January 7, 2019 (FULL DETAILED REPORT)Monday, February 11th, 2019
STATE OF WYOMING ) LANDER, WYOMING
) ss. OFFICE OF THE FREMONT COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF FREMONT ) JANUARY 7, 2019
FULL DETAILED REPORT
The Swearing-In Ceremony was held at 9:00 a.m. in the Commissioners Chambers. Judge Norman Young gave the official oath to the following: County Commissioners Travis Becker, Clarence Thomas and Michael Jones, County Clerk Julie A. Freese, County Assessor Tara Berg, Clerk of District Court Kristi Green, County Attorney Patrick LeBrun, County Sheriff Ryan Lee and County Treasurer Tom Majdic. County Coroner Mark Stratmoen was testifying at a federal hearing in Casper and was being sworn in there. A reception followed.
At 10:00 a.m., the Elected Officials met in the Fremont County Library, Lander Branch, for a retreat. Present were all of the above, with the addition of Commissioners Larry Allen and Jennifer McCarty. Deputy County Clerk Margy Irvine, Chief Civil Deputy Jodi Darrough and Deputy Treasurer Jim Anderson were also in attendance.
Chairman Becker welcomed the group and went around the table so everyone could introduce themselves and tell the other elected officials what their vision of their office would be and how they intend to work together as elected officials. The following was their ideas in more detail.
Each Elected Official stated their vision for their four year term:
Ryan Lee: Has a lot on his plate and has many hats (Patrol, Detention, Communications, Search and Rescue). He is a cooperator and wants to work together in a governmental setting with every other elected official as we are all elected to be here.
Tom Majdic: There are certain things he would like to do, he has visited with Julie and Tara already, as well as Travis and Larry. He believes in teamwork and doing what is best for the county. He is interested in pursuing opening up a Riverton office which would be great for the county. He acknowledged his experienced staff and others who he will take advantage of their experience. He will bring a new perspective but be grounded in regards to his obligations.
Julie Freese: She stated the importance of keeping up with e-mails as that is how most issues are handled. A lot of committees use this avenue to disseminate information among themselves. Important to work together. Would like to have Elected Officials begin meeting the 5th Tuesday of each month (normally not a Commissioner meeting day). They have found this to be a good forum where good communication can occur and you can agree to disagree on issues.
Tara Berg: Her office sets values, very important for County. The County Commissioners serve as the County Board of Equalization, also very important. She works very closely with other offices as well. Would like to research streamlining titles and sales tax so customers don’t have to go to two offices. She is committed to the meeting the last Tuesday of each month with Elected Officials, in the past, these meetings have proven very beneficial.
Kristi Green: Stressed the importance of working together and being there for each other. She admitted she is not as responsive to e-mails as she could be, she is old school; however, indicated she would be more responsive in this area. She will continue to do what she was elected to do in helping the District Judge maintain his office. She is anxious to discuss salaries later today, she had an entry level position open and it was very hard to find an individual willing to take the salary offered. Very frustrating, need to get work done on salary issues within the County.
Patrick LeBrun: Continue trying to provide good legal services to Elected Officials. Helping Elected Officials do their jobs, that is his goal for the next four years. He has a good staff of attorneys, he could not have held on to Tom Majdic as money was not an issue with him leaving.
Travis Becker: The Board is made up of five autonomous commissioners. They work together as much as possible. Each one has a different perspective. He wants to all work together, everyone has different jobs but we all drink from the same trough.
Larry Allen: The way things have been done in the past has worked fairly well. Each Elected Official has independent minds and thoughts and concerns. His main goal is to help the county and the citizens, keep county government running smoothly. They have done a good job in the past and will continue to do so.
Clarence Thomas: He is the District 1 Commissioner, the quiet one! He listens and hears what is being said. Concerned about looking at oil prices. Every EO/DH must maintain their budget closely. Salary increases will be tough as numbers are not moving upwards. This trend will continue for the next two years for Fremont County. Important issues are government to government relations and economic development with city and tribal officials. Main issue is to watch the budget closely and know where we are at all times. Make sure departments understand this and not overspend. Need to continue doing more with less.
Mike Jones: Important to build relationships. In his career experience, important to find common ground. He will listen and continue to learn, he is thrilled to be part of the process.
Jennifer McCarty: Have really enjoyed this job for the last two years, working together with different people. Everyone works together very well. She is still learning and will continue to learn. The commissioner meetings are very productive and it is important to relate to employees what we can do.
Travis Becker: Over the last eight years, and will continue to do so, consider the budget first and foremost.
Julie stated the electronic time card system will allow better financial awareness in real time. We should not hear of any overages from our auditors. Communication important, she is in favor of EO meeting the 5th Tuesday of each month.
Mike Jones: Would like to be kept current on the Cash Reserve. Jim Anderson stated he compiles monthly reports that would be east to share with the Commission.
It was stressed to check e-mail at least once a day, more if possible.
Travis stated the practice has been for Commissioners to be liaisons to departments , commissions and districts. Some Elected Officials have asked for a Commission liaison as well in the past. Ryan and Tom both requested a Commission liaison for their respective offices. Travis stated Liaisons will be finalized in January.
Travis agreed it would be beneficial to receive revenue projections more often than in the past, at least quarterly. Tom stated he plans to have a new approach to business and be present in the office.
Travis asked that if EO have internal issues, they attempt to handle in house and not get the media involved. He stressed an open line of communication.
Tara stated she gets different estimates during the year, her financial reporting changes.
Travis relayed his vision to designate five minutes during each Commission meeting for a “hats off” presentation to someone for a positive thing happening in the county. Too many times it is the negatives that get the attention. He is thinking Boy Scouts, businesses, etc. and he will continue to work on this project.
Julie stated they began working on a salary survey about six months ago. The first step was to classify every position into a Standard Occupational Classification (SOC). The next step is to look at comparable salaries for the SOC. The approach is very important by having accurate job descriptions. Think about the duties/position and not the compensation at the first process. The Commission was able to make some adjustments to some departments but did give $1,200 COLA last year. The percentages are not as fair as the people at the top get the most benefit. The employees were very appreciative to the Commission for the COLA last year. It is important that employees know what benefits they are receiving and keeping them informed. Social media is a concern.
Social media issues were discussed. Patrick stated the importance of ignoring any lies; however if not a lie, it needs to be defended. Ryan recommended making your own press release of items of importance, don’t rely on the media to get your point across. Don’t read any negative social media comments, just ignore. Jim Anderson discussed social media issues and stated staff in their office have been told not to talk about office issues on social media. It potentially creates division and not solidarity. Need one voice representing the county.
Dates for 2019 meetings on the 5th Tuesdays were acknowledged as follows: January 29, April 30, July 30, October 29 and December 31. Becky was asked to make reservations at the Oxbow for the January meeting at noon.
Reinstituting the Policy Committee was discussed. In the past, this Committee was made up of all Elected Officials. Julie stated the Commission had split the Personnel Policy into two separate documents: County Approved Benefits Procedures and Policy and Procedures Handbook. This latter document can be incorporated into individual Department Policy and Julie stated that if one exists, she needs a copy for her files. The only time the Commission has any authority over another Elected Official is setting their budget.
Clarence stated good communication is important during the budgeting process. It is important to listen and hear what is going on. Understanding the vouchering process and approving them is very important, he takes a very close look at the credit card bills. Important to do research and understand where budgets are at and communicate openly and understand what’s going on, he is making a commitment to do so.
Mike stated good communication is key, so many things can be eliminated before they escalate, there are so many things that can be done. Jennifer agreed with Mike, ditto. She stated the extra Tuesday meetings are important. Larry stated communication is key.
Julie asked what the thoughts were about leaving Bank of the West. Tom is agreeable to this. Clarence asked that the cost to change banks be investigated, may be negative in the long run. Tom stated he would begin looking at other institutions (free checking, grace period for credit card payments, etc.). Jim stated an RFP process should be developed and Tom stated good criteria is the beginning stage. Jodi asked if the County Investment Policy needs to be updated.
Tara thanked the Commissioners for granting ½ day holiday for Christmas Eve, she stated her employees were very appreciative.
A carry in lunch was held at 11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
At 1:00 p.m., the following Department Heads and Off Line Board Directors joined the Elected Officials to continue the retreat: Alex Malcolm, J.R. Oakley, Brad Meredith, Billy Meeks, Jill Johnson, Janette McMahon, Mike Hutchison, Steve Baumann, Penny Fahey, Kevin Shultz, Kathleen Laidlaw and Barney Cosner. Scott Goetz arrived later.
Travis asked everyone to go around the table and introduce themselves.
Tara began by describing her job as County Assessor and explained how the assessed valuation is set. The state valuation includes oil and gas and then the local assessment includes houses, etc. These equal the total county assessed value. 1/3 of the county revenue is used to set budgets, this will change monthly based on fluctuating values. Values are one year behind, figures based on last year’s oil and gas and housing market for 2018.
Jim and Tom discussed assessed value and revenue projections include property tax for the assumed mill levy. Property taxes can fluctuate somewhat. Other taxes (sales, motor vehicle) and government revenues (PILT, grants, etc.), CREG report and other various resources included.
Julie is the budget director, she sends certified budgets out after it is approved. The commission has never gone over 12 mills. She explained the budget document included in the packets she distributed. The budget process was reviewed. The tentative schedule will be sending out budget packets in February and they are due April 15. Budget hearings will begin in May and then all budgets reviewed and form a preliminary budget. This is advertised and finalized the last meeting in June, if last year’s process is followed. Off Line Boards are required to meet with her and Joe and they will also be working with new department heads and large departments (Transportation and Sheriff’s Office). A couple of budgets went over last fiscal year, she expects the electronic time card system will allow Departments real time information on their budget to monitor better, especially important in tight budgets. She stated the monthly Elected Officials/Department Heads meeting is a good forum to give ideas, discuss new topics, she stated that a good topic would be for Sheriff Lee to give a talk on public relations.
Travis reviewed some budget concerns for next fiscal year, specifically Transportation.
The Salary Survey was discussed. Joe has put together a salary survey for the State of Wyoming and in our Northwest region and put all county employees into that configuration. Julie envisions the process beginning by having all departments looking at job descriptions, using the current job title and description we have. Then you will look at the State SOC descriptions and find the best matches for your employees. This will be done without any salary amounts attached to them. Then discrepancies will be looked at and discussed. The budget will then dictate what can be done. This will be an ongoing project.
Julie reviewed Policies and Procedures. The following are in effect:
County Approved Benefits Procedures (the same for all County employees)
Policy and Procedures Handbook (can be in addition to Department Policies, of which Julie needs to have a copy for her files).
General Policies were then reviewed as follows:
County Vehicle Procedures
Employee Driving Record Policy
Mileage Reimbursement Policy
Credit Card Policy
Affidavit for Missing Receipt
Reimbursement to Fremont County Government
Fremont County Bank of the West Credit Card Application Form
Official Business Travel Expense Form
County of Fremont Voucher
Payroll Policy and Procedures
Employer’s Separation from Service
Employee’s Separation from Service
Payroll Changes for Elected Officials and Chief Deputies
Overtime/Compensation/Holiday Time Explanation
Chart of Accounts – Description of Line Items
Purchasing and Accounting Policy
Capital Budgeting Process
Capital Outlay Request Form
Equipment and Vehicle Procurement Form
New Asset Set Up
Manual Warrant Policy
Contract Procedural Policy
Standard Operating Procedure for Capital Projects with Funding through County
Contract and Change Order Check List
Capita Project Completion Form
Checklist for Executive Exemption “Standard” Test
Checklist for Administrative Exemption “Standard” Test
Checklist for Professional Exemption “Standard” Test
Checklist for 1st Responder Exemption “Standard” Test
New Grant Procedure
New Grant/Capital Project Check-Off Sheet
Grant Closeout Worksheet
Disposal of Surplus Property <$1,000
Fremont County Government Equipment Retirement
Capital Asset Transfer Form
Fremont County Courthouse Evacuation policy and Procedures (draft)
Building Closure Policy
Unemployment and Worker’s Compensation Claims Procedures
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Acknowledgement Form
Human Resource Services
Tips on Termination
Statement of Detention Facility Permanent Trust Fund
Appointment of Public Defender
Employee Recognition Awards
Technology Use Policy
Cash on Hand Policy
Request for Opinion or Services from County Attorney
Agenda Request Form
Emergency Procurement Policy during Emergency Operations
Fremont County Facility Project and Work Requirements
Siren Use in Fremont County
Off Line Board Financial Policy
Off Line Capital Projects
Off Line Unanticipated Revenue
A compilation of the above policies and procedures will be compiled in a book and distributed to Elected Officials/Department Heads.
Worker’s Compensation claims will be handled by Tim Hancock and Jodi will handle Unemployment Claims.
Jodi will send out a draft Social Media policy.
Reduction in Force procedures are in place and have been sent to each Department. Julie will resend.
Treatment Courts has a procedure for background checks and Billy stated Transportation also has one they will share.
J.R. asked if there was a cell phone policy. There is not one currently in place and both he and Penny would like some clarification as they use their personal cell phones for business use on a regular basis.
The Policy Committee will begin meeting again.
The Retreat adjourned at 4:30 p.m. Chairman Becker thanked all for attending.
A full detailed report and the official minutes are posted on Fremont County’s website at www.fremontcountywy.org.
/s/ TRAVIS BECKER, CHAIRMAN
FREMONT COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
/s/ JULIE A. FREESE, FREMONT COUNTY CLERK AND CLERK OF THE BOARD