Supervisor Jim Edgell (District 8: Centuria) sticks a dot on “Senior Citizens and Veterans,” signaling his belief it should be a top concern in the 2020 county budget. The Polk County Board started the process of setting budget priorities last week.

The Polk County Board started the process of setting budget priorities last week.

Top-ranking issues were transportation and roads, recreation/tourism/parks, finding and retaining qualified staff, infrastructure and equipment, substance abuse, and economic development.

Supervisor Michael Prichard (District 7: St. Croix Falls) requested that climate change be added to the list of potential priorities. 

“In this world of climate change, which I accept and I don’t think it should be a political issue that there is climate change,” he said, “we probably have some role as a county government to show some leadership in that respect.”

He was the only one to vote it as a top priority for the upcoming budget.

Supervisors Chris Nelson (District 4: Balsam Lake/Milltown) and Doug Route (District 2: Luck/Bone Lake) expressed concern that the county’s recycling center was losing money. Nelson estimated the recycling program had lost $1 million over the last decade. 

“How much money do you keep throwing at this stuff?” Nelson said.

Said Route, “We’re just throwing money away.”

The county’s budgeting process depends to a degree on the state’s budget, a draft of which has been passed by the Joint Finance Committee. The proposed budget was scheduled to go to the Assembly floor June 25 and proceed to the Senate shortly thereafter. After both houses pass the budget, the governor has six days to review and act upon it. Governor Evers is expected to sign the budget in July.

County staff are working to have a draft of the county’s budget ready September 10.


Other business

• Cedar Corp will observe the fair as part of its evaluation of the fairgrounds.

• The board accepted a donation of 120 acres in the Town of Sterling from Robert Johnson. The county plans to incorporate the land into its forestry program.

• A resolution was passed initiating the process of finding consultants to help plan the Stower and Cattail trails. Supervisors Prichard and Michael Larsen (District 12: Amery) voted against the measure. Prichard noted that potential costs remain unresolved regarding a grant repayment, and that a consultant would also cost money. 

• The board passed a resolution encouraging the Wisconsin Counties Association to work with the state legislature to fund additional programs for combating and treating methamphetamine abuse.

• The board approved changes to the 2019 budget carrying forward funds for unfinished projects from 2018.

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