County board unanimously approves 2021 budget
By Heather Graves
BROWN COUNTY – For the first time in more than three decades, all 26 county supervisors unanimously approved the county budget, something county executive Troy Streckenbach credits to his team’s plan to lower taxes, while still providing county residents with necessary services.
“Despite Brown County’s struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic, this budget plan features lower property tax rates, reduction of outstanding debt and continued investment in our infrastructure, which has been a longstanding priority of my administration,” Streckenbach said. “It is a well-devised plan giving taxpayers what they want while still getting things done.”
With a tax levy of $91.26 million, the tax rate will decrease by 20 cents in 2021, from $4.18 to $3.98.
This means taxpayers will see a decrease of $30.47 on a home valued at $150,000. Homeowners of a $200,000 home will see a drop of $40.62.
This is the lowest rate taxpayers have seen in four decades.
Increases in property values may affect what the final tax bill looks like.
The budget also sees a continued decrease in county debt, with a decrease of $13.8 million in 2021.
Streckenbach said by the end of 2021, the county will have decreased its debt by more than $64 million, saving taxpayers millions in interest payments.
Streckenbach said he wasn’t surprised the budget generated strong support from supervisors partly because it includes many things the county board wanted to address.
One of those includes the addition of a second mental health clinician to assist local law enforcement in crisis events, which Streckenbach said is a strong community investment.
“The first position added last year proved to be a great success,” he said. “We’re building on that success. Adding a second clinician will further assist responders, as well as the individual, in order to create better outcomes. Investment in mental health services saves society a lot of costs, and connects individuals with the services they need.”
Streckenbach said initial projections show a cost savings of around $30,000.
Other key budget highlights include:
• A $21,000 upgrade to the 911 dispatch center interface, which allows home and business alarms to send information directly to dispatchers, which in turn helps lower response times.
• $13 million dedicated to upgrading roads, bridges and other infrastructure, including the State Highway 29-Brown County VV interchange project and engineering and design costs for connecting roads to the Interstate 41 southern bridge corridor project.
• The competition of the one-stop crisis center, the new jail pod and the new medical examiner’s office – all expected to be completed in spring 2021.
Supervisors adopted the budget at their meeting Oct. 28 at the Resch Center.
Board members were given the option to participate virtually in an attempt to ensure that all supervisors had the opportunity to attend the budget meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Supervisors Lindsay Dorff, Joan Brusky, Kathy Lefebvre and Cassandra Erickson chose to attend virtually.
The meeting was not streamed online for the public. Residents were allowed to attend in person at the Resch Center.