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Hammond Village Board settles clerk/administrator dispute

After weeks of deliberating, the Hammond Village Board appointed the current clerk/treasurer position to become the clerk/administrator position effective Nov. 12 at Monday night’s board meeting.

Newly hired clerk/treasurer Sandi Hazer will take on more administrative responsibilities after the 60-day waiting period is over for the charter ordinance that was passed allowing the board time to hear resident input on the topic.

Board president Tony Bibeau and trustee Laurie Gruber both voted against changing the position. Trustee Mack Kamm was not at the meeting.

Some residents expressed confusion over the change, concerned the board was hiring an entirely new person at a cost of nearly $100,000. No new person is being hired; Hazer’s duties and title are just changing and her pay will remain the same at $52,000 a year plus benefits.

The treasurer position will be added to deputy clerk Angie Blodgett’s duties at a later date.

Before the board approved the appointment, Trustee Lynn Pabst spoke in favor of the change by listing the benefits of having an administrator:

--Relieving the board of day-to-day duties, especially when board members are out of town.

--Reporting any large problem or occurrence to the board immediately.

--Serving as the human resources director, writing formal job descriptions and performing job

evaluations, which are sorely lacking, Pabst said.

--Knowing the laws of the Affordable Care Act.

--Freeing up time so the board has less special meetings, such as for the budget.

--Less overtime for village employees, who receive overtime to attend meetings.

--Reporting on the budget to the board monthly to make sure it’s on track.

--Recruiting new businesses to the business park, because most board members have families and other jobs with little time or expertise to do so.

“An administrator is an asset,” Pabst said. “The Village of Baldwin doesn’t know how it got by without one.”

Trustee Sandy Brecht also spoke in favor of having an administrator who can follow through on things the board decides.

“There’s always a beginning and never an end,” Brecht said. “It never stops. There’s never an end to a problem.”

Brecht also said board members don’t have time to be experts on everything.

Gruber said she is leery of being out of the loop and giving up control. She expressed concern that having an administrator take care of daily duties could cause departmental discrepancies and controversies.

Resident Del Warner spoke in favor of the change.

“OK, make her the administrator. Let’s get done with the problem and move on,” Warner said.

“Procedures need to be put in place, then followed.”

Former trustee Erin McComb said the same business model exists in many workplaces and having an administrator is a smart decision.

Another former trustee, Wally Graf, said he has a hard time justifying Hazer doing the job when no one knows her exact qualifications for the job, because he hasn’t seen a concrete job description.

Gruber said having an administrator is not going to solve all the problems in the Village.

Pabst said elected people don’t always stay on the board and that things that are important one year are forgotten the next. An administrator will help keep that on track, he said.

@sub:Other items

--The board will compare contracts for a needs assessment for the library to see what renovations are feasible for the space. They will consider contracts from SEH, Inc. and Ayres Associates of Eau Claire.

Some issues of concern are making the second floor usable space, making the building handicapped accessible by adding an elevator and building new restrooms.

Library director Michelle Johnson said she expects much of the renovation money to come from grants and fundraisers.

--At the end of the meeting, the board moved into closed session to discuss the departmental review of the Hammond Police Department.

According to Hazer, the board gave Chief of Police Rick Coltrain $2,500 to split among himself and the other officers as he sees fit as a bonus for the work they’ve done figuring out issues left after the previous clerk vacated her position.

--A 1.66 percent pay increase beginning in January was also approved for Coltrain. The board also gave him the ability to redirect department funds where needed if he has a surplus in any one area and it’s needed elsewhere.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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