The Polk County Board of Supervisors held their regularly scheduled meeting May 19. Supervisors were in attendance but no public were allowed and the meeting was broadcast virtually via Webex. The board addressed COVID-19 updates, passed resolutions concerning the second amendment and criminal justice, but struck down a resolution that would have delayed the deadline for upcoming property tax payments.
Administrator discussion on COVID-19
In his report, county administrator Vince Netherland discussed the countywide situation in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the threat of coronavirus has not passed.
“This is a virus that’s still here and we need to be aware of it,” he said. “And practice good, safe habits.”
Netherland said he’s impressed by what he has seen from Polk County residents in regard to the virus. He believes both residents and businesses have done a good job of being conscious of the virus and implementing appropriate safety procedures. The fallout from the pandemic is also financial in nature, and Netherland addressed those concerns as well, in regard to Polk County.
“Added expenses have so far totaled around $90,000,” he said. “We anticipate a large portion of that to be eligible for reimbursement. The real hit is coming in revenue shortfalls.”
Polk County sales tax will be reduced by up to $540,000 due to a downturn in sales, according to Netherland. County facilities like the jail are also facing a downturn from a decrease in arrests. Property tax revenue is also in question.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen. Will people be able to pay them, or will we have more defaults than normal?,” he said. “The bottom line, right now we’re projecting a shortfall of anywhere between $900,000 and 1.1 million. I can assure you, every day we look at ways to offset that.”
Second Amendment Sanctuary County
The board brought forward a resolution that would designate Polk County as a second amendment sanctuary county, and passed that resolution by a 10-5 vote with Supervisors Prichard, Edgell, Middleton, Luke and Duncanson dissenting. The board discussed the resolution at length before the vote, and Polk County Sheriff Brent Waak also spoke to the board in favor of the resolution.
“Over the last couple of years there has been an all out attack on law abiding citizen’s gun rights in this nation,” he said. “For me as a sheriff it’s an honor to take people’s constitutional rights and be a guardian of them.”
The resolution is mostly symbolic, and includes generalized statements urging the Polk County board to uphold the U.S. Constitution as well as the Constitution of the state of Wisconsin.
Property tax resolution voted down
The board discussed and voted against a resolution that would have deferred upcoming property tax payments. The Wisconsin state government first passed the order, sending it to the county level to make further decisions. If it were passed, it would have delayed property tax payments for parcels that have payments due July 31, 2020. In discussions board members felt the delay in payment may have put local municipalities in financial risk. It was defeated by a vote of 2-10, with Supervisors Olson and Arcand voting for the resolution, and Supervisors LaBlanc, Masters and Duncanson abstaining.