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Fond du Lac County Executive Allen Buechel, middle, gives the 2022 budget report to the County Board. Behind Buechel are Fond du Lac County Board Chairman Martin Farrell and Fond du Lac County Clerk Lisa Freiberg.

Question:

What should Ripon residents know about the 2022 Fond du Lac County budget?

Answer:

The Fond du Lac County Board heard from County Executive Allen Buechel last week Tuesday regarding the 2022 county budget

The county’s proposed overall tax levy is $49.4 million, which is an increase of about $1.8 million from 2021’s $47.6 million tax levy.

“Part of this increase is a $200,000 levy transfer from the transfer of the Ripon dispatch center to Fond du Lac County,” Buechel said. “We were also allowed to take $200,000 of their levy and add it to our levy.”

Meanwhile, the proposed tax rate for the 2022 budget dropped from $5.81 to $5.72.

During his presentation, Buechel proposed a 1% increase in wages for county workers, spending $3 million to replace its financial software and giving the county highway department a proposed budget of $18.45 million.

At the same time, however, he noted that Wisconsin municipalities are under a state-imposed property tax freeze that caps revenue as costs to the county “continue to rise in most areas.”

As a result, the county executive said this budget was difficult to prepare without cutting services due to cost increases.

“My frustration has been that the state legislators have eagerly taken credit for controlling property taxes, but it is the counties that must do the difficult work of making our budgets balanced in spite of inadequate revenues,” Buechel said.

Aside from state funding, Fond du Lac County also must determine how to use $20 million it will receive from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) by 2024.

Buechel said ARPA dollars can be used for the “last mile” of broadband connection into homes after Bug Tussel Wireless’ current project establishes the “middle mile.”

“What we want to do is get providers to compete with each other to apply for using our funds to help to get these projects done because we want everyone to have broadband,” he said. “There’ll be a lot of discussion in the next couple of months over that as well. We will be working with the county board for you to provide input on how we might use these ARPA funds.”

In addition, Fond du Lac County will split roughly $1 million in county sales tax revenue between its 33 municipalities next year, Buechel noted.

This December, he said the county will make its final development incentive payments to Alliance Laundry Systems and Mercury Marine for their respective expansion projects, increasing sales tax funds available in the 2022 budget.

“The finance committee is finalizing the formula and you can expect a resolution within the next couple of meetings to actually decide whether it’s going to be a million or something less,” the county executive said. “Right now, we’re at a million and that is what is in the budget.”

He added that the formula takes into account the population size and equalized property of Fond du Lac County’s cities, towns and villages.

What this means for you:

“The budget that I’m presenting to you provides adequate funding for the county to continue the same level of service in the area of public safety, human services and conservation while improving the county road system,” Buechel said, describing the highway department’s $18 million budget as “a very significant investment” in the county’s transportation system.

How to submit:

If you have a question, we want to give you an answer. Send a question, name and contact information to:

Mail: 303 Watson St., Ripon WI 54971, P.O. Box 262, Ripon WI 54971

Email: news@riponpress.com

Written By

Joe Schulz served as the reporter of the Green Laker in 2019 and 2020, before being hired as a reporter for the Commonwealth in October 2020. He is from Oshkosh and graduated from UW-Oshkosh in December 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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