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Marinette County Board Looks At Budget For 2013

The Marinette County Board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 30 began with a request from Board Chair Vilas Schroeder that everyone offer a prayer “for the folks on the East Coast” who were suffering the lash of Hurricane Sandy, reported to be the worst hurricane there in 100 years. Winds generated by the storm were lashing Marinette County at the time, and as the meeting adjourned supervisors were advised to avoid downed trees and electric wires on the way home.

UWEX Agent Paul Putnam, who worked with Homeland Security in hard-hit Atlanta, Ga., before coming to Marinette County, reminded supervisors that disasters can strike anywhere, and winter storms are coming on.

“How many of you have a four-day supply of food and water stored in your homes?” he asked. He advised to check your batteries, be sure flash lights are available, and carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers are in working order. He advised making sure there is food on hand that can be just opened and eaten, without need to cook.

County Administrator Ellen Sorenson congratulated Sheriff Jerry Sauve and Marinette County Sheriff’s Department for being among 19 sheriff departments in the state to achieve a zero lost time record for employees last year.

Supervisors got their first look at the proposed county budget for 2013. Sorenson, in her official Budget Message to the board, said the proposed $68,042,205 budget requires an operating levy increase of 1.042 percent. The county tax levy is proposed to increase from $4.139 to $4.191 per $1,000 of equalized value, or 1.26 percent. Sorenson said this is because the county had a .23 percent drop in equalized value.

There will be no debt service levy due to application of the county sales tax, which was adopted in 2001 for that purpose. The budget is scheduled for board consideration following a budget hearing at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13. The regular monthly board meeting will start that day at 9 a.m.

Sales tax proceeds are also being used to cover costs of tourism promotion, economic development and some capital projects, and this led to some spirited dispute on the board floor. The sales tax is expected to generate $2,850,000 this year. Earlier estimates were that it would raise about $2,186,000 annually. The amount applied increased to $650,000, up from $500,000 applied last year.

Those in favor argued that the tourism and economic development money is an investment that brings in greater sales tax returns as the number of visitors increases.

Supervisor Clancy Whiting called use of the sales tax for anything other than debt relief “reprehensible.” His position was supported by several other supervisors, but the needed motion passed with 25 votes in favor and four opposed. Opposition was from supervisors Whiting, Shirley Kaufman, Alice Baumgarten and Ken Mattison. Supervisor Connie Seefeldt was absent and excused.

Several supervisors complimented Sorenson on the new format of their hefty budget book and said they found it easier to follow. They were asked by Schroeder to take it home and study it and try to get questions answered before their budget meeting.

Supervisors okayed conveying a strip of land to the Village of Wausaukee to allow connecting sewer and water to Steve Stumbris Sr. Memorial Park, with an easement maintained, subject to review by Corporation Counsel and the village to pay for survey and recording costs.

A land trade in which the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Land will receive a parcel in the Town of Stephenson in exchange for deeding the county a property they own in Silver Cliff was approved after assurances from County Forest Administrator John Scott that the towns affected would be consulted if private property was involved.

A proposal to allow Ray Palonen, the new highway commissioner, to work four days a week during the summer like the rest of the crew was removed from the agenda before the meeting started.

The board approved $254,557 for upgrading jail cameras. There will be more cameras, providing better security in some areas that are not now protected, and sound will be included. Equipment is being purchased from SGTS. Cost is covered by transfers of $132,000 from the Jail Assessment Fund and $122,557 from Contingency.

Supervisors without dissent approved appointment of Jay Heckel of Marinette City Fire Department and County Highway Commissioner Ray Palonen to the local Emergency Planning Committee.

Ellie Jarvie was approved as a member of the Community Options Program/Long Term Services Planning Committee with no term limitation.


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