The Taylor County Board of Supervisors met Wednesday morning (Oct 29). They presented a plaque to retiree Jean Nuernberger for her 33 years of service with human services and the circuit court.
Recently, Bobbi Damrau of N.T.C. asked the county board members of the education committee if they had specific goals. Roger Ewan indicated the committee supported NTC’s efforts with the Literacy Council and a program for people over age 18 becoming eligible to receive a diploma. Sue Breneman indicated she resides in the Chippewa Valley Tech district but was a member of the NTC education committee. Rollie Thums proposed trimming membership from 3 to 1 county board member. He felt there was a disconnect between the county board and NTC. Sheriff Bruce Daniels expressed his support for NTC programs indicating that he recently received a grant for his leadership staff to attend employee development classes with college credits at no cost to the county. The county’s conservation department utilizes NTC’s nutrient management programs. Mr Thums indicated that none of the county board committee members were aware of the programs and questioned the need for paying 3 committee members to attend bi-monthly NTC meetings. Sue Breneman called it a waste of taxpayer money. The board voted to refer the county’s membership on the NTC education committee to the committee on rules for their recommendation.
Should the county board meet at designated times, or when there is a need to meet? Supervisor Sue Breneman told the board that many people in her district are surprised there aren’t set meetings. She requested that the board meet on designated dates either monthly or bi-monthly. She indicated the county board is the only government body in the county which doesn’t meet on designated dates. Lester Lewis responded that Taylor County has transitioned to a committee run system. He felt it is a more efficient way to get things done on a county level to meet on an “as needed” basis. Chuck Zenner agreed that the committees run the county. But, he said, if you’re not on a “major” committee, you’re out of the loop. Sue Breneman felt that more county board meetings would provide transparency for the taxpayers. Dennis Fuchs indicated the county would have to change their whole structure of how they do business to make the meetings meaningful. Supervisor Bizer questioned whether it was in the best interest of taxpayers to pay $50 to 17 members for every meeting. Diane Albrecht indicated she stays informed by reading the minutes of other committee meetings on her computer. The issue of how often the county board should meet was referred to the committee on committee on rules.
Representative Mary Williams presented the county with a flag that was flown over the state capital on the date of the courthouse rededication. Mrs. Williams reminded those present that she started on the county board and she urged them to consider making a run for the state senate or assembly.
The board agreed with Highway commissioner Jess Sackmann to not spend nearly $220,000 for a 3 mile bikeway. The blacktop pavement on County E between County O and A is scheduled to be replaced. Wisconsin Code trans 75 requires the construction of bikeways on certain roads unless there is excessive cost, and the board could not justify an additional 25% cost to add a bikeway on the rural highway.
There was considerable discussion regarding spending powerline impact money for the purchase of an $18,000 Honda UTV with tracks and heated cab for grooming trails and tubing hill at the Perkinstown Winter Sports area. Lester Lewis felt a machine for half that price could to the job. Mckovskey felt they could use the airports machine. Chuck Zenner indicated it would cost $8,000 to make the airport’s machine compatible for the task. Jim Metz felt the powerline fees were intended for this purpose and supported the purchase. The board voted 15 to 2 in favor of purchasing the UTV with powerline impact money.
The board acted on the 2015 budget and approved 2 amendments to the proposed budget. The first addition was $110,000 to add a financial supervisor position and remodeling at human services. The county’s auditors strongly recommended the change indicating that the expertise in obtaining grant funds could pay for the position. Supervisor Scott Mildebrand felt it was irresponsible to spend money the county doesn’t have. He asked the board to wait until they identify the areas to be affected by proposed cuts in January. Human Services director Amber Fallos said the county was losing out by not having a financial supervisor. The amendment to create the new position using money from the fund balance passed on an 11 yes and 5 no vote with Hanson, Lee, Mildebrand, Thums and Soper voting no.
The next change to the budget came with Tim Hanson speaking on behalf of the county libraries which had $25,887 trimmed from their combined budgets. Hanson indicated that the cuts amounted to 15% of the Rib Lake library budget. The money would be transferred from the savings of a proposed note refinance measure. Rollie Thums warned the board to not turn their backs on education. The board was unanimous in restoring $25,887 to the county library budget.
Ultimately the board approved the revised county budget of just under $11 million. The budget will result in a mill rate of $8.27, compared with $8.17 last year which will result in an additional $10.00 tax on a $100,000 property.
With state tax limits the board is facing a 2016 deficit forecast to be about $500,000. Lester Lewis proposed a referendum which would ask county residents to allow the county to exceed the levy limit by $1 million per year for 5 years. Lewis proposed taking $500,000 for funding possible programs which otherwise would be cut, $100,000 for highways, and $400,000 to boost the county’s dwindling reserves. By a 15 to 1 vote with Soper voting no, the board approved a referendum on the spring ballot which will seek approval to not exceed $1 million over the state levy limit each of the next 5 years.
Judge Ann Knox-Bauer addressed the board and supported a resolution which would object to a proposed lapse in state funding to the Wisconsin circuit court system. The cuts which are included in the pending 2015-17 state budget would eliminate $66,000 which taylor county would need to add into future budgets. The board was unanimous is their opposition to the proposed cuts.
The county board was unanimous in supporting resolutions for the county bridge aid, and the 2015 Highway Department equipment schedule with expenditures of $450,000. They approved appointing Scott Perrin as medical examiner and Schmiege and Graff as Corporation Counsel. The board supported authorizing a general obligation note in an amount not to exceed $4,385,000 with $1 million additional funding for maintaining the taylor county highway system. That was some of the business which was conducted at the Taylor County Board meeting on Wednesday.