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County supervisors approve 2024 budget, review county jail proposal

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An aerial shot of the county property that currently holds the courthouse, Sheriff's Office, Police Department and Jail. The bottom left corner of the property is the southwest corner, which would be the quadrant where the jail addition would start.

By Steve Van Kooten

 

When the county supervisors convened on Nov. 14, there were two main issues on the docket. The first was to hear a presentation of a potential design for the Crawford County Jail, which had passed through the Finance Committee the previous week, and the second was a breakdown of the 2024 budget as presented by Gary Koch, the Crawford County Finance Committee Chair.

Through September and October, committees worked tirelessly to square away their budget for the next year. All that work, all those meetings bore fruit when the county supervisors approved the presented budget.

 

2024 Budget

Koch introduced the proposed budget to the Board of Supervisors and stated the county’s budget was over $26 million. The total levy amount was set at $9,344,283, which encompassed all county departments as well as the library ($182,015) and bridge ($39,792). The mil rate was 5.22 per $1,000 dollars on property values. This was a decrease from the previous year, which was set at 6.08.

“I think it’s a good budget for county tax payers,” Koch said. “They should be paying less for the county portion of their taxes.”

The departments that made up the majority of the levy were Public Safety (35 percent), General Governance (18 percent) and the Highway Department (16 percent).

Koch outlined several factors that were accounted for in the budget proposal, including a four percent wage increase for all county employees effective Jan. 1, 2024, as well as a 2.5 percent additional increase for the County Clerk, Treasurer and Register of Deeds. Health insurance premiums rose 9.7 percent for 2024 and the county’s contribution increased 6.5 percent, which resulted in a $150,000 increase for the year.

New or changed positions included two new full-time dispatchers and a permanent part-time position that became full-time. Increases in budget such as $15,000 added the county fair’s budget, a $53,000 increase to the election budget and a $57,000 increase to the law enforcement budget for overtime were also accounted for.

Further miscellaneous costs were $25,000 to labor and civil suits issues, $68,275 to a potential Administrative Coordinator/Human Resources position and $35,000 to Couleecap.

Budgeted acquisitions were $55,000 for the replacement of a maintenance truck/plow, $45,000 for computer replacements and $95,000 to replace a squad car.

The projected revenues for 2024 were $14,624,511 with Health and Human Services (41 percent), the Highway Department (27 percent) and General Governance (15 percent) making up a large portion of that amount. Projected expenditures were $26,018,794.

Koch noted the county received approximately $80,000 from the Ho-Chunk, which was not included in the budget but was allocated by the Finance Committee. Koch stated Driftless Development ($64,000) was given the largest piece of that money, while the Prairie du Chien Area Chamber of Commerce ($7,500) and the Prairie du Chien Historical Society ($2,500) were among other recipients.

“I want to thank the department heads for reasoned budgets; there was not a lot of fluff here,” Koch stated.

 

County Jail

After the presentation to the Finance Committee on Nov. 8, Scott Fettig, President of Klein McCarthy Architects, and Greg Callin, Vice President of Client Services for Kraemer Brothers, returned to give their presentation to the County Board of Supervisors and update the county on some changes since the Finance Committee presentation.

Fettig said they had looked at multiple options for the new addition’s placement and the southwest corner of the county’s property was still the preferred location. (See picture) This prevented the addition from obstructing the front of courthouse, allowed the construction to stay on property that was already owned by the county and kept the addition at two stories instead of three.

Callin noted the estimated budget had increased since the last meeting. The construction costs were now in a range from $25.4 million to $28.9 million. Soft costs, including any non-construction expenses the county would be responsible for, came to $2.3 million to $3.2 million, which left the proposed project budget between $27.7 million and $32.1 million. Callin stated the reason for the increase were four parking options being explored for the property. “What we did is take those parking options and took the most expensive one and add it. We wanted to make sure we had it accounted for.”

Fettig discussed some of the options for parking, including the possibility to take out the one-story portion of the jail.

“We don’t really have a use for the one-story part of the jail. The Sheriff doesn’t need it for jail functions.” Fettig stated one possibility would be “tear out” those structures to expand parking on the northeast side of the county’s property.

Other options the expand parking include the purchase of additional property between the Administrative Building and the Courthouse, demolition of the current sally port, expansion of parking east of courthouse toward the southern end of the property and creating diagonal parking along Beaumont Rd. or on the southern end of the property. The committee appointed to work on the jail project for the county will meet before the Board of Supervisor’s December meeting to make a recommendation for parking.

To remodel the current building, the cost was estimated at $2.7 million to $3.8 million while the addition was between $19.4 million and $20.3 million. The addition’s price was calculated by taking the square footage of the build and multiplying it by a cost range of $500-$525. The cost was assessed through a comparison with similar projects and adjustments to account for inflation and other variables.

In the proposal several benchmarks were given in the schedule: July 29, 2024 would be the beginning of construction tasks and July 24, 2026 would be the move in date with inspections and shakedown processes finished. These dates were speculative as the board has not approved the project proposal.

 

Other News:

Board approved the $500,000 short-term borrowing approved by the Finance Committee on Nov. 8. The loan through People’s State Bank is for one year with 1.95 percent interest and stated for “road repairs and necessary capital purchases.”

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