The 2019 Jefferson County budget was proposed on Tuesday, Oct. 9. The board discussed certain criteria of the budget during the meeting such as where money is coming from, where money is going, and any future concerns for the county financially.
The budget is set to be just over $80 million. The 2019 budget has increased $8 million from the 2018 budget. This increase has been caused by certain, “One time capitols.”
Most of the money from the budget is brought in through property taxes ($29 million). Other sources of income include the .5 percent sales tax. Also, income is brought in by the fair park, which brought in $2 million throughout the 2018 season.
The health insurance for the employees of the county is also planned in the budget. $1.2 million will be saved from a new health insurance plan that the county has partnered with the state for.
County Administrator Ben Wehmeier was pleased with where the budget was at. Wehmeier stated, “We are in a good place right now and I am happy with how the budget looks tonight.” With excess money planned in the budget, the board is looking to make some bigger changes throughout the county.
One of the bigger changes the board is making, is the change in communication systems for the entire county. One of the biggest communication issues the board saw was with the sheriff’s office. The board approved a new communication system during this time do to the excess funding.
Other major changes include a new bike trail in the Oconomowoc area, the remodeling of the county highway shop, and the purchasing of new trucks and plows for the county. Wehmeier said, “Most of the states take care of the highways, but here it is done by the county.” Which means that a larger portion of the budget will be placed on purchasing new equipment to take care of the highways correctly.
Jefferson County was given a gold star review of their maintenance of highways in the 2018 year. Only three counties throughout the state of Wisconsin earned this award in 2018.
Another exception to this year’s budget was the addition of extra personnel in certain areas throughout the county. Sectors such as human resources, social services, and mental health experts will be added in the upcoming year. The addition of extra personnel was called a “Last safety net for citizens,” by Dick Jones.
Jones continued to talk about how families throughout the county keep moving in with different health issues. If a family cannot afford the services needed, the bill is put onto the county. For those reasons, Jones insisted that the addition of extra staff is important at this time.
The budget for the 2019 year looks strong according to the board. However, Jim Schroeder stated that, “We aren’t just worried about this year, we are considering 3 to 5 years from now.”
The county board is considering saving some of its excess funds from the one-time capitol to put it into a “rainy day fund”.
A positive outlook on the 2019 budget allows for more security later. The idea of using more data will be implemented throughout the next year when it comes to planning finances. Wehmeier stated, “We aren’t worried about how many pencils they are buying, but the outcome that occurs from that.” Optimism could be seen by the board and Wehmeier towards the budget to pass on Nov, 13.
The budget is to go through a public hearing on Oct. 23. The final vote on the budget will take place Nov. 13. The final budget is due to the state on Nov. 15.
The meeting also covered:
- The Lake Mills satellite shop being sold
- The resolution of Leon Zimdars
- More in depth look into the purchasing of trucks and other equipment for the highway shop.
- 4-H week being set in stone throughout the county