by Emmitt B. Feldner
for The Beacon
SHEBOYGAN – It’s still several months away from final approval, but county officials anticipate delivering a 2022 budget that will result in a 3.8 decrease in the property tax rate.
County Administrator Adam Payne reported on budget progress to the County Board Tuesday, saying, “It’s a challenging process, but thus far it’s going well.”
State imposed tax levy limits mean the county can only raise the property tax levy an amount equal to the net new construction in the county in the past year.
For the county, according to Payne, that would translate to a levy increase of 1.95 percent or $865,000.
But with increasing property tax values countywide, the property tax rate is projected to drop to $4.77 per $1,000 of assessed valuation from $4.96 in the 2021 budget.
“That would be the lowest the rate has been in years,” Payne stated.
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Public Health Officer Starrlene Grossman updated the board on the COVID-19 situation in the county.
“The numbers have been rising consistently over the past several weeks,” Grossman said of COVID cases in the county. “Things really slowed down in May and June but now we’re seeing that tick up.”
Countywide, 91 percent of all hospital beds and 92 percent of ICU beds are occupied, she said.
According to the federal Department of Health and Human Services, “Experts say maintaining existing standards of care for the sickest patients may be difficult or impossible at hospitals with more than 95 percent occupancy.”
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The shared revenue agreement for the county half-percent sales tax with local municipalities was approved by the board.
The action followed a positive report from Payne on the sales tax.
After collecting around $9 million a year for the first several years of the tax, Payne said the projection for this year is around $11.2 in sales tax revenue for the 2022 budget.
The sales tax revenues are earmarked for transportation projects and property tax relief, Payne pointed out.
The county shares a portion of the revenues with cities, towns and villages in the county for them to use on road projects.
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The board approved a conservation easement with the state Department of Natural Resources that clears the way for creation of the wetland mitigation bank at the Amsterdam Dunes Preservation Area.
“Amsterdam Dunes may be the most protected land on this earth,” Payne commented, noting the number of conservation easements the county has created on the 328-acre parcel on the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Payne said the latest easement is the next-to-last step in creating the wetland mitigation bank. The final step will be to provide a letter of credit to finance creation of the wetlands bank.
Under the plan, the county can sell credits to private or public entities needing to fill existing wetlands for expansion or other projects.
The county will generate those credits by creating new wetland areas within Amsterdam Dunes.
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County employees who worked through 2020 and are still employed with the county were awarded an appreciation gift. The resolution authorized $300 in Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce cash to each full-time employee and $150 for part-time employees.