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Small Tax Increase in Village's Draft Budget

The first draft of the budget would increase taxes by less than 1 percent. Trustees will hash out the details over the course of several meetings.

The first draft of the 2013 village budget shows the owner of a $400,000 home would pay $12 more in municipal taxes this year.

Village Manager Patrick DeGrave unveiled the first draft of the 2013 budget at a Village Board meeting last week. It will not be finalized until trustees hash over the details in a series of meetings and approve a budget for publication by the end of October.

The budget presented to the board would increase the tax levy by 0.66 percent, bringing it from $10.5 million to $10.6 million. 

Total property tax revenue increased by $68,993 or 0.66 percent, but overall revenue and expenditures both decreased by 0.15 percent, resulting in a 0.48 percent increase in the municipal tax rate from $5.31 to $5.34.

Based on those tax rates, the owner of a $400,000 house would pay $2,136 in village taxes, a $12 increase over last year.

DeGrave said the proposed budget does not include any changes to staffing or programs.

"This has been a real difficult budget because there are a number of things we don't know today, and we may not have a handle on until after we work through the budget," Village Manager Patrick DeGrave said.

The uncertainty includes a recent court ruling striking down pieces of Act 10, which eliminates most of the collective bargaining powers of public employee unions.

The biggest budget piece left in the air is the Department of Public Works union, which has voted to recertify. DeGrave said the budget assumes Act 10 will be enforced in 2013, that the DPW contract will expire at the end of 2012 and that the workers will pay the full amount of their share of their retirement contribution.

Budget priorities

During the budget meetings, the trustees will be asked to weigh in on a a series of proposed purchases, including:

  • $56,500 for marked patrol cars,
  • $50,400 for police digital radios,
  • $75,000 for brine making street equipment,
  • $50,000 for a garbage truck,
  • $75,000 for a police records management system,
  • $35,900 for the installment of accounting software and
  • $63,800 to replace the server at Village Hall.

Other more expensive projects will be financed through borrowing and special assessments: $1.25 million for street, alley and sidewalk reconstruction, $2.4 million for water main on Lake Drive, $3.1 million for the sewer lateral, $1.8 million for storm sewer outfall to the Milwaukee River on Lancaster Avenue, and $4.8 million for a storm water retention basin in Cahill Park and storm water management measures at Estabrook Park.

New to this year's budget is a Facilities Management Department, which was developed for general upkeep and maintenance plan for village buildings.

The village did have to account for rising costs, such as an increase in its contribution to the North Shore Fire Department, an estimated $89,000 increase in its contribution to the Wisconsin Retirement System and a 5.2 percent increase in health insurance premiums.

'Right-sizing of utilities'

DeGrave said village staff has been undergoing a "right-sizing" of utilities that more accurately reflects staff time spent on those utilities. Of the village's five utility allocations, some went up and others went down.

The 2013 budget reflects the 38 percent increase in water rates, which was approved earlier this year. DeGrave is also recommending the Village Board implement a 3 percent increase in sewer rates effective Jan. 1, 2013.

New to this year's budget is a storm water utility that was created to pay for the cost of owning, maintaining an constructing the village's storm water management system. The utility is not expected to be fully operational until halfway through the year, so 50 percent of the costs will be financed by the general fund with the expectation that the utility will repay the general fund in the future.

Next Step

The Village Board will hold budget workshops at 6 p.m. Oct. 8 , Oct. 15 and Oct. 22. The number of budget meetings held may vary, depending how fast the work is completed. The budget will be publicly noticed in the newspaper on Oct. 31, and a public hearing will be held on Nov. 19.

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