Payne reports on state of county

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

SHEBOYGAN – If it had been a weather report, it would have been sunny with fast-moving dark storm clouds on the horizon.

Sheboygan County Administrator Adam Payne gave his annual State of the County address to the County Board Tuesday.

While he continues to summarize the county’s state as “strong,” Payne repeated a fiscal warning he has been sounding for the past several years.

“If the state continues to dictate rigid one-size-fits-all property tax levy caps and doesn’t adequately fund state-mandated programs, Sheboygan County will not be able to sustain its present level of programs, services and staffing,” Payne stated.

Citing increased costs for the county, decreased state aid and zero or small increases in the tax levy cap, Payne warned, “something’s got to give.”

One area he cited is road repair and maintenance. Where the county should be maintaining 30 miles of road a year in order to keep up with expected road life, the county has only been able to budget for much less than that in recent years.

Payne warned that the county can not afford to continue to “kick that can down the road.

“We have been and we continue to be a leader in providing cost-effective local government, but we do have significant challenges ahead. We need to pay some attention to the revenue side of the equation,” Payne stated.

As he has in past state of the county addresses, Payne listed what he saw as county government’s top 10 accomplishments in 2015. Starting with number 10 and going to number 1, they included:

. Wellness initiatives for employees.

. Launching plans for a drug treatment court.

. Land purchase for transportation complex in the town of Plymouth.

. Completion of plastics engineering building at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan campus.

. Rocky Knoll receives five-star quality rating.

. Partnership with city of Sheboygan and Sheboygan Area School District to construct a fiber-optic network.

. Combined dispatch center and emergency radio upgrade project.

. Compensation study completed with new compensation program for employees approved.

. Continued strong fiscal track record.

. Purchase of Amsterdam Dunes preservation area and wetlands mitigation bank.

The board approved a parking ban on both sides of County O in the city and town of Sheboygan from Taylor Drive west to Range line Road.

Supervisor Jim Baumgart asked why the ban was being put in place, noting that he has traveled that section of the road and hasn’t seen a parking problem there.

Supervisor Mark Winkel replied that the issue arose following several large events at the Blind Horse restaurant which led to spillover parking along the county road, creating traffic and safety issues.

He added that Blind Horse has made arrangement with the United Auto Workers union to utilize parking at the Emil Massey Hall on the south side of County O for their major events.

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