Emilie Conlon, Editor-in-Chief
The Sauk County board voted to approve its $32.4 million budget last week, with a tex levy reduction of 12 cents.
In a hearing that last approximately 30 minutes, Sauk County officials voted to make only one amendment to the budget recommended by the Finance Committee, which is a brief meeting compared to recent year’s budget hearings, according to Supervisor Marty Krueger of Reedsburg.
“I can’t recall the last time we had this few amendments,” said Krueger.
Prior to the board’s annual budget meeting, supervisors are able to review the budget and submit proposed amendments, this year only three supervisors submitted potential amendments, one of which passed.
The single approved amendment passed in a 28-2 vote, with Supervisor Wally Czuprynko of Lake Delton and Brian Peper of Loganville voting against it.
The amendment, recommended by Supervisor Rob Nelson of Baraboo, proposed providing the requested $50,000 to the Sauk County Development Corporation (SCDC). Nelson recommended the county keep it’s contract with the Von Brisen & Roper Law firm, which is providing interim Corporation Counsel services to the county, for the first six months of 2021.
The county would then reallocate the remaining $25,000 to the SCDC, and would match up to that amount for contributions of other municipalities that fund the SCDC.
Following the first six months of the new year, the county would then hire a corporation counsel to remain on staff.
The tax levy will be 12 cents lower in 2021 than this year, making the levy $4.33 per $1,000 of home value.
A major concern for the county finance department at the start of the 2021 budget making process was COVID-19, and potential revenue losses due to the “safer at home order” from the Governor in April.
Initially, the county was expecting to lose approximately $2 million of its 2020 budgeted $10 million sales tax revenue, due to a lack of tourists spending and resort closures in Lake Delton and Wisconsin Dells.
Since the order was overturned in May and the pull back of coronavirus shutdowns, the county is now only expecting to be short approximately $730,000 for 2020 sales tax revenue.
“In a typical year, over 50% of our sales tax revenue is generated by the tourism industry. So, of course, when that is impacted we feel it much more than our sister counties across the state,” said Krueger.
The 2021 budget was passed in a 27-3 vote.
In 2020, the county approved a $31.7 million budget, which added 12 new positions across county departments including a new public health position, four new health and human services positions, four positions for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council—now called the Justice Diversion and Support program, one position in the veterans affairs department and two positions in the highway department.
The 2020 budget also included $400,000 towards phase three of building on the Great Sauk State Trail, a recreational trail that would connect Sauk to Dane County. This year’s budget also allocated funding for the dredging of Lake Redstone in La Valle.