Officials hope salary hike stabilizes position
The Village of Belgium approved a pay raise for the village marshal position, hoping to attract longer-term candidates.
Since the beginning of the year, Deputy Marshal Leon Anzia has been the only officer as Jeff Burris left after six months.
Before Burris, Steve Footit served for two years.
During the interview process last year, Trustee Andrew Ohlson said people voiced disappointment in the salary, bringing a pay range to the discussion this time around.
Village President Vickie Boehnlein said some candidates misunderstand the position and its salary, thinking it would pay $10,000 to $15,000 per year.
The marshal was paid $3,250 per year with the deputy making $2,750 per year. The village increased the pay to $4,000 to $5,000 for the village marshal and $2,500 to $3,500 for the deputy marshal.
The range, Boehnlein said, allows for some discretion in pay given a candidate’s experience and qualifications.
Understanding what the position entails is another matter. The village marshal cannot make arrests but may issue citations for ordinance violations. Anzia said he gives tickets early in the morning for winter parking violations. In summer, he said he does less work, relying more on complaints from residents about things like grass clippings on the road.
Director of Public Works Danny Birenbaum said he passes complaints about village dump violations to the marshal.
Boehnlein said Footit, who lives in Grafton, left because he was on call all the time. Trustee Wayne Lambrecht said Footit told him he would not come back for any amount of money.
“You need someone that’s vested in the community,” he said.
The board discussed contracting with the Fredonia’s marshal department or the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department, but Lambrecht, who works for the sheriff’s department, said it would be too costly with insurance and liability.
“The sheriff’s department would love to contract with the village, but there’s no way you want to pay for it,” he said.
Trustee Pete Anzia wondered why the village needs a marshal and deputy marshal, noting the board approved a pay increase for non-governing plan commission members.
“It’s starting to add up,” he said. “We could cut back $4,500 here.”
Lambrecht suggested sticking with both positions.
“I think it’s helpful to have two when we have events in the town,” he said.
Boehnlein said the increased salaries are not in the budget and would have to come from fund balance, an account mostly used for emergencies and unforeseen expenditures. She said the village’s fund balance account is comfortably above what is recommended.
Quality is another issue. Footit has training in how to de-escalate situations while other marshals did not. As a result, Village Treasurer/Deputy Clerk Kelly Brinkman said, the village received fewer complaints.
This time, Boehnlein said, the salary range will be advertised to avoid misconceptions about the position and help land a longer-term candidate.
“Hopefully, we can put an end to this cycle,” Lambrecht said.
Anzia said he is not interested in the marshal position and is happy to remain as deputy marshal, a post he has filled since February 2013.
Before Footit, Brian Schrap was the marshal from 2009 to 2013.