Supervisors address sick leave, county vehicle and equipment management
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor
At its meeting at the William Buedingen Training Center in Tomahawk Tuesday, Sept. 17, the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors passed a Memorandum of Understanding with North Central Health Care (NCHC) regarding sick leave benefits for employees of Pine Crest Nursing Home and Lincoln Industries.
Board Vice Chair and District 2 Supervisor Robert Weaver noted the board had been working on the issue for “some time.”
Administrative Coordinator Jason Hake explained that any employee 55 or older would have their sick leave balance paid out into a post-employment health plan account. For employees under age 55, NCHC agreed to set up a separate account for the sick leave balance, which they could use if they exhausted all of their paid leave time at NCHC and qualify for Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which is currently how the county uses sick leave balances for employees under 55. If an employee retires from NCHC at 55 or older, that balance would be paid out.
Hake also clarified that the county would be accepting the responsibility of the costs of the sick leave of Pine Crest and Lincoln Industries employees over 55, adding, “Then we would transfer some type of liability to NCHC for the other sick leave, but not the full amount, because we realize not everybody will re-hire from NCHC. We’ll have to figure out a methodology for that.”
Hake stated a rough estimate of the sick leave the county will be paying out totals about $350,000.
District 12 Supervisor Paul Gilk stated he thought the agreement was “a really good thing,” adding there were reports of “simmering discontent” among Pine Crest employees and that they feared losing their sick time before the deal was reached. He also called the agreement the “morally responsible thing to do.”
The agreement, having previously been approved by both the NCHC Board of Directors and the Pine Crest Board of Trustees, was approved unanimously by the Board.
The Board also discussed an ordinance regarding the use of county vehicles and equipment. The ordinance would help keep better track of the vehicles and equipment, along with marking all vehicles with the Lincoln County logo.
Lincoln County Sheriff Ken Schneider expressed his concern with the ordinance, saying, “The reason the Constitution makes the separation between the Sheriff and the legislative body is so no legislative body can influence how the Sheriff upholds the law. Now there’s this county ordinance. The intent of this ordinance is to tell the Sheriff the means in which he uses to enforce the law.”
Schneider stated he believed the Sheriff’s Office should be excluded from the ordinance. He also expressed his opinion that the matter could be resolved through a county policy rather than through an ordinance.
Discussion about potential costs to the county and the inclusion of the Sheriff’s Office in the ordinance followed. The ordinance, amended to exclude the Sheriff’s Office, was ultimately passed with an 18 to 4 vote.