County Board considers slight levy increase

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The public gets a chance to weigh in on Douglas County's proposed 2018 budget tonight.

The nearly $54.4 million spending plan will levy about $16.9 million in property taxes this year, a 1.39 percent increase over 2017.

The levy includes $469,969 in special levy charges that won't be paid by Superior residents. The special levy pays for services such as library, bridge aids for rural communities and recycling and waste management.

Among the goals for this year's budget were to establish it based on county goals, reduce the dependency on transfers from the forestry department and to maintain competitive wages to ensure the county can retain staff, according to interim County Administrator Anne Doucette.

"County departments were encouraged to absorb personnel costs increases within their budget," Doucette said. "They did a wonderful job with that. They decreased other costs within their budgets."

Highways remain a priority with $2.5 million in bonding planned to address projects.

Another goal this year was to change the way the county funds community health care services, the Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse and Superior Vocations Center.

The organizations, which have traditionally been funded through the county budget, will now be funded with one-time funding at rates that reflect about a 20 percent decrease in funding levels.

With declining resources and continued stated restrictions on the levy, Doucette recommended the change, which was approved last month by the Administration Committee.

With increased valuations countywide, the tax rate will decline slightly in 2018, Finance Director Candy Holm-Anderson said.

The Douglas County Board considers the budget at 6 p.m. tonight in Room 201 of the Government Center, 1316 N. 14th St., Superior.

The board also considers giving the county board chairman an option to buy health insurance at the same rate county employees pay for the chairman and one family member.

The budget can be found at douglascountywi.org.