TAYLOR COUNTY BUDGET LOWERS TAX RATE 10/30/19
The Taylor County Board met on Wednesday, October 30th, and approved the 2020 budget. To open the meeting Chairman Jim Metz introduced his grand-niece Marissa Pope who provided an impressive rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. David Krug was recognized for his 14 years of service to the county. Through tears, his widow Juanita Krug accepted the recognition and she told the board how she recalled Dave’s last words to fellow board member Ray Soper; Mr. Krug told Mr. Soper: “You get broadband into this county”.
The board expressed their appreciation to former county employees Dorathy Nelson and Carol Ziemer who recently retired.
Tourism has a significant financial impact on Wisconsin. The Regional Tourism Specialist Jeff Anderson reported that it is estimated that $49 million was spent on tourism in Taylor County last year. He spoke of what’s called the “Halo Effect”. This occurs when people visit from outside the area, and ultimately may decide to live and work here. He mentioned the financial assistance grant program which is available to help promote new events.
Dealing with financial matters the 2020 Highway Department equipment schedule was approved with total resources of $897,000. Supervisor Hanson voted no. The county bridge aid for townships upgrading bridges was approved with the county kicking in $121,929 toward 10 projects. Legal services for the county have been provided by Schmiege, Graff & Koch Law Firm and the board approved their 2020 contract.
The pay scale for county employees is based on a grid concept. The county board approved increasing the classification and compensation plan steps providing a 2% increase for non-represented employees effective January 5, 2020.
With the 2020 election date drawing near, municipalities have to deal with the burden of purchasing the required new election equipment. The cost for small municipalities is $5,300 and ranges up to $9,000 for larger towns. The county board felt it appropriate to assist in paying for the equipment but voted against using powerline impact money. Instead the board approved paying each Taylor County municipality $3,000 to help pay for the new election equipment. The total will be $81,000 and taken from the county’s general fund reserve.
The Whittlesey Lions Club is upgrading the playground at their park. The board approved allocating $5,000 from the Powerline Impact fund toward the playground improvements. Two board members who are also Whittlesey Lions abstained from voting.
All county owned motorized vehicles must now be marked. With the exception of the Sheriff’s Department and Human Services, a Taylor County decal must be placed on vehicles owned by the county.
The board approved participation in the DNR municipal dam grant program. The governmental responsibility for targeted runoff management and notice of discharge grants was approved.
The annual workplan for the Taylor County Forest was approved. In forest business the county forest will increase in size by 40 acres. A split board voted 12 yes and 5 no to pay $60,000 for land adjacent to the county forest. Board member Gene Knoll expressed his support indicating that a preliminary logging project and grant could pay for the parcel. Revenues from logging in the Taylor County forest average about $350,000 per year.
County attorney Courtney Graff updated the board on the opioid class action suit which the county is involved in. Taylor County is grouped with hundreds of municipalities. Upon settlement of the suit, the county would share in any monetary award.
The 2018 Human Services report was presented by interim director Liza Daleiden.
The 2020 county budget was approved. According to county accountant Larry Brandl the actual levy was set at $11,854,825 which compares to the 2019 budget levy of $11,529,365 which is an increase of $325,460, or 2.8%. Because the county’s equalized value increased by 5.7%, the net result of the 2020 budget is a decrease in the county tax rate. On a property with a $100,000 equialized value, the tax rate will decrease by $22. The budget passed with supervisor Bub voting no.
Looking at the current Taylor County debt, the county is in excellent financial shape. The state has indicated that based on the county’s equalized value, Taylor County could borrow over $75 million for operations. Currently the debt is at $2,100,000, or 2.8% of the allowable debt. Larry Brandl indicated that many Wisconsin counties carry a debt load of 40 to 60% of their allowed maximum with some in excess of 60%. With some large scale projects on the horizon, the need for Taylor County to increase their debt may be approaching.