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State of the County: Walworth County


June 25, 2024

State of the County: Walworth County

On June 18, 2024 Lakes Area REALTORS® CEO Denise Schultz and President-Elect Brian Labahn joined local business and community leaders for the annual State of the County event presented by the Walworth County Economic Development Alliance (WCEDA.)

Mark Luberda, Walworth County Administrator shared in depth information about the county’s $180M annual budget. He noted that over half the operating budget is directly related to the highly rated Sherriff Department, including new personnel in leadership and administrative positions. Independent reviews continuously rate this department very high, as well as the Public Works Department. Walworth County remains the only of 72 Wisconsin counties that remains debt-free. Luberda shared that “the County’s equalized value would technically allow us to have up to $1B in debt.” But we don’t.

“Housing (affordable) is one of the most significant issues facing the County, and our County Board has stated that they intend to stay engaged in addressing housing,” assured Luberda. The Administrator provided information about free public transportation and the rebranding and service provider contract for the Dial-A-Ride program. “Housing and transportation build quality of life.”

Following this presentation, Tom Walsh, Economist with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development spoke. Tom addressed the fact that with Walworth County unemployment at 2.9% (overall state of Wisconsin at 3%) there is “a shortage of workers, which is known as a tight labor market.” Workers requiring paid childcare are spending 1/3 of the median salary on this necessary expense. While 33,579 people live and work in Walworth County, 12,184 live outside of the county and work inside, and 19,991 live inside the county and work outside of it. Tom says this net difference of 7,797 is not significant but affordable housing is necessary to keep workers in any county.

In Walworth County 42% of those renting are paying more than the desired 30% of their income for housing, while 25% of those owning homes are exceeding 30%.

Derek D’Auria, Executive Director of WCEDA provided background of the Walworth County Housing Initiative. A key component of this initiative includes the hiring of Pam Carper, Housing Program Manager who is working with local non-for-profit and professional organizations such as ours, builders, developers, municipalities and coordinating communication between all necessary parties to attempt to find solutions. Stay tuned for more discussions with Pam Carper and others as we focus on housing in the Lakes Area.

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