The Jefferson County Board met Oct. 22 to discuss upcoming projects including the renovation of the Jefferson County courthouse and the Badger State Solar project.
County Board Chairperson, Jim Schroeder announced he will not be running in this year’s election.
The Proposed Budget
The proposed 2020 budget will decrease the mill rate from 3.99 to 3.80.
The proposed expenditures for 2020 is estimated at $85,139,626. The main expenditures include general government, public safety and health and human services.
The main sources of revenue will come from taxes, intergovernmental revenues, and public charges for services.
A major expenditure for this upcoming year and the years that follow will be the renovation of the courthouse.
Ben Wehmeier, Jefferson County administrator said the condition of the courthouse has been overlooked for many years.
The courthouse will need several maintenance upgrades. The analysis of the facility will start in 2021.
Dick Jones, Jefferson County board supervisor said, “The duct-tape solution is creating a downward spiral.”
These new renovations will transform the 50-year-old courthouse into a more modern building. These changes will ultimately provide better services, efficient communication and incorporate newer technology.
“We have little room for debt”, Schroeder said in regards to how the renovations will be paid utilizing the 2020 budget. It could take up to a few years to get all the renovations completed.
Badger State Solar Project
Badger State Solar is a proposed 149-megawatt solar farm located between the towns of Oakland and Jefferson.
The project will feature rows of solar panels that absorb sunlight throughout the day. The solar farm will generate clean power for Wisconsin for 25 to 40 years. Once the project’s life is over, the land will be restored for agricultural use.
The project will be a significant source of local tax revenue with over $550,000 expected in annual shared revenue. There will be over $2.6 million in local earnings during construction for Jefferson County, as well as over $446,000 in long-term earnings annually.
Jefferson County is negotiating an agreement with the developer. There are many phases to this project: planning, approval, and construction.
There are a lot of studies being conducted regarding the negative consequences of a solar farm. Some of those being, the glare off the panels, sound impacts, magnetic frequent studies, drainage and waterway concerns, and fencing.
There are also a lot of positives to having a solar farm in Wisconsin. This project will create hundreds of jobs, bring in more revenue for the county as well as the farmers and produce clean energy with no emissions.
“For many farmers that’s quadrupling their income over night”, Wehmeier said in regards to the economic sustainment for farmers who are participating in this project.
The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin has jurisdiction over this project because the farm is over 100-megawatts.
There will be a chance to comment on the project at a public hearing at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds Nov. 6. To learn more about the project, visit their website or call.
In other action Tuesday:
- Gary Lex’s vehicle was damaged on I-94 while driving behind a Jefferson County dump truck. A rock was thrown from the truck and allegedly caused damages worth $388.85. The claims of auto damage against Jefferson County was disallowed by the board.
- Melissa Mason’s vehicle was damaged by loose gravel on Highway A. She believes the county is responsible because of poor highway maintenance. The alleged damages cost $543.99. The claims of auto damage against Jefferson County for Melissa Mason was disallowed by the board.
- Jefferson County created a “broadband working group” to help bring the access of high-internet to its rural residents. Wehmeier hopes to get 70-75-percent of the underserved covered with this project. There are two private providers the county will utilize.
- The Parks Dept. received several grants to make their projects successful.
- Anita Martin testified at the public hearing regarding the proposed 2020 budget. She inquired about a position that needs to be filled for the Jefferson County Land and Water Dept.
For more information on the Jefferson County Board, including meeting agendas and minutes and videos, visit https://www.jeffersoncountywi.gov/.