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St. Croix County public safety referendum on ballot

Hudson, WI — St. Croix County continues to be one of the fastest growing counties in Wisconsin. As we continue to grow, the demand for public safety services rises with it – creating a need for additional personnel that current funding levels cannot support. On April 2, 2024, voters in St. Croix County will see a Public Safety Referendum question on their ballot asking whether or not they support an increase in the County’s annual tax levy to cover costs for 8 needed public safety positions. The positions include:

• 2 Mental Health Co-Responders

• 2 Sheriff’s Correction Deputies

• 1 Sheriff’s Office Investigator

• 1 District Attorney Investigator

• 1 Youth Justice Early Intervention Specialist

• 1 Deputy Clerk of Court

The positions involved in this referendum work closely together to keep the people who live, work, and visit St. Croix County safe. These positions will help manage mental health crises, improve law enforcement and judicial efficiency, and work with youth to prevent future involvement in the justice system.

About the Needed Positions

The County currently has two Mental Health Co-Responders whose positions are funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which expires at the end of 2024. They respond with law enforcement to mental health crisis events, help prevent high-cost hospital detentions, reduce law enforcement time responding to these cases, and provide compassionate care to those in crisis. Since they started in March of 2022 through January of 2024, they have responded to 280 crisis calls across the County.

As cases increase in number and complexity, the role of investigators in our Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s Offices are crucial in ensuring stronger and thoroughly investigated cases for effective prosecution. Over 90% of crimes committed now include a digital element, which adds to the complexity of investigating cases. To help put the increase in perspective, in 2019, there were 1,433 criminal referrals to the DA’s Office by all agencies. Compared to 2,372 cases in 2023, an increase of 65%.

When people are in our custody, our Corrections Deputies focus on rehabilitation and preparing them for successful reintegration into society. Their work plays a vital role in maintaining the safety and stability in our County.

The addition of a Deputy Clerk of Court is essential to manage the growing caseload in our courts. In 2023, there were 9,573 cases filed in Clerk of Court’s Office, an increase of over 600 cases from the previous year.

The Youth Justice Early Intervention Specialist is a new position that would work with youth, families, schools, and municipal courts in the County to address the underlying causes of truancy. These efforts will allow truancy to be addressed earlier before it becomes chronic or habitual. This position will help keep truancy cases out of the youth justice system and help to prevent further involvement in the justice system.

What is the Cost to Address These Public Safety Needs?

To pay for the 8 public safety positions, property taxes would increase starting in 2025 based off your equalized property value. If approved, there will be a one-time permanent increase of $896,000 to our annual tax levy. This increase is spread out throughout the entire County. Property taxes would increase by $5 per $100,000 of your equalized value.

What Will You See on the Ballot?

The following question will appear on the April 2, 2024 ballot:

Public Safety Referendum

“Under state law, the increase in the levy for St. Croix County for the tax to be imposed for the next fiscal year, 2025, is limited to 2%, based on St. Croix County’s best estimate, which results in a levy of $46,002,438. Shall St. Croix County be allowed to exceed this limit and increase the levy for the next fiscal year, 2025, for the purpose of hiring two Mental Health Co-Responders, one Youth Justice Early Intervention Specialist, two Sheriff Corrections Deputies, one Sheriff Investigator, one District Attorney Investigator, and one Deputy Clerk Of Court; to address the County’s most pressing public safety needs, by a total of 1.96%, which results in a levy of $46,898,438, and on an ongoing basis, include the increase of $896,000 each fiscal year going forward?”

A “Yes” vote means that you support additional personnel being hired to address the increasing public safety needs within St. Croix County at a cost of $896,000 per year, added to the tax levy.

The one-time increase creates a new authorized tax levy total amount going forward. The one-time increase is equivalent to $5 per $100,000 of property value.

Learn More About the Need for Public Safety Services

More information about the referendum can be found on the St. Croix County website:

Referendum Information: sccwi.gov/referendum

Voting Information: sccwi.gov/vote

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