County’s state continues to be strong and healthy

THE FIRST FEW MONTHS of the year are when chief executives at all levels of government deliver their “state of the” whatever address, and Sheboygan County is no different.

County Administrator Adam Payne made his annual “state of the county” address to the County Board last month and told supervisors the county’s state could be summarized as “strong.”

During his presentation, Payne presented his ‘Top Ten List’ – though without any David Letterman-esque touches – of county government’s achievements in 2013.

They ranged from internal process improvements - such as updating safety and policy manuals, equipping County Board supervisors with iPads in a paperless initiative, and $650,000 in energy savings realized through creation of a new energy team – to those with countywide impact – such as the completion of the Sheboygan River/harbor dredging project, completion of the Sheboygan Rail multi-use trail, an agreement on combined emergency dispatch with the city of Sheboygan, and the timely and effective management and containment of a tuberculosis outbreak in the city of Sheboygan.

Number one on Payne’s list of achievements was the county’s continued strong fiscal track record. That one has been number one on Payne’s list longer than any Beatles song was ever number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts – and with good reason.

Sheboygan County continues to compile an enviable record of fiscal management and responsibility that places it alone among the state’s 72 counties.

The measures of that accomplishment could nearly make another top 10 list.

Total county spending has been reduced by 13 percent over the last decade. The county has reduced payroll 19.25 percent and cut the property tax rate 11 percent since 2005, while increasing the property tax levy by only 8.1 percent (while total property value in the county increased 21 percent).

Had the county’s tax levy increased over the past eight years at the same rate as every other county in the state, county taxpayers would have paid almost $42 million in additional county property taxes over that period – that’s a good pile of money that stayed in the county’s general economy instead of in the county’s tax coffers.

A good indication of county government’s general robust health is the county’s Aa2 bond rating from Moody’s, which places Sheboygan County in the top 10 percent of counties not just in Wisconsin but nationwide – another impressive achievement.

Much of the credit for that rating goes to the fact that the county has only $41.2 million in outstanding debt, while it could borrow up to $415 million in state-mandated debt limits. That kind of pay-as-you-go approach speaks well for the quality and caliber of management throughout county government and the dedication and professionalism of all county employees.

All in all, it a strong state for the county – and cause for a “state of the county” picture that is accurately rosy.

At issue:
State of the county
Bottom line:
Continued fiscal excellence

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