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County Employees Receiving 4% Raises

The Door County Board of Supervisors approved a new compensation structure for 2024 that will give all employees at least a 4% raise.

“I consider this great news,” said Ken Pabich, Door County administrator, during the county board’s Oct. 24 meeting. “I think this is the largest investment we have made into our employees in terms of adjusting their wages.”

The county worked with Carlson Dettmann Consulting out of Madison to review the county’s existing wage structure as part of the county’s annual budget process. Pabich said the firm looked at internal consistency, external competition and whether the county can sustain whatever payment structure it puts in place. 

Pabich said the new compensation strategy is designed to “lead the market, being in the 60th percentile of the market,” versus the 50th as it used to be. Bottom-line, Pabich said, “is at the very minimum, employees will receive a 4% wage increase,” and could get an additional increase for years of service or time in their current position.

“If an employee is here for at least one year, we’re going to make sure they are 4% above the minimum,” he said. 

The supervisors also passed new performance standards. In addition to the pay increases, employees will be “paid to perform,” topping out at 2.5% of an employee’s annual salary up to $2,000 for exceptional performance; 2.25% up to $1,500 for highly effective performance; 2% of annual salary up to $1,000 for above required performance; and nothing for those who are below requirements.

The new compensation structure and performance standards, effective Jan. 1, 2024, will cost an estimated $1,643,938, including FICA and WRS Retirement Benefits, according to Pabich’s presentation to the board, Oct. 24. If the highway department were removed (it’s an enterprise department that, essentially, runs like a business), and the Emergency Services department employees were removed (those positions are outside the tax levy), the total fiscal impact is $1,295,888, including FICA and WRS Retirement Benefits. 

Budget Hearing Nov. 14

Funding for the compensation and performance package has been included in the county’s proposed budget for 2024. The county will hold a public hearing on that draft budget plan on Tuesday, Nov. 14 beginning at 9 am, in the County Board Room at the Door County Government Center in Sturgeon Bay, 421 Nebraska St.

The preliminary budget shows the county spending 1.41% more in 2024 over 2023, for a total $42,9454,726 in expenses. The property tax levy would increase 3.18%, for a total $31,665,832 collected from property owners. 

Fourth Zoning Administrator Position Considered

The county is considering a fourth zoning administrator position for the Land Use Services Department, but has not added the position to the proposed 2024 budget. The county’s estimate for the cost of a zoning administrator with benefits is $104,252.

The county zoning department’s three employees are responsible for ordinance administration and zoning enforcement of the Door County Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance in all areas of nine towns; the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance and the Door County Floodplain Zoning Ordinance in all 14 Door County towns; the height limitation and land division ordinances; and the uniform addressing system ordinance.

District 14 Supervisor Hugh Zettel, who represents wards within the towns of Sevastopol and Sturgeon Bay, said it’s incumbent upon the county to look at the environment the land use team is experiencing. He said people are not following zoning laws, making enforcement “especially difficult. I get to see that for myself on the Plan Commission in Sevastopol,” he said. “It’s the environment that has changed that the land use team has to work under.”

Several county committees have discussed the position, and Pabich said they have opted to conduct a study to determine need. The results of that study will be available in December or January, and if the position is warranted, will return to the supervisors for a decision.

For some, there’s no question as to whether the position is necessary.

“I firmly believe the [fourth] zoning administrator is needed,” said Ken Fisher, during the county’s Oct. 24 meeting. The District 6 supervisor who represents wards within the town and city of Sturgeon Bay also sits on the Land Use Services oversight committee, the Resource Planning Committee (the RPC). 

The RPC has discussed the need for the position several times over the past year, “in part due to numerous and repeated complaints and concerns raised by town officials and the development community,” according to data from the Finance Committee’s Oct. 17 meeting packet.

The RPC also advised that if the full-time position is not possible, the county should hire a two-year, full-time, defined-term employee to assist the department in zoning enforcement issues and ordinance administration.

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