Jefferson Board reviews past year’s and future budget

The Jefferson council met this past Tuesday, and discussed the overall budget, as well as a few resolutions that would be added to enhance the work flow in the community. In a meeting that not many people testify in, Chairman of the Finance Committee Dick Jones spoke regarding the county’s budget before they went into their meeting with the other council members.

Jones mentioned that the county is, and has been in good financial shape for some time now. The main reason that they haven’t had to worry about their finances is due in part that the county does not take on too much debt. Jones pointed out that they were debt free for a while, but recent construction of a highway shop has put them under, and they are currently working to pay that off. Regardless, Chairman Schroeder says, “they have money in the cookie jar,” and have money available for the future.

Another one of the big things featured in the budget is the Human Services area. Schroeder made a point that, “opiates is one of the things driving this budget.” Opiates are quite a problem in Jefferson county; “at any given time, we have about 200 people under treatment for opioid addiction,” said Jones.

This issue doesn’t just affect the human services area; Schroeder explained that the courts, child support, and medical examiners are all impacted by the epidemic. The amount of treatment that goes into helping those 200 people at a time significantly bring up the expenditures in the human services area, which currently stands at $24 million dollars. However, the county is currently working towards a resolution that would allow the state to sue opioid and drug manufacturers. The suit is sponsored by the Wisconsin Counties Association, and it is believed that most of the counties will join the suit. The opioid crisis is a severe issue right now, both emotionally for families, and from a financial standpoint from the county, but this suit could do a lot of good.

Regarding how the county is doing unrelated to finances, Chairman Jones believes that “the only way we’ll be able to sustain county operations, and provide for the prosperity of our citizens is if we develop.” Jones knows that this is considered a big statement for such a small county, as the county has been traditionally seen as anti-development. The county has believed firmly in farmland preservation, and the preservation of green space.

Though they have stayed true to their land preservation, Jones acknowledged the fact that there needs to be a balance between the preservation of agricultural land with well thought out common sense development. With this thought process it would hopefully bring more revenue to the county, and provide more jobs to the citizens of Jefferson.

As for the future in the budget, Jefferson’s county clerk office will be getting more money in the year 2018. This is mainly due in part to the implementation of a new voting machine that will be used for the gubernatorial election. The new ballot machines will significantly increase workflow and ease of elections, as Finance Director Marc Devries points out that, “these new machines print their own ballots,” which will make them more efficient and helpful.

The budget for 2018 doesn’t change significantly, as the main sources of revenue and expenditure stay consistent from 2017. The county clerk budget does go up, mostly due to the new machines, but the good news for the county is that the debt service is projected to decrease in next year’s deflection. As the county continues to work on paying off the highway shop, and no other significant projects are brought about, the debt service number should continue to fall. The final vote for next year’s budget will be held on Tuesday November 14.

 

 

 

 

 

Discussions Aplenty at Whitewater’s Common Council Meeting

At Tuesday night’s common council meeting, UW-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper, Vice Chancellor Grace Crickette, and Chief of Police Matthew Kiederlen spoke to council members regarding parking on the UWW campus.

Kopper gave a brief statement before handing it off to Crickette and Kiederlen, where they spoke on the parking issue that the Whitewater campus currently faces. Crickette, who was just named the Vice Chancellor of Administrative Affairs a few months ago, stated that parking needs to be “self-sustaining in order to direct resources to student success, housing, and other infrastructure that is more complex.”

Just this year, a large number of parking meters were removed from the campus, and parking passes were implemented to take their place. Chief Kiederlen pointed out that “the shortage of parking caused the change from meters to permits.”

This has obviously caused a bit of unrest amongst students on campus, since students now must buy a permit instead of going to any meter around campus. Not only has this change affected students, but two of the council members as well. Ald. Stephanie Goettl (District 5) explained that when she went to buy a permit, she was turned away, as she was not a student on campus. Along with Goettl, Ald. Lynn Binnie (District 4) said that, in his case, he must park near the Center of the Arts In order to park on campus, as that is one of the few spots with a parking meter with a long duration of time limit.

Kiederlen explained his case, stating that they were only selling permits to students, staff and faculty until they did a lot count and knew exactly what they were working with. This discussion ended on quite the note, as former campus employee Pam Zarinnia came to the podium and unleashed a series of notes that council members couldn’t help but notice. Zarinnia was not happy with the parking situation, and stated she was “embarrassed to be part of a city that does double taxation with East Side parking.” Unless there is a deal made with the city to allow residents of the community to park in these permit zones, people like Goettl and Binnie, as well as other residents and students, will most likely continue to experience parking issues.

 

Clapper’s Budget Presentation

City Manager Cameron Clapper proposed this month’s budget at Tuesday’s meeting. For the year of 2018, the city proposed that their budget would be at $9,174,846 dollars.

Clapper pointed out that this was a decrease of just under $30,000 from the previous year. Most of the money would be coming from city taxes, as well as intergovernmental revenues. These combined bring in about 86 percent of the city’s revenue.

Opposite to the revenues, the city would spend/spends most of its money on administration, public safety, and transfers. The largest portion of that comes from public safety, where the city spends about $100,000 on fire and EMS.

Clapper points out that the biggest changes seen in the budget come from transfers in and transfers out of the general funds, and that the workers compensation experience mod changed as well.

One very notable change with the budget was also seen, that the city moved their HR Coordinator to a full-time position as well. As far as future planning goes, Clapper presumes that there will be some gradual revenue reductions that we will see, as well as some searching for alternative sources in revenue in order to keep that revenue on the rise.

 

Landmarks Commission Confusion

One of the bigger issues discussed during the meeting was the landmark ordinance. Upon arrival, a large group of residents stood outside the municipal building holding signs that read “Save Our Landmarks.”

Those same people continued inside the building to hear the discussion regarding the landmark decision, which didn’t go on for long. The council members expressed that there was some confusion with them and the Landmarks Commission, as the first ordinance was passed unanimously, and the second died right away, as a second vote was not heard.

The goal of these was to treat city owned land the same way that private land would be treated, and to have to go to the committee first in order for city owned property to be turned into a landmark.

Lynn Binnie was in favor of this movement, and Stephanie Goettl stated that it’s important to “make sure the owners of property communicate and let the public know of the process beforehand.” This was certainly an interesting discussion during the meeting, and there will most likely be more conversation about it in the future.

 

 

Wild fall into mid-season slump, fall behind in standings

sad pariseThe Minnesota Wild are known well for their falling out in the middle/end of the regular season. Last year, the team was sparked by Head Coach Mike Yeo having a meltdown during a practice after the team had gone on a long losing streak. Along with that, the Wild acquired goalie Devan Dubnyk from Arizona due to their uncertainty with the goaltender position. That seemed to do the trick, as the Wild went 19-24-2 after acquiring the 6’5″ Canadian.

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