Oconto County Board passes 2018 budget

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Property tax rate will be down slightly
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The Oconto County Board on Thursday passed a $39.7 million county budget for 2018, a spending increase of 0.4 percent over this year.

The budget will be funded in part by a county property tax levy of $18.27 million, a library tax levy of $525,789 and a county bridge aid levy of $102,804. The mill rate for county purposes is $5.297 per $1,000 of equalized value, down from $5.37 in 2017.

The meeting began with a public hearing, but no one from the public asked to speak.

The budget resolution was amended to accommodate an additional $102,591 in state transportation aid than was originally expected for the highway department. The funds were applied to the snow and ice removal account. At the regular County Board meeting Oct. 19, highway department head Pat Scanlan said his oversight committee would like the board to consider an assistant patrol superintendent position that previously was denied during budget deliberations.

“The committee would like for you to acknowledge and allow us to take that back to personnel and wages for consideration,” Scanlan said. “It would not impact the final dollar number on the budget as it currently stands.”

The votes were unanimous for both the budget resolution and adoption of the county’s Capital Improvement Plan for the next five years.

Capital project purchases to be funded by the county sales tax for 2018 amount to $794,000, including $180,000 for squad car replacements, $170,000 for computer equipment, $29,000 for forestry and parks land purchases, $30,000 for vehicle leases, $250,000 for new financial software, $75,000 for architectural services for re-use of courthouse space and $60,000 for sheriff and emergency management radio upgrades.

Another $700,000 in equipment replacement is funded by retained highway department earnings.

Supervisors were not as agreeable to a proposal to increase their own per diem reimbursement, although that measure also passed.

Under existing rules, the only members to draw a salary are the County Board chairman ($7,200) and vice chairman ($500). They, along with the rest of the board, are paid a per diem of $60 for a committee meeting and $75 for the full board’s regular monthly meeting.

The resolution to raise the county board meeting fee to $125, and keep the other numbers the same, passed by a vote of 22-8, with Supervisors Karl Ballestad, Judy Buhrandt, Richard Nelson, Robert Reinhart, Gregory Sekela, Rose Stellmacher, Al Stranz and Ryan Wendt opposing.