debt service, and capital improvement projects. Moving tax levy dollars from road construction to winter maintenance and then increasing the sales tax allocation to road construction to make up for it is not the intention of the ordinance. Supervisor Gerrish asked if the sales tax ordinance could be modified to allow for this and Sherman agreed that it could.

Sherman advised that the draft resolution needs to be cleaned up by his office and recommended one more special Highway Committee meeting to vote on the final resolution prior to sending to County Board. The next meeting was scheduled for May 31, 2017 at 8:00 AM at the courthouse. Staff need to verify room availability before announcing a location.

Chairman Sikorski stated recognized the amount of committee and staff time that went into addressing this matter and felt that the committee covered everything responsibility.

Supervisor Steele stated that the practice of staff and the administrator making service delivery changes without committee approval is wrong. Sherman advised that the Highway Committee is a “policy-making body” and does not have statutory approval authority over day-to-day operational issues. If the committee chooses, they can put details of what service delivery cuts and efficiencies they want to see, but that generally is an operational issue for staff to address. Pascarella asked that Steele place trust in the staff to do the right thing. As the committee has heard from all of the Highway Department staff in this process, they care deeply about delivering quality services to the public. Sherman pointed out that Kelley is required to give an annual report to the Highway Committee and County Board. He suggested that efficiencies and service reductions could be covered in that presentation. Steele again stated that the committee should be responsible for any decisions involving service reductions. Sherman reiterated that the scope of the committee’s duties is policy-making and not operations. Supervisor Gerrish agreed that these are operational issues and was comfortable with Kelley providing that information in his annual report.

Motion Hartman, Second Gerrish to direct Corporation Counsel to make the suggested modifications and formatting changes to the draft resolution and bring the resolution back to a special Highway Committee meeting on May 31, 2017.

RESULT:APPROVED [UNANIMOUS]
MOVER:Matthew Hartman, District 3
SECONDER:Steve Gerrish, District 10 (Vice-Chair)
AYES:Glen Sikorski, Steve Gerrish, Harold Steele, Matthew Hartman, Chuck Hull