By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — The Dunn County Board of Supervisors has approved a budget for 2014 of $72.3 million and a tax levy of $20.4 million.
The budget and levy approved at the Dunn County Board’s November 12 meeting represent slight increases over the 2013 budget.
The $72.3 million budget for next year represents a 4.5 percent increase over the $69.2 million budget for this year.
The $20.4 million tax levy represents a .67 percent increase over the tax levy of $20.3 million for 2013.
The mill rate for 2014 is listed as .00796, representing a .57 percent decrease over last year’s mill rate of .008.
The 2014 revenue budget includes $7.65 million for the county’s self-funded health insurance and $624,000 for self-funded workers compensation.
The 2014 expense budget includes $6.29 million for the sheriff’s department; $1.14 million for emergency communications; $1.32 million for public health; $1.56 million for environmental services; $2.42 million for solid waste and recycling; $3.7 million for debt service; $11.58 million for highways; $1.5 million for facilities; $14.14 million for the health care center.
The library purpose tax of $714,914 is outside of the state-imposed revenue limits that were put into place in 1993.
Health care center
The tax levy for the 2014 budget includes the last year of a $500,000 levy approved by county voters in a referendum election for the health care center.
Tony Manzella, administrator of The Neighbors of Dunn County (the new health care center), noted that the facility made a small profit of $250,000 last year.
The 2012 census for the old Dunn County Health Care Center was 82.6 percent, which was a historically low occupancy rate, Manzella said.
The occupancy rate increased in September shortly before residents moved into the new facility, he said.
The Neighbors of Dunn County currently has a waiting list of 20 and has total occupancy of 128 or 93 percent, Manzella said.
The Neighbors also now receives an increased Medicaid rate of $152.57 per day, which reflects the change in labor region, he said.
In 2012, the Dunn County Health Care Center received a Medicaid rate of $135.39 per day; the increase of $17.18 per day will result in an additional annual revenue of between $350,000 and $400,000, Manzella said.
The health care center had expenses of $9.9 million, which was the lowest expenses out of the last four years, he said.
The decrease in expenses is due to fewer employees at the health care center and also that the employees are paying a higher retirement contribution, Manzella said.
Cindy Kopp, Dunn County treasurer who was elected last November, has retired, and although county officials thought they had found a replacement, that turned out not to be the case.
Steve Rasmussen, county board supervisor from Boyceville and chair of the Dunn County Board, reported that interviews of candidates for the treasurer’s position had been conducted, a candidate had been selected and the position had been offered.
The candidate gave her employer notice, the employer made an offer she could not refuse, and she declined the Dunn County treasurer’s position, Rasmussen said.
In other business, the Dunn County Board of Supervisors:
• Reviewed purchase orders of $113,800 to purchase a new front end loader for the transfer station and $72,680 for products and materials purchased for the new health care center.
• Appointed Nicholas P. Lange, assistant corporation counsel, as the corporation counsel for Dunn County to replace Scott Cox, who resigned to take a position with St. Croix County.
• Approved a resolution amending the county’s farmland preservation plan to include wetlands and woodlands. Forests and wetlands need to be included for the Agricultural Enterprise Areas in the Towns of Colfax, Grant, Otter Creek and Sand Creek. Protecting woods and wetlands, which tend to be part of the farm, allows the establishment of larger blocks of contiguous farmland. When the farmland preservation plan was written in 1979, forest areas and forest products were not considered agriculture.