Rock County Board passes 6.2 percent budget increase
JANESVILLE—Thirty-three days after the Rock County Board got its first look at the 2014 budget Oct. 10, it passed Tuesday with no alterations.
That's the first time the budget has remained unaltered between the time it was presented in October to its final approval in November, Rock County Administrator Craig Knutson said.
The vote was 25-2. Two supervisors were absent.
In 2014, the owners of a $100,000 house will pay $14.32 more for the county portion of their tax bill.
The budget includes $191.99 million in spending, an increase of $11.24 million, or 6.22 percent. The majority of the increase will not come from the tax levy. An estimated $2.4 million, for example, will come from state aid and will be used for the Southern Consortium, a group of seven counties that work together to provide benefits such as BadgerCare and food stamps.
About $5.66 million will be spent on County G upgrades. That money comes from the general fund, sales tax revenue and borrowing.
The property tax levy totals $62.5 million. That's an increase of $1.38 million, or 2.26 percent.
Generally, the county budget goes through several minor changes before its final approval, Knutson said.
“Last year, for instance, we received additional transportation aides, and we had to make those adjustments,” Knutson said.
This year, the state budget was firmly in place, and that helped, too, Knutson said.
Many budget issues are worked between the department heads and the committee before the budget document goes to the whole board, Knutson said.
“It's a fairly exhaustive process,” he said.
District 12 Supervisor Wayne Gustina and District 9 Supervisor Rick Richard voted against the budget.
Gustina represents three wards on the east side of Beloit; Richard represents parts of the towns of Fulton, Harmony and Janesville and two wards in the city of Janesville.
“I don't think it's OK to keep voting for incremental tax increases,” Richard said.
This year, Social Security recipients received a 1.5 percent increase, Richard noted.
With the tax increases imposed by the county, Blackhawk Technical College, school districts and towns, cities or villages, that 1.5 percent increase gets wiped out quickly, he noted.
He said the local economy is improving, but only very slowly.
For Richard, the issue isn't just about spending.
“It's the same complaint,” Richard said. “The state keeps on giving us unfunded and underfunded mandates.”
Local officials have to start “holding feet to the fire” when it comes to state accountable for such mandates, he said.