County considers 2018 budget
Tax rate to rise by 7 cents
By Robert Cloud
Waupaca County plans to levy $27.2 million in taxes for its 2018 budget.
County Finance Director Heidi Dombrowski told the county board on Oct. 31 that the county’s total tax levy for 2018 will be $27.22 million, an increase from $25.72 million in 2017.
The county’s property tax rate will be $6.80 per $1,000 of equalized value, 7 cents higher than this year’s mill rate of $6.73.
Dombrowski said the county Department of Health and Human Services has made changes that will allow it to shift its revenues.
DHHS eliminated Waupaca County Industries last year, which provided work for the cognitively disabled. That service will now be provided by an outside agency.
Because DHHS will expand its Behavioral Health unit and offer additional support to the Family Services and Economic Support units, the second floor of the courthouse will be remodeled to accommodate extra staff.
The remodeling project is estimated to cost $178,000, which will be paid from the department’s fund balance.
Dombrowski said the project will have no impact on the tax levy.
The propposed 2018 budget also reflects a savings of $937,600 due to the closing of Lakeview Manor in March 2017.
However, the county is budgeting $86,000 to maintain the vacant building until it is sold.
The county also plans to spend $1.6 million for repairs to the courthouse exterior.
Ron Hansen, the courthouse maintenance supervisor, said a facilities study found serious issues with the building.
The brick masonry parapet near the top of the courthouse has failed, the caulking in the exterior brick walls is failing and the steel-plate structural members between each floor are rusting and in need of replacement, Hansen said.
Hansen showed photos of cracking mortar and brickwork starting to separate from the building.
The county will use $1.23 million from Lakeview Manor’s cash reserves to fund most of the $1.6 million in courthouse repairs.
The Waupaca County Courthouse was built in 1990 at a cost of $10 million.
In June 2018, the county board will likely vote on a proposed $27.86 million bond to finance construction of a new highway facility.
However, debt service payments on the bond will not begin until March 2019, if the board approves the bond.
The proposed 2018 county budget includes $958,000 for design, engineering and cost estimates, which will be paid from the highway operations fund.
Waupaca County’s debt service levy will drop from $6.1 million in 2017 to $5.46 million in 2018.
The capital improvements levy will rise by $3.1 million to a total of $3.9 million, while the operating levy will drop by $960,000 to $16.79 million.
Capital improvements for 2018 include $932,000 for emergency radio tower upgrades and $400,000 for a fiber optics line between Manawa and Symco.
The median value of a Waupaca County home is $137,300, Dombrowski said, the owner of which would pay $933.64 in county property taxes for 2018. That equates into a tax increase of $9.61 over 2017.
A public hearing on the county budget is slated for 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14, at the courthouse.