Waupaca plans no tax rate hike
The city of Waupaca’s tax rate would remain level under the 2014 budget being proposed.
“Hopefully, we can convince other (taxing) authorities that they should be doing the same,” Mayor Brian Smith said during the Common Council’s Oct. 15 discussion about next year’s budget.
Under the budget proposal, the city’s tax rate would remain unchanged at $9.90 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
City Administrator Henry Veleker told the council this is the fourth budget in a row without a tax rate increase.
Total expenditures for 2014 are proposed at $7.3 million, with $5.25 million of that figure being the General Fund budget.
The proposed General Fund budget is up 2.4 percent over the current budget of $5.135 million.
A tax levy of $3.43 million is being proposed to support the budget. That levy is $90,000 higher than the city’s present levy of $3.34 million.
Veleker said the draft budget includes a 2 percent wage increase, a slight increase (0.3 percent) to the city retirement contribution, a full year of funding for all city positions and $20,000 for a job classification and salary/benefit analysis.
The proposed General Fund expenditure budget also includes a new county recycling fee of $14,500.
City officials said they are not sure that item will remain in the budget, as that discussion had not yet taken place at the county level.
In regard to the proposed job classification and salary/benefit analysis, Veleker noted the city’s current plan is more than 10 years old.
The proposed study would include evaluating both public and private sector jobs to determine position classification.
Waupaca’s budget proposal also includes taxing for $433,221 to cover the General Obligation debt in the city’s Tax Incremental Financing districts.
That amount is $313,000 less than the city thought it would have to tax for next year.
Initially, the city projected it would have to tax for $744,000, Veleker said.
In 2007 and 2008, the city’s TIF increased debt while the economy stalled. As a result, the city had to use the General Fund and utility reserves to cover that debt.
Increment is coming in, so the amount was able to be reduced, he said.
On the revenue side, the city continues to see a reduction in the amount of state aid it is receiving.
Veleker said since 2009, state aids to the city have been reduced by a total of $428,000.
In 2009, the city received $1.94 million in state aid. In 2014, the city is to receive $1.5 million.
He said in 2014, the city will see a reduction of about $60,000 in shared revenue payments. Of that figure, $50,000 is transportation aid reductions and $8,000 is Expenditure Restraint payments.
The General Fund revenue budget includes about $90,000 of new revenue due to tax base growth.
Veleker said much of that growth was due to the Fleet Farm project, which included an addition and remodeling, and the new Kwik Trip in the city’s downtown.
He said there was also a “little bit of a bump” from commercial, with residential assessments holding tight and down slightly.
Veleker noted the residential assessments were not down as much as they had been the previous few years.
The budget proposal for next year also includes $140,000 for land sales.
Ald. Scott Purchatzke said he was uncomfortable “plugging in land sales.”
The mayor said there were no land sales in 2013, and the original budget proposed for 2014 did not include land sales.
If there are no land sales in 2014, the city could use its reserves to balance the budget, he said.
It was noted the city has the reserves available to do so, with it being on the high end for what its fund balance policy is.
The 2014 city budget also includes Waupaca County being at 100 percent for its funding to Waupaca’s library.
Library Director Peg Burington told the council the county is charged for the rural patrons who do not have libraries in their own communities. The city’s library also receives library aid from Waushara County.
Last week’s budget discussion also included questions about capital.
“There is no capital in here. There is no road work going to be done in this budget. With this proposal, there is nothing,” said John Edlbeck, the city’s director of public works.
He said the $24,000 in the budget proposal is within operations.
“Point taken,” said the mayor. “We need to look at capital.”
Ald. Scott Purchatzke asked, “To John’s point, when do we discuss capital, or are we going to discuss capital?”
Smith said if the council decides it wants capital in next year’s budget, a decision would have to be made as to whether debt payments would begin in 2014 or in 2015.
“If we issue debt after April, we would not have to make a payment until 2015, although we may want to make a payment in 2014,” he said.
A public hearing on the city’s proposed 2014 budget is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15, in the council chambers at City Hall.
The hearing is open to the public, and the council could take action on the proposed budget when it meets that same evening.