County Board: Longtime Supervisor Lee to resign; Leydet talks 2022 budget
New board member, Corporation Counsel appointed
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Editor
MERRILL – The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors during its Tuesday, March 16 meeting at the Lincoln County Service Center in Merrill welcomed a new member and honored another who is set to resign after over two decades of service.
The board also welcomed the county’s new Corporation Counsel and heard a breakdown of the 2022 preliminary budget process.
New Supervisor, Corporation Counsel appointed; Lee to step down
New District 10 Supervisor Judy Woller was sworn in during the meeting. She replaces Jeremy Ratliff, who resigned from the board earlier this year. Woller will serve the rest of the term, which expires next April, and will serve on the Forestry, Land and Parks; Law Enforcement, EMS, Judicial, and Emergency Management; and NEWCOM Advisory Board committees.
Karry Johnson was officially appointed as Corporation Counsel, replacing Nancy Bergstrom, who retired in January.
Along with the additions of new faces, the board will also see a longtime member step down.
Board Chair Kevin Koth announced that District 15 Supervisor Robert Lee will resign from the board, effective at the end of March. Lee’s resignation comes after over 23 years as a board member. Along with previously serving as board chair, Lee has also worked in law enforcement and was mayor of the City of Tomahawk.
“He’s a good friend of mine, and I just appreciate everything that he’s done for Lincoln County,” Koth stated. “23 years is a long time being on this board, and he’s done a good job.”
Although Lee wasn’t in attendance at the meeting, those present honored him with a round of applause.
Leydet talks 2022 preliminary budget
Finance Director Dan Leydet told the board that the county’s Finance and Insurance Committee has been working on strategies and goals for the 2022 Lincoln County budget.
Ahead of next month’s finalization of the budget strategies and goals, Leydet laid out the spending plan’s timeline and pointed out some fiscal issues the county is facing.
Leydet said the budget process will be similar to the one that took place in 2020. The Finance and Insurance Committee and the county board will receive the first preliminary budget review in July, and a final draft of the budget will be presented to the board in October. The budget hearing and approval of the 2022 budget will take place in November.
The Finance and Insurance Committee also made note of the county’s population change. From 2013 to 2018, the county’s population decreased by 0.93%, the largest of decrease of any of the state’s 72 counties. Lincoln County is among 11 counties to see a decline in population within that timeframe.
“As you’re thinking about budgets, as you’re thinking about what this is going to look like, the county is having a decrease in the population,” Leydet stated. “We don’t know exactly what the new census is going to show because we don’t have those numbers yet, but that’s just something to keep in mind.”
Leydet touched on the county’s April 6 referendum, which will ask voters if the county should be allowed to exceed levy limits and raise the levy by $700,000 each year from 2022 to 2026 to fund Highway Department operations and road maintenance.
Leydet said that, in the event that the referendum passes, he assumed that the board would let the county’s $20 “wheel tax” lapse at the end of the year. Leydet noted that he had told the Finance and Insurance Committee to consider its next steps if the referendum were to be defeated.
If the referendum were to fail and the wheel tax were allowed to lapse, the county would face a $560,000 hole in its budget, something Leydet said would change “the whole scope of what we’re looking at.”
“To cut $560,000 of levy money in our budget is going to be a job, so we need to get on that,” he stated. “I would strongly urge the county, if the referendum does not pass, to give staff the heads up as soon as possible, preferably by June, so we know and department heads can start to plan. The planning process is going to totally change.”
The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors’ next meeting is set for Tuesday, April 20 at 9 a.m. at the Lincoln County Service Center in Merrill.