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Addressing staff turnover, billing issues helps Wisconsin village utility system

Addressing staff turnover, billing issues  helps Wisconsin village utility system

The Village of Lake Nebagamon in Wisconsin is back on the right path after hitting a few bumps in the road. How they got back on track is a story about what happens when a dedicated town and RCAP staff come together to work on and solve issues in a community.

“Lisa really saved our bacon. Without her, I am not really sure what we would have done,” said Amy Huber, clerk for the Village of Lake Nebagamon.

Located in northwestern Wisconsin, about 5 hours from the state capital of Madison, Lake Nebagamon is a village with a population of just over a thousand people. There are 446 households and the town has both a water and wastewater system. One unique thing about the village is that not everyone is hooked up to the wastewater system. What this all adds up to is the clerk must keep track of a lot of billable accounts.

In early 2018, the county clerk’s office in the village was going through some changes. The long-time clerk left the position and Amy Huber took over. Like many new employees, Huber began her new position by looking into the practices of the old clerk for guidance. However, what she found was not helpful and she determined that she would need to develop new practices.

“There were no policies and procedures in place and the books had not been audited for years. I was not sure even
where to begin,” Huber said.

When looking around to find solutions and assistance for the village’s issues, the clerk began to reach out to neighboring towns to see if they could help. In doing this research, she came across a name she was not familiar with: the name was RCAP.

“I first heard about RCAP from one of our neighboring towns. The clerk in Poplar told me about them and told me I had to call them,” Huber said.

A meeting was set up between RCAP and the village and once RCAP got there, they began helping immediately. Lisa Totten, a long-time RCAP technical assistance provider began looking over the village’s billing software and found ways to help. She began by assisting the utilities department with setting up overtime billing, budget, and public hearing notices.

“When I first arrived to the community, I identified their biggest problem was regrouping as a result of staff turnover,” Totten said.

Over the next year and a half, Totten worked with the village clerk and the village board to help them maximize their billing software. As a result, their utilities department is running smoother than ever. Through Totten’s assistance, the village was able to create different accounts to pay for equipment upgrades, clean up payroll liabilities and work with the board to update local statues along with a countless number of other activities.

“Through working with this community, I learned first-hand that when you have a community consisting of both a board and staff members with the same goal and dedication to their community, anything is truly possible,” Totten said.

The Village of Lake Nebagamon still has some work to do but continues to be able to identify and solve the issues that come their way. “The future for this project looks bright. They have come a long way and continue to improve,” said Lisa.

When reflecting on the last year and a half and how far they have come, the clerk cannot believe the amount of work that has been completed.

“Without Lisa and RCAP we would have never made it through the last year and a half,” Huber said. “I tell every community around here that they need to call RCAP.”

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