County budget promises to sit well with taxpayers

‘No frills’ spending plan calls for slight hike in levy but decrease in rate
Ozaukee Press staff

Calling it a “no-frills” budget, Ozaukee County Administrator Jason Dzwinel last week recommended a 2020 budget that would increase the property tax levy by $236,000 but see the tax rate on homeowners drop about 3%.

The property tax levy would go up from $21.2 million this year to $21.4 million. The increase matches the $236,000 debt payment on the county’s radio system upgrade that the Sheriff’s Department is currently undergoing.

The county tax rate per $1,000 of equalized value would drop from $1.77 to $1.70. That means the owner of a $250,000 house would see county taxes drop about $3.41. 

On the expense side, county employees would see a 3% wage increase. County budget makers also are currently assuming a 7.5% increase in employee health insurance, but those numbers have not been finalized, Dzwinel said.

Those two factors would mean a $401,000 budget increase in the Sheriff’s Office, Dzwinel said.

“Overall the department’s personnel expenses are about 83% of the tax levy that is used to support the department,” he said.  Those “costs drive that $401,000 up rather quickly. It’s the cost of providing public safety in Ozaukee County.”

The budget also would set aside $700,000 to fund future one-time capital improvement expenditures.

On the revenue side, the budget does not take into account the increased value of new construction, which this year totals about $298,000. The state allows counties to increase their spending by an amount equal to net new construction.

The sales tax revenue assumption is a “conservative” $8.9 million for the year, Dzwinel said. That is $200,000 lower than the Wisconsin Counties Association estimate for the county in 2020 of $9.1 million, Dzwinel said. 

Sales tax receipts this year are again being driven by the strong economy, officials said, and so far have totaled about $5 million through June, about $900,000 more than projected, Dzwinel said. The year’s final total won’t be known until February 2020.

Sales taxes generated $8.7 million in 2018 for the county, about half a million dollars above projections.

The Lasata Nursing Campus will again be self-supporting in 2020, Dzwinel said, with the  Care Center making a $50,000 payment to the county’s general fund, lowering property taxes.

Dzwinel’s department budget would increase $122,622, due partly to wage and benefit increases but also because the cost of the new transit superintendent position, which is overseeing the possible merger of the county’s transit operations with Washington County is being borne by the Administration Department alone. 

  Not in the budget but open for discussion are adding a mental health worker, costing $90,000, for the Sheriff’s Office and the Human Services Department and a marketing position, costing $100,000. 

One of the duties for that position would be supporting all county departments in developing grant funding, Dzwinel said. 

“There also would be a public information role and duties relating to improving the way we communicate with the public on digital platforms,” Dzwinel said.

Recent strategic planning discussions identified both as jobs worth exploring in the next few years, Dzwinel said.

The county Executive Committee will review Dzwinel’s recommended budget on Oct. 2 and 3 and make its recommendation to the County Board.



Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login