Tax Rate Cut on the Line in County Budget

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

SHEBOYGAN – Construction of the new county highway complex is behind schedule, but construction of a 2018 budget with a tax rate decrease is on schedule.

That was County Administrator Adam Payne’s report to the County Board at their meeting Aug. 15.

“At this point we’re poised for success,” Payne said of the budget writing process.

The tentative budget calls for a $48,519,503 property tax levy, an increase of 1.38 percent from the current budget.

However, that increase is less than the increase in total property values in the county thanks to new construction this year, so the property tax rate should decline by about 3.6 percent, according to Payne.

The proposed budget has a tax rate of $5.45 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, down from the $5.65 rate this year.

Payne also gave an update on the half-percent county sales tax, which went into effect at the beginning of the year.

“We’re on pace to hit our budget amount,” he said of the sales tax revenues thus far.

Through the end of July, the county has taken in $3.6 million through the sales tax. The county had budgeted $6.75 million in sales tax revenue for the year.

“A lot of work is being done as a result of that,” Payne said of the sales tax revenue.

The sales tax money has been designated strictly for road work and the Highway Department, including $1.5 million that will be shared with cities, towns and villages in the county.

With its share of the revenue, the county pledged to pave at least 30 miles of county roads a year in order to keep pace with needed maintenance.

“We are on pace with over 20 miles paved already,” Payne told the supervisors. He added that having cash available for that work has also helped the county reduce borrowing and debt service costs.

As for the $25 million transportation complex under construction in the town of Plymouth at the intersection of State 67 and County J, Payne said the unusually wet weather so far this summer has slowed progress somewhat.

“They’re about four weeks delayed in part because of dealing with something they don’t have control over,” said Payne. He shared photos of the water construction crews have been dealing with in pouring concrete floors and finishing roofs at the complex.

He was quick to add, though, that, “We continue to be under budget and looking good.”

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