EAU CLAIRE — The Eau Claire County Board has a new supervisor.

The county Administration Committee during its meeting Tuesday unanimously confirmed Chairman Nick Smiar’s appointment of Nathan Otto as the new County Board District 11 supervisor.

“I think he’s a very good candidate,” Smiar said of Otto.

Otto fills the seat previously held by Ray Henning, who died in October. The appointment is effective immediately but requires confirmation from the County Board during its Dec. 7 meeting.

Otto was one of four applicants interviewed Tuesday by the Administration Committee. After the interviews, the committee discussed the applicants, Smiar made the appointment and the committee confirmed the appointment.

Otto works as a software developer and adjunct instructor at Chippewa Valley Technical College, and he has a master’s degree in public policy.

Otto said he enjoys solving budgetary problems, which Supervisor Jerry Wilkie touted as a key area of expertise.

Otto will serve as supervisor for about four months before the April 2022 election. During that time, Otto plans to work to better understand his role on the board.

“I want to jump in here learning and listening,” Otto said. “I think the most efficient local governments are ones that are best at listening and getting feedback and processing the feedback.”

Third-party administrator

The Administration Committee also approved Administrator Kathryn Schauf’s recommendation to contract with the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission as the county’s American Rescue Plan funding third-party grant administrator. The third-party grant administrator will review applications from businesses and nonprofits hoping to receive ARP money.

The WCWRPC was one of four firms to apply for the role, and it received the highest evaluation score from the county. Schauf said the regional planning commission provided “the most concise and most economical solution.”

Applicants were evaluated on five areas: company profile and capability; experience and references with state and federal grants; local leadership and program support of staff assigned; ability of key personnel to provide in-person engagement; and hourly cost for program services.

The WCWRPC received a score of 103.5 and will charge the county $70 per hour. Clifton, Larson, Allen received a score of 91.9 and offered its services for $141.80 per hour. Baker Tilly received a score of 87.3 and offered its services for $248.75 per hour. Iparametrics received a score of 74.7 and offered its services for $135.68 per hour.

The county placed a request for information from firms interested in the grant administrator position after American Rescue Plan funding task force members suggested doing so during an October meeting. The ARP funding task force is in charge of recommending what area businesses and nonprofits should receive money that the county was awarded as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.

As third-party grant administrator, the regional planning commission will work with the task force on grant application criteria and maintain reports on how grant money was spent. The administrator will also grade applications and discuss them with the task force, which will then make recommendations to the county Administration Committee on which applicants should receive money.

The County Board during its Sept. 21 meeting approved allocating $2 million of ARP money for businesses and nonprofits, and more money will likely be allocated. During the same meeting, the board also allocated $70,000 for a third-party grant administrator.

The county has worked with the regional planning commission on several similar projects, and Schauf in October said she believes the organization has the necessary resources and experience to handle a multi-year granting process.

Committee members agreed.

“They have some great staff that have done some great work for us in the past,” Supervisor Nancy Coffey said.