Voters need to read referendum questions before going to vote
By Gene Kemmeter
Voters in Portage County will see three referendum issues seeking to exceed the Wisconsin property tax levy limits when they go to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 6. And two of the ballot questions are worded markedly different.
The first one is Portage County seeking to exceed the limit by $1.4 million in each year for the 2019 fiscal year through 2022 to pay a portion of the cost to operate the Portage County Health Care Center. That question reads:
“NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that at an election to be held in the County of Portage, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, the 6th day of November, 2018, the following question will be submitted to a vote of the people:
“QUESTION 1: Under state law, the increase in the levy of the County of Portage for the tax to be imposed for the next fiscal year, 2019, is limited to 1.806%, which results in a levy of $26,801,817. Shall the County of Portage be allowed to exceed this limit and increase the levy for the next fiscal year, 2019 through 2022, for the purpose of paying a portion of the cost to operate the Portage County Health Care Center, by a total of 5.224%, which results in a levy of $28,201,817?
“A copy of the entire text of the resolution directing the submission of the question can be obtained from the office of the Portage County Clerk.”
The second one is the Stevens Point Area Public School District request to exceed the limit by $3.5 million beginning with the 2018-19 school year to pay operating costs for educational programs, technology and maintenance. It reads:
“OPERATIONAL REFERENDUM: Shall the Stevens Point Area Public School District, Portage and Wood Counties, Wisconsin, be authorized to exceed the revenue limit specified in Section 121.91, Wisconsin Statutes, by $3,500,000 beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, for recurring purposes to pay operating costs for educational programs, technology and maintenance?”
The wording of the county referendum is dictated by statute 66.0602(4)(c); the school referendum isn’t.
Voters need to read and study the referendum issues before they go into the voter’s booth so they understand what they’re voting about. The county website includes an explanation of the Health Care Center referendum on its website at www.co.portage.wi.us.
The school district includes an extensive explanation on its website at www.pointschools.net. Voters last approved a non-recurring referendum to exceed revenue limits in 2006, rejecting ones in 2009 and 2010.
Unfortunately, voters without a computer or access to one don’t readily have availability to that information. They need to reach out to someone to get that information.