The Kewaunee County Board will spend the month of October reviewing County Administrator Scott Feldt’s proposed 2018 budget of $24.5 million, a $2.6 million increase over 2017.
Feldt distributed his budget proposal to the County Board after its Sept. 19 meeting.
The budget would raise $11.8 million through the property tax levy, a $459,000 increase.
“It is important to remember that if the chargeback for the Kewaunee Power Station reassessment had not occurred, the total tax levy would have decreased – decreased – by $27,000 from last year,” Feldt said.
The town of Carlton and closed nuclear plant owner Dominion Resources ended up in court over the town’s $457.4 million 2015 assessment of the plant, which was raised to $469 million in 2016. They settled earlier this year on a figure of $15 million.
Because of Dominion’s huge property tax bill, the county tax rate plummeted. Not only does the rate now return to pre-2015 levels, but the settlement called for most affected taxing entities to pay Dominion back for its overpayments over a 10-year period.
The county’s portion of local property taxes amounted to $5.75 per $1,000 of equalized value last year; this year the proposed tax rate is $7.30 per $1,000.
Feldt said without the chargeback the rate would be lower, but it is still actually lower than the $7.59 charged in the budget year prior to the Dominion reassessment.
“While the expenditures have gone up, what we’ve been basically doing is reinvesting in what we need to do,” Feldt told the board.
Examples he cited included the upcoming county landfill closure, which will cost more than $1 million that will be largely paid from a closure account that the county has been building over the years. The budget also called for additional services and staff in the Human Services Department that will be reimbursed with state and federal dollars.
“I would be remiss if I did not thank all of the department heads who helped to put together this budget,” Feldt said. “They did an excellent job of keeping costs down. I also want to thank my finance director, Paul Kunesh; as I’ve said numerous times, that’s the best decision that the county has ever made is hiring this gentleman. And last but not least, to make sure that I did not go absolutely crazy I must thank Peggy Jeanquart, my assistant, who made sure that my schedule was kept up to date and that I was able to do everything that needed to be done.”
The county Finance Committee is scheduled to review the budget when it meets at 8 a.m. Oct. 13, and at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 17. The public has its chance to comment during a public hearing at 5 p.m. Oct. 17, prior to the County Board’s regular monthly meeting.
Two more Finance Committee sessions follow, at 8 a.m. Nov. 3 and 4 p.m. Nov. 7, before the board’s 5:30 p.m. annual meeting and budget adoption on Nov. 7.
All of those meetings are scheduled to be held in the County Administration Center, 810 Lincoln St., Kewaunee.