This is our video coverage of the annual Dunn County Budget hearing. The primary thing that happened of interest in this meeting was passing the proposed $20 per vehicle wheel tax. The wheel tax applies to cars, SUV's, light trucks that are registered in the county. The tax is expected to raise $725,000 that will be used to maintain the 425 miles of county roads. This money cannot be used to maintain roads in the city of Menomonie.

One other major outcome of the meeting was a renewal of the contract for the Red Cedar Speedway.  The meeting also included a detailed discussion of the issues with recycling and solid waste collection in the county, which is currently in a fiscal crisis. There will be more information on the recycling issue in a story later today about a special meeting on Solid Waste. Details are listed below and in the attached video of the meeting. 

Several Public Comments were given at the beginning of the meeting. One resident spoke against the proposed $20 wheel tax. That was the only budget comment.

Mark Thomas, the president of the Dunn County Speedway spoke on behalf of the racetrack contract proposal in tonight's packet. Brent Creaser also spoke in favor of the speedway. Tommy Faulkner was another person who spoke in favor of the speedway in regard to the racetrack's economic effects and their work with nonprofits.

Many appointments were confirmed by the board

A report was presented on the national recycling crisis, and why it is affecting Dunn County. For the past forty years, the commodities price for the recyclables has covered the cost of recycling. The prices of recyclables are at an all-time low, and therefore most municipalities are now having to pay for their recycling programs. We can no longer do recycling as we used to. This is an interesting talk on the current issues with recycling and is highly recommended. 

John J. Sworski, Public Works Director presented the 2019 Highway Financial Report. The current budget proposal assumes that the $20 wheel tax will be implemented. 

The county treasurer gave her annual report, and reported that they have implemented a new software package to do the tax bills and that the change went smoothly. The treasurer's office has moved out to the new county building as of Nov. 1 so that will be where you will need to pay your property tax next year. 

The annual report for The Neighbors is included in the packet, and more detail was presented in the meeting and is in the video.

Recycling - multiple scenarios were presented for the business plan and the decision was made to cut the remote sites down to Saturdays only. A special meeting will be held for that on Thursday. 

In the past year 39,000 people have used the county GIS website to look at the properties in the county. 

The county's new Labradoodle has already been used in the lockdown at Menomonie High last week to comfort the students. The sheriff's office is very happy with how this is working out. 

The extension offices are now moving from the basement to the second floor. Three townships, Colfax, Red Cedar, and Menomonie are now Telecommuter certified. The school board wrote a letter of support for the Telecommuter City certification program. 

The adjustments to the 2019 budget were approved unanimously. The only major change was an increase to the recycling program as discussed previously.

Wheel Tax

There was a second reading on the $20 proposed wheel tax. The highway department has had a severe decrease in state transportation aid, which has caused a deficit for road repair and maintenance. This is likely to be another bad winter for road maintenance, and the county cannot increase the tax levy due to state controls. The county can borrow, cut back even further on county highway repairs, or adopt a supplemental registration fee.  Board member Larry Bjork spoke in opposition to the wheel tax because it is trying to fix what should be a state problem with local funds. The vote was passed with two dissenting votes.

Fiscal Year 2020 Budget

There were no questions, the budget passed unanimously

Fiscal Year 2020 Levy

Total of nearly $24 million. Passed unanimously by voice vote.

2020 Legislative Agenda

Will use the agenda to reach out to legislators and ask for their support in Madison. Some of these issues were fairly effective last year. Passed unanimously by voice vote.

Canceled Checks

All outgoing checks over 2 years old were canceled. 

Charging back illegal tax certificates

Passed unanimously by voice vote

Pay grid for fiscal year 2020 as attached in packet

Lease for Red Cedar Raceway

There was some discussion about the level of liability insurance called for in the contract. There were suggestions that the decision on the contract could be moved forward to the January meeting to allow the board to negotiate that part of the contract.  This was dropped, and the contract was approved by voice vote. The vote was not unanimous.

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Steve Hanson

Steve is a web designer and recently retired from running the hosting and development company Cruiskeen Consulting LLC. Cruiskeen Consulting LLC is the parent company of Wis.Community, and publication of this site continues after his retirement.

Steve is a member of LION Publishers and the Local Media Association, is active in Health Dunn Right, and is vice-president of the League of Women Voters of the greater Chippewa Valley



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