By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — There’s good news and bad news concerning the 2015 budget for Dunn County.
The good news, said Gene Smith, county manager, at the Dunn County Board’s July 30 meeting, is that the beginning shortfall is smaller than in years past.
Usually, at the beginning of the budget process, the county is short between $3 million and $4 million, he said.
This year, the projected shortfall is around $450,000, Smith said.
Unfortunately, “the easy work is done … the simple decisions have already been made,” he said.
Preliminary budget amounts indicate a tax levy of $20.03 million, which includes a .75 percent levy increase of $138,000, said Tonya Kusmirek, the county’s chief financial officer.
A total of $714,508 from the levy can be applied to the general fund shortfall, leaving $443,967 that must be accounted for, she said.
The $714,508 can be divided up among all of the departments, or it could all be given to the highway department, for example, or some combination of distributions, Kusmirek said.
The total estimated revenue needed for the 2015 budget is $73.86 million.
The county is still very early in the budget process, and the total current amount of revenue needed includes all of the budget requests, Smith noted.
The Dunn County Board also learned during the audit report that, overall, the county is in good financial shape.
The unassigned fund balance is $12.53 million, representing a 61 percent ratio of budget to unassigned fund balance.
The unassigned fund balance has typically ranged from 54 percent to 61 percent.
A rule-of-thumb minimum for the unassigned fund balance is a ratio of 33 percent.
Menomonie Food Co-op
The Menomonie Food Cooperative is now the new owner of the Dunn County Department of Human Services building, the ADRC annex and the shop building at 808 Main Street East.
The Dunn County Board accepted a high bid — and the only bid — of $550,000 from the co-op that was submitted during a recent public auction.
Dunn County had set a minimum bid of $550,000.
County offices located at 808 Main Street East will be moving to the old Dunn County Health Care Center when the remodeling of that building has been completed.
Remodeling the old health care center will cost about $11 million.
The remodeling of the old health care center began last year after residents and staff moved into the new facility next door, the Neighbors of Dunn County.
The Menomonie Food Co-op plans to demolish the building at 808 Main Street East and construct a new building.
In other business, the Dunn County Board of Supervisors:
• Approved a rezone request in the Town of Hay River from Agricultural 2 to Commercial for five acres to allow Cedar Country Cooperative to install two liquid propane storage tanks, with one tank holding 30,000 gallons and the other holding 18,000 gallons.
• Approved a request from Jerry Emmert to rezone a three-acre parcel in the Town of Hay River from Agricultural 2 to Agricultural 3. A2 has a minimum lot size of five acres. A3 has a minimum lot size of one acre.
• Approved appointments to the Zoning Board of Adjustment made by the Dunn County Board chair as follows: Tim Lienau of Menomonie (to replace Tom Walsh); Robert Fitzwilliam of Boyceville as the first alternate (to replace Tim Lienau); Mark Dietsche, chair of the Town of Grant, as the second alternate to replace Karl Varnes.