Door County unanimously approved its 2023 budget after a budget hearing on Tuesday.
Tax revenue collected from homeowners will fund $30,691,035 of the $108,936,666 budget. The property tax rate is 2.4% higher than the 2022 tax rate, the maximum allowed by the state cap that uses net new construction as a baseline (county net new construction grew 1.511%).
The mill rate used to determine individual property taxes is lower for 2023, at 3,105 versus 3,564 this year. This 12.87% drop in the tax rate was due to an unprecedented 17.52% increase in the County Equalized Value – the value of all real estate and personal property in Door County – which grew from $8,556,994,600 to $10,079,363,600.
“If you have a home that hasn’t changed in value, you will experience a reduction in the county tax share,” said Ken Pabich, Door County Administrator.
For a home valued at $200,000, for example, the county’s share of a tax bill would decrease by $91.80, from $712.80 this year to $621 in 2023.
General expenses increased by $27,315,882 from 2022. Of that total, general fund expenses are increasing by 0.10%, from $27,986,098 to $35,312,359. Nearly $2 million of that comes from pay increases (3%) and health insurance increases (10%) for all employees, as well as additional positions previously approved by supervisors from Emergency Medical Services, Sheriff’s Office, Health and Human Services and the Parks Department.
Capital projects designated for 2023 amount to $22,772,742 – an increase of $15,148,753 from 2022. These include a rural address sign replacement project ($1.2 million), improvements at the airport ($7.9 million), facility and park improvements ($7,275,758) and road works ($4,339,850) .
“Typically, we try to do 17-18 miles a year,” said Pabich. “We will do 19.84 miles in 2023.”
The property tax funds $30,691,035 of the budget. Investment income, state and federal aid, and county service charges make up the remaining $78,245,631 in revenue to fund the budget.
The county’s sales tax – 0.5% levied on certain goods and services – has also become a significant source of county revenue, rising by record amounts over the past two years. In 2021, the county raised $5,633,974 – up from $4,434,050 in 2020.
“It really helps us balance our budget,” said Pabich.
As of September of this year, the county has received $4,243,082 in sales tax revenue, according to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.
Pabich said the county is in a strong financial position, but added that a recession could cause equalized values to fall, as they did after the Great Recession of 2007-09.
“When [equalized] values go up, the tax rate drops and, in a recession, the opposite happens”, he said.
The county council had been working on the budget since September, and little discussion on Tuesday preceded its unanimous approval. Supervisor Vinni Chomeau tried to fund the rural street address sign program differently – paying the entire $1.2 million cost with unassigned fund balance instead of paying $200,000 of the total with American Rescue Plan Act dollars – but that amendment failed on September 11, with the absence of county council chairman Dave Lienau.
No citizens commented on the budget during the public hearing.