County plays strictly by the rules in creating budget

Jim Baumgart  Sheboygan County Supervisor

The Sheboygan County annual budget process continues throughout the year. As discussed in an earlier column (Plymouth Review, Pg. 4, 8/13/13), there is a well planned process that is followed to meet the goals and obligations that need to be met. On the county department level, that process officially begins with a letter mailed out to each on June 26, 2013.

But it begins much earlier in discussions with the Sheboygan County Finance Department, Finance Committee, Adam Payne - County Administrator, and others. And, prior to the county department budget directive, the annual Leadership Forum (June 6)isheld;thisisa6hourgathering of all available supervisors that meets at the University of Wisconsin - Sheboygan.

This meeting discusses and reviews items like cost containment, initiatives, budget development schedule, county board fund balance, budget assumptions (trying to figure what dollars the legislature may or may not provide counties), budget goals and targets, likely budget gaps, operating expenses (such as oil prices, up 192 % since 2003 - for road construction; fuel costs prices, up 151 % since 2003 - for snow plowing), health insurance costs, wages and benefits, along with many other financial issues.

Long range financial planning for any future major projects are also considered and discussed to insure the county is able to financially meet those needs.

In this whole process, questions are raised by supervisors and answered by county staff.

Once the county departments have worked on and formulated their budgets, they are required to meet the county finance staff and Adam Payne, Sheboygan County Administer.

That process took place in late July and early August and often included some budget modifica- tion requests. These meeting were set for at least an hour or more depending on the complexity of the budget.

Recently completed: Register of Deeds, Corporation Council, District Attorney, child support staff, Rocky Knoll, University of Wisconsin - Extension, Veterans Services, Planning and Conservation, Sheriff, Building Services, Clerk of Courts, Treasurer, Transportation (highways and air port), Court Commission, County Clerk, Human Resources, Health and Human Services, and others.

Once this budget review process is completed, each department is required to meet with their respective liaison committee of supervisors to discuss their budget again to make sure they are able to meet local and state responsibilities.

By this time, little change will likely be needed. But their can be exceptions - Sheboygan County Highway, Health and Human Services and Sheriff Departments are costly to run and sometimes they will need additional revenue above the limits set by the county budget goals. They can request a special exemption but that process takes an additional review and supporting documentation for any wavier.

Then on Tuesday, October 22, the Sheboygan County Board will distribute its budget book for review.

Tuesday, October 29, the Sheboygan County Board will hold a public hearing on the budget; during that meeting the County Board will also go line by line through the budget itself.

Then on Tuesday, November 5, the County Board will vote on the adoption of the budget along with any amendments which may have passed.

There is, of course, much more that takes place in providing a budget for the people of Sheboygan County. But it is important for the public to generally understand what takes place and that it is not done without thought and consideration.

Plus, the public does have an opportunity to play a roll in the budget process if anyone wishes to.

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