Rocky Knoll campus upgrades key county budget component

by Emmitt B. Feldner
for The Beacon

SHEBOYGAN – The proposed 2022 county budget escaped both a public hearing and County Board review unscathed Tuesday Oct. 26.

The full board will take final action on the $167 million budget at their next meeting Tuesday, Nov. 2.

There were no speakers at the public hearing on the budget and supervisors made no changes to any department budgets during their review of the document.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment pulling together the annual budget,” County Administrator Adam Payne said in presenting the document.

The budget calls for a nearly $52 million property tax levy and a property tax rate of $4.77 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.

The 4 percent decrease in the tax rate marks the sixth straight year that the tax rate has declined, Payne noted.

That comes despite a 1.14 percent increase in the total tax levy. Over the last decade, Payne added, the annual increase in the levy has averaged 1.1 percent.

“That’s holding the line on property taxes,” Payne summarized.

The administrator listed a number of what he termed “key components” in the proposed budget.

Chief among those is $1.9 million worth of upgrades on the Rocky Knoll campus in the town of Plymouth.

“We’re looking at enhancing the building,” Payne said, in an effort to improve the quality of life for residents.

“We’re also looking at enhancing benefits for the staff,” he added.

Rocky Knoll, like other nursing homes in the county, is suffering from a staffing shortage that has forced a reduction in the census from the normal number around 115 to 95 at present.

Payne said the county will utilize money from the American Rescue Plan Act to recruit and retain new staff at Rocky Knoll.

Among other highlights in the budget cited by Payne were:

· Enhanced child welfare and behavioral health services.

· Expanding the alternatives to incarceration unit and repair and equipment replacement at the jail and detention center.

· Additional judicial assistants for circuit court judges.

· Moving economic support offices to the Aging and Disability Resource Center building in Sheboygan Falls.

· Replacement of the more than 30-year-old county asphalt plant.

· Exterior restoration of the Taylor House on the Sheboygan County Museum grounds.

· Enhancements at the Sheboygan County Marsh Park and the Amsterdam Dunes Preservation Area.

Payne said the county was able to finance those projects while still maintaining “core services that people need and value the most.”

He attributed that to what he termed a spirit of collaboration throughout county government.

“That’s our culture. We work together, we’re respectful of each other, we listen to each other,” Payne concluded.

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