The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Board's finance committee approves hiring full-time jailer


Alissa Pietila/Daily Globe

IRON COUNTY Sheriff Tony Furyk, far right, discusses changes in the sheriff's department at the Iron County Courthouse in Hurley on Thursday morning.

HURLEY - The Iron County Board of Supervisors' finance committee met on Thursday morning to discuss hiring and snowmobiles in the sheriff's department, replacement of the current health officer and tax-deeded properties.

Sheriff's department

"I'm short a jailer. As I'm losing road guys here, I have to move someone up. So, it's not like we're hiring someone new," sheriff Tony Furyk said.

The department is down a full-time jailer, as a road person recently moved to Mississippi. One jailer has to take over the open road position and will be heading to road school to do so, Furyk said.

According to Furyk, he dosen't want to hire a new full-time jailer, but instead a current part-time jailer to fill the position, which will not increase the budget at all.

"I can't work with fewer people, it's impossible," Furyk said.

After some discussion, the committee approved the sheriff's hiring a full-time jailer from the part-time jailer list.

The sheriff's department also has two older snowmobiles it hopes to sell in the near future.

It was suggested selling the two snowmobiles, and with the money raised, purchasing a new all-terrain vehicle.

"We have one ATV that's 10 years old, and if we're out looking for people, or searching, one officer is by himself all the time," Furyk said.

"It's a lot nicer for law enforcement if there is a pair of us out there instead of one," he said.

Selling the snowmobiles soon is also a priority.

"If we don't sell these snowmobiles now, and we wait two months, the snow is gone, we're not going to get anything for them," Furyk said.

The committee approved the sale or trade-in of the two snowmobiles and the purchase of a new ATV.

Health department

Current health officer Zona Wick was hoping to retire this year, but needs a replacement to fill her spot.

Last fall, the health department advertised the position of a new health officer and received four applications. But, according to Wick, none of the applicants met the state-mandated requirements.

Iron County's health department is at level three, the highest level for a health department, meaning it offers "at least a minimum of 14 different programs," Wick said.

To meet state requirements, Wick said, the person would have to hold a master's degree and have at least "three years experience in a full-time administrative position in public health or public health work."

Wick said very few people are qualified to fill the position with those requirements.

"It looks like what we're going to do is ..steal a current health officer from another county," she said.

Wick has spoken with some individuals in other counties who were possibly interested, but they declined when they saw the salary being offered. She said in order to attract a qualified health officer to fill her position, as a level three department, the salary of the position would have to increase.

"Or, look at changing the health department down to a level two, instead of staying at a level three," Wick said.

That would result in losing some of the current programs the health department offers, such as environmental health, but would make hiring someone with a bachelor's degree an option.

County clerk Mike Saari said a wage increase is a common occurrence across many positions.

"People that you're going to replace, you're going to have to give somebody coming in more money than you've given them (the current employee) for great employees," Saari said.

Committee members thought it would be best to increase the salary to get someone well qualified into the position and to avoid having to cut programs.

For the meantime, Wick proposed staying on as the health officer for the entire 2015, with an additional two weeks of vacation added, to maintain the level three status of the department. The replacement for her position could then be figured into the 2016 budget.

The committee liked the idea, and approved her proposal to remain in the position until a suitable replacement can be found, and granted an additional two weeks of vacation.

The committee also approved a salary increase for the replacement health officer position.

Tax deeds

The committee was also updated on tax deeded properties.

In Iron County, for a property to be taken, the taxes must remain delinquent for four years. If a property owner wants to keep the property, he can pay the earliest year of delinquent taxes to delay the seizure of property for an additional year.

If the property is taken, the owner has three years to repurchase it, by paying off all of the owed taxes. Many times, though, the county just has the person sign off ownership of the property to the county, to avoid the three-year waiting period.

A condo owner who had delinquent taxes paid for another year, so that property is no longer an issue, Saari said.

A house in Oma is still a concern, though, and Saari said the suggestion is to just "take the house."

After that, there is the option to sell it back to the current owners.

The house in Oma, a log cabin, has almost 40 acres of property attached.

In other business, the committee approved the grade four salary of the already filled Land Conservation position. The salary from the position is fully grant-funded, so it does not cost the county anything, said Saari.


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