SHEBOYGAN COUNTY – For the first time in 20 years, Sheboygan County has a new County Administrator. Alayne Krause has been on the job just over a month, and the Sun recently interviewed the county’s chief administrative officer about her background, current issues facing the county, and its future going forward.
Krause was officially sworn in as Sheboygan County Administrator on Tuesday, Feb. 21. She took over the role from Adam Payne, who accepted an appointment from Gov. Tony Evers to serve as Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources beginning in January. Payne had been County Administrator for the last 20 years.
Prior to her new position as County Administrator, Krause most recently served as Deputy Administrator under Payne. Krause was chosen over a multitude of qualified candidates, both external and internal, and is poised to both continue the county’s recent successes and help shape its future.
Here is what the new Sheboygan County Administrator had to say:
1) What sparked your interest in local government?
I worked for the Highway Department for one summer while completing my undergraduate degree. I enjoyed that experience, and when there was another opportunity in the Treasurer/Real Property Listing Department after I graduated, I was pleased to be able to re-join the organization and have worked at the County ever since. Working in local government is a natural fit because it aligns with the values that were instilled in me from a young age. It is important to me to give back to the community and help others.
2) What did you learn from working with previous Administrator Adam Payne?
I worked with the former Administrator for nearly seven years. During that time, I learned a lot from my predecessor but perhaps the most valuable was the importance of relationships and working together. The County has a culture of collaboration, both internally and working together with our external partners. This attribute is a key to our success and results in better outcomes for the community.
3) What is your top priority as the new Sheboygan County Administrator?
My top priorities are continuing the strong track record the County has established, and identifying any opportunities for improvement. Neither of these can be accomplished without talented and dedicated employees, so recruitment and retention are directly correlated.
4) What is the biggest issue facing Sheboygan County?
Sheboygan County has a strong financial track record, healthy reserves, an excellent bond rating, and continues to provide high-quality services. However, fiscal challenges have and will continue to be the biggest issue facing Sheboygan County. Wisconsin has the nation’s most restrictive property tax levy limits. In addition, the County has many unfunded, and underfunded, state-mandated service obligations. This, combined with decreases in shared revenue from the state, present significant financial strain for all counties. In other words, every year we are asked to do more with less money. We are also grappling with workforce shortages and inflation like every other business. Despite these hurdles, Sheboygan County continues to look for opportunities and innovative ways to carry out its mission of providing courteous, responsive, efficient and effective services to those we serve.
5) What are three key projects you are working on in 2023?
There are a number of exciting projects and pilot programs occurring in 2023. Notably, we are investing millions of dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act and National Opioid Settlements to address widespread needs including affordable housing, broadband, childcare, mental health, transportation, and workforce development. We are also planning for software upgrades in emergency dispatch, dam reconstruction at the Sheboygan Marsh, and many road improvements on our county highway system.
6) County property taxes have decreased again this year. How is the county able to keep taxes low?
The tax rate for 2023 decreased by 8.28%, or 40 cents, from 2022. This was the seventh consecutive year the property tax rate has gone down, and is the lowest our property tax rate has been since 1985. We are able to keep the tax rate low by consolidating and streamlining operations, pursuing alternative revenue sources, and responsibly managing our budget as fiscal stewards.
7) How do you see Sheboygan County’s growth in the next five years?
I see Sheboygan County continuing to prosper in the next five years. We are fortunate to have robust local companies that continue to invest in the community, a strong non-profit sector, and a multitude of educational opportunities. I anticipate workforce shortages will continue for the foreseeable future; however, I am optimistic that we will overcome this challenge and continue to be a great place to live, work and play.
8) What makes Sheboygan County special in your opinion?
There are so many things that make Sheboygan County special. One of my favorite aspects are the natural recreational amenities. From Lake Michigan to the Kettle Moraine State Forest and everything in between, there is something for everyone to enjoy. We have beautiful parks, trails, and inland lakes that can be enjoyed year-round.
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