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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — The Dunn County Board has adopted a five-year capital improvement plan for the 2022 budget that uses up to $3 million in borrowing.
The capital improvement plan will be adopted on an annual basis and will focus on capital projects for the next fiscal year, said Paul Miller, county manager, at the Dunn County Board’s April 21 meeting.
The capital improvement plan calls for borrowing not more than $3 million on an annual basis to fund capital improvement projects, he said.
The financial projections made by the plan include the continuation of the vehicle registration fee, Miller said.
Dunn County’s vehicle registration fee is $20 per year.
The vehicle registration fee, also known as a “wheel tax,” went into effect January 1, 2020. A “sunset” provision states the wheel tax will expire December 31, 2022, unless the county acts to extend the term of the vehicle registration fee or removes the sunset provision.
The ordinance also includes the provision that the highway committee will review the vehicle registration fee no later than July 31, 2022, to make a recommendation to the county board about extending or removing the sunset provision or whether the vehicle registration fee should be adjusted.
State law requires that vehicle registration fees adopted by counties must be used for transportation purposes.
The highway committee will soon start discussing whether to continue with the vehicle registration fee, Miller told the county board at the April 21 meeting.
“A plan is a guide. It’s not written in stone,” he said.
The capital improvement plan smooths out the volatility in the property tax levy. If the county board approves borrowing $1 million one year for capital improvements and then $8 million the next year but maybe no borrowing in the third year, that creates peaks and valleys in the county’s property tax levy, Miller said.
State law allows the governing bodies of municipalities to place borrowed money outside of the revenue limit, which means the debt service payment is above and beyond the amount set by state law that the municipality can levy for property taxes.
The capital improvement plan allows the county to work down the total debt service over time, even while borrowing $3 million per year, Miller said.
Robert Bauer, county board supervisor from Mondovi, asked if the vehicle registration fee goes into the county’s general fund or if it goes into the highway fund.
The vehicle registration fee must go into the highway fund, and it must be used for road projects, Miller said.
The vehicle registration fee cannot be used to reduce the tax levy and must be in addition to the amount of tax levy included in the budget, said David Bartlett, county board supervisor from Boyceville and chair of the Dunn County Board.
The vehicle registration fee is in addition to the base amount, Miller said.
The Dunn County Board unanimously approved the five-year capital improvement plan.
In other business, the Dunn County Board:
• Approved a resolution proclaiming April 28 as Worker’s Memorial Day in Dunn County. The county board has annually approved the resolution for Worker’s Memorial Day for many years.
• Approved a resolution declaring intent under reimbursement bond regulations. The resolution allows the county to go to market for borrowing for the 2021 budget for up to $1,357,258, said Keith Strey, chief financial officer for Dunn County. While the resolution preserves the ability to issue debt later in the year, it does not obligate the county to borrow money, he said.
• Approved an ordinance to repeal and recreate the Dunn County Fair Housing Ordinance. The recreated ordinance updates outdated statutory references, and the ordinance is necessary to be able to obtain the Community Development Block Grant funds already awarded to Dunn County, said Diane Morehouse, county board supervisor from Menomonie and chair of the health and human services board. The county board also approved a motion to waive a second reading of the ordinance since the changes were administrative.
• Approved adopting a community development block grant citizen participation plan. The county board adopted a citizen participation plan in February, but the updated plan adds a requirement that the Citizen Advisory Committee must include one person who is low to moderate income.
• Approved a resolution for a residential anti-displacement and relocation assistance plan for the CDBG program. Dunn County has had a plan in place since 1997, but the requirements have changed, so the plan has been updated and approved by the health and human services board, Morehouse said.
• Approved a resolution authorizing an application for a targeted runoff management grant from the state Department of Natural Resources. Dunn County has been working with a farmer who has an older manure storage system, said Tom Quinn, county board supervisor from Downing and chair of the Planning, Resources and Development Committee. State law stipulates that if a manure storage system that was built before a certain year requires repairs or must be replaced, Dunn County must provide matching funds, he said. The resolution allows Dunn County to apply for funds that will help complete the project, Quinn said.
• Approved a resolution authorizing participation and government responsibility in the Department of Natural Resources targeted runoff management grant program. The government responsibility resolution is required by the DNR for Dunn County’s participation in the Targeted Runoff Management Grant program.