Portage County Board approves budget, opens door for long-term jail planning
STEVENS POINT (WAOW)--The Portage County Board approved a 2012 budget Monday night that will reduce the county's tax levy by more than $200,000 dollars. But the budget didn't pass without some changes that sparked debate.
The Finance Committee proposed an amendment that would open the door for long-term planning for a new jail. One Stevens Point taxpayer spoke out against plans to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on architectural studies for a new building.
But board member Doug Radtke said the jail needs improvements. "We still have, in my opinion, a real need for jail space," he said. County residents have already voted down two referenda that would have supported those improvements.
"I was surprised as a taxpayer that the county board would be going down that road anyway," said Stevens Point resident Eric Olson.
Radtke said he wanted the amendment added to the budget to open lines of communication. "I'm trying to open the door because those two referenda closed it and everyone stopped thinking about it."
The budget increases spending from last year by more than 9 percent, totaling over $105 million dollars. Savings came from county employees paying more towards their retirement, employee restructuring and by not replacing retirees.