Despite getting the seal of approval from the Administrative and Legislative Committee, the resolution that would have elevated Lincoln County Highway Commissioner Randy Scholz to the position of county administrative coordinator was put on hold by the County Board at last Tuesday’s meeting in Tomahawk.
The resolution, which would have set Scholz’s salary in the new position at $71,552, was discussed for nearly 20 minutes before Supervisor Bill Zeitz made the motion to lay over the vote for one month.
Scholz would replace interim coordinator Tim Meehean who has been doing double duty as coordinator and his regular job as Pine Crest Nursing Home administrator. Meehean had announced previously that he would be stepping back into his Pine Crest role as soon as a replacement coordinator could be found and brought up to speed. He currently makes $83,450 serving in both positions.
During the discussion on the resolution, Supervisor Ron Mittelsteadt asked to see a copy of the job description for the coordinator’s position, only to be told one wasn’t available at the meeting.
“I have nothing personal against Randy,” Mittelsteadt said. “But how can we be sure he is qualified for the position if we don’t have a copy of the job description to check?”
County Board Chairman Robert Lussow and Meehean said that they interviewed Scholz prior to sending his application on to the A&L committee. Lussow said that Scholz was qualified to fill the position.
Scholz has been with the Highway Department for 14 years, the last seven as commissioner. At Tuesday’s meeting, Scholz said that he has a four-year college degree in criminal science and his seven years grappling with the complex budgetary problems in the highway department and the shortage in the highway fund have given him additional experience that would be useful if approved for the new job. He has already said he would not attempt to hold both positions as Meehean has. on what would happen in the highway department that also gave many supervisors pause. Since the Highway Commission hadn’t met since Scholz threw his hat into the ring for the coordinator position, how a vacancy in the commissioner’s post would be filled hadn’t been determined yet.
Meehean said at Tuesday’s meeting that while he had said he would stay on in the dual position until a replacement could be found and trained “that isn’t an open-ended time frame.”
Zeitz’s motion to lay over the resolution passed by a 12-10 vote with Bailey, Eisenman, Krueger, Lee, Loka, Lussow, Meyer, Rusch, Weaver and Woller voting nay.
Zeitz was the focus of two board votes earlier in the meeting as he again failed to regain his seat on the Lincoln County Board of Health.
Zeitz had previously served on the board through appointment but wasn’t reappointed during the reorganization process this spring. Zeitz has repeatedly claimed that Shelley Hersil, director of the Health Department, had asked that he not be reappointed. Despite it being the first choice on his list of committees to be appointed to, the Committee on Committees voted not to appoint Zeitz.
Zeitz had brought forth a resolution at the June board meeting seeking reinstatement to the health board. That resolution was tabled because there wasn’t a vacancy on the board at that time. Ray Bloomer had verbally resigned his seat on the board to make way for Zeitz, only to be told he had to make that intention in writing.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Zeitz failed to gain enough support through the regular nomination process to be reappointed on a 10-12 vote despite being the only nominee. Later in the meeting when his resolution was again on the floor, he had several supervisors speak in his defense, as did one member of the general public.
Several supervisors said they saw Zeitz’s removal from the board of health to be an attempt to keep differing opinions quiet. Zeitz has attempted to gain answers to several questions from health department staff based on online research he had done on certain issues, such as immunizations.
“I want diversity of opinion, whether I agree with it or not is immaterial,” Jim Alber said. “He has never been out of control; he’s never been disrespectful.”
David Fox also objected to what he saw as an attempt to silence Zeitz.
“We don’t need to be squelching opinions,” Fox said. “I’m ashamed to be on a board with people that take this kind of stance.”
Alber and a couple other supervisors objected to the Hersil’s efforts to “cherry pick” who was on the board of health.
“Department heads should not decide who’s on a committee,” Alber said. “There’s something wrong with that.”
Mittelsteadt also supported Zeitz, saying the way Lussow was treating Zeitz gave the entire board a black eye.
“There is so much underhandedness going on on this board, we need an ethics panel,” Mittelsteadt said. “We need someone to write the attorney general asking him to investigate what is going on here.”
He then announced that the “high school” atmosphere on the county board has caused him to decide not to seek reelection when his current term is up.
When the roll call vote was taken on the resolution, the board deadlocked 11-11 and the resolution failed with Alber, Bailey, Berndt, Bloomer, Fox, Mittelsteadt, Pampuch, Rankin, Simon, Woller and Zeitz voted aye.
The board also approved three resolutions authorizing bonding for the remodeling and expansion project for the courthouse. The supervisors approved tax-exempt General Obligation Promissory Notes totaling $1.81 million and taxable Promissory Notes in the form of Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds for an additional $890,000. The later notes allow the county to recover up to 45% of the interest on the loans from the federal government.
It was the uncertainty