On Nov. 12, Jefferson County Board members debated and voted on amendments for the proposed budget for 2014.
Jefferson County’s tax levy for 2014 is $27,004,367 with a mill rate of 4.2655. A tax levy is the amount of tax money that a governing authority expects to collect during a fiscal year.
Homeowners pay taxes on the assessed value of their property to different jurisdictions in the state. The county receives money from the property taxes and uses it for different departments that help function the county.
Every year the board gets together to discuss and vote on amendments of the proposed budget. This past meeting brought up many concerns about the county’s park and recreation spending.
Even though the parks budget is only 3.7 percent of the total 2014 budget, it was heavily discussed and debated at the meeting.
The Park’s Department aims to “preserve natural resources for public use and conservation, to operate and maintain a parks system with resource oriented recreation, trails, and special use parks; and to expand the parks system for environmental and land use benefits.”
Gregory Torres, District 12 Representative, proposed amendments that would eliminate money from this part of the budget.
“We have a wonderful park system and plenty of parks in this county, we should maintain what we have and not keep adding to it. This money should be saved for future issues and needs,” Torres said.
Very few other board members agreed by saying that the county must create a boundary somewhere within this budget. In 2000, the budget for parks and recreation was at $200,000 but has now increased to $900,000.
Some other amendments that were voted against regarding parks and recreation included:
- Add $3 million in bonding authority to be used if and only if needed to complete bike trail between Waterloo and Oconomowoc.
- Eliminate $278,0003 farmland expenditure from the budget
- Elminate $10,000 from Parks Department for installation of 9 hole disc golf course at Carlin Weld Park
- Eliminate $13,000 from Parks Department for installation of a well at Garman Nature Preserve (This well will provide a water fountain for park users)
- Eliminate $45,000 from Parks Department for recreational equipment purchases
The county members voted that that the Park and Recreation’s Department proposed budget was vital in order to keep the county attractive. Many of the members argued that the outdoor recreation greatly contributes to the economy.
A new highway shop was approved in the budget and will be built at the start of 2014 for the Highway Department. This highway shop will be built outside of Jefferson in replacement of the former Countryside Home site.
The shop will contain large heated storage area for snowplows and equipment, a mechanic shop, office space and meeting rooms.
John Molinaro, Chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors, said that the investment in the highway shop is necessary and will help to maintain the roads throughout the area.
The next county meeting will be held Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. in Jefferson County Courthouse located at 311 S. Center Ave., Jefferson, Wis.