County panel approves proposed 2015 budget
The mil rate will stay about the same, but the tax levy is on the rise for Douglas County. The nearly $16.3 million levy for 2015 is $509,587 more than the levy for this year. The equalized value for Douglas County rose 3.25 percent, while the le...
The mil rate will stay about the same, but the tax levy is on the rise for Douglas County.
The nearly $16.3 million levy for 2015 is $509,587 more than the levy for this year. The equalized value for Douglas County rose 3.25 percent, while the levy increase is 3.23 percent.
While the state restricts levy increases for local units of government, changes reflect a $181,760 increase in the budget allowed for new growth for general operations, $242,593 for debt service and $88,177 for bridge aid. State imposed restriction exclude debt service and bridge aid. Library aid drops by $2,943 for 2015.
The county’s Administration Committee approved the financial plan late last week.
“The planning session that we conducted in the summer, the county board identified six priority areas,” said County Administrator Andy Lisak. “We have to keep these priority areas and build off of these.”
Priorities include sustainable infrastructure improvement, public safety, professionalism, service and efficiency, natural resources, responsible development and compassion in providing service, Lisak said. Public safety, for example, doesn’t just consist of the work done by the sheriff’s office, but includes the work the highway department and health and human services does.
The committee approved two new social worker positions as part of the budget, however the added staff has no impact on the levy. The department made cuts in other areas.
Among the cuts were the elimination of $25,000 in funding for the Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse and $50,000 for the Superior Vocational Center.
With the services mandated by the state, and rising need in the community for services provided, there were difficult choices to make, said Pat Schanen, director of the health and human services department.
The administration committee opted to use reserve funding from the county’s W-2 fund to restore the funding for one year.
Toby Johnson of the vocation center and Kelly Burger of CASDA both expressed gratitude for the one year reprieve.
Johnson said the elimination of the funding would have forced him to eliminate 12½ position at the start of the year, but the one-time funding gives him time to find alternative sources of funding.
The budget includes funding to finish pulverizing and paving County Highway T from Town Line Road to the Tamarack Bridge next year, about 8.6 miles, and reconstruct County Highway D from Evans Lane to Elm Road. The highway department also plans to increase highway maintenance activities and replace aging equipment next year.
However, there is one area of the budget that raises concern for Sheriff Tom Dalbec - revenue projections for the Douglas County Jail. With more local residents in the jail than in the past, there are fewer beds to house inmates for other jurisdictions. Dalbec said the revenue projections should be reduced by about $300,000.
However, reducing those estimates is something that is going to have to be done over time, Lisak said.
The full board considers the proposed budget at 6 p.m. Oct. 27.