While Sauk County residents have plenty of manufacturing job opportunities, it's at a pay rate below the state and national level.
The Sauk County Development Corporation presented its final report from a regional labor study at the Reedsburg Common Council meeting Oct. 9.
The study was presented by Sauk County Development Corporation Executive Director Ed White.
"Reedsburg is probably one of the heaviest manufacturing communities we have in the county," White said. "That's where the biggest labor shortages are. Companies are doing well, they are expanding, but they can't find the workforce to expand."
Wages comparisons were below average in the Sauk County compared to the state and national average. For manufacturing jobs, the county average annual wage is $47,887 compared to the state average of $68,686 and national average of $63,000. However, White said wages could increase in the future.
“We’re seeing wage pressure up because of the labor shortage,” White said. “Wages are rising. I think that gap will close if we look at this in a year or two.”
In the city of Reedsburg, the study found peoples ages 30-54 make up 53.5 percent of the workforce compared to 51.6 for all of Sauk County.
Crop and animal production, manufacturing, accommodation and food service, and retail make up most of the employment industries within Sauk County.
Commuting patterns throughout the county were balanced with about 15,600 people who live and work in the Sauk County area.
“I’ve worked with five other counties and this is the first time I’ve seen this pattern,” White said.
For employers and employees, some of the positive perceptions of the Sauk County were the proximity to Madison, the natural beauty of the area and its proximity to Wisconsin Dells.
“It shows that money is important to our folks here, but so is living where we are living and having a good culture in your company — feeling that you are appreciated,” White said.
Some of the negative perceptions in the county wide study for employees and stakeholders include lack of housing and few retail stores in the area.
The city of Reedsburg has been proactive about building additional apartments in the city. Viking Drive Estates, a new 72 unit apartment complex, is being built on Viking Drive. In addition, Brian Duvalle, city planner and zoning administrator, said Walnut Flat Apartments, a 33 unit apartment complex on 201 South Walnut Street, will be built later this year.
Mayor David Estes said providing housing is important to keep people living and working in the city and the county.
“It all kind of works together if you don’t have the proper housing for them there’s no place for them to stay,” Estes said. “You’re going to have a hard time attracting and retaining employees at that rate.”
Council approves tax exemption
The council approved a resolution 7-0 to renew the county library tax exemption for Reedsburg residents for 2018. Alderpersons Brandt Werner and Jason Schulte were absent from the meeting.
Because the library meets the minimum of $186,393 in municipal support from the city's tax levy, the resolution is to make sure city residents don't pay more than necessary, said Sue Ann Kucher, library director for the Reedsburg Public Library.
"It's to make sure residents aren't paying both a municipal tax and a levy for the library in the municipality," Kucher said. "The city supports above that level that's mandated in order to not pay the county library tax.
Kucher said the library received $400,690 in support from the city’s tax levy for the library in 2017.
The council approved 7-0 to set a public hearing for Nov. 28 for the 2018 proposed program and financial plan.
Jacob H. Williams was sworn in as a member of the Reedsburg Police Department.