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In a few months, clusters of smokers outside St. Croix County buildings and the litter of cigarette filters in county parks should be things of the past. Seventeen years ago the County Board voted to ban smoking inside county government buildings and passenger vehicles. Tuesday the board went farther by agreeing to ban use of tobacco products on the grounds of county government buildings, at the fairgrounds, in county parks and in all county-owned vehicles and equipment regardless of location. The tobacco-free policy will be effective Jan.
Two western Wisconsin lawmakers are introducing legislation to require that DNA samples be taken when suspects are arrested on felony charges. Twenty-one other states have implemented this procedure, which is aimed at stopping repeat criminals, said Sen.
Apart from inconvenience for workers who will have to file in two states, the end of the income tax reciprocity agreement between Minnesota and Wisconsin may have greater implications, say some lawmakers. "There's a state border there, but we really operate as a region," said Wisconsin state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls. She said ending this 40-year-old cooperative agreement could jeopardize others. "Once you lose one, it's easier to watch the others fall apart," Harsdorf said.
The St. Croix County Board voted last week to declare the entire county an economic recovery zone. The action clears the way for the county, and perhaps its municipalities, to receive federal economic stimulus subsidies to help pay for building or infrastructure projects. The assistance is provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. According to the resolution adopted Sept. 22, general economic distress in the county impairs sound growth and the tax base and threatens the well-being of residents. According to numbers released Sept. 23, St.
St. Croix County supervisors and administrators are $750,000 short of reaching a balanced 2010 budget, according to reports heard by the County Board Tuesday. In his budget progress report, Finance Committee Chairman Daryl Standafer said because of prudent budgeting last year, the county avoided mid-year layoffs forced on other governmental units. Standafer said even though the state would allow the county to raise its 2010 property tax levy higher, the Finance Committee intends to increase the levy only by the amount of new construction.
Saying he intends to stay in Congress and focus on getting health care reform done right, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind announced Thursday that he won't be a candidate for governor of Wisconsin. "My first responsibility must be to get affordable and accessible health care reform passed this year for all Wisconsin families," said Kind. "That is why I cannot run for governor." Gov. Jim Doyle announced in August that he won't seek a third term.
Arguing for fairness and that more money would mean more resources for people looking for jobs or inexpensive entertainment, librarians are asking St. Croix County to raise its library tax. The county's Finance Committee listened to discussion last week but took no action and will instead forward the matter to the full County Board during a preliminary 2010 budget presentation Sept. 22. While property owners living in cities or villages with a library support the service through taxes they pay to their municipality, state law requires counties to levy a separate tax on rural property.
A judge determined the St. Croix County Board of Adjustment acted properly in approving a special exception permit to allow Heartland Montessori to open a pre-school in the town of Troy. Decisions regarding the use of the single-family house at 436 Red Brick Road now lie with Heartland's board of directors, said Cheryl Johnson, Heartland's head of school, Tuesday. "Those conversations are still taking place," she said. Heartland, which bought the house last year, has rented it out in an attempt to recoup some of the expenses, said Johnson.
Although over a third of them won't be back, St. Croix County supervisors were asked last week to give serious thought to how they believe the new board should be organized. Last fall county residents voted to cut the number of County Board members from 31 to 19. A redistricting plan has been developed, and when board candidates file for the 2010 spring election, they will run for 12 fewer seats. The Administration Committee has been charged with developing proposals to restructure board committees.
Participants in a planning session for St. Croix County's nursing home intend for it to become self-sufficient by 2015 and to diversify its services to meet changing needs. "The big first step," reported Nursing home Administrator Frank Robinson Tuesday, will be to cut $300,000 from the amount the facility receives annually from the county property tax levy.