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Budget, slight dip in property taxes slated for public hearing

St. Croix County land and homeowners will see a slight decrease in property taxes next year if a budget proposal the county's administration committee recently approved gains county supervisor approval.

The 2018 budget committee members approved Oct. 18 includes a .09 percent tax levy rate decrease in the county portion of property taxes.

That decrease would drive down the county portion of property taxes from $896.73 to $895.96 on a home worth about $242,000, the county's median value.

Funding generated through the levy will support a $33 million total tax levy, about a 7 percent increase from the 2017 levy.

Debt services will account for a bulk of the increase at about $1.6 million.

County supervisors approved borrowing $27 million for a new highway facility in Baldwin at their Oct. 5 meeting.

Robbie Krejci, county highway commissioner, said consideration for the the proposed 130,000 square-foot facility began in 2014, when a consultant identified issues that a remodeling project would not be able to remedy.

The facility, Krejci said, will offer a more centralized location and accommodate "potential growth in county that will put demand on the transportation facility."

It will also feature an improved washing facility, which will require more space than available in the existing building.

Proper maintenance like washing, Krecji said, can extend machinery's life by about 10 percent.

The roughly 3.4 percent interest on the $27 million debt means the county would ultimately borrow about $38 million, racking up annual debt services of about $1.9 million over a 20-year term.

Net new construction led to an increase in operating levy capacity— the second-largest portion of the levy increase— at $511,469.

The $91 million proposed 2018 operating budget represents a 7.6 percent increase, or about $6.4 million over the 2017 budget.

The proposed $31 million general fund accounts for about one-third of the budget, along with about $19 million for Health and Human Services, $17 million for highway and bridge projects, $10 million for internal services funds, $6 million in nursing home funds, $4 million in debt service funds and a $3.7 million Capital Improvement Fund.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for the county Board of Supervisors meeting 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7.