WAUKESHA - The
County Board’s Finance Committee on Wednesday unanimously
recommended approval of the county’s proposed $254.1 million
spending budget for 2014.
A measure to give
the Waukesha County Museum an additional $47,000 for its
operating budget was not received as warmly by the committee and
narrowly supported by a 4-3 vote, with Supervisors Janel
Brandtjen, Patricia Haukohl and Cathleen Slattery voting against
the additional money.
must be approved by the County Board when it meets Nov. 12 to
act on next year’s budget. The budget contains a tax levy of
$102.5 million, an increase of about 1 percent over the previous
budget. The tax bill for a home of median value will be about
$512, according to county records.
Executive Dan Vrakas is on record as opposed to giving the
museum additional money. Vrakas’ chief of staff, Shawn Lundie,
said after the committee vote that the measure would die on the
County Board floor.
museum officials announced that an anonymous donor had pledged
$50,000 to the museum, provided that the county matches the
donation with another $50,000.
Supervisor Duane Paulson, prior to news of the donation, had
advanced an amendment to the proposed 2014 budget to add $50,000
more to the museum’s operational budget. It was that measure
that the committee acted on Wednesday.
At issue was
Vrakas cutting the county’s annual fiscal support of the museum
in half. Instead of $300,000 as the museum had received this
year, Vrakas gave it only $150,000. The budget shortfall forced
the museum to lay off a veteran employee to save $50,000. The
donation and matching funds from the county would total $100,000
and return the museum’s annual spending budget to the previous
committee discussion about Paulson’s funding proposal, Norm
Cummings, the county’s administrator, said he learned earlier
this week the state’s new funding formula had reduced the cap on
the county’s ability to levy taxes. An additional $50,000 would
balloon the levy beyond the cap, Cummings said.
Paulson said he was assured last week that the $50,000 would not
take the county over the levy cap. Cummings responded that the
state notified the county of the change after Paulson was
assured that the levy was safe.Cummings then suggested only
giving the museum $47,000 to keep the levy below the cap.
vote, Tom Constable, chairman of the museum’s board of
directors, said he was confident that the anonymous donor would
be satisfied if the county board added only $47,000 to the
Lundie said he
doubted that it would happen.
County Board Chairman Paul Decker in their research last summer
came to believe that supervisors will support the $150,000
figure as originally budgeted, but no more than that, Lundie
added he plans to have a new museum president and CEO hired and
in place by March 31. The museum board also will have created a
new business plan by then, he said.
“We have some
cash issues that need to be resolved first before we hire a new
executive,” Constable said.
The board also
will consider tearing down the former jail that’s attached to
the old courthouse, he said. The vacant space would be used
primarily as a drop-off site for visiting school children and
other groups that are brought in by bus.
“Now they get
on and off buses on Main Street, which is not very safe,” he