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Decisions about having a fulltime St. Croix County emergency management director and keeping the department free-standing rather than merging it with another emergency response department will be delayed until 2010. At their Dec.
The St. Croix County Board voted Tuesday to borrow $3.36 million, using federal "recovery zone" bonds that will result in a true interest rate of about 2.23 percent. About half the money will be used for building repairs, safety improvements, equipment, computer software and parking lot repairs.
St. Croix and Pierce counties are beginning the process to allow private companies to access low-interest loans under federal economic stimulus legislation. "We see this as an opportunity," said Bill Rubin, executive director of the St. Croix County Economic Development Corporation. "Ultimately it's $5 million that can be brought into the county," agreed St.
A resolution ordering that St. Croix County buildings, grounds and vehicles be tobacco-free sailed through official channels this fall, but implementing the policy won't be as easy. The Finance and Personnel Committee voted last Thursday to amend the employee handbook to include the ban. The amendment says employees using tobacco products on county property "will be subject to the disciplinary procedures defined in this handbook." Still, said Administrative Coordinator Chuck Whiting, supervisors will have to figure out how to work with the ban.
It's not that the St. Croix County Jail doesn't have policies regarding booking and suicide and medical watches, it's that the policies say one thing and another is being done. So says Corporation Counsel Greg Timmerman. As an example, he said policy says inmate names on a suicide-watch board are identified with a red magnet if the prisoner is to be constantly observed and with a yellow magnet if he is to be checked every 15 minutes.
For the first time next spring, St. Croix County voters will choose 19 rather than 31 members for the County Board. Candidates for the reduced-size board could begin collecting signatures on nomination papers Dec. 1. Completed forms for the supervisor positions must be filed in the office of County Clerk Cindy Campbell by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5. Primaries, if needed, will be held Feb. 16. The general election is Tuesday, April 6. The smaller board was mandated by county residents who voted in November 2008 by a margin of more than three to one to cut the number of supervisors to 19.
With only two supervisors objecting and with little discussion, the St. Croix County Board adopted a budget Nov. 10 that raises the property tax levy 4.6 percent. While votes on bonds will come later, the 2010 and subsequent budgets rely on borrowing the county's full $3.36-million allocation of Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds.
While employers and coworkers don't want people coming to work with H1N1 symptoms, workers who have little accumulated paid time off may be reluctant to stay home and lose income. St.
Wisconsin Municipal Mutual Insurance Company's motto is "Strength in Members," but other members see St. Croix County as the weak link and the county will pay a price. St. Croix has been notified that its liability premium for 2010 may be increased over 25 percent and that its self-insured retention, roughly comparable to a deductible, will be increased from $250,000 to at least $500,000 per loss. Actual costs will be determined in December. "From the other members' perspective, we are not a good risk," summarized Kristin Ziliak, St. Croix's risk manager.
Department budget requests, escalating insurance costs and lagging sales tax income sabotaged the St. Croix County Finance Committee's plan to hold the tax levy increase to the rate of new construction. Instead, when the County Board meets for its budget hearing Tuesday, Nov. 10, the committee will recommend a 2010 levy for general operations that is about 3 percent higher than this year's levy. The proposed general operations levy is $25.8 million. The recommended overall levy -- which includes county aid for bridge construction, debt service and library tax -- is up 4.6 percent.