Police and the 2020 budget headlined the Baldwin Village Board meeting Nov. 13.
Officer Zach Paul started the meeting by making an impassioned plea. Paul said based on what was being presented in the budget based on new insurance premiums, he’d be looking at a pay cut.
He stated he’s well aware premiums have to go up, but if money is taken out of benefits, it’s a hit.
“We are in this business for the benefits, retirements and the health insurance,” he said. “…When I started this was my dream job and I want to stay here.” He added, if this gets approved, he has no choice but to look elsewhere.
It was clarified the cut Paul was referring to is a $1,000 deduction for Village employees to their Health Savings Account.
There was no doubt the Board didn’t take Paul’s comments lightly.
“We don’t want this to be a training ground for the County,” said Member Lance Van Damme.
Added fellow member Lisa Knutson: “There was nothing malicious. We are not trying to get people to leave obviously. We can back up.”
After Administrator/Clerk-Treasurer Tracy Carlson reminded the Board they got the best rates possible they could, the Board wanted to reinstall the $1,000 for all Village employees, which was $23,000 total.
That’s when things got a little haywire.
What was originally planned in the 2020 Budget was for the police department to get a new squad car and a police officer Jan. 1 or as soon as possible. Now, with an extra $23,000 in the expense category, Board members went after one or both of those options.
“We pushed out a purchasing a police car for a long time,” said Chief Darren Krueger. “And we’ve been short an officer as well.”
Members questioned Krueger on the hiring process, and he couldn’t give them a firm answer because it all depends on the potential hire’s experience, he said.
After more debate, which included possibly using the debt levy, which the Board used for the 2019 budget, a motion was made to leave the car, but not have the officer start until July 1.
That passed by a 4-3 vote with members Matt Knegendorf, Doug Newton and Van Damme voting no.
With a new budget in place, that was put to motion and passed by the same vote with the same three people voting no. Carlson said the impact to the taxpayer is unknown at this time.
The police were far from done being involved in the meeting. One of the items later on in the agenda was discussing amending the ordinance regarding loud and unnecessary noises. Krueger explained to the Board the ordinance is hard to enforce for a couple of factors. If a call was made about loid noise, the potential suspect sees the squad car coming down the street, the volume will be turned down immediately, he opined. Second, if a complaint was made about loud music, and police report to the scene, their equipment might pick up other noises (i.e., a lawn mower, saws) and not the music. He further added the Department usually gives one warning before issuing the citation.
With those recommendations and along with further discussion, the Board decided to keep the ordinance as is.
Finally, in his police report, Kruger alerted the Board four computers in the squad cars need to be replaced because St. Croix County has an end-of-life for Microsoft Windows 7 by Jan. 15, 2020. He also said the Police Department handed out 600 glow sticks during the Trick or Treat Festival on Main Street. Those were 200 more than last year and Kruger believes even more should be ordered for the 2020 edition.