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The referendum will ask voters to decide whether or not to support an increase in the County’s annual tax levy, beginning in 2025, to cover the cost of 8 additional public safety positions:
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The following question will be on the April 2, 2024, 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, 2025, is limited to 2%, based on St. Croix County’s best estimate, which results in a levy of $46,002,438. Shall St. Croix County be allowed to exceed this limit and increase the levy for the next fiscal year, 2025, for the purpose of hiring two Mental Health Co-Responders, one Youth Justice Early Intervention Specialist, two Sheriff Corrections Deputies, one Sheriff Investigator, one District Attorney Investigator, and one Deputy Clerk Of Court; to address the County’s most pressing public safety needs, by a total of 1.96%, which results in a levy of $46,898,438, and on an ongoing basis, include the increase of $896,000 each fiscal year going forward?”
A “Yes” vote means that you support additional personnel being hired to address the increasing public safety needs within St. Croix County at a cost of $896,000 per year, added to the tax levy. The one-time increase creates a new authorized tax levy total amount going forward. The one-time increase is equivalent to $5 per $100,000 of property value.
A “No” vote means that you do not support additional public safety personnel being hired at a cost of $896,000 per year, added to the tax levy.
Note: The language used in the referendum question is required by the state of Wisconsin. During the Spring 2023 Public Safety Referendum a common concern we received was that, due to the required wording, it sounded like the referendum would result in additional increases each year. This is not the case. The referendum would result in a one-time permanent increase of $896,000 – an increase of $5 per $100,000 of your equalized value.
If the referendum is approved by a majority of voters on April 2, St. Croix County will be able to fund 8 additional public safety positions. This will increase staffing levels to ensure that there are adequate resources to sufficiently respond to the public safety needs of our County.
If the referendum fails to pass, the County will be faced with difficult decisions about how to address the growing need for public safety services. A rejection of the referendum would have a negative impact on our public safety service capacity. The existing two Mental Health Co-Responder positions will be eliminated at the end of 2024, forcing law enforcement to spend more time at scenes where a Co-Responder would be able take over and work toward better outcomes for those experiencing a mental health crisis.
To pay for the additional 8 public safety positions, property taxes would increase based off your equalized property value. The proposed levy increase is $896,000 each fiscal year going forward. The increase per $100,000 of equalized value is $5. It is important to note that this does not factor in growth to our County. We are currently one of the fastest growing counties in Wisconsin.
The increases in the table below are based on zero growth in the County. As our population grows and more people are paying taxes, the cost is spread out.
Our property taxes are determined by the County’s Mill Rate. The Mill Rate for St. Croix County has decreased every year since 2013.
We know that no one likes seeing their property taxes increase, but did you know that County taxes account for 20% of the average property tax bill? That means less than 20 cents on every dollar you pay in property taxes goes to fund important services like 9-1-1 dispatch and our Sheriff’s Department, Court Services, and keeping our roads clear in the winter. The referendum will help ensure our services keep up with the growing needs of our County.
Yes. If approved, the 8 public safety positions spread across the Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, Circuit Courts, and the Health and Human Services Department would result in a one-time permanent increase of $896,000 to our annual tax levy. This increase is spread out throughout the entire County. Property taxes would increase by $5 per $100,000 of your equalized value. Because this would go toward paying people's salaries, this would be a one-time permanent increase.
The state of Wisconsin limits the amount of property taxes counties and other local municipalities can collect each year. In order to exceed the levy limit to help fund important services, local governments need voter approval through a referendum. County levy limits in Wisconsin went into effect in 2005. In 2023, St. Croix County went to referendum for the first time in 18 years to ask for an increase to the tax levy.
Each year the County’s budget increases based off the net new construction. Our current growth has allowed our budget to increase on average 2% each year. While this has allowed us to address some priorities and offset some inflationary pressures, it has not been enough to keep up with the demand for our public safety services.
Net new construction refers to the increase in the assessed value of only new or improved property. When new buildings are constructed or existing buildings are improved, the assessed value of the property usually increases. It's important to note that not all new construction counts toward net new construction. For example, construction of exempt properties such as churches, schools, and government buildings are not included in the calculation of net new construction.
If approved, the levy increase would go into effect beginning in 2025. We would be looking to add positions at that time.
Each year the County’s budget increases based off the net new construction. Our current growth has allowed our operating levy to increase by about 2%. This has allowed us to address some priorities and offset some inflationary pressures. However, the amount received from net new construction alone is not enough to keep up with the demand for our public safety services.
Net new construction refers to the increase in the assessed value of only new or improved property. When new buildings are constructed or existing buildings are improved, the assessed value of the property usually increases. It's important to note that not all new construction counts towards net new construction. For example, construction of exempt properties such as churches, schools, and government buildings are not included in the calculation of net new construction.
You can find information on where and when to vote on our Voting and Elections page.