Broadband expansion part of proposed Kewaunee County budget
KEWAUNEE – While the total tax levy would rise slightly, the tax rate and total expenditures would decrease under the proposed 2019 Kewaunee County budget, presented by Administrator Scott Feldt at Tuesday night's County Board meeting.
Additionally, plans to expand broadband internet access throughout the county would move ahead, thanks to a $1 million investment which Feldt said will not come from the tax rolls.
The proposed budget has expenditures of $23,735,181, a drop of $832,390 (3.39 percent) from 2018. The tax rate would be $7.25 per $1,000 of assessed property value, a 0.68-percent decrease from $7.30, meaning property owners would pay $5 less on a $100,000 property than they did last year.
The tax levy would be $12,090,120, a $226,180 (1.91 percent) increase from $24,567,571. The increase, despite the drop in the tax rate, is a result of the county's equalized value increasing by 2.52 percent, according to the budget document released at the meeting.
Feldt said Wednesday that he feels "very good about the 2019 budget." He noted that health insurance costs for county employees will rise 3.2 percent, and the county added less than the full-time equivalent of one employee (0.93) to its roster.
"What we've been able to do is be very cost-conscious, operate very lean and efficiently," said Feldt. "If there are extra dollars, we save it for those opportunities where we can make an investment."
Feldt said the broadband expansion investment is one of the major points of his budget. The $1 million comes via the county's Economic Development Fund, from payments started last year by Dominion Energy of $500,000 a year for 10 years as a result of an agreement between Dominion and the Town of Carlton in the wake of the energy company shutting down the Kewaunee Power Station.
"We took the first two years (of payments) and deposited them into our Economic Development Fund," said Feldt. "The great thing is, we're able to invest that $1 million and not a single taxpayer dollar is being used."
The broadband expansion will make the county more attractive to all, Feldt said.
"To me, it's a huge deal to attract and retain folks in Kewaunee County, as well as businesses," said Feldt. "It helps those in rural areas, businesses in rural areas, students in rural areas."
While a smaller item in the budget, Feldt said a proposed $40,000 investment in the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corp., up from $18,000 in 2018, also is noteworthy.
"We're recommitting to it, as well as challenging existing businesses in the county to commit to the KCEDC," said Feldt. "The more businesses we have in Kewaunee County, the more people we have paying into the pot, so everyone pays a little bit less. And, economic development helps everyone."
Next, the county department committees will go over their sections of the budget and recommend changes to the Finance Committee, which meets at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 9 to discuss, accept or reject the changes. The public hearing for the budget takes place during the County Board meeting at 6 p.m. that day. The budget is scheduled to be finalized and adopted at the board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 5.
A copy of the budget is being posted at the county website, kewauneeco.org.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Broadband expansion part of proposed Kewaunee County budget