Kewaunee County Board Chairman Robert Weidner and Finance Committee Chairman Lee Luft have released public statements in advance of Tuesday’s review and public hearing on the 2018 county budget.
Both statements were posted on the county website, www.kewauneeco.org, and address some of the concerns they have heard about the details of the 329-page budget document that was released at the County Board’s September meeting.
The public hearing is the first item on the agenda for the board’s meeting, which is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the county Administration Center, 810 Lincoln St., Kewaunee. The final version of the budget is scheduled to be passed Nov. 7.
Five elected county department heads sent letters to the board expressing concern especially about the Personnel Committee’s recommendation that County Administrator Scott Feldt receive a significant raise as part of the budget.
“The proposed budget contains wage increases that follow an established step program that has been previously approved by the board,” Weidner begins. “Some positions were awarded an additional increase based on a number of factors. Some of these additional increases were considered and justified by labor market conditions whereby the county attempts to retain employees who are being recruited by other government agencies or the private sector. Other positions were supplemented in recognition of years of service, expertise and contributions to reducing expenditures and/or enhancing county revenue.”
Luft’s letter is a four-page explanation of a variety of concerns he said he has heard in emails, phone calls and on Facebook.
The $24.5 million buget proposal represents a 12 percent increase in spending for the new year, but Luft noted that more than half of the proposed spending is funded by state and federal agencies or special funds – such as the approximate $1 million cost of closing the county landfill, paid from a “savings account” the county has been building for years for that purpose.
The property tax levy is increasing by just 4 percent, despite the dramatic decrease in the assessment for the closed Kewaunee Power Station nuclear plant.
In his introduction to the budget document, Feldt said the proposed $11.8 million tax levy actually would actually have decreased by $27,000 without the need to pay back nuclear plant owner Dominion for the amount it was overcharged for two years.