Walworth County Board approves park, budget
ELKHORN—Walworth County will have a new park for its residents and visitors.
The Walworth County Board approved the purchase of 190.5 acres off Sheridan Springs Road on Tuesday night.
The county will pay $1.91 million for White River Park and then be reimbursed by a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources grant for half, or $955,000.
Voting against the acquisition of the land were board members Carl Redenius and Richard Brandl.
Developing the land for hunting, trails and other recreational activities could cost more than expected, Redenius said. Redenius also claims the county is paying twice what the land is worth.
Nancy Russell said she was happy with the board’s approval.
“This is by far the best piece of property we could find in the city and is well worth the money,” Russell said.
She said this is the first park the county has purchased in ten years and hopes to have it open by the summer 2014.
The board also unanimously approved the 2014 county budget of about $138 million.
It is the second budget to pass with a tax levy that does not exceed the amount allocated the previous year. The 2014 tax levy is $2,003 less than 2013.
At the October preliminary hearing the county board proposed a budget with a tax levy $80,000 less than in 2013. After further inspection of the preliminary budget the county board realized it needed to account for a $278,516 increase in workers compensation premiums. The tax levy will be used to pay $78,516 of that increase.
The tax rate increase of 3.37 percent from $4.56 per $1,000 of assessed value to $4.72 per $1,000 is due to a decrease in the county’s property value, said Nicki Andersen, deputy county administrator.
The budget allows the county to hire five full-time employees for various departments.
As in previous years, the majority of the county’s expenses and the majority of the tax levy will go toward the sheriff’s office and Health and Human Services.