Richland County Finance & Personnel June 5th Meeting

Two topics of discussion covered a majority of the Richland County Finance & Personnel committee meeting on Tuesday, June 5th. Courthouse security and budget process along with public transparency were of importance to many.

In November 2015 the county was working with Jewell & Associates on a courthouse security three phase plan. The plan could also be done all in one. Each phase would roughly cost $100,000. The staff feels the work needs to be done on changes on the second floor. The plans from 2015 would relocate the district attorney’s office to where the Veteran’s Services office is located, extend it and take out the stairway and doorway exit at that location. District Attorney, Jennifer Harper, stated that the staff feels it would be much cheaper to leave offices as they are and to add a security window with pass through and a security buzzer at each existing office. According to Harper, this idea has gone through numerous committees. Former county board supervisor, Fred Clary, stated that was the original plan at a cost of about $40,000. That plan then ballooned into the larger plan. Richland County Clerk of Circuit Court, Stacy Kleist, stated a lot has changed in the past three years. The need is security. The security advisory committee is suggesting the lower cost of security windows and pass-throughs with a buzzer system be adapted soon to give more security to the courthouse. A plan for these windows is already a part of the engineers project phases. The plan needs to be approved by the Property Committee. No matter the cost of a building security plan, it is not in the courthouse budget.

Board supervisor Shaun Lopez-Murphy presented a discussion topic pertaining to the budget formulation and process and transparency with the public. He said when he was campaigning for the board this spring many constituents were concerned about the budget and the cost of an administrator. He presented a budget booklet and format for Brookings, South Dakota, which is similar in size to Richland County for both annual and capital budgets. Brookings also has levy limits. The capital budget shows a five year plan of what projects need to be done or capital items that need to be replaced. Lopez-Murphy said that County Clerk Victor Vlasak has the authority to carry out many of the budget requirements which is what a county administrator would be doing. It was noted that the County Clerk/Administrative Coordinator policy has not been updated since 1986 and Vlasak has not been given any power. Many felt that the policy for Administrative Coordinator needs to be updated. There are currently 36 different types of Administrative Coordinator positions in the state. Supervisors concluded that it may take many years to make changes to the way the budget is established, and that notes of where changes need to be made could be a beginning this year.

Twenty-three Wage Study appeals were processed and sent to the consultant at Carlson Dettmann Consulting. Results of the appeals will be available at the end of the month. The cost for the appeals is $7,000.

Emergency Management Director, Darren Gudgeon, requested the Finance & Personnel committee allow representatives from the ambulance committee to spend up to $30,400 to purchase a used ambulance. The purpose is to replace the oldest ambulance in the unit which is 21 years old. Currently Gudgeon knows of two used ambulances for sale which are a 2007 and 2009 model. The committee approved the request on a split vote of five yes, one no and one abstention, with the understanding corporate council will approve not having to go through a bidding process.

Pine Valley Community Village HR Director, Chris Glasbrenner, requested the Committee approve the creation of a lead cook position. In October this position was outsourced to a private firm. Pine Valley would like to go back to an in house dietary service using a lead cook. This change will open up two positions and save the county $5,000.

The county is also selling two parcels of property in Cazenovia and Yuba. Bids were due by 9:00 Tuesday morning, June 5th. The property in Cazenovia is a former tavern appraised at around $20,000. The property in Yuba, appraised at around $30,000 includes a brick building which houses apartments and a grocery store. The items were sent back to the Property Committee to re-advertise the sale.