The Pierce County Finance and Personnel committee approved to forward a recommendation to amend Chapter 240 to allow domestic fowl on residentially zoned parcels. The amendment would also clarify and better define which agricultural uses are allowed in specific zoning districts.

"This was a big deal in Pierce County, many an agenda was filled with it," said Jeff Holst, chair of the county board and finance and personnel committee.

The following amendments were unanimously approved:

Section 240-35: Agricultural uses

• Cultivation agriculture

(1) Cultivation agricultural practices shall be allowed in all zoning districts without issuance of a land use permit, except that structures shall require a land use permit.

(2) Agricultural structures shall not be the principle structure in a residential, commercial or industrial zoning district.

B. General agriculture

• Barnyards, feed lots and farm structures housing animals shall be located at least 100 feet from navigable water and shall be located so that manure will not drain into navigable water.

• General agricultural practices shall be allowed in all agricultural districts without issuance of a land use permit, except that structures shall require a land use permit.

D. Domestic fowl in Residential Districts

• For parcels under 2 acres in size:

• No more than 10 domestic fowl shall be allowed on a parcel.

• Roosters (non-castrated male chickens) shall not be allowed.

• For parcels 2 acres of more in size:

• There shall be no limitation on number of sex of domestic fowl.

Section 240-88: Definitions

Agriculture, General: Agricultural uses with higher amounts of input and output compared to cultivation agriculture including but not limited to animal husbandry; grazing; dairying; apiculture; etc.

Animal husbandry: The raising of livestock.

Cultivation Agriculture: Low impact agricultural uses that involved the cultivating of soil and harvesting of crops including horticulture; floriculture; grain production; forest crop; and specialty crop production such as viticulture; maple syrup; mint and willow; and truck farming.

Domestic fowl: Any domestic breed of chicken or duck. No other species of bird shall fall under this definition.

Livestock: Domesticated animals used in an agricultural setting to produce income, labor or commodities such as meat, eggs, milk, leather, wool or other animal byproducts. For the purposes of this ordinance, horses shall be regulated under outdoor recreational uses.

Operations Data Analyst personnel request

Historically the county has relied on outside sources to complete operational and feasibility studies which have cost the county, but now the County Board will have a future opportunity to approve an Operations Data Analyst to perform study tasks on behalf of Pierce County.

The official personnel request unanimously approved June 3 by the Finance and Personnel Committee stated the analyst would ensure the delivery of services from county departments and meet the needs of the community in an efficient manner.

The new position would work under the direction of Administrative Coordinator Jason Matthys to "plan, develop, coordinate and evaluate department programs, services and activities to assist in the implementation and administration of such activities,'' according to a memo from Matthys and Human Resources Manager Allison Preble.

The Grade K wage rate for the full-time position starts at $25.88 per hour and includes benefits.

The position would benefit the county by saving money and getting ahead in studies as the county "moves at a snail's pace" while the rest of the world moves fast,said Holst.

Public Health Office Specialist resigns

The Public Health Office Specialist located at the River Falls office resigned in April to take a position elsewhere in the county and Public Health Director/Health Officer AZ Snyder recommended the committee approve revisions to the position.

Snyder said the department was sad to see the employee leave for Register of Deeds.

The proposed changes include: Title of Programs Associate to indicate expectation that the position will cover any programs assigned. Duties would include general departmental support, Wisconsin WINS tobacco control compliance checks, communicable disease and fluoride program administrative support. The pay grade for the position remains at an F and requires a high school diploma and vocational or technical training in Microsoft programs, preferring 2-5 years of experience in a program support role and college degree or medical assistant or nursing assistant certification.

Preliminary 2018 financial audit highlights

The preliminary 2018 Pierce County Financial and Single Audit revealed the health of Pierce County's financial status. The 2018 audit deadline is July 31, 2019 and the final reports will be available after that date. A few outstanding highlights presented by Managing Principal of Office Brock Geyen:

• The percent of unassigned fund balance (true reserves of $17.7 million) to general fund expenditures ($22.3 million) at 79.6% was deemed healthy, but was down by 7.6% from 2017 due to higher expenses. If it continues to dip closer to 50%, there could be cash flow problems, Geyen said.

• The change in fund balance ended in the red at $27,375. This is majorly impacted by tightened up revenues and transferred funds to human services. Human services funds have seen deficits state-wide, according to Geyen.

• The county sales tax fund grew by $44,938 since 2017, as the county budgeted for the full amount of sales tax to go out but collected more sales tax than budgeted.

Other business

• The 2020 staffing plan for the administration department was approved which identifies current, approved positions as well as one proposed new position for 2020. Currently there are four 1.0 full-time employees and nine other positions.

• The committee took action to approve a property tax levy option which states as follows: Adopt a county tax budget based on the maximum allowable levy under the 2019 State Budget anticipated as increasing the county tax operating levy by the net new construction. This option would mean that the standing committees are asked to work toward a common budget goal of 0% since the county only receives about $182,062 in new money for all county needs. The common budget goal of 0% has not included current personnel costs (benefits and steps increases).