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Hancock County to ask Taxpayers for Nearly $8.2 Million in Upcoming Projects

Voters are being asked to pass a $4.6 million referendum for county shed, followed by public hearings on $3.565 million on other projects

Hancock County is proposing a tax increase on property owners. Hancock County is pushing to spend 8.165 million dollars in building a new maintenance shop (aka public works facilities), replacing the law enforcement center HVAC system, courthouse renovations, and a new 911 communications tower, a cost that is sure to affect all Hancock County taxpayers at a time of high inflation, covid-19/delta surges, shortages, and economic uncertainty. Hancock County’s Financial Consulting Firm Speer Financial Senior Vice President Maggie Burger spells it out.

Audio by Speer Financial’s Maggie Burger

The Hancock County Supervisors Jerry Tlach, Sis Greiman, and Chairman Gary Rayhons are only mentioning the $4.6 million referendum that taxpayers will vote on in the November 2nd election, so not to confuse everyone as to what’s to come after the vote.

Audio by Supervisors

 

The rest of the general obligation bonds can be decided by the Supervisors during public hearings in which they don’t need your vote to pass. Of the entire levy, Burger states that only the emergency services tower is essential.

Audio by Speer Financial’s Maggie Burger

 

All this is taking place while the financial headlines today are horrible…

The consumer price index shows inflation cresting at 5.3%, despite the Fed’s original prediction of just 1.8. Widespread labor and product shortages; Central Banks raising interest rates; Warnings of a 2008-level meltdown; Apple cut ‘iPhone 13’ production by 10 million; Toyota expects to make 150,000 fewer cars next month due to no parts; Energy prices are soaring, Higher natural gas prices are going to make it tough for people to heat their homes this winter, Oil just broke $85 per barrel, and the cost of filling up your gas tank is up more than 50% from this time last year; in fact, prices for almost everything – from groceries to car rentals to the toys you’re planning to put under the Christmas tree – are anywhere from 20-50% higher than a year ago.

Not to mention, residents of Britt are currently being assessed much higher costs of water due to the new water treatment facility. Prior to the increase, there was only usage rates of $11.26 per 1,000 gallons of water, but now there is a combination of usage rate increases along with implementation of flat fees for each household.  The service charge will increase to $21.26, and the usage rate will increase to $11.81 per 1,000 gallons of water.  Commercial properties have a different rate structure – the service charge will cap at $25.25 and the usage rate will be $12.62 per 1,000 gallons.  To put this into perspective, the water industry estimates that an average person uses 3,000 gallons of water monthly, so a family of 4 would use 12,000 gallons for bathing, cooking, washing, recreation and watering. For a family of 4 that would equate to a bill of $162.98 a month, which is more than double the national family average bill of $70.39, according to the EPA. Sewer rates are also expected to increase for a new waste water treatment plant, but those amounts have not been announced.

In March, Hancock County purchased 10 acres of land for $200,000 from Unicover in section 27 of Britt Township with the intention to build a new maintenance shop in years to come.  Hancock County Supervisor Jerry Tlach said there was no immediate plan to build, but it was to be looked at over the long term.

Audio by Supervisor Jerry Tlach

 

Since then the board has moved fast in hiring an architectural firm and financial consultant to put together a bond referendum for $4.6 million.  The actual projected cost of the maintenance facility is $5,210,000.  The estimated increase of the bond is $0.40 per $1,000 debt service levy on a 13 year repayment schedule, although it is preliminary and subject to change.

Hancock County has received just over $2 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, but there are stipulations related to Covid-19 on how that money can be spent.  The Hancock County Board of Supervisors are trying to find creative strategies to be able to utilize that money to cover a portion of the $8.165 million ticket items, however, there is no guarantee the money can be used on any of the items. According to Supervisor Rayhons, there’s wants and needs in all of this, but the essential items are the tower and HVAC system.

Audio by Supervisor Gary Rayhons

 

For a list of what the American Rescue Plan Act funds can be used for, click on “Recovery Fund Uses”.

Recovery Fund Uses

Hancock County maintains secondary roads maintenance facilities also in Woden, Crystal Lake, Miller, Garner, Klemme, Goodell, and Kanawha, and Purvis believes those are in need of similar replacement in the future.

Audio by County Engineer Jeremy Purvis

 

Public meet and greets will be held Tuesday, October 26th from 4 to 6pm at the current Britt Maintenance Building and Thursday, October 28th from 4 to 6pm at the Garner Maintenance Building.  There will be no official presentation, but a casual come and go question and answer period.

The Public Works Facilities Referendum on the November 2nd ballot for $4.6 million must have 60 percent of yes votes to be passed.

 

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