As 2015 comes to an end,
and the current board heads into its final months, I feel it is important to
review the accomplishments of this Kewaunee County Board of Supervisors.
Keep in mind this board's term ends with the March 2016 meeting, and a
new board will be sworn in at the April 2016 meeting following the spring
You are fortunate to have
an active, engaged board, a board comprised of elected community members that
really care about the welfare of the county and its citizens. It is
encouraging to attend committee meetings where these board members are prepared
and engaged in the process, asking questions, and contributing overall to the
What are the greatest
challenges for our county?
- Ground and Surface water
- Budget shortfall caused by the
closure of the Dominion Nuclear Plant
- Restructuring of Highway
- Decisions on the County Landfill
- Restructuring of the Human
Following is more detail on
each of those challenges:
A lot has been written
about this over the past couple of years, but this issue continues to be an
important issue in our county. This board has been very responsive to
this issue and has made significant progress to include:
- Passing a county ordinance
changing winter spreading rules for all farmers.
- We've added additional staff to
Land and Water Conservation Department to allow them to better monitor and
review Nutrient Management Plans (NMPs) and to ensure adherence to NMPs
and compliance with our ordinances.
- The DNR is working with our county
in an unprecedented fashion. They have set up five committees to
work directly with our County residents and board members with a goal of
determining guidelines as to how to handle the overall ground and surface
water issue in the county. It is envisioned the guidelines developed
here can and would be applied elsewhere in the state.
- The DNR allocated $80,000 for
additional well testing in Kewaunee County. This will allow for 800
wells to be tested across the county (320 wells tested this fall with
another 500 being tested in the spring of 2016). This randomized
testing should provide us with results that are more conclusive than we
have ever had, and will also accurately pinpoint the sources of
- The County secured a $50,000 PSC
grant which provides the County the funds to explore the feasibility of
farmer cooperative on-farm hub and satellite manure treatment program. We
have just begun this process and I would like to point out, the County will
not be building any digesters in the county. The plan
would call for local farmers to build and operate these digesters.
- We formed a Groundwater Task Force
which has a goal of continuing to inform the county residents as to what
is happening in regard to the groundwater and surface water in Kewaunee
- In addition to the work we have
been doing with the DNR, we are also working in and unprecedented manner
with NRCS and DATCP in efforts of improving our groundwater and
Entering our second year
with reduced income from the closure of the Kewaunee Nuclear Plant presented
challenges with our budget for 2015, but thanks to Dominion contribution of
$143,000, we were able to balance our 2015 shortfall. Also, we were able
to have utility taxes reinstated for the following 3 years that overall will
contribute $855,000 to the County.
For the first time in 12
years, the Highway Department has ended its 2014 year in the black, and it
appears the same will hold true for 2015. The restructuring that was
completed over the past 18 months contributed to that positive result, but also
the day to day management of the department has taken on the challenge and all
the employees in that department are to be commended for those results.
Very difficult decisions
have been taken regarding the landfill. As you may recall, the Highway
and Landfill Committee has been working on this problem for the past two years
to find the right path for the county to take regarding landfill. The
reality of competition in all directions made our landfill a losing
proposition. The decision to close the landfill was taken. At the
current rate of fill, it will probably take close to two years to fill before
we actually officially close the site. Even then, we will more than
likely experience a substantial loss when we close the landfill.
Restructuring of Human
With the advent of
regionalized family services, our Human Services department underwent a
restructuring that involved laying off a number of employees and reassigning
responsibilities throughout the remaining employees. This was a painful
process as it required all department employees to be re-evaluated for the
remaining positions we had left in the county. The overall staff was
reduced by seven employees.
Legislative & State
This board has engage our
legislative representatives both with Assemblyman Kitchens and with Senator
Lasee and his staff. It was largely because of the interaction and
relationships with these legislators and other government officials in Madison
we were able to accomplish much of what we have done. Many of the board
members participated in the Legislative Days in Madison where we
carried the message to the legislators about our groundwater issues, the
utility tax extension and Kewaunee Harbor restoration.
· This board has been very responsible in managing the
financial affairs for the County. In spite of the revenue shortfalls
caused by the closure of the Dominion Kewaunee Nuclear Plant, we were able to
manage our budget without increasing the County taxes. Also, we have
continued to provide all the essential services without interruption. Not
only did we operate without increasing taxes, we found an additional $1,185,000
money from State and private resources that were invested in our county to
$855,000 extension of utility tax over next three years
Dominion financial assistance $143,000
grant - $80,000 2015/2016 Well Testing
$48,000k approval of moving funds from SEG funding to Bond Dollars
$50,000 funding for Manure Treatment Feasibility Study
Staffing Changes and
Over the past two years our staffing in the county
has been reduced by 34 employees, most of these were retirements in Highway
Department along with the reduction of staff in the Human Services area.
This was all done without impacting any of the services the county has
been providing. We hired a new Administrator, Scott Feldt.
We added a new position, Director of Finance, and hired Paul
Kunesh who is now generating monthly financial reports for each operating unit
in the County. For the first time, we now are able to not only track
where we are financially, but to manage those areas where we may be
experiencing any financial abnormalities.
· In 2016, we will be adding a new County
Tourism / Press Information Officer. We will begin the process of a
countywide initiative for tourism promotion while generating positive messaging
to improve and repair our County's image.
We modified the overall insurance package for our
County employees to bring them more in line with the general public. For
the protected employees, we just finished a union negotiation that will bring
them in line with the balance of the County employees both for insurance and
What we should be working
on for 2016 and beyond:
5 Year Financial Plan, we’ve made it through 2016 but looking forward, our revenues will continue to decrease and expenses will continue to increase.
full effort to improve ground and surface water quality
adequate County services to the public
to look for further efficiencies in the organization and other cooperative initiatives.
regard to the Kewaunee Harbor Project, do whatever we can at the county level
to ensure we land a developer for that site.
to provide business loans using State of Wisconsin funds through our revolving
documented improvements to water quality in an effort to repair our image.
for revenue shortfalls in 2017 and beyond
in the success of 2017 Farm Technology Days.
a solution to library charges from other counties.
with State Legislators for continued assistance at State level.
to ensure our government more accountable.
joint ventures and shared services with other municipalities both inside the
county and outside the county (example, County Sheriff Dept managing Algoma PD)
I am sure you noticed a sizeable reduction in your real estate taxes 2016. I wish we could take credit for that, but unfortunately that is directly associated with the $452,000,000 valuation placed on the Dominion Kewaunee Nuclear Plant. So, Dominion is, currently paying very high taxes. I say currently as Dominion is challenging this valuation in court. Currently the initial court date is scheduled for November 2016. Even if it were settled at the Circuit Court level, because of the late scheduling of this challenge, you will more than likely realize the same kind of reduction of taxes in 2016.
Now, what if Dominion prevails and the Court decides the valuation was not correct? Carlton Township would be required to refund money to Dominion and that would trigger events that would require the County to collect those monies from the taxpayers who received a reduction of real estate taxes.
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