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Proposed 2022 Brown County budget includes 1.14% tax levy increase

By Heather Graves
Staff Writer

BROWN COUNTY – County Executive Troy Streckenbach introduced the proposed 2022 budget Friday, Oct. 1, with an emphasis on the tax rate.

“I’m excited for the taxpayers of Brown County to see the true savings in this budget,” Streckenbach said. “I originally ran on certain principles and those principles are still strong.”

He introduced his 2022 budget proposal to department heads and county supervisors at the Brown County STEM Innovation Center on the UW-Green Bay campus.

The proposed $366.5 million budget is an increase of $5.69 million, or 1.5%, from last year’s amount of $360.8 million.

The 2022 levy is proposed to jump about $1.05 million, or 1.14%, to $92.39 million, compared to last year’s approved levy of $91.33 million.

Though property owners overall would be paying more in taxes for county purposes, when factoring in an increase in property values countywide, the proposal has an equalized tax rate decrease of 26 cents per $1,000 – from $3.98 to $3.72, which Streckenbach said is the lowest since 1984 when it was $3.24.

That rate does not include taxes billed by schools or municipalities.

Figures from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue show the county’s total equalized value increased in 2021 by more than $2.071 billion, or 8.4%, to around $26.7 billion.

The budget proposal includes a decrease of the county’s debt by $10 million, which Streckenbach said further reduces the county’s historically low level of debt to $58 million.

He credits the continued decrease to the debt reduction, infrastructure and property tax relief plan he proposed and the County Board approved in 2017.

By the end of 2022, Streckenbach said the county will have paid off more than $90 million in debt since he took office.

“From a very high level, at least from my office it’s, ‘Hey, the plan is working,’” Streckenbach said.

He said the plan continues to move the county in the right direction.

Since the plan’s inception in 2018, Streckenbach said the county tax rate has fallen by 84 cents per $1,000.

“The strategy is working as planned,” he said. “The investment in the community is taking place. We are improving our infrastructure, our quality of life, investing in important community-led initiatives, all at the same time lowering our debt to record levels, lowering our tax rate to record levels and providing that tax relief that ultimately the plan called for. This is just another successful budget process.”

As in previous years, Streckenbach proposed improvements to county roads, bridges and facilities – with $10.2 million earmarked in the proposed budget toward roads and infrastructure.

He said the county also saw its net new construction grow by 1.9% and total equalized value increase to more than $26.7 billion – an increase of more than $8.4 billion since Streckenbach took office in 2012.

“The increase in net new construction means the county was able to capture approximately $1.5 million in new levy capacity, which was offset the most by reductions in debt service payments, leaving us roughly $1.06 million in new levy,” Streckenbach said.

He said other key budget highlights include:

• The addition of a housing navigator position, which Streckenbach described as a small step in addressing a much larger issue.

“We know that as individuals in our community that are experiencing homelessness, or on the verge of experiencing homelessness, oftentimes they need more resources to give them stability,” he said. “This kind of support, it is not the (catch-all) solution to homelessness, but it is one of the many factors that Brown County can plan that has been identified as an early tool or investment that the community can make and help to address homelessness in the county.”

• Body cameras: Streckenbach said by leveraging a contribution by the Green Bay Packers, the sheriff’s office will be able to have new body-worn cameras, squad cameras, interview room cameras and Tasers.

• The Year of Pals: The county’s goal is to enlist 100 mentors by the end of the year to address this program’s shortages.

• Emergency Food Response Plan: Extension Brown County will set aside $5,000 in its budget to team up with various community partners to complete an Emergency Food Response Plan.

“We figured out, at a local level, how to balance our budget, work within our means and continue to make appropriate investments to have a good community that attracts businesses and families to want to live here,” Strekenbach said.

However, he said it’s a team effort.

“It doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” he said. “It happens because we have a board of supervisors who, for the most part, agree. The board agrees with what we are doing. It clearly shows we can work together, and we are getting things done.”

He said he is hopeful the budget will be well-received by supervisors.

Streckenbach’s budget proposal will be discussed at committee meetings throughout October.

The County Board will hold its annual budget meeting at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 27 at the Resch Expo.

Residents interested in attending must do so in person. The meeting is not live-streamed.

Streckenbach’s full budget proposal may be viewed online.

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