News – October 25, 2016

City Of Beaver Dam Advances Budget With Lower Mill Rate


10/25/16 – City officials in Beaver Dam last night started the 2017 budget process without having to make any cuts. Beaver Dam’s $15.6-million-dollar document includes a tax levy of $9.9-million dollars, up around $147-thousand dollars, or two-percent from the current year. The mill rate is currently estimated at $10, down ten cents. The budget as presented came in below state-mandated levy limits. However, elected officials were originally looking at reducing budget requests by around $150-thousand dollars to meet the state’s Expenditure Restraint Program. The ERP rewards communities with additional revenue for keeping their spending below a certain threshold. The committee agreed by consensus to move ahead with an accounting maneuver recommended by the mayor that moved county-funded library payments to a fund that does not affect tax levy limits.  While not a budget surplus per se, that freed up $263-thousand dollars and allowed the city to meet the ERP with $114-thousand dollars to spare. Officials were reluctant to chip away at the cushion but did agree by consensus to bump-up a proposed salary increase for non-union employees from 1.75-percent to 2-percent; the change had an impact of around $6000. The budget also includes the addition of a police detective dedicated full-time to drugs along with $27-thousand dollars for portable radios and $25-thousand dollars for Taser guns. Not included in the police budget is funding that would allow the city to join the sheriff’s departments countywide records management system, though it remains a line item in the event alternate funding is found. The Fire Department budget includes a new full-time paramedic but does not include any funding for much talked-about water rescue boats. Community Activities has $10-thousand dollars earmarked for a mural to be painted on the Watermark. The Parks Department has $19-thousand dollars for a second dog park. The Administrative Committee signed-off on the budget last night which now heads to the full council for a vote next month.


City Of Mayville Tax Rate Expected To Decrease


10/25/16 – Mayville residents should see a decrease in the mill rate for the city portion of their taxes.  That’s according to City Treasurer Lois Krueger who expects the tax rate will be around $9.24 per thousand dollars of assessed value, which is $0.10 less than the number homeowners saw last December.  That means the owner of a $150,000 home would pay $15 less than last year for the city portion of their tax bill. Krueger says final property values are not yet known after totaling $307,000,000 last year.  While most expenditures were voted on in recent weeks after the finance committee met with various department heads, one late addition was made last night.  The city has decided to sign on to Spillman, the $1,100,000 records management system the Dodge County Board agreed to purchase for its sheriff’s office.  The system is expected to go live in January 2018 and will replace New World, which has reportedly been plagued with issues since it went live over three years ago.  Sheriff Dale Schmidt says the goal for Spillman is to connect law enforcement county-wide.  Earlier this year, Schmidt told the county’s municipal police chiefs that the county would cover the software purchase.  To sign on to Spillman, each municipality would pay $700 per officer in training costs plus $280 in maintenance fees per departmental computer each year starting in December 2019.  Mayville Police Chief Chris MacNeill believes Spillman will benefit Mayville since it offers an ‘all-in-one’ software program.  In addition to its records management system, TIMS, MacNeill says the city currently has separate mobile systems for dispatching in its squad cars and for evidence.  Schmidt believes Mayville’s commitment to Spillman is significant since it is one of the three largest municipalities fully within Dodge County.  He expects most municipalities will become a part of the county’s Spillman base.  Mayville’s final budget will be voted on next month.


Beaver Dam Schools Adopt 2016-17 Budget


10/25/16 – The Beaver Dam School Board adopted the 2016-2017 budget at last night’s meeting.  The $42.7-million-dollar document includes a $12.5-million-dollar tax levy. That results in a mill rate of $8.15 per thousand dollars of assessed value, two cents lower than the rate adopted last October. Superintendent Steve Vessey says the mill rate in Beaver Dam continues to be below both the state average and local districts. Vessey notes that if the school funding referendum on the November ballot is approved, the school tax rate would still be projected to be below both local districts and the state average. The $48.9-million-dollar school funding referendum seeks to fund a variety of improvements at the high school but also security upgrades throughout the district. There was a small decrease in district students based on third Friday counts with 3488 students recorded this year, four less than last year. Seventy-five percent of the budget is directed to personnel with 53-percent as salary and 22-percent in benefits.


Columbus School District Residents Will See Mill Rate Drop


10/25/16 – Columbus School District residents will see a decrease in the mill rate on their December tax bills. The city, along with the ten neighboring townships that comprise the district, held their annual budget meeting last night. The $13.9 million dollar operations budget for 2017 will be a half-million dollars higher than the budget adopted last year. That includes a third payment of $7.5-million dollars borrowed to complete energy-efficiency and safety-security projects. The $6.8-million-dollar tax levy is nearly $74-thousand dollars less than last year, which is just over one-percent lower. The mil rate is decreasing from $10.52 per-thousand to $9.89 per thousand dollars of assessed value.


Bond Set For Corrections Worker Accused Of Sexual Assault


10/25/16 – Bond was set at $1,000 yesterday for a former corrections worker from Fox Lake accused of having inappropriate contact with an inmate. Jennifer Stehling is charged in Dodge County court with two felony counts of Second Degree Sexual Assault by Corrections Staff and Delivering Illegal Articles to an Inmate. The 44-year-old allegedly committed the offenses in January when was a nurse at Fox Lake Correctional. The relationship was uncovered in June when prison officials noticed that a 30-year-old inmate attempted to make around 650 calls to a staffer and started monitoring the conversations. The two allegedly discussed whether or not the inmate had contracted any sexually transmitted diseases. Stehling reportedly admitted chatting with the inmate before later conceding that the two had consensual contact. A calendar of Stehling’s work schedule and a picture of her residence were later discovered in the inmate’s cell. If convicted, she faces a combined maximum of over 83 years in prison. Stehling has a preliminary hearing set for December 15.


Columbus Road Project Wrapping Up


10/25/16 – Road construction work on State Highways 16-and-60 near Columbus is nearing completion. Newly-installed traffic signals are being turned-on and all traffic lanes open starting today on the summer-long state DOT intersection project on the northwestern side of the city, just off Highway 151. Median work and landscaping may continue after the intersection is open but with minimal impact on local traffic expected.


Feingold Casts Ballot, Withholds Attack On Johnson


10/25/16 – U-S Senate candidate Russ Feingold has his vote in the can. The Democrat cast an absentee ballot Monday in his hometown of Middleton. Feingold said the numbers of early voters in the Democratic strongholds of Madison and Milwaukee were encouraging in his effort to win back the Senate seat he lost to Republican Ron Johnson six years ago. Feingold also told reporters he did not want to lash back at Johnson for calling him a “phony” several times during the weekend. But Feingold said it made Johnson’s campaign appear “desperate.” The conservative super-PAC “Let America Work” released a poll Monday showing the two in a “statistical tie” considering the margin of error, with Feingold leading Johnson 48-to-46-percent — the same two-point lead Feingold had in the last Marquette Law School poll on October 12th.


Green Party Candidate In Madison Thursday


10/25/16 – Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein will hold a rally at U-W Madison on Thursday. She’s scheduled to speak at noon at the campus Memorial Union. The Four Lakes Green Party chapter of Madison says Stein will talk about her proposals to boost the economy, and to cancel student debt and offer tuition feee public college educations. In the last Marquette Law School poll, Stein had three-percent support, one percent more than the previous Marquette survey in mid-September.


Corn Harvest Two Days Behind Last Year


10/25/16 – The Wisconsin corn harvest is speeding up, thanks to dry and mild weather during the past week. The U-S-D-A says 38-percent of the state’s corn for grain was harvested as of Sunday — two days behind last year, and slightly behind the average for the past five years. Field reporters say yields are strong in most places. Eighty-six percent of the Wisconsin corn is rated good to excellent, but there are scattered reports of mold on both the corn and soybean crops. Ninety-eight percent of the corn for animal feed is in the bin, and 71-percent of the Wisconsin soybean crop has been harvested — five days behind last year and two days behind the norm.