HUDSON -- An additional 911 dispatcher and a GIS technician were among provisions of the 2020 budget passed Tuesday by St. Croix County Board.
County supervisors passed the 5.83% levy increase that funds a $36.37 million budget. Lynda Miller, Tom Coulter and Dan Fosterling voted against the budget package, which passed 13-3. Jim Endle and William Peavey were absent.
Critics of the levy increase included Fosterling, who said it was incongruent with the 2.75% increase in new construction that expanded the county’s tax base.
“We’re pushing the envelope,” he said.
The budget included two additions sought by some supervisors that weren’t part of County Administrator Pat Thompson’s original budget proposal. The final version he presented at the meeting included those two positions — a 911 dispatcher and a GIS technician for the Community Development Department — which would be funded by tapping a combination of projected sales tax revenue and interest earnings projections.
Thompson cautioned that fluctuations in those projected funding sources could vary in future years.
Fosterling proposed funding those two positions through proceeds from the sale of the county’s former highway building in Hammond. It is being sold for about $1.5 million.
Since that sale has not yet closed, Fosterling proposed first tapping $400,000 from capital investment project funding and then replenishing those coffers with the real estate proceeds once the sale is complete.
“What I’m asking for is kind of a modest thing for the taxpayers of St. Croix County,” he said.
Fosterling, Miller, Coulter, Bob Feidler and Buck Malick voted in support of that unsuccessful budget amendment.
Supervisor David Peterson was among the majority voting in opposition, saying he saw Thompson’s recommendation as a “sensible” budget.
“I think we’re doing a lot of things right,” Peterson said.
County Board also awarded $8 million in bonds Tuesday to Piper Jaffray as part of a borrowing project to convert the jail’s gym into a “special needs” wing. The funds, borrowed at 2.15%, will also pay for heating-ventilation and air-conditioning upgrades in the jail and the Government Center.
Supervisors Tammy Moothedan and Coulter opposed the bonding measure. Moothedan said other options for mental health issues among inmates weren’t adequately explored during the process that approved the $8 million project.
Though he voted in favor of the bonding measure, Malick said Moothedan’s concerns should be addressed.
“We need to do something about it,” he said. “I don’t consider that the end of the discussion.”