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Debt as a Percentage of Total Expenses

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The Door County Budget Project calculates debt payments for all municipalities – also known as debt service – in relation to a municipality’s largest fund, the general fund. We took it a step further by using the raw data to calculate how much each municipality spends annually on debt payments as a percentage of total expenses. Although the percentages don’t lend a judgment call about whether it’s good, bad or indifferent to carry that debt – a Wisconsin municipality’s annual debt limit is equal to 5% of its equalized value (see below) – the data does offer a comparative perspective. 

Start a conversation: Does your municipality differ considerably from the norm among all Door County municipalities, and if so, why? What budgetary practices or policies inform your city’s, village’s or town’s debt loads? Use questions such as these to guide your inquiry about the workings of your specific community. 

Debt Limit per Municipality

The maximum debt load that a municipality can take on is 5% of its equalized value. As of September 2021, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue had recorded the following debt maximums.

Towns

Baileys Harbor: $29 million

Brussels: $4.8 million

Clay Banks: $3.5 million

Egg Harbor: $33.6 million

Forestville: $4.9 million

Gardner: $14.3 million

Gibraltar: $45.2 million

Jacksonport: $16.3 million

Liberty Grove: $51.2 million

Nasewaupee: $23.9 million

Sevastopol: $44.2 million

Sturgeon Bay: $11.3 million

Union: $8.5 million

Washington: $16.3 million

Villages

Egg Harbor: $20.7 million

Ephraim: $21.1 million

Forestville: $1.3 million

Sister Bay: $25.5 million

City

Sturgeon Bay: $51.4 million

County

Door: $427.8 million