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Letter to the Editor | Washington County government putting quality of life up for sale | By Ken Miller


January 21, 2021 – Washington Co., WI – The proposed selling of Family Park a part of the Washington County Golf Course prompted me to think the County is selling or giving away our properties.

Let me explain.

The County is sort of like as business in that we have a County Exec, (CEO), President (Chairman of the Board) and Supervisors (Board of Directors). They collectively are trusted with our properties and tax dollars.

Some time ago, the county board defunded the Economic Development Corporation of Washington County. This organization was formed from the old economic development committee that was a part of the County structure. This organization provide low-cost loans to entrepreneurs just starting a business or business’ that were upgrading. The reason for the move was that the previous board did not think the county should be in the loan business and this would better serve the community.

This has been a boon to the County and all loans were or are being paid back and a number of new business came to Washington County because of the low-cost loans.  The present idea, after defunding the ECWC, the county Exec. offered to fund a water tower in Richfield.

Let us look at the park’s situation, The Board of Supervisors are in the process of selling Family Park in the Town of Hartford. The park and the golf course were built with large donations from private citizens and grants from the Federal government.

With no regard for the people that funded this Nationally-rated golf course and park, the intent is to sell it for development. Does this include the (kids) 3-hole practice course? In the past it has been suggested to sell the entire course, is this the start? Another park tale, some time ago the county deeded Ridge Run Park in the City of West Bend to the City, another divestiture.

Not only are they selling or giving away land, they recently gave a portion Highway G in the City to the City of West Bend.

The county board has now divested itself of the Old Court House, a jewel on the National Register of Historic places. The reason is it is too expensive to maintain. This building has been a landmark for over 100 years. It was remodeled and upgraded to accommodate handicapped and other improvements.

This was accomplished because the citizens of the County were generous and donated thousands of dollars for the refurbishing. This was a part of the heritage of the County and should have remained as a County property. Instead, the County has offered a $3 million matching fund to the Washington County Historical Society. I do want to give credit to the citizens that have again come forward and are donating thousands of dollars to the Society so the Society can maintain this outstanding edifice.

Again, the County has little regard for quality-of-life features.

As if this isn’t enough of the county divesting itself of valuable properties that promote a quality of life for the residents of the County, they are now wanting to restructure the successful Ag and Industrial Society. (AIS)

They have proposed a separate organization take over the promoting of the venue at Washington County Fair Park and Convention Center. To my way of thinking they would probably get a cut of the profits generated by the new promoters. The Washington County Fair Park is one of the finest in the State. It is a jewel built with generous donations from individuals and businesses for the people of the County and beyond. It has promoted national entertainment and has been very successful in spite of the county reducing its contribution to a meager sum.

What is the next step the county wants to take? The AIS and the County have a contract that allows the AIS to manage the facility and venues until 2026, yet the County has sent a new contract to the AIS Board. What is in the contract I do not know but I would think it has to do with the promotion and refinancing of the AIS.

As you can see, the County is not interested in the quality of life or providing for the citizens.

Much of the reason for selling or giving away land is because the County claims it is in financial trouble because of the levy limits. However where are they spending the almost $12 million in sales tax money collect each year.

We need to have better accountability from the County hierarchy.

Ken Miller

Village of Germantown


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