Florence County clarifies per diem payments for board supervisors

FLORENCE, Wis. — The Florence County Board on Tuesday approved policy clarifications on board supervisors’ per diem and mileage payments after a lengthy discussion on the issue at February’s meeting.

Supervisors still will be paid $40 for each in-county meeting and $75 for each out-of-county meeting. However, if they receive compensation from any other entity for their attendance, the county will only pay the difference to reach the $40 or $75 amount.

Supervisors may continue to attend meetings by telephone or video conference and will be paid $40. But they cannot claim any mileage costs unless they have to drive to get to the telephone or video conference equipment.

In addition, supervisors must have approval from the board chairperson or a standing committee to attend any out-of-county meeting or ad-hoc meeting.

Questions about the existing policy came after Supervisor Larry Neuens was denied by two committees to receive an out-of-county meeting per diem of $75 and $9.75 for cell phone minutes for attending a Bay Lakes Regional Planning Commission meeting via telephone when he was out of town on vacation.

Neuens, who wasn’t at Tuesday’s meeting, sent a letter questioning if it would be more cost-effective for the county to pay supervisors to come to Florence to use telephone or video conference equipment or to pay for cell phone or landline minutes. Cell phone service in certain parts of the county is “hit and miss,” he pointed out.

Supervisor Ed Wenger said he thought the entire issue should have started at the county board level instead of the personnel committee, since it affects all supervisors. Supervisors aren’t hired personnel but elected by the voters, Supervisor Holly Wahlstrom-Stratton added.

There is a chain of command, Board Chairwoman Jeanette Bomberg explained, starting with committees and then going to the full county board. And any supervisor can ask an item be placed on a future county board meeting agenda, Supervisor Susan Theer noted.

In other business, the board:

— Thanked Wenger and Supervisor Mark Wenzel for their service to the board. The two — along with Supervisor Ron Erickson, who was not at the meeting — did not file for re-election in April.

— Recognized County Zoning Administrator Rich Wolosyn for 24 years of service. He will leave the job March 31, Bomberg said.

— Heard from Dan Miller of Aurora, a candidate for Florence County sheriff in the November election.