Where Does The Money Go?
A concern from a constituent started a conversation in the weekly meeting of the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Oct. 7. Board members also talked about the possibility of a four-day work week during the session and discussed a drainage issue.
Supervisor Jerry Hofstad opened the meeting by explaining he had been asked by a constituent about the gambling revenue payments the county receives from the Wild Rose Casino and Resort.
“It is my understanding that the county receives one-half of one percent of the adjusted gross each month from the casino, and that those monies go into the general fund,” Hofstad said. “I checked with the city, and they have put their payment into a specially designated account that has earned them about $5,000 in interest in three and a half years.”
According to Hofstad, some of the city’s expenditures include $17,000 for capital improvements like the new shelter at Kearny State Park and $16,000 for the council meeting room table. “We could use a little of that right here in the coal bin,” Hofstad quipped, referring to the boardroom in the courthouse.
Other expenditures include fire truck repairs, Chamber of Commerce fireworks, capital improvements for the airport terminal and new business park, computer software and some remodeling of the city hall business office and furnishings.
“It just seems to me that we could use that money – we could earmark a good share of some of it for economic development,” Hofstad said. “If we’re going to spend that money, if we’d earmark it, we’d have it for sure, we’d know where it’s at and we’d have some left over.”
“Where does this money go now?” Supervisor Ed Noonan asked County Auditor Gary Leonard.
“It goes into the county General Fund,” was Leonard’s answer. “When we budget at the end of the year…
“One of the things that happens with it is that last, year, we were able to lower the tax asking because of it,” interjected Supervisor Keith Wirtz.
“That’s what it’s used for,” agreed Leonard, “to lessen the taxes.“
Leonard continued, “It goes into the general fund and if you want to earmark it into the Supervisors’ budget, you could.“
“So at budget time, we could earmark it any way we wanted to,” Noonan said.
“Absolutely,” Leonard replied.
“You’d like to put some into economic development, then?” asked Board Chair Leo Goeders.
“I would.” Hofstad replied, as Supervisor Ron Graettinger pointed out that the county had invested $85,000 in economic development for this budget year. “If we wouldn’t have had that money, we wouldn’t be having economic growth.“
“Lowering taxes is economic growth, too,” Noonan added as the discussion ended.
A question about the possibility of shifting to four-day work weeks generated some discussion among the board members and County Engineer Joel Fantz.
After Noonan asked if secondary roads had looked into the idea, Fantz noted that it was an attractive option.
“I think it would be good, in terms of productivity and efficiency-wise,” the engineer said. “You could spend more time on a job with the longer shift, and we’ve found that overtime hours really aren’t’ all that much more costly than regular work hours, because the benefit costs stay the same.“
Fantz went on to note that the idea had been discussed in the department before, but it hadn’t been well received by the workers.
“Something like this would most certainly be a contract issue,” Fantz said. “Right now, you’re in the first year of a three-year contract, so there’s time to think about it and talk about it.“
“Could we bring in the union reps and discuss some ideas?” Noonan asked.
“I think that would be a good idea, but let’s hold off until after the harvest is done,” Graettinger said, ending the discussion.
The board also met with Fred Wirtz to discuss a drainage petition for District 61 branch J in Section three of West Bend Township. It was the consensus of the board to continue the discussion of the issue at its next meeting, to allow for more information to be gathered.