After some discussion on the length of amortization, the Door County Board of Supervisors voted at its Jan. 24 meeting to issue $9,995,000 in general obligation bonds to pay for the third and final stage of the Central Ambulance Station and Human Services Resource Center project in Sturgeon Bay.
The amortization discussion involved whether to structure the repayment schedule for 15 or 19 years. The Property and Finance Committees had recommended the 19-year option, but Supervisor Jon Koch pointed out that the county could save $1 million in interest with the 15-year option.
County Administrator Ken Pabich explained that Ehlers, a public finance municipal adviser, looked at a variety of payback options for the county, and it was decided that the 15- and 19-year options were most viable for the county. After that, which one to choose was “a matter of philosophy,” Pabich said. Ultimately, he said, the 19-year option offered more flexibility for the county to bond for other projects in the future.
“It’s a matter of comfort,” Pabich added. “We recommend the 19-year option, but we could work with the 15-year.”
Supervisor Kathy Schultz, who chairs the Finance Committee, said the committee liked the 19-year option better because it had a smaller impact on individual property tax bills.
“One of our jobs is to manage the tax burden on taxpayers and this allows it to be a more smooth process,” said Susan Kohout, who also sits on the Finance Committee.
“It makes more sense, given the atmosphere we’re living under right now, to go to 19 years, and I would strongly urge that we hold to that,” said Finance Committee member Ken Fisher.
Supervisor Richard Virlee, who chairs the Property Committee, said he supported the 19-year option because it spreads the tax burden out. “People look at how much a tax bill is going up. Spreading it out over 19 years is a better deal,” he said.
“Personally, I have a problem with 19 years,” said Supervisor David Enigl, who made a motion to go with the 15-year option. His motion lost on a 14 to 6 vote, and the 19-year option was adopted.
The contract for the third and final phase of the ambulance and human resources center was awarded to IEI of De Pere, Wis., for $8,128,000, “which we felt was an excellent bid to do this project,” Property Committee Chair Virlee said.
In other matters:
- The board heard from the group that made the October visit to sister city Jingdezhen, China. The group included Bill Schuster, who retired as head of the county’s Soil and Water Conservation Department last July after 37 years. He used the opportunity to say he left the building quickly at his retirement and now wanted to thank all his former county colleagues. He and the others in the sister city delegation then talked about how this continuing relationship is beginning to show mutual benefits. County Board Chair Dave Lienau was a member of the delegation and he talked about how they were able to have a breakthrough meeting with university officials in Jingdezhen to work out an agreement for Chinese students to come to Door County to work and learn through the J1 Visa program. “They welcomed us with open arms,” he said. Up to 25 students from Jingdezhen will be here this summer. Lienau said as many as 15 students have already been placed with Door County businesses, and CCI Greenheart of Chicago will place the rest through March.
- Heard from Attorney Arthur Harrington of Godfrey & Kahn on the Environmental Protection Agency’s revised ozone standard. Harrington, who has worked with the county in the past on ozone issues, explained the history of the EPA’s ambient air standards for ozone, which went from 120 parts per billion in 1979, to 85 ppb in 1997, 75 ppb in 2008 and 70 ppb in 2015. Door County’s single ozone monitor is at Newport State Park, a location Harrington said is expected to give the highest ozone rating for the county. He showed a map of areas in Wisconsin with non-attainment rates and all were along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Harrington said that it is very likely that Door and other counties will be non-compliant with the new 70 ppb standard. What makes it frustrating, he said, is that the sources for that ozone are not from Door County, but from industrial areas to our south – Milwaukee and Chicago. Harrington pointed out that the EPA ozone standards is not an act of Congress, so the new administration may look at the standards for their impact on business. In lieu of changes from the Trump Administration, Harrington suggested the county should begin a dialogue with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the EPA to add a second monitor in the interior of the county. It was also suggested to add this issue to the list of issues that will be brought to Madison with the biennial Legislative Days that will take place this year on April 5-6.
- Approved the transfer of $20,868 from the contingency Expense Account to the Buildings & Grounds Repair & Maintenance account for repairs to exterior siding and walls of the north and south gables of the Door County Historical Museum.
- Appointed Laura Vlies Wotachek to fill the District 9 supervisory seat after the Nov. 30, 2016, death of Supervisor Richard Haines. The term ends April 17, 2018. She is the seventh woman serving on this 21-member county board. She will serve on the Airport & Parks Committee, Emergency Services Committee, Law Enforcement Committee and Human Services Board.
Recognized nearly 26 years of service from former Deputy Carl Waterstreet, who retired on Jan. 5 from the Door County Sheriff’s Dept. Carl was hired on Feb. 4, 1991, and started as a jailer/dispatcher. In 1992 he moved to patrol deputy, continuing in that position until his retirement. Prior to his hiring in Door County, Carl worked for the Algoma Police Department. He was also a firefighter for Algoma and Southern Door Fire Departments for many years. Carl is currently a supervisor for the Town of Gardner. During his time at the Sheriff’s Office, Carl was involved in the SWAT team, Crash Reconstruction Team, an Incident Command Operator, a Vehicle Maintenance Officer, Truck Inspector and Patrol Officer-in-Charge.