Property taxes up by $631,000
By Robert Cloud
The Waupaca County Board has approved a $25.2 million tax levy.
The 2016 levy is up by nearly $632,000 over 2015, an increase of 2.57 percent.
Property owners will see their county mill rate rise from $6.62 per $1,000 in equalized property value to $6.78, which means an additional $16 in county taxes on a $100,000 home.
The county board voted 20-5 in favor of the budget, with Supervisors Dennis Kussmann, Jack Penney, Pat Craig, Carl Kietzmann and Fred Zaug voting against the budget.
During the budget hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 10, Deb Fenske spoke against using $937,000 in tax levy dollars to help fund the $3.93 million budget of the county’s nursing home, Lakeview Manor.
“I feel this is outrageous and an insult to every taxpayer in Waupaca County,” Fenske said.
She said the county could avoid a tax increase if it deducted $500,000 from county taxes used for the nursing home and pulled that same amount from Lakeview Manor’s $1.4 million enterprise fund.
County Finance Director Heidi Dombrowski said drawing money from the enterprise fund could not be a long-term solution to funding Lakeview Manor. She also said it could “put downward pressure on the county’s credit rating.”
“There will still be $800,000 in their account,” said Supervisor Joyce Boyer. She moved to amend the 2016 budget and cut $500,000 for Lakeview Manor out of the tax levy.
Supervisors voted 14-11 against the amendment.
Voting for the amendment were Supervisors Dennis Kussmann, Darrell Handrich, Lee Much, Joyce Boyer, Mary Kay Poehlman, Joe McClone, Bob Ellis, Bill Jonely, Carl Kietzmann, Donna Gabert and Fred Zaug.
Voting against the amendment were Supervisors DuWayne Federwitz, Dick Koeppen, Richard Rohan, Terence Murphy, Donald Aasen, Donald Peterson, Gene Sorensen, Jack Penney, Dave Johnson, Pat Craig, Bob Flease, David Neumann, Wayne Wilfuer and Gary Barrington.
Poehlman then made a motion to cut in half the $500,000 that had been set aside in the budget for future road projects.
“We need to get our roads up to par,” Federwitz said, noting the $500,000 would help the county reduce its future borrowing.
“You have to make highways safe,” McClone said. “I don’t want to be a regressive county.”
Poehlman’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 20-5, with Boyer, Poehlman, Penney, Craig and Kietzmann voting for the amendment.
Poehlmen then made an amendment to add $200,000 to the budget for courthouse security. She said it would be a one-time capital expenditure for making the building more secure.
County Chairman Dick Koeppen noted there was no specific plan for courthouse security and no budget for implementing a plan.
“It’s essential that we get something done,” Terence Murphy said. “We keep putting it off.”
Poehlman’s amendment to take $200,000 from the unassigned fund balance and add it to the operating budget for courthouse security passed by a vote of 17-8.
Voting against the amendment were Federwitz, Penney, Johnson, Craig, Jonely, Kietzmann, Aasen and Flease.