County Board OKs $9,995,000 For Ambulance Station, Human Services Resource Center

At its monthly meeting on March 22, the Door County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a resolution authorizing the issuance of general obligation bonds or promissory notes not to exceed $9,995,000 for the cost of constructing and equipping a central ambulance station and human services resource center.

Several supervisors questioned the need for the resolution when the board has yet to fully authorize the building of the two separate entities at the old highway shop on 14th Avenue in Sturgeon Bay.

“I would like an explanation here,” said Supervisor Ken Fisher. “It looks like we’re on the hook to do this.”

“I would characterize this as the train leaving the station and the project will be built,” said Supervisor Don Sitte.

“This resolution only addresses the funding for the project,” said Corporation Counsel Grant Thomas. “It doesn’t say we’re actually going to go forward with the project.” He added that the resolution is simply a procedural requirement.

Fisher asked why the resolution didn’t just state those things, to which Thomas said the verbiage was drafted by bond experts and he would be reluctant to amend the language because he is not familiar enough with the state and federal regulations on issuing bonds or borrowing money.

“I don’t like it, but I will support it,” Fisher said.

Supervisor Richard Virlee, who chairs the Property Committee, pointed out that the board will have several other opportunities to consider the whole project, but to deny this resolution would send the whole thing back to square one.

Administrator Ken Pabich also offered a clarification, saying that the county will look at various options for funding the project and there will be other opportunities to deny the project if supervisors don’t think it’s right.

Asked by Supervisor Dave Lienau about the timing of bonding, Pabich said the first step is getting an architect on board. With an estimated time of five months for the Phase 1 design work, Phase 2 should take place in October with completion of design and a vote on taking it out to bid.

To pass, the resolution required 16 of the 18 members present to vote for it. It passed unanimously.

  • The board also voted unanimously to approve a recommendation from the county Museum Committee to use $40,000 from $500,000 that was set aside for the museum expansion project to hire a museum consultant to help develop a strategic plan to define the future direction of the museum. Pabich said the goal is to have a strategic plan in place for the museum by the end of the year.
  • Thanks to Wisconsin Act 149 passed by the Wisconsin Legislature in 2015, the Door County board had to revamp its concealed weapons code to allow the carrying of any kind of knife in the Door County Code. Act 149 prohibits any political subdivision from regulating weapons.
  • Another resolution passed allows the Door County Highway Commissioner to designate and post temporary speed limits without having to jump through a barrage of state hoops.
  • The board also approved switching its high-speed Ethernet service from Charter to Nsight, which will provide a 2G point-to-point Ethernet connection for a one-time fee of $1,500 and a monthly fee of $1,500. Charter’s monthly cost was the same for a slower service.
  • The board approved a resolution opposing the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s planned reorganization, which would consolidate Door County’s Extension service with Kewaunee and Manitowoc counties, and in the words of Agriculture/Extension Committee Chair Roy Englebert, “In essence, we’re getting fewer services and it’s costing the same.”

“We lean heavily on our extension people,” said Supervisor Susan Kohout. “They do a lot. They bring to us a lot of experience and I think it would be a tremendous loss.” She suggested municipalities in the county also register their disdain for the reorganization plan.

  • Supervisor Dave Lienau reported that due to the mild winter, a surplus of $123,098.55 was left over from the $539,999 that had been budgeted for snow removal.

The next county board meeting, which will be on April 19, two weeks after the April 5 election, will be an organizational meeting with new committee assignments for the new county board. Only two supervisors face a contested race – Board Chair Dan Austad is being challenged by B&B owner David Dixon-Hayes and Roy Englebert in District 3 (Forestville and Clay Banks) is being challenged by former supervisor Patrick Olson. The only other contested race will ensure a new face on the board – Supervisor Charles Brann is stepping down. Megan Lundahl and JoAnn Schley will face off for the District 11 (Sturgeon Bay) seat.

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