Brown County budget includes property tax cut, jail expansion, medical examiner facility

Published: Sep. 30, 2019 at 12:01 PM CDT
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Brown County's mill rate would hit a 30-year low under the executive's 2020 budget plan.

Executive Troy Streckenbach is proposing a 27-cent mill rate cut. A mill is equal to one dollar per one thousand dollars of property value.

Streckenbach's budget would reduce the mill rate from $4.45 to $4.18. Taxes on a home valued at $200,000 would drop $55.

The executive says the budget would reduce the county's debt by nearly $12 million.

“It contains the largest community investment ever made in a single year, and slashes debt by an unprecedented $11.9 million. In addition, it reduces our tax rate to levels not seen since the 1980s. These historic fiscal performances are due to the Debt Reduction, Infrastructure and Property Tax Relief Plan passed by the Brown County Board in 2017," reads a statement from Streckenbach.

The Debt Reduction, Infrastructure and Property Tax Relief Plan is another name for the half-percent sales tax Streckenbach's administration passed back in 2017 to fund a multitude of projects. kit's a 72 month sales tax that the county expected to generate $147 million to fund road and infrastructure improvements, a new expo hall, jail expansion, museum upgrades and a STEM Center.

Brown County is now two years into that 6-year, half-percent sales tax and community members are already seeing some of the projects come to fruition, like the new expo center near Lambeau Field. But according to Streckenbach, the county will see even more benefits from the sales tax in the upcoming 2020 budget.

The budget also includes construction of a 16,000-square foot regional medical examiner facility that would allow the medical examiner to perform autopsies in Brown County. Currently, autopsies are performed in Madison.

The executive is proposing a 28,000-square foot expansion at the Brown County Jail. The jail would be able to add 128 beds. The executive says this move would reduce the cost of overcrowding and sending inmates to other counties.

"The fact is that it's doing exactly what we said it was going to do. How often do you hear politicians and elected officials say what they were going to do and actually do it? We are doing it and in the end the taxpayers are benefiting from it," said Streckenbach.

That same half-percent sales tax that Streckenbach credits with this upcoming budget, is also the focus of a lawsuit in Brown County. The Brown County Taxpayers Association is suing the city, arguing the generated sales tax must be used to lower property taxes. Streckenbach responded to the lawsuit Monday by saying his plan is doing just that, with the proposed tax cut next year. The lawsuit is still playing out in court.

Streckenbach's proposal now heads to the entire Brown County Board of Supervisors for discussion on November 6.

for more information on the 2020 executive budget.