2014 Walworth County budget comes in lower than 2013
ELKHORN—The Walworth County Board is proposing a 2014 budget with a tax levy that is $80,000 less than in 2013.
At a county board public hearing Tuesday night, the board presented a preliminary budget of nearly $138 million.
If the budget is passed at the Nov. 12 meeting it will be the second time the levy has not exceeded the amount allocated the previous year.
Nicki Andersen, deputy county administrator, said years of planning, consolidating staff and departments, and monitoring the rate the county pays back debt has allowed for a smaller budget.
“When we made some of those cuts earlier we didn't pick a truck or car that temporarily lowered the levy,” Andersen said. “We tried to reduce things that we could sustain.”
Other contributing factors include the county's plan to not borrow money in 2014 and the status of the Other Post Employment Benefits Fund.
The fund, established in 2005 to assist in funding retirement, has reached $20 million and the board believes it is stable enough to last without 2014 contributions, said David Bretl, county administrator.
While the projected tax levy is .13 percent lower than in 2013, the tax rate would increase 3.29 percent from $4.56 per $1,000 to an average of $4.71 per $1,000.
The increase is due to a decrease in the county's property value by nearly half a million dollars, Bretl said.
The budget would also allow the county to hire five full-time employees for various county departments.
“There has been a lot of demand over the years to cut,” Bretl said. “This is the first budget I've done in 13 years that we're adding staff.”
Like past years, the majority of the county's expenditures, a little over 40 percent, and the majority of the tax levy allocations, a little over 50 percent, would go toward the sheriff's office and Health and Human Services.