Board discusses large 2014 capital projects list

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

SHEBOYGAN - A $1.6 million addition to the Health and Human Services Building was moved up to next year’s capital projects list by the County Board Tuesday.

That would push the total for large-ticket projects next year over $9 million, and that plus the fact that the project did not go through the same approval procedures as other projects on the list drew opposition from one supervisor, Devin LeMahieu.

“It’s more a procedural objection rather than an objection to the project,” LeMahieu said in explaining why he could not vote for the resolution.

“We’re going to go way over our self-imposed limit on (borrowing for) capital projects,” LeMahieu stated. “This is a very, very large capital projects (list). This (Human Services building project) should have been weighed with the other projects and prioritized.”

Supervisor George Marthenze defended the project as necessary for security, confidentiality and accessibility concerns at the building.

“If anyone has seen the old clinic building, it’s almost 100 years old and needs work,” Marthenze said of the North Eighth Street building in Sheboygan.

“Supervisor LeMahieu is correct that we’ve got to take these procedures through the normal course of action,” Supervisor Thomas Epping commented. “But I believe this probably would have passed if it had gone through the normal procedure.”

In his monthly report to the board, County Administrator Adam Payne reported that the county will be looking to add $8.8 million to the borrowing for capital projects in 2014.

That will cover the anticipated costs associated with a new county-wide radio system that is part of the combined city/county emergency dispatch system.

The radio system will not be replaced until 2015, Payne said, but the county will borrow the money in 2014 in hopes of gaining a more favorable interest rate.

That addition to the 2014 capital projects borrowing also played a part in LeMahieu’s vote against the Health and Human Services building project.

It also drew a comment from Epping. “I see a problem with things (capital projects) being overlooked. In combined dispatch, a lot of things were overlooked and it’s going to cost us a lot more than what we ever anticipated.”

He was referencing an admission by Payne that remodeling of additional space in the Law Enforcement Center will be needed to accommodate staff being displaced by the combined dispatch center to be built in that building.

Payne reported that the 2014 budget process is moving forward, but there is still work to be done before the document comes to the board in the fall for final adoption.

“We have trimming to do,” he said. “We’ve got some big decisions ahead of us.”

The goal is to bring in a budget with a property tax levy increase equal to the net new construction in the county last year, which would mean less than a one percent increase in the levy.

However, because total equalized values in the county declined again last year, by about 1.6 percent, Payne said, the result of the levy increase would be a 13 cent increase in the property tax rate, to $5.54 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

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