Baileys Harbor Starts Paying Broadband Contractor

Taxpayers won’t see impact on tax bills until winter 2026 

The Town of Baileys Harbor is awaiting a May approval by the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) for a two-year loan to pay for the fiber being installed townwide.

To finance the project, which is well underway, and to pay the contractors, the board voted 4-0 in late March to seek $5.25 million from the Trust Funds of the State of Wisconsin. BCPL did not get the Baileys Harbor loan onto its agenda for April, but the request received internal approval to be placed on an upcoming agenda, town clerk Haley Adams said.

Town treasurer Dave Smith said the town will receive a $1.89-million grant from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) – announced in 2022 – that it can use to reduce the $5.25 million. He also said the town will not need to make a payment to the trust fund until next year, on March 15, 2025.

Smith said the town was required to expend funds on the project before it could send in a formal request for the PSC funds.

Bertram Communications, owner of Door County Broadband, has billed the town $3.1 million. The board agreed to pay Bertram’s subcontractors $1.5 million right away and the remaining $1.6 million after receiving the PSC funds.

Treasurer Doesn’t Foresee Tax Impact Until 2026

Smith said two years from now, or sooner, the town will issue notes to pay off interest (anticipated at $285,000) from the state trust loan and then take out 10-year notes to replace the two-year loan. Smith said he anticipates slightly lower interest rates by then. Smith said the town will owe 6% interest on the loan from the trust after receiving those funds in April, while currently collecting about 5.5% on savings. 

Smith said property taxpayers should not feel an impact from the new debt on their 2025 tax bill (mailed in December 2024), as they’ll only be paying the interest on the trust fund loan. 

“I think that our debt service for ’25 will be very similar to ’24,” Smith said.

The tax levy on the 10-year notes is expected to increase on the 2026 and 2027 tax bills, he said.