Smith presents proposed Rock County budget

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JANESVILLE - Cyber security and child services are poised to be areas of focus for Rock County government in 2020, according to the county's proposed annual budget.

Rock County Administrator Josh Smith presented the budget to the county board Thursday.

County spending would grow in 2020 by 3.35 percent, or $6.36 million, under Smith's proposed budget. The tax levy would rise 4.1 percent, but the tax rate would drop 3.23 percent.

For homes valued at $100,000, the proposed budget increase would raise the county portion of property tax bills by $23.64.

Smith said an additional $1.38 million for cyber protection will help the county protect itself from cyber attacks. The county would add an IT security officer position to improve technology, train staff and monitor protection, Smith said.

Improvements to technology include updating hardware and equipment to prevent attacks, adding cybersecurity software to identify and address attacks and developing more robust data and system backup services to tap in the event of a major breach.

"Everybody has seen all the things around the country where people are hacking local governments and trying to hold hostage for ransom and take their information . so we feel we need to take an aggressive approach that our systems and data are secure," Smith said.

About $839,000 in sales tax will help pay for the changes along with $536,702 from the departmental fund balance.

The budget also shows an additional $1.2 million for child welfare services. The state's 2019-21 biennial budget provides additional money for counties to address caseworker turnover and caseloads, services, and placements.

"It gives us the ability to have state funding that will hopefully have a significant impact on our services," Smith said.

"One of the big initiatives is how are we going to spend that money to serve families and kids," he said.

The budget was scheduled to be presented to the county board Thursday before going to county committees for adjustments.

The Monday, Nov. 4, county board meeting will include a Q&A for board members. The budget will be considered for approval Tuesday, Nov. 12.

2019 proposed Rock County budget

TOTAL BUDGET

This year: $188.60 million

Next year: $194.86 million

Increase: 3.35 percent

TAX LEVY

This year: $67.64 million

Next year: $70.42 million

Increase: 4.11 percent

TAX RATE

(Per $1,000 of equalized valuation)

This year: $6.20 million

Next year: $6.00 million

Decrease: 3.23 percent

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