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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — The Dunn County Board has approved an expense budget of $85.739 million for 2019.
The resolution to adopt the budget was approved unanimously at the November 12 meeting of the Dunn County Board with no adjustments to the proposed budget.
The 2019 budget includes revenues of $85.76 million.
During the discussion of the 2019 budget, Gary Bjork, county board supervisor from Colfax, made a motion that the sale of the Ferry Pit in the Town of Colfax be limited to an entity that would forever grant public access to the property.
Jim Zons, county board supervisor from Colfax, seconded Bjork’s motion.
The 146 acres in question is located along the Red Cedar River just north of the Village of Colfax and east of state Highway 170, across the road from the Town of Colfax’s Felland Park.
Known as the “Ferry Pit,” Dunn County previously used the parcel as an asphalt plant and a gravel pit.
The parcel can no longer be used as a gravel pit because of the required buffers near rivers and ponds and because of the shallow depth to the water table at the Ferry Pit.
The Colfax Town Board and the Town of Colfax Plan Commission are proposing to turn the 146-acre parcel into a park that will provide canoe/kayak/tube landing opportunities on the Red Cedar River; provide additional access to fishing the river and ponds on the property; provide an area for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter; provide an area for bird watching; provide an area for hiking and dog walking; and provide more outdoor nature educational opportunities.
Although the Town of Colfax has asked the county to donate the land to the township to be used as a park, county officials have been talking about selling at least part of the property.
Mike Kneer, county board supervisor from Menomonie, wondered if Bjork’s motion was proper and whether the sale of the Ferry Pit was related to the proposed 2019 budget.
Nick Lange, corporation counsel, spoke about the point of order, and David Bartlett, chair of the Dunn County Board, ruled the motion about the sale of the Ferry Pit to be out of order.
During the November 12 meeting, the Dunn County Board also approved resolution setting a tax levy of $21,614,738 for 2019.
Here are some of the budgeted amounts for next year’s budget:
• Administration — $5.874 million.
• Courts — $1.505 million.
• Emergency communication — $1.99 million.
• Environmental services — $1.915 million.
• Public health — $1.362 million.
• Sheriff and jail assessment — $7.34 million.
• Solid waste and recycling — $2.7 million.
• Debt service — $3.73 million.
• Human services — $12.96 million.
• The Neighbors — $13.54 million.
• Highway division of Public Works — $12.24 million.
• Facilities and recreation division of Public Works — $5.3 million.
• Self-funded health insurance — $8.73 million.
• Self-funded worker’s comp — $827,736.
The Dunn County Board approved several budget adjustments for the 2018 budget.
The adjustments included transferring from the general fund to the Department of Human Services the amount of $1.052 million to address the estimated 2018 deficit.
The human services deficit is tied to the opioid crisis and problems with other drug addiction that has created a growing demand for placement services and for mental health.
When county personnel respond to homes where children are endangered by opioid, methamphetamine or other drug addictions or domestic disturbances, the county is obligated to provide placement services for those children.
The county clerk’s office has an estimated deficit of $10,551 that also will be covered by a transfer from the general fund.
Four elections were included in the county clerk’s 2018 budget. In November of 2017, the governor ordered a primary to be held in December and a special election to be held January 16, 2018, for Senate District 10, which was vacated when Sheila Harsdorf became state Secretary of Agriculture.
No funds were budgeted for the primary and special election.
The actual cost of the 2018 special election was $11,380.58. The county clerk’s budget absorbed as much as possible, leaving a deficit of $10,551.82.
The sheriff’s department had a deficit of $54,731 to be covered by a transfer from the general fund.
In 2018, a deficit of $104,000 occurred because of various operating supplies, such as equipment for the new squad vehicles, and other routine purchases.
The sheriff’s department reviewed the budget to absorb as much as possible or deferred purchases to 2019, leaving a deficit of $54,731.
The Dunn County Board approved a resolution to borrow $6.15 million at the November 12 meeting as well.
The money will be used to pay for capital projects that will include county highway improvements, remodeling the Community Services Building, information technology infrastructure, emergency management and sheriff’s department equipment purchases and installing bullet-proof glass in the Dunn County Judicial Center.
Elton Christopherson, county board supervisor from Elk Mound, voted against the resolution to borrow $6.15 million.
The remaining county board members voted in favor of the resolution.