Department director initially sought pair of technicians
BY KEVIN BONESKE
Of all the new staff positions being included as part of Oneida County’s proposed 2018 budget, the one the County Board spent the most time on Tuesday pertained to a resolution initially calling for two new zoning technicians, one in Rhinelander and the other in Minocqua, for the county’s planning and zoning department.
After three supervisors who are on the county’s Planning and Development Committee, which backed creating both positions, opposed amending the resolution to add only one zoning technician, the County Board approved one new position for the time being.
The final say on the matter will happen when approval of the 2018 budget takes place at the County Board’s Nov. 14 meeting. The county’s Administration Committee, which has concluded its hearings on the budget, did not support a second new zoning technician.
Supervisor Scott Holewinski of Sugar Camp, who chairs the Planning and Development Committee, said two new zoning technicians would be necessary to enforce the county’s new shoreland protection ordinance the committee has been holding public hearings on and hopes to forward to the County Board next month for final approval.
“Plus, you’re not going to find anybody off the street to fill these two positions – there’s going to be a training period,” Holewinski said. “What we don’t want to do is start off next year in 2018 with a new ordinance, then turn around and train people halfway through the summer, or one person, find out we can’t get it done, and then try to hire another. It’s going to cause a lot of stress within the (planning and zoning) staff that year.”
Holewinski said the committee favored increasing the fees charged by the planning and zoning department by 35 percent to be able to hire two new zoning technicians.
Given how revenue raised by fees could fluctuate based on the number of permits issued, planning and zoning director Karl Jennrich said he wouldn’t want to bring someone new into the department if that position would be tied to revenues.
“I just don’t want to go through next year (and have to say), ‘We didn’t meet our revenue expectations,’ and I have to go to either Planning and Development or Administration and cut positions,” Jennrich said. “If we get these two positions, we’re going to be spending time and money and effort to train these people.”
Jennrich said two new positions “theoretically” could help the department with its current workload, not taking into consideration what planning and zoning may or may not be doing next year with a new shoreland zoning ordinance.
“Plus, the Planning and Development Committee has to make the determination, along with the County Board, ‘Do you want to regulate short-term rentals?’ and that’s a big thing coming on the horizon,” he said.
A provision included in the biennial state budget approved this year no longer allows counties to outright prohibit rentals of residential dwellings for seven consecutive days or longer, but counties may regulate those rentals of more than six but fewer than 29 consecutive days. Planning and Development Committee members discussed the issue at their meeting Wednesday and agreed to revisit the matter after receiving more information on possible options.