Week of February 16, 2015

State Budget Update: WCA Statement on County Assessment

capitol night 2 Governor Walker's 2015-17 State Biennial Budget recommends transitioning the property tax assessment process from a municipality-based system to a county-based system beginning in 2016 with full implementation by the 2017 property assessment year.  While we understand the Department of Revenue is seeking efficiencies within the current assessment system, the Wisconsin Counties Association (WCA) is opposed to this proposal due to the new costs counties would be forced to absorb.  

WCA has numerous concerns with the proposal including the proposed timeline, funding mechanism, new mandates placed on county staff, and current assessment contracts.  In an era of stringent property tax controls, any proposal calling for county-wide assessment must assure counties will not be responsible for additional costs.  

Read the full WCA statement on the county assessment provision by clicking here.

A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on the topic appeared 2.19.2015.  Read it here.
Governor's Budget Proposes Closing Local Government Property Insurance Fund

Governor Walker's state budget proposes to eliminate the state run Local Government Property Insurance Fund. A February 2015 report shows $52.2 billion in insured property values and 974 insureds including 68 counties insured by the fund. Over the past few years the number of insureds has steadily declined. The June 30, 2014 financial statements show slightly more than $27 million in annual written premium.


The fund has operated for many years at a level with which the private market could not compete resulting in the vast majority of local units of government participating in the fund. With over $41 million in surplus in 2009, the fund was well capitalized. Some believed the fund was over capitalized and forced a $12 million dividend to be given back to participants. This dividend was provided in the 2009/10 state fiscal year.


After the dividend was declared and paid the fund began to experience a series of unfortunate events resulting in claims. These claims led to a drop in surplus that continued through the most recent financial report.


What are Counties? Toolkit Now Available Online

On Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at the WCA Legislative Exchange in Madison, the Wisconsin Counties Association launched a new toolkit for county officials and interested parties to help educate people on the role of counties in their lives.

This new campaign, "What are Counties," came about because of conversations with our county officials desiring a brochure on county government services to hand out when they spoke to civic groups, students and other entities.

The result of this collaborative effort was much more than a brochure.  WCA is proud to present the "What are Counties" trio of resources -- a video, presentation and brochure, to share the good news of what counties do to "Help Make Wisconsin Great."

Watch the "What are Counties" video here.
Plan to Attend: WCA Regional Legislative Meetings

Each odd-numbered year, the Wisconsin Counties Association holds legislative briefings across the state to educate members on legislative issues affecting counties.

This year, our legislative briefings will include a discussion on WCA's 2015-2016 Legislative Agenda, a review of the 2015-2017 state biennial budget, as well as answer member questions regarding legislative initiatives.

These Regional Legislative Meetings are free and open to all members of the county family. There is no need to pre-register for these meetings. Please join us in March for this informative event.

If you have any questions about the meetings, please contact Sarah Diedrick-Kasdorf, Deputy Director of Government Affairs, at 608.663.7188.
MacArthur Foundation Announces $75 Million for Jail Reform

The MacArthur Foundation has announced an exciting opportunity to undertake local jail reform through its new Safety and Justice Challenge, a five-year $75 million investment that seeks to reduce over-incarceration in jails.

The Challenge is looking to improve local criminal justice systems across the country and safely reduce jail incarceration - with a particular focus on addressing disproportionate impact on low-income individuals and communities of color. Selected sites will reveal new and better ways of targeting resources, more effective risk assessment to determine if confinement is really necessary, and better public safety returns and social outcomes.

Twenty sites will initially be selected to receive a grant of $150,000 to support an intensive six-month planning process, during which they will rigorously examine how their jails are being used and what strategies will reduce the inappropriate use of jail without compromising public safety. Each site will produce a plan for implementing these reforms. Then, beginning in 2016, as many as 10 of these jurisdictions will be selected for a second round of funding of up to $2 million to support implementation of their jail reduction plans.

Applications are due March 31, 2015.  More information about the Challenge can be found here:
www.safetyandjusticechallenge.org and the RFP is available by clicking here.

Highlight on WCA Associate Members

The role and relationship of government with the private sector has changed in recent years. The creation of the WCA Associate Member Program is one more way WCA is reaching out to bring together the public and private sectors.

The WCA Associate Member Program helps to foster the critical and growing relationship between government and business. We believe that helping to nurture a strong partnership with private businesses and organizations will prove to be beneficial to all of Wisconsin.

WCA Associate Members include:

American Transmission Company, LLC
Discover Mediaworks
General Motors  
Motorola Solutions, Inc.

We encourage you to learn more about our WCA Associate Members by clicking here.  For more information about this program please contact WCA Marketing and Events Manager Cheryl Fleck at 866.404.2700.    
State Budget Update: WCA Statement on County Assessment
Budget Proposal to Close Local Government Property Insurance Fund
"What are Counties" Toolkit Now Available Online
WCA Regional Legislative Meetings
MacArthur Foundation Announces $75 Milliion for Jail Reform
Highlight on WCA Associate Members