Public Safety Referendum

The County’s Public Safety Referendum did not receive enough votes during the 2023 Spring Election to pass. We identified a need with our public safety services and went to referendum to give residents an opportunity to have their voices heard. We appreciate everyone who took the time to evaluate our request, and we respect the conclusion that a majority of voters have reached. We will continue doing everything we can to enhance the quality of life in St. Croix County and provide for a safe environment for all. The County will continue to revisit our public safety needs and determine the next steps to ensure the people of St. Croix County are supported.

As St. Croix County continues to grow, the demand for public safety services rises with it - creating a need for additional personnel that current funding levels cannot support. To give residents an opportunity to have their voices heard, the St. Croix County Board of Supervisors voted to place a Public Safety Referendum Question on the April 4, 2023 spring ballot.

The referendum question asks voters of St. Croix County whether or not to support an increase in the County's annual tax levy to cover the public safety costs for:

  • 8 - Sheriff Deputies
  • 4 - Correction Deputies
  • 3 - Investigators
  • 2 - Pre-Trial Case Managers
  • 2 - Support Staff
  • 2 - Deputy Clerk of Courts
  • 1 - CHIPS (Child in Need of Protection and/or Services) Attorney
  • 2 - Mental Health Co-Responders

You can learn more about the need and investment for our County's public safety in following sections and FAQs. For a quick look at the data, check out our referendum infographic.

  1. The need for a public safety referendum.

Our public safety staff have gone above and beyond to address the increasing needs of our County. They have adapted to address these needs by working smarter, creating efficiencies, collaborating with stakeholders and community members, utilizing special funding sources, and prioritizing what types of service we provide. Despite our best efforts, it is increasingly difficult to meet the growing demands for service without additional personnel.

In 2005, the state of Wisconsin adopted property tax levy restrictions that limited the ability of local governments to increase their property tax levies annually. Local government’s ability to raise revenue is limited to the level of net new construction in the County or approval by voters through referendum. Due to these tax levy restrictions, counties are limited in the amount of money available to provide the services we all count on every day like protection from law enforcement, road repair and snow removal, just to name a few of the many services provided by the County.

As the population has grown and the need for services has increased, the County has had to choose between what the community wants and what the budget provides. After many years of finding creative ways to bridge this ever-widening gap we have fallen far behind on the demand for services in public safety.

The positions involved in this referendum work closely together to keep the people who live, work, and visit St. Croix County safe. The number of personnel it takes to provide the level of service you deserve has not kept up with the demand of our growing County. The information in the following tabs will help put these needs into perspective.

  1. Increasing calls for service for our Sheriff's Office.
  1. Increasing cases and complexity for our justice system.
  1. Mental health is an important part of our public safety.
  1. An investment in our public safety.

Voting on April 4

For more information on voting visit our voting and elections page. The following question will be on the April 4, 2023, spring ballot:

“Under state law, the increase in the levy for St. Croix County for the tax to be imposed for the next fiscal year, 2024, is limited to 2%, based on St. Croix County’s best estimate, which results in a levy of $44,319,159. Shall St. Croix County be allowed to exceed this limit and increase the levy for the next fiscal year, 2024, for the purpose of Public Safety, by a total of 7.98%, which results in a levy of $47,855,666, and on an ongoing basis, include the increase of $3,536,507 each fiscal year going forward?”

The language used in the referendum question is required by the state of Wisconsin. To summarize the question, if approved, there will be a one-time permanent increase of $3,536,507 to our annual tax levy. This increase is spread out throughout the entire County. Property taxes would increase by $24.97 per $100,000 of your equalized value.

A “yes” vote for the referendum means that you support an increase in the tax levy for funding additional public safety personnel in St. Croix County.