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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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County Levy Down For Budget Hearing Nov. 14

On Tuesday, Nov. 14, Marinette County Board is expected to approve the county's budget for 2018 as proposed. The regular monthly meeting, which starts at 9 a.m., will be halted for a public hearing on the budget at 10 a.m.

In his budget message presented to County Board on Tuesday Oct. 31, County Administrator John LeFebvre said the proposed budget provides adequate funding for the County to continue the same level of service in the areas of public safety, maintaining the County road system, providing services to the most vulnerable residents in the County, and allows the County to continue operations through 2018.

He noted that state law limits a county's levy increase to net new construction growth in equalized value otherwise known as "new growth." The County's net new construction growth for the 2018 budget is 1.774%, which equates to a $274,552 allowable increase in operating levy increase, which is considerably more than the increase of $152,783 over the net new growth number for the 2017 budget.

The proposed 2018 budget sets the operating levy at the legal maximum - $15,808,800 which in addition to the increase permitted in the levy for new growth also includes an adjustment of $57,816 for prior year's unused levy.

The county's 2017 equalized valuation increased 3.69% to $3,713,184,900, not including Tax Incremental Districts. This increase is a combination of new construction and increases in existing property valuation within the County. Wisconsin's total statewide 2017 equalized valuation increased 4 percent over the prior year, so Marinette County was very close to the state average, LeFebvre noted.

The County's unassigned fund balance as of Jan. 1, 2017 was $8,781,523, an increase of $483,106 over the fund balance on Jan. 1, 2016. The unassigned fund balance does not include the $19,058,908 in the property tax levy reduction fund, which is dedicated to the County's general fund balance. The property tax levy reduction fund amount does include the $7,500,000 loaned to the City of Marinette for construction of its convention center.

By county policy, the General Fund Unassigned Fund Balance is to be maintained at no less than 17% of total regular general fund operating expenditures. The County's ending 2017 unassigned fund balance is expected to be over $8,781,523, a ratio of 36%.

Net county tax rate is expected to be set at $4.257 per $1,000 of equalized value. This is down from last year's $4.322 per $1,000. There also is to be a levy of 25 cents per $1,000 for debt service and minimal amounts for bridge aids and state separate charges.

"The budget process is a lengthy one, involving input and effort from numerous individuals," LeFebvre said. He expressed thanks to all who assisted in the development of the budget and a special thanks to the Finance Department staff for their knowledge of the financial system software and financial position of the County.

In other business at Tuesday's meeting the board is expected to approve appointment of Kenneth Shaffer to the Veterans Service Commission for a term expiring on Nov. 30, 2020, and Sally Witt to represent Crivitz Business Association on the Tourism Alliance for a term expiring in April of 2019.

Following the Oct. 31 meeting of the full County Board the Executive Committee approved action to join litigation against certain Pharmaceutical Companies for their role in creating the Opioid epidemic, and at Tuesday's meeting the full board is expected to approve a resolution to make joining the action official. The legal action is strongly supported by Wisconsin Counties Association. There is to be no cost to counties involved unless and until there is a settlement with the big pharm companies that will be named in the suit. The action alleges that the companies illegally and knowingly promoted products that they knew could lead to addiction.

Approval is also expected for resolutions supporting a Wisconsin Lake Management Planning Grant Application for Bass Lake Alum Treatment Evaluation and an Aquatic Invasive Species Control Grant Application for Dolan Lake, and a Land Information Committee recommendation to eliminate a $50 fee for conditional use permit renewals from the 2018 user fee schedule.

After hearing detailed explanations from Human Resources Director Jennifer Holtger on Monday, Nov. 6 the Finance Committee agreed to recommend accepting some relatively minor changes in health and dental insurance coverage for county employees through the Wisconsin Counties Association General Health Trust that result in keeping the county's insurance costs the same as last year. Original budget projections had allowed for a possible $325,000 price hike, so this was good news. Holtger said she had negotiated long and hard to keep the insurance rate down, and everyone seemed pleased with the results. She said many of the changes were aimed at encouraging county employees to use the free services provided through the health clinics the county supports, and staying with in-system providers. There is an increase in requirements for pre-authorization, particularly when it comes to costly tests, therapies and purchase of durable medical equipment.

Board approval is also expected for a new copy machine lease agreement with MBM.

Also slated for full board approval is a Healthy Transitional Living contract totaling $21,040 as recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services.


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