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Dodge County Board approves sheriff’s office review

December 20, 2018

JUNEAU — The Dodge County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night approved on a 32-1 vote spending $85,000 for an operational and financial review of the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office.

Supervisor Eugene Wurtz of Mayville called the review a “witch hunt” and a waste of money.

“I understand the definition of an expert is somebody not presently involved and living more than 25 miles away,” he said. “We’ve got a whole room full of experts here who can come up with … the information we’re looking for. Why don’t we take that $85,000 and replace some of our aging patrol cars, and eliminate some repair costs for immediate and future savings? We’ve kind of got the cart in front of the horse, with a load of money in it.”

Both the Executive and Finance committees had previously approved the move, in part to discover whether the sheriff’s claims of lost jail income are overestimated. Earlier this year the board rejected a plan to add on to the Dodge County Jail at a projected cost of $22 million.

Sheriff Dale Schmidt claimed that not having the beds from the imminently closing Pod J Facility will cost taxpayers an additional $1.2 million. That figure, at least in part, includes income from housing federal prisoners.

According to members of the Executive Committee, the jail is sufficient to house Huber prisoners (from the Pod J Facility which will be closed as of Jan. 1) without an addition. Members of the committee expressed at that time that the sheriff’s office revenue will undoubtedly decrease, but that there are other savings as well. Those savings include fewer personnel and reduced operating expenses.

Board members have questioned whether Sheriff Schmidt’s assumptions are accurate, and believe that hiring Matrix Consulting Group to review the department’s operations is the best way to determine what the actual impact will be.

Supervisor Donna Maly of Beaver Dam, answering Wurtz’s concerns, stated, “We’re not looking to cut dollars. We’re not looking to cut staff. We need to understand that the dollars the sheriff’s department is getting will be sufficient to provide Dodge County the protection and safety that we need. We don’t know what we need, and it requires much greater knowledge than we have to do this kind of study.”

Board Chairman Russ Kottke added, “Three years ago we did the same analysis for Human Services, and this is continuing where we left off. It was the original plan that we would do a different department every couple of years.”

A total of $55,000 will be taken from the general fund, with $30,000 taken from the sheriff’s office budget.

Wurtz cast the sole nay vote.

In other business:

The vote was unanimous to effectively transfer ownership of the Agriculture 4-H and Community Building (Youth Building) to the Dodge County Fair Association. The building is owned by the county and stands on land owned by the Fair Association. The structure will continue to be used for 4-H purposes. The building will be leased to the association for 99 years at a cost of $1.Justin Reynolds was approved as the county’s new director of information technology. He has an extensive background in both public and private systems and said he is eager to begin work with the county on Jan. 21.

This story has been update to remove a quote that was incorrectly attributed to Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt.

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