CHIPPEWA FALLS — The Chippewa County tax levy would increase by 1.1 percent under the proposed 2019 budget, but the county portion of taxes would drop for property owners.
County Administrator Randy Scholz told the County Board on Tuesday he will present the full budget at a public hearing Nov. 1. The county’s Executive Committee reviewed the proposal last week.
Under the proposal, the levy — the money collected from taxpayers — would increase $208,000, from $18.72 million to $18.93 million next year. The tax rate would decrease 2.2 percent, dropping from $3.69 per thousand dollars valuation to $3.61. The overall county budget is $72.3 million.
The county represents a portion of a property owner’s tax bill. Taxes are also collected for municipal, K-12 school, technical college and state forestry services.
Scholz said he met with 14 department heads to discuss the growing methamphetamine problem and how the county needed to change to address it. Ten new positions are being added for 2019 to address the problem — a sheriff’s patrol officer, six Human Services Department workers, along with one each in Planning and Zoning, Land Conservation and Forest Management, and Facilities and Parks.
“The No. 1 challenge facing Chippewa County is the current meth epidemic,” Scholz wrote in his budget presentation.
Scholz said state shared revenue dollars would increase by about $13,000; he initially thought it would be a decrease of $200,000 because the state miscalculated a utility aid.
“The state decided to give us a heart attack,” Scholz joked Tuesday. “At the end of the day, the state made a mistake.”
The “pay for performance” salary increases for top-performing County Board members will continue; the budget calls for an additional $180,000 for pay raises.
Health insurance costs did not increase for 2019, Scholz added.
The board voted to allow Scholz to hire a consultant to help develop plans for a new business park. Lake Wissota Business Park, located north of HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital, is nearly filled after adding several new businesses in recent years, notably the Mill’s Fleet Farm distribution center and Star Blends.