The Walworth County Commission, on Tuesday, March 16, suspended director of equalization Deb Kahl for three days for actions taken at a Feb. 9 commissioner meeting.
After an executive session and a public apology from Kahl for her actions, the commissioners decided a three-day suspension was warranted.
Kahl told the commission she was wrong to interrupt the executive session at which she was the topic of conversation. She asked that the commission release the information about the incident that led to her suspension in order to clear up any misinformation that she felt was intimated in a story in the Mobridge Tribune.
Kahl also told commissioners she was aware that her actions were wrong and that she was willing to take her punishment. She asked that the commission not punish her deputy, Greg Pudwill, who was thought to have listened at the door of the commission chamber and alerted Kahl of what was happening. She then returned to the court house to confront the commissioners in executive session.
Commissioner Kevin Holgard had made a motion to continue to investigate the incident further to find out how Pudwill was involved.
“I understand there are consequences when you do something wrong,” she told the commission. “I am the one that did something wrong, Greg did not.”
Holgard said he disagreed as he believes that Pudwill was wrong to listen to what was happening in executive session.
Kahl said he did not listen at the door, even though Holgard said the commissioners saw him there.
Commission chair Jim Houck called for a roll call vote on the motion of suspension without further investigation with Houck, commissioners Duane Mohr and Rick Cain voting yes and Commissioners Scott Schilling and Holgard voting against.
Houck said that he thought the public apology would have been enough and did not favor the suspension.
Reimbursment for meals
Holgard told the commission that he disagreed that transport officers were getting full reimbursements for meals without having to submit receipts. He said just because the state recommends a certain amount of money for reimbursements for each meal, he didn’t feel they should pay the full amount for each meal without knowing what was actually spent.
Holgard said using the full per diem payment as a supplement to the transport driver’s income rather than reimbursement for the actual cost of the meal is not what per diem was meant to do.
Walworth County Sheriff Josh Boll told Holgard he resented the implication that the drivers were taking advantage of the per diem reimbursements. He said they are only doing what other county employees have always done.
Holgard said the county should not reimburse any employees without submitted receipts.
The commission will discuss this again at the next meeting and change the policy to require receipts for meal reimbursements.
In other business the Walworth County Commissioners:
• Approved increasing the tipping fees at the landfill as per former landfill supervisor Becky Krein’s recommendation.
• Pre-approved the purchase of a transport van through federal surplus for a 2006 Ford E350, with 3,600 miles, wheelchair accessible for $8,300.
• Approved replacing former auditor Becky Krein with current auditor Eva Cagnones on the following county committees and boards: purchasing, insurance, personnel policy and 4-H Complex Policy Committee.
• Heard Randy Hanson of Wenck Environment Consulting and Engineering report the state is waiting for reports from 2019 and 2020, for information on financial assurance for cell closure at the landfill, in case cells are needed to be closed. The request for $11,000 for completion of these reports was approved by the commission.