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County board splits on need for rights reaffirmation resolution

A proposed resolution reaffirming support for constitutional rights drew questions and opposition at the Oct. 28 county board session.

As reported in the Oct. 29 issue of The Star News, the primary business of the fall session of the county board was to approve the budget and levy for the coming year. However, that was far from the only item on the crowded agenda.

Among the items was a resolution introduced by county board chairman Jim Metz. The resolution, which reaffirms support for constitutional rights and specifically includes the right to bear arms. The resolution has been sent to the county after it was passed in other northern Wisconsin Counties.

Supervisor Lester Lewis spoke in opposition to the proposed resolution referring to it as arbitrary and political. He said the county board already takes an oath to support the U.S. Constitution as well as Wisconsin’s constitution and state laws saying he did not see the need for repeating it.

“We all get sworn in and I don’t see any reason to duplicate it,” said supervisor Chuck Zenner questioning the need for the reaffirmation of advocating for rights.

On a roll call vote, the proposed resolution tied at 8-8 with supervisors Dave Roiger, Gene Knoll, Zenner, Diane Albrecht, Lewis, Myron Brooks, Rod Adams and Tim Hansen opposed. Supervisor Rollie Thums was absent from the meeting. Under the rules of order for government meetings, a tie vote on a motion fails.

In other business, supervisors:

_ Approved giving all county employees a 1% pay increase to each step in the county’s pay grid. This is in addition to any longevity-based pay increases built into the grid formula.

_ Approved the Taylor County Highway Department equipment scheduled for the coming year. The plan calls for spending $754,600 to purchase major equipment items including a single axle patrol truck, a quad axle patrol truck, an F-550 Crew Cab pickup, an F-150 Crew Cab pickup, a mechanic’s truck, a patch trailer, a full handling system and a tire changer. Money for these purchases come from machinery earnings in 2020 and prior years.

_ Approved renewing the contract for legal services with Schmiege, Graff & Koch Law Firm for 2021. The county will continue to pay the firm $6,630 per month for Human Services and Child Support Legal Services, $190 per hour for general government legal services and $95 per hour for legal assist and paralegal services.

_ Approved renewing the contract with Scott Perrin to continue to serve as the county’s medical examiner at a cost of $100 per death investigation, $50 for cremation authorization, and $385 a month for administration costs.

_ Approved the annual work place for the coming year for the Taylor County forest. This is a required action each year in order to continue to qualify for a state grant which supports the forestry department operations. In related action, supervisors also approved the comprehensive land use plan for the forest for 2021 through 2035.

_ Approved an ordinance change regarding tree stands and hunting blinds in the county forest. The new rules match those in place for state and national public lands in Wisconsin.

_ Approved resolutions and action plans for hazard mitigation, telecommuter forward certification, and implementation of a broadband network in the county code. These actions were required for the county to be eligible to apply for state and federal grants.