Kewaunee board supports expanding marine sanctuary
The Kewaunee County Board finished the year with a flurry of resolutions at its Tuesday meeting, including a resolution in support of expanding the boundaries of a new Lake Michigan Marine Sanctuary to include Kewaunee County’s coastal areas.
The new Lake Michigan Marine Sanctuary was proposed earlier this year for coastal areas in Ozaukee, Sheboygan and Manitowoc counties to recognize the diverse ecosytems that support a large spawning populations of indigenous lake trout and serve as an important flyaway for migratory birds. The coastal areas also contain more than 15 shipwrecks listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The board is asking the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which will make a final decision on the Lake Michigan Marine Sanctuary, to include Kewaunee’s coastal areas, which feature two shipwrecks on the National Register, as well as 30 other documented shipwrecks off Kewaunee County’s shores.
“One area that NOAA uses to judge its nominations is the support of its communities,” said County Supervisor Lee Luft, who has led the effort to have Kewaunee County included in the sanctuary. He noted that both the Algoma and Kewaunee city councils approved unanimous resolutions supporting the effort. The Kewaunee County Historical Society and U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble also have announced their support.
The four counties constitute more than $400 million per year in visitor spending that supports more than 7,400 full-time equivalent jobs generating more than $675 million in total business sales, according to the resolution drafted by the county.
The County Board also approved a collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters Local 662, representing sheriff’s deputies, which will give union members a 3 percent wage increase in 2016, a 2.5 percent increase in 2017 and a 2.2 percent increase in 2018.
The union members agreed to increase their portion of health insurance payments to 15 percent of the premium cost by 2018, which will make their share equivalent to other county employees, said Jeff Wisnicky, corporate counsel, who helped negotiate the agreement.
The board also approved a resolution to the county’s shoreland zoning and sanitary fee schedule that doubles the septic maintenance fee placed on tax assessments from $5 to $10.
County Administrator Scott Feldt said that the fee increase was necessary to cover more of the staff time involved in septic system inspections. He said that the 10 to 20 percent of septic systems that have not been inspected by the county zoning administrator include those that may take the most remediation.
“The fee that will be charged still does not cover all the staff time involved,” said Feldt, noting that the increase was part of the 2016 budget proposal.
In another financial resolution, the board approved the transfer of $84,964 from the Debt Service Fund to the Capital Fund to cover cost overruns, primarily from the county fairgrounds improvement project.
Feldt noted that in future years all capital improvement projects would be listed with separate line items so that those projects that were over or under budget could be easily identified. He said that a radio project undertaken by the Sheriff’s Department had been under budget and helped lower the amount of funds to be transferred.
The board also approved $884 to match state funds allocated to the Parks and Recreation Department to upgrade the picnic facilities at Bruemmer Park and approved a $250 fee for the establishment of each guardianship by the county.
A resolution to take tax deeds from property owners due to delinquent property taxes was also approved by the board for parcels owned by the following: Kevin Berkovitz , Town of West Kewaunee; Dean and Shelly Karnopp, Town of Montpelier; Harbor Portfolio, City of Kewaunee; Lawrenz Trust (three parcels), City of Algoma; Thomas and Jessica Miller, Town of West Kewaunee; Thomas Miller, Town of Montpelier: Linda Wuenn, Town of Red River.
County Chairman Ron Heuer gave a presentation on the cost of library services to the county, noting that the county residents had borrowed 23,589 books and other items from the Brown County library in 2014, costing the county $54,970 or an average of $2.37 per item.
He said that charges are then allocated to each town based on equalized values, but that a better approach would be to allocate charges based on the percentage of use by each town.
He also reviewed the county’s accomplishments for 2015, highlighting improvements in ground and surface water initiatives and grants, county fiscal responsibility, managing the loss in revenues from the Kewaunee Power Station closing, reducing financial losses at the highway department and landfill, and restructuring the Human Services department.
He said that in 2016, the County Board would need to focus on ground and surface water issues, developing a five-year financial plan, maintaining services to the public, supporting the Kewaunee Harbor project, providing loans to small businesses, assisting in Farm Technology Days, revising library charges, working with the state legislature on wind turbine and other issues, making local government more accountable and exploring joint ventures with other municipalities.
Heuer thanked the County Board members for working together to address many issues in the county in 2015.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Kewaunee board supports expanding marine sanctuary