MENOMONIE — A majority of Dunn County supervisors gave their support Wednesday to UW-Stout employees asking the state to support a 2 percent increase in wages and salaries for the next two years.
The County Board passed a resolution in favor of a UW System proposal that the Legislature fully fund a plan that would boost pay for all UW System employees, including the more than 1,000 faculty and staff at UW-Stout.
The board recognized that to continue to excel, UW-Stout must attract and retain highly qualified faculty and staff.
In the past six years, UW employees have received 1 percent raises in only two years, while universities in other states have received an average increase of 1.4 to 2.3 percent each year, the resolution stated.
UW-Stout faculty salaries now are 21 percent behind those in its peer group, UW-Stout spokesman Doug Mell told the board Wednesday night.
Instructional academic staff salaries are 22 percent behind, the resolution stated.
This has led institutions in other states, especially from Minnesota, to pursue UW-Stout’s faculty and staff by offering them higher pay.
Faculty turnover rates are at record highs with almost 13 percent of the university’s faculty leaving in 2015-16. Systemwide, the average is 8 percent, Mell said.
“When our salaries are low and behind other institutions, it gets really hard to attract quality faculty,” Mell said
Mell said the UW System is seeking to have the state fund 100 percent of proposed wage increases. In the past the state would fund 70 percent and the universities 30 percent; however, with budget cuts, the university has no extra money to pay the 30 percent, he added.
Supervisors Larry Bjork and Elton Christopherson voted against the resolution.
Bjork said he opposed it because of the cost of tuition and how the cost of higher education is “going through the roof.”
In other matters, the County Board:
• Learned as of Jan. 1 the county has a finance division consolidating employees in the county who did primarily financial work in various departments.
The change will improve the county’s financial practices and outcomes, said county Manager Paul Miller.
• Heard a report from Dunn County Economic Development Corp executive director Eric Turner who talked about the need to attract and retain employee talent in the county.
“We need more talent to train workers,” Turner said.
The EDC is planning to ramp up marketing of the county and all it has to offer, Turner said.
• Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts executive director Steve Renfree reported to the board that the organization is broadening its appeal.
He pointed out three years ago the Mabel Tainter offered 15 to 20 shows a year. That expanded to 60 in 2016.
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