Oconto County Board committee reviews 2020 budget plan this week

Finance and insurance panel to meet for 3 days
Warren Bluhm
Oconto County Times Herald News Editor

OCONTO — The Oconto County Board’s Finance and Insurance Committee has allocated three days this week to review the proposed 2020 county budget department by department.

County Administrative Coordinator Kevin Hamann told the board Thursday that the state’s report on new construction in the county shows that builders erected $54.9 million in new structures this year, an increase of 1.4%, and Oconto County’s equalized value was set at $3.92 billion, up 4.4%.

State-imposed revenue limits allow counties to raise property taxes based on the increase in equalized value and new construction, so Hamann said the county’s preliminary levy is $20,069,000, an increase of $430,000 or 2%.

“But because the equalized value was much higher than the net new construction, our tax rate will go down 11 cents (per $1,000 of equalized value), or by 2%,” Hamann said.

The committee will have work to do, as departmental budget requests to date are $700,000 over the maximum allowable tax levy. But Hamann said he’s accustomed to dealing with requests in the $1.5 million range.

“We’ll need to either cut expenses, raise taxes or use some of the fund balance, probably all three,” he said.

Requests for projects and purchases in the county’s capital improvement plan are $231,000 over the available funds, so the committee will need to eliminate, postpone or reduce some of those, Hamann added.

“I fully expect that you’re going to see that the 2020 budget is very similar to the 2019 budget,” he said.

The committee is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday through Friday, with about 5½ hours set aside for discussion each of the first two days and a little more than three hours Friday.

Wednesday’s agenda calls for review of the department budgets for the airport, medical examiner, emergency management, sheriff, courts system offices, veterans service, technology services and human services.

Under the microscope Thursday will be land and water resources, highway, commission on aging, youth fair, historical society, senior citizen center and county libraries.

On Friday, attention turns to the courthouse property and maintenance, the Oconto County Economic Development Corp., register of deeds, county treasurer, county clerk and elections, county board, administrative coordinator and negotiations, safety/risk management and finance. A review of the county’s contingency account, general fund, county sales tax, and capital improvement plan will be followed by a final review and approval of a final recommendation.

The committee-approved budget will be subject to a public hearing scheduled for Oct. 31, when the full County Board considers the final budget.