A half-cent tax adds up in a hurry. Try $5.3 million in Chippewa County for 2012.
Of that $5.3 million, $1.3 million, or 25 percent, is going back for property tax relief.
The county’s half-cent sales tax will also fund improvements around the Chippewa County Courthouse under the county’s 2013 proposed budget, County Administrator Frank Pascarella said.
Those improvements include $200,000 for a security upgrade, $100,000 for flooring, and $150,000 to remodel the county emergency dispatch center.
Among other costs paid for by the sales tax: $619,000 for highways and bridges; $225,000 for technology; $175,000 for a vehicle fleet pool; $150,000 for the sheriff’s department; $100,000 for land conservation; $100,000 for roads and flowages; and $100,000 for the replacement of a radio system.
Total it up and it’s $1.9 million of spending from the sales tax, which Pascarella said is not part of the county’s general operating budget and doesn’t affect the proposed 5.6-percent increase in the tax rate for next year.
A majority of that increase, 3.4 percent, is for the operating budget. The other 2.2 percent is a one-time cost for the merger of the emergency dispatch centers of the county and the city of Chippewa Falls.
Overall, spending is falling 1.4 percent, from $64.7 million in the 2012 to $63.7 million in 2013.
The proposed budget calls for a tax rate of $3.75 per $1,000 of equalized valuation. Equalized value includes all taxable real and personal property in each taxation district (town, village and city) in the county.
Under the equalized rate, the owner of a $100,000 home would see an increase in county taxes from $355 to $375, or a hike of $20 with the proposed budget.
But property tax bills are based on a property’s assessed value, which could be different from the equalized value.
The county tax is only one part of a bill a property owner pays. The other taxes go to a city, village or town, local school district, vocational school and the county forestry tax.
The property tax levy under the proposed county budget would be $16,412,252 — an increase of 4.2 percent.
The proposed budget does not call for salary increases for county employees. However, Pascarella said the county is looking to have a report done on compensation classifications, a performance-based program. It would be used instead of cost-of-living adjustments.
A consultant is expected to be hired in December and complete a report in the first quarter of 2013. Once in place, the plan would continually evaluate the salaries of employees.
“Now we’re focusing on trying to maintain a competitive balance with the private sector,” Pascarella said.