Eau Claire County Courthouse

What started seven months ago as an inquiry into DHS financial practices has progressed into a criminal investigation that includes a forensic audit.

The Eau Claire County Board approved several items during its virtual meeting Wednesday night. The board convened remotely as a health precaution against the spread of COVID-19.

The board approved a resolution designating all county employees “essential” and “emergency responders.” The resolution exempts all employees from time off and benefits, meaning none of them are eligible for options including up to 80 hours of sick leave and expanded family and medical leave benefits.

The board approved an ordinance establishing a $60 fine for people utilizing horses that wear cleated horseshoes on county roads from May to October. Highway Commissioner Jon Johnson wrote in a memo to the board that the damage caused by horseshoes on average decreases the lifespan of county roads from 25 years to 20 years. The ordinance also applies a $60 fine to horse-drawn vehicles that do not have a device to catch manure.

The board approved an ordinance regarding payment with coins or tainted currency.

The ordinance establishes that county employees have the option to decline coin payments totaling more than $1 and currency that “has been soiled, contaminated, tainted or polluted with any human or animal bodily secretions, or any other substance that may pose a risk to public safety or human health.”

The ordinance uses language based on a policy in Dane County and applies to court fines accepted in the clerk of courts office, Huber work release fees paid to the sheriff’s office, marriage licenses issued by the county clerk and different records fees in the register of deeds office.

Susan Schaffer, Eau Claire County clerk of courts, said the clerk office has had a policy in place since 2010 to refuse payments in excessive amounts of change.

The board approved an ordinance allowing an exception to cremation fees. It allows the county cremation fee of $156.37 to be waived if a funeral home or cremation society waives the fee to perform a creation, which happens between two and four times per year.

The next County Board meeting is scheduled for April 21.