County's fiscal picture continues to be bright

SHEBOYGAN COUNTY GOVERNMENT GOT another passing grade for its fiscal performance – which is good news for county taxpayers as well.

The County Board received a report at their last meeting on the audit of the county by the Schenck accounting firm.

Bryan Grunewald of the accounting firm summarized the report by telling the supervisors, “You continue to be in great shape financially.”

The county’s reserves are strong and that means stable operations, he said – operations that are supported largely by taxpayer dollars.

That, in turn, is good news for those property taxpayers who foot that bill.

County officials have done a good job of providing the services that their constituents require and desire while keeping the cost of those services under control.

That’s a tribute not just to the county’s leadership – County Administrator Adam Payne; County Board supervisors; and the county’s department heads, supervisors and management – but even more to the men and women who serve in the many jobs needed to provide those services, from law enforcement to highway maintenance to nursing and health care and so much more.

Those employees are providing a continuing high level of service to their neighbors, friends and fellow county residents while seeing their numbers and the dollars provided for their service hold steady and/or decline.

Like many other units of government, the county must operate under spending and taxing limits imposed by high levels of government and balance that against ever-increasing demands for their services.

Compare the modest increases in county property tax levies and tax rates over the past decade or two to the increases in the cost of the everyday items we all need – food, automobiles, gasoline and other daily commodities – and the job performed by each and every county employee in service of their constituents is even more remarkable.

County officials have managed to accomplish all this while keeping borrowing at a manageable level – well below what they are allowed under state law – and maintaining healthy working capital for major county expenditure areas.

The county has taken many steps over the years to develop that excellent fiscal track record, such as consolidating departments and facilities. Their latest step, instituting a half-percent sales tax dedicated to highway maintenance and debt reduction and sharing a portion of that revenue with municipalities across the county for highway maintenance as well, has proven equally successful.

Sales tax revenues are exceeding budget projections so far this year, which means even more necessary road work can be funded.

All in all, the county’s excellent fiscal status and procedures are good news for all who live and work here.

As Payne commented following Grunewald’s report, “How many businesses, public or private, would be proud to receive an audit like that?”

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