CHIPPEWA FALLS — The Chippewa County Board approved spending an additional $225,000 on Tuesday for wage increases for top employees.

“This is the money set aside for (pay for peformance) and market analysis,” explained county administrator Randy Scholz.

The entire cost is anticipated at $450,000, with half of the money coming from other sources, like grants and fees. The salary adjustments will begin July 1, 2020, according to the resolution.

The measure passed on an 11-2 vote, with board chairman Leigh Darrow and supervisor Tom Thornton casting the votes against it.

The county’s “pay for performance” program provides wage increases for workers who exceed the criteria established by their supervisor. The county switched to that merit-based wage increase system in 2013, under the prior county administrator, Frank Pascarella, eliminating a pay scale based on seniority. The program was considered controversial, as some departments with numerous employees were asked to spend a significant amount of hours on compiling reviews and determining who earned wage increases.

Salaries would increase from one percent up to five percent for those who “exceed expectations.”

Employees in collective bargaining agreements, elected officials, and the county administrator are not covered by the pay-for-performance system.

In other news, the board also unanimously approved funding a full-time pretrial specialist for the Criminal Justice Collaborating Council. That employee will work with people charged with crimes and are being monitored prior to trial. The goal is that with the addition of the employee, it will keep people out of jail and in the community, and reducing recidivism, the resolution states.

The state is paying the entire $88,308 cost of the position, which includes salary and fringe benefits. The goal is to keep the position in the future through local dollars if the state doesn’t continue funding it.

The board also created two more full-time social worker positions in the Recovery and Wellness Consortium of the Department of Human Services in an effort to reduce the waitlist for programs. Medicaid revenue also will cover the cost of those positions.

“We’re not allowed to have waitlists,” Scholz said.