JEFFERSON — Jefferson County’s 2019 tax rate is expected to be down about 16 cents per $1,000 equalized valuation from this year’s rate, the board of supervisors learned Tuesday.

Jefferson County Administrator Ben Wehmeier told the board during its monthly meeting that the budget calls for a 2019 tax rate that is about 4.07-percent less than the 2018 rate.

After holding its final review of the budget on Sept. 21, the board’s Finance Committee recommended approving the budget and levy. There were no major changes between the committee meeting and Tuesday’s board presentation.

The recommended tax levy is $28,499,733. That includes both the countywide general operations mill rate, or tax rate, of $3.828 per $1,000 equalized valuation and the debt service tax rate of $0.1637, which adds up to an overall tax rate of $3.991 per $1,000 of equalized property value.

Without the debt service, the general operations levy is $27,636,332.

For the 2018 budget, the general operations tax rate was $3.9882, meaning that there will be a decrease of $0.1604 per $1,000 of equalized property value in 2019. Roughly speaking, the general operations tax rate translates approximately to a $160 decrease per $100,000 of equalized property value.

Additionally, for the 2019 budget, the non-countywide levies — which are “apportioned to the municipalities benefiting from the service being furnished” by the county, as stated in the recommendation — will be $863,411 (a tax rate of $0.1442 per $1,000 equalized value) for the Health Department and $1,151,101 (a tax rate of $0.3346 per $1,000) for library services.

When those two figures are added in to both general operations and debt service, the total levy becomes $29,650,000.

A public hearing for county residents to give feedback on the budget will be held on Tuesdayk Oct. 23. After that, the board likely will approve the budget at its Nov. 13 meeting, but not before considering any amendments brought forward supervisors.

The complete budget document, according to County Administrator Ben Wehmeier, should be available on the county’s website today, Wednesday, Oct. 10.

Board Chairperson Jim Schroeder commented on the budget process after the meeting.

“Once again, the process was really, really smooth,” he said. “The Finance Committee was very satisfied with the process. Obviously, we are happy with the result.”

Additionally, Wehmeier announced Tuesday that at the Oct. 23 public hearing, there will be special presentations — unrelated to the budget process — on the solar farm project proposed to be built in the county. Specific details were still being worked out for those speakers.

In other matters Tuesday, the board:

• Approved, or rather reapproved, selling the former satellite highway garage property to Chandler White for $60,000. Previously, White was the highest of three bidders on the property, bidding $140,000 for the property, and the county board approved the sale at its June meeting.

However, White rescinded the offer due to a conflict in the descriptions of the property listed in online property records (three acres) and formal notice of sale bid documents (1.5 acres). White said he believed he was purchasing three acres, not 1.5 acres.

White rescinded the initial bid, but then offered the county $60,000 for the property. That bid still was higher than the other two bids initially presented in June. The board reauthorized the sale to White for $60,000.

• Following the recommendation of the county’s insurance provider, Wisconsin Municipal Insurance Company, disallowed a claim by Jeanne Vonachen, who was seeking a reimbursement of $96.40 for the cancelled Travis Tritt concert at the July Jefferson County Fair. The concert was cancelled due to severe weather.

The recommendation for the denial was based upon the disclaimer printed on fair concert tickets, and the issue now will be handled through the insurance company.

• Approved an amendment to the county’s fund balance policy regarding the county Health Department and the Jefferson County Economic Development Consortium (JCEDC).

The change will allow the county Finance Committee the option to increase the tax levy when the Health Department’s budgeted fund balance fails to meet the policy’s requirements, but also grants power for fee increases or spending reductions to meet those balance requirements.

Additionally, the amendment requires any fund balance relating to the JCEDC be automatically retained within the county’s general fund.

• Approved two purchases upgrading the county’s plow trucks and equipment.

First, the board approved buying twelve 2020 International HV613 quad-axle trucks for $887,234 from Lakeside International.

Second, the board approved buying related equipment (plows, spreaders, hydraulic controls, salt brine tanks, etc.) from Monroe Truck Equipment for $1,187,520.

Both companies were the lowest responsible bidders for the purchases, which were planned for in the 2018 budget.

• Approved changes in the shoreland provisions of the county zoning ordinance to comply with changes in state law.

• Read a proclamation recognizing Oct. 7-13 as National 4-H Week.

• Read a proclamation in memorium for Leon Zimdars, who passed away on Sept. 30. Zimdars served on the county board from 1988-2000.

• Recognized two retirements: Sandy Free, who has been with the Human Services Department for 18 years, and Jean Camacho, who has been with the District Attorney’s Office for 32 years.

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