Jefferson county board meeting talks about 2020 budget and badger state solar project

The Jefferson County Board had a meeting on Tuesday, October 22, to discuss the budget for 2020 and the Badger State Solar Project.

Before the meeting was held, our class had the opportunity to meet with some of the board members to discuss important topics that were to be spoken about during the meeting. We mainly collaborated on the 2020 budget. The budget’s total is $85 million.

 Jim Schroeder, Chair of the Jefferson County Board stated, “The finance committee is made up of five people but the budget itself goes through a lot more people.” 

The Board of Supervisors plan is to spend a lot of the money on road construction, paying off debts and remodeling the Jefferson County buildings; heavily focused on the remodel of the Jefferson County Courthouse.

The renovations for the Jefferson County Courthouse include maintenance and remodeling the look of the building itself. They board members want to not just update their files but also modernize the building. Since technology has become so prominent in our society, the board has noticed how far behind they are on updating everything. 

At the beginning of 2020, the members will decide what exact updates will be made to the building. There will not be much done on the exterior of the building, but it will take 2-3 years to make the changes that need to be done to the courthouse. 

The 2020 budget for Jefferson County also highlighted on property taxes. Property taxes are one of the major sources of revenue. Even though property taxes are one of the main sources of revenue, the taxes for Jefferson County have been dropping since 2017, which the board sees as an issue, especially with all of the money that will be spent within the upcoming years. 

Anita Martin from Lake Mills who is an employee for the Land and Water Department spoke at the meeting about the budget. She stated that the department is down a person and was asking if that position is going to be filled into the 2020 budget. The board will make a decision at a later date if someone will be added. 

Badger State Solar Project

The plan for this project is working with farmers and landowners in the area to start the developments, which is planned to be a 149-megawatt solar facility in the towns of Jefferson County, which will reach around 1500 acres.

The project will produce enough clean, low-cost energy to power tens of thousands of homes and will help Wisconsin meet its goals for in-state renewable energy. The Badger State site for the project is located close to existing electrical infrastructure, which minimizes the project’s footprint and avoids the needs for long transmission lines.

This project will create hundreds of jobs during the construction phase. Three to five full-time jobs will also be offered once this project is operating. The financial help for this project will go through taxes, receiving around $3,000 back. 

The public worries about losing the nature aspect worrying about the sound that will come from the solar project. The modernization seems to be something the public is not used to in their community.

On November 6 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Jefferson County Fair park grounds, there will be an open meeting to the public if interested on learning more about the Badger State Solar Project.

More updates from the Broadband internet access project:

  • Broadband can support environmental wellbeing and how it would incorporate into the 2020 budget
  • Support from the community and county board is necessary for the success of this project
  • The grant for this project must be turned in by Dec. 19, 2019. 

For more information on the Jefferson County Board, including meeting agendas and minutes, visit

whitewater common council making impact on community

The Whitewater Common Council is hammering down on city improvements, ranging from finances and events to community member importance. 

As revealed by Cameron Clapper, City Manager, on Tuesday, Oct. 1, the council meeting was solely based around the proposal of the 2020 annual budget. The 2020 city budget proposes general-fund spending of $9,865,236, up about $236,057 (2.5%) from last year. From 2019, the equalized value had a .68% overall growth rate.  

The majority of the money is coming from property taxes and inter-governmental revenues, specifically from areas where the common council draw funds for operation. These are major components of the revenue streams into the Whitewater community.

In past years, inter-governmental revenues became smaller and property tax costs would rise. These shifts are funding from  the state funds to city’s tax base and will tend to re-occur in upcoming years. 

Clapper noted that limits on state shared revenue are forcing the city to rely more on the property taxes to support local services. The tax levy has risen about 3 percent each year since 2008.

Major projects in the works for 2020 include Clay Street Reconstruction, PD Radio Console Upgrades, Lakes Draw Down Project, Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) Replacement, Industrial Drive Watermain, Amphitheater Installation, Public Works Facility Study and Walworth Avenue/Court Street Inlet. 

The Board’s Finance Committee will review the budget in open meetings on Oct. 10, 17, 22 and the full Common Council will examine the plan at its meetings Nov. 5 and 19 with final approval scheduled at that last meeting.

Palmyra- Eagle School District Dissolution

Mark Elworthy, District Administrator, and Matthew Soletzer-Knudsen, Business Manager, of the Whitewater Unified School District spoke on behalf of the Palmyra-Eagle school district about the expressed concerns for this school year.

“They put on their April 2019 ballot an operating referendum that did not pass (39%),” said Soleter-Knudsen. “We have been planning internally for a couple different scenarios. There are seven districts that bounder the Palmyra-Eagle District and we will be meeting frequently to get guidance on the process and funding.”

Three significant issues this school district is facing includes a high open enrollment cost, the district is declining in enrollment and has limited tax base growth in the commercial and industrial sectors.

In November of 2018, the District School Board presented voters with an operational referendum for the spring 2019 election. The operational referendum was to support the ongoing operations of the district itself, including academic and extra-curricular programs and general maintenance of its facilities. The public was informed if the referendum were to fail, the District would not have enough funding to continue beyond the 2019-20 school year. 

Since the resolution to dissolve was completed July 1, the next steps in this process would have an advisory referendum that could be ordered by Board or petition. It was not ordered by the Board and a petition was submitted. The School District Boundary Appeal Board will be assembled by DPI after the advisory referendum in November. There will be representatives from six school districts: two large, two medium and two small, along with one DPI representative. The SDBAB must be made by January 15. 

If the decision will be approved to dissolve, the changes would be effective July 2020. SDBAB would redraw their boundaries and all assets and liabilities would be apportioned based on property value transferred to other districts.

In other news from Tuesday:

  • Clapper declared the annual CROP Walk. The CROP Walk, to be held Saturday, Oct. 6, raises money to fight hunger in Whitewater and around the world. 25% of the money raised goes to the Whitewater and UW-W Warhawk food pantry. 
  • The council approved an ordinance to re-striping center line on Whitewater Street in its intersection with Janesville Street. The intersection is a decent size where it could potentially have two cars in the intersection at the same time. This intersection will be fixed to make traffic safer and reducing it to one lane. 
  • Council members approved an ordinance to Northern Pipe Inc. for Starin Rd. from Park St. to Fremont St. Great Lakes Northern Pipe’s was lowest in options to help the water surge issues. Once water issues are cleared up, the next project would be to repave Starin Rd. 
  • Clapper announced over $1.3 million in scholarships were awarded to 2019 graduates in Whitewater total. The trade-up scholarship was started by Connor Laue, Alfonso Valdez and Jake Walton.