Quietly and quickly, budget for Langlade County approved today|
|Two veteran members of the Langlade County Board, Bob Benishek and Gene Kamps, recalled the earlier days in a supervisor chair, when it took days to approve a budget.|
Today it happened in a matter of minutes, with the 2014 document sailing through with a 20-1 vote.
Supervisors agreed that the ease was due to a number of factors, including excellent committee-level efforts, cooperation among the department heads, a low debt burden and long-range planning that anticipates a year ahead of the current cycle.
During the traditional public hearing, which preceded the start of the regular October meeting, Finance Director Gary Olsen explained the documents that all board members and the public in the gallery had access to.
“This has been a very easy budget,’’ Olsen said, praising the work of the department heads in controlling costs and meeting the pramiters stipulated by state tax freeze limits and other factors that come into play.
Olsen said this is the ninth year of the state tax freeze, which has caused fits for a number of governments and school districts.
This year because of added construction spending the county could increase the budget $52,824, but that is simply a drop in the bucket when the entire spending package is considered.
“The budget process worked very well,” he said, adding “we are in a good position for 2015.”
When opened for questions, the hearing drew several from board members and none from the gallery leading to the vote. The only opposition was from Supervisor Mike Klimoski, who cited one of the provisions included in the package he had opposed.
The document approved today calls for a levy of $9 million and a property tax rate of $5.50 per $1,000 of equalized valuations. Both numbers are about a half a percentage increase over the current year.
For the owner of a $100,000 home, the package will result in a property tax bill for county purposes of $550, a $3.10 increase.
Taxpayers must remember that the county levy makes up only a portion of the overall tax bill. The levies for schools, municipality and state must all be added to determine the final tally.
Budget for most county departments remain static from the 2013 levels. The Finance Committee did find additional dollars for an increase in hours for social workers and the new children and family coordinator position, along with the new union salary matrix.
By percentages, the county departments with the largest increases include the clerk’s office, 12.1 percent or $17,371; insurance, 64 percent, up $41,613; clerk of court, 11.8 percent, $15,679; fairgrounds, included in the levy for the first time, $36,305; land conservation, 8.8 percent, $3,405; health department, 7.3 percent, $25,750; and miscellaneous conservation and development, 13.1 percent, or $41,835.
The departments with the largest declines include register of deeds, down 12.5 percent, $7,648; maintenance, down 5 percent, $42,875; health and human services, down 9.95 percent, $86,621; and land records, down 5.4 percent, $18,667.
Olsen said, there will be a relatively modest $222,000 in capital improvements funded through the county’s reserves.
Those projects include:
—$80,000 for squad car replacement.
—$25,000 toward a evidence storage building, which already has $200,000 reserved.
—$30,000 toward a new tractor and mower for the airport.
—$17,000 for a phone system lease for the information services office.
—$35,000 to improve security and employee safety in the clerk of courts office.
—$10,000 to replace cracked concrete.
—and $25,000 to replace a maintenance department pick-up truck.
Other capital improvement projections, funded through the tax levy or designated dollars, include an e-mail archiving system, an additional sleeping cabin at Veterans’ Memorial Park, replacement of four forestry department trucks, a new mower for Veterans Memorial Park, and improvements to buildings and parking lots at the bow and gun range and waysides. That $30,000 cost will be funded through the lead reclamation project.
The highway department will use designated fund balance dollars to replace machinery, the tax levy to cover $1.6 million in county road paving, and a mix of levy dollars and federal grants for highway reconstruction projects.
The levy funds just over a third of county expenses. The total budget, including dollars from all sources, stands at $27,579,190.
The rest of the meeting went as smoothly as the hearing and the budget consideration did.
Without objection, the supervisors approved the staffing limit for the Highway Department at 29, including 26 hourly employees and three supervisors/superintendents.
Retirements have cut into that number and the resolution could allow the hiring of sufficient personnel to get to the 29 person level.
Funding for the full staff would come from the Highway Department budget.
There were no objections to a new five-year agreement for Walker Aviation to provide services at the Langlade County Airport.
The Walker firm will receive $77,149 for 2014.
The board also approved planning hazard mitigation structure to avoid problems or disasters through planning.
First adopted in 2008, the county joined with other local governments in updating the plan. The life of the agreement is five years.
Parcels of land in a number of towns are involved in the changes with approval recommended by the Water and Land Use Planning Committee.
The Finance and Land Sales Committee got approval of a traditional resolution on taking the tax titles on delinquent lands for the 2010 tax year.
County Finance Director Gary Olsen explains the 2014 budget at a public hearing this morning.
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