Marathon Co. Cuts Will Eliminate Jobs, But Keep Tax Rate the Same

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

If the current budget proposal passes, Marathon County residents will not see their property tax rate increase.

The finance committee reviewed Administrator Brad Karger's proposal Monday afternoon, but it will be up to the full county board to make a final decision.

$2 million was shaved off the $159 million budget for 2011, but the cuts won't come easy.

"The finance committee was very clear to me: we're going to take in less money for property taxes than we did last year, because we're going to keep the tax rate the same at 5.17," Karger said.

That means every county department will have to trim down.

One major cut is $350,000 to the Start Right program, which educates new parents, and that means closing six family resource centers.

The sheriff's department will be asked to squeeze $200,000 from its budget, without jeopardizing public safety.

"One of the top priorities of Marathon County and the sheriff's department is public safety and I think the citizens have come to expect that," said Chief Dept. Scott Parks.

He says the department may eliminate one courthouse security deputy position.

The Marathon County Public Library must cut $30,000.

"It's tough. That's a good word for it because what we're trying to do is balance the needs of the public so we meet as many of the needs as we can but yet we don't have enough money," said Phyllis Christensen, the library's director.

She says they'll use more technology, like self checkouts, to counteract the cuts. They'll also eliminate one full-time position and rely more heavily on volunteers.

The diversity affairs director could also be out of a job, saving the county $50,000.

Karger says none of the cuts come easy.

"There's a lot of support for keeping taxes down, but there's a lot of support for every program that's been reduced," he said.

The county board will vote on the final budget next month.

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