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No Pleasant View referendum before Nov. ballot
MONROE - Conflicting timing elements in state law are blocking the power of the county to schedule a referendum question for the ballots in February, April or August.

The chances of getting a $4 million referendum on the August primary ballot, to help fund Green County's 130-bed licensed, skilled nursing care facility for the next five years, hang on how quickly Wisconsin state legislators and Gov. Scott Walker are willing to act to tweak state law.

County Clerk Mike Doyle said he was trying to get the nursing home referendum out to the voters at the April election, but that can't happen. As the state laws stand now, voters couldn't see that referendum until November.

That poses some logistical problems for budgeting for 2015. "If we wait until November, we would need to prepare two (county) budgets, in case the referendum fails," Doyle said.

Counties are allowed to place referendum questions on the ballots in February, April, August and November at regularly scheduled elections and primaries.

But Doyle and the county's legal counsel, Brian Bucholtz, have found out only the financial information in the year of the referendum is acceptable for preparing the array of documents needed for the county board of supervisors to pass a resolution to get the referendum on a ballot.

That financial information required by law is not available from the Department of Revenue until Aug. 15.

The 2014 fall primary is Aug. 12, which means the county would have to wait until the general election day, Nov. 4, to a vote on the referendum.

And the same problem will follow in the coming years, making November the only ballot for a referendum.

Doyle said he and Bucholtz have made "numerous phone calls" to the Department of Revenue to verify their understanding of this procedure.

But the problem is much bigger than funding Green County's nursing home needs.

The scheduling snafu can hold up county referendum timetables all across the state, according to Sue Disch, second vice-chair of the Green County Board of Supervisors and a member of the Pleasant View Nursing Home committee.

"Our hands are tied behind our backs," Disch said.

Green County is asking the state to fix the time element in the statutes to allow the county to use the most previous financial information available, which, in this case, would be from Aug. 15, 2013.

Doyle informed Rep. Howard Marklein, who represents the 80th Assembly District, about the problem late last year and asked him to take the lead in getting the wording adjusted in the state laws.

"If Marklein can get this straightened out for us counties, it would be great," Disch said.

Marklein has been working with the Legislative Reference Bureau and the Senate and Assembly chairs to change the wording, but he was unable to get the language fixed by Jan. 22, which would have allowed the county to have the referendum vote in April.

He is now working to get the changes approved by May 1, which would allow Green County to place its referendum on the August primary ballot.

Marklein first thought the rewording would be an easy fix, but this week he said it wasn't as easy as he expected - "it's more like a roller coaster.

"There's opposition in the Senate," he said.

He said he is working with both sides of the aisle to get his bill through hearings and committee action and to keep moving it along.

He is also counting heavily on his "good relations with leadership" to get his bill to the governor's desk for signing before May 1.