County executive’s budget has 5 percent hike in levy; seeks to spur broadband and economic development

The budget presented by County Executive Jim Kreuser this week calls for a 5 percent increase in the tax levy over the previous year.

The total tax levy is $58.09 million.

Kreuser kicked off the budget apporoval process this week when he presented his proposal to the County Board.

A highlight of the proposed budget that could impact Western Kenosha County is work to extend the infrastructure for broadband, high speed Internet service to areas that do not currently have such access readily.

From a press release from Kreuser’s office:

County Executive Jim Kreuser

In each of the next two years, Kenosha County would complete Ring C and D of the dark fiber ring project to reduce future costs and provide redundancy for the county’s public safety communication system. The cost of the project is about $900,000 in 2011 and 2012.

There are two additional benefits to the project: It will strengthen Mobile Data Communication for law enforcement and protective services; and, lay the infrastructure for private Internet providers to offer high speed, broadband services in areas of the county where it is currently not available.

Kreuser said these added benefits will make Kenosha County more attractive to new employers by creating more high speed business opportunities anywhere in the county. It is also an advantage for school children and college students who will be able to access high speed, broadband Internet services from their homes. The service could be available in late 2011 or early 2012, he said.

“It also narrows the potential of an achievement gap across all ages,” Kreuser said.

The County would not be the Internet provider, but would encourage private enterprises to link with the service, he said.

The release notes Kreuser will also propose providing a one-time, $1 million contribution to the Kenosha Area Business Alliance to create a high-impact, deal-closer economic development program:

I am proposing that Kenosha County take an aggressive approach to attracting more businesses to Kenosha County,” Kreuser said. “This would give Kenosha County a distinct edge when a large firm needs that extra push to come here to bring good, family-supporting jobs through such high-impact economic development.”

Kreuser said he will look to the County Board to put in place the framework to establish this program with KABA. “If something can’t be worked out, the Board could decide instead to put the money toward debt reduction over the next several years,” he said.

Much of the infrastructure and road improvements proposed in the budget are east of the I focused. Work proposed for the Courthouse and Administration building in downtown Kenosha will  mean putting a hold on restoring to Brighton Dale Golf Course irrigation system, Kreuser said


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