Milton tables budget, tax levy vote
Acting on a recommendation from City Administrator Jerry Schuetz, the council stalled on a vote in order to buy time so the city can wait for information it needs from the state before setting a new tax rate.
As reported in Tuesday’s Gazette, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue has not sent municipalities assessments on local manufacturing properties. The department has indicated it likely will not do so until later this week.
Manufacturing property assessments are added together with residential and commercial assessments—which are calculated locally—to determine municipal tax rates. Those rates, in turn, determine the amount residents will pay in taxes.
The delay from the state has made it impossible for the city to move forward. City Clerk Nancy Zastrow said Tuesday that a review of a city ordinance revealed the council can’t approve the tax levy without first including a proposed tax rate.
After a public hearing on the budget Tuesday, the council tabled the vote and scheduled another public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29.
City officials said that would provide time for city staff to calculate a proposed tax rate—assuming the department of revenue releases the assessments within two weeks.
Schuetz said the delay also allows the public to see the full impact of the proposed tax levy before the council votes on it.
“I think we owe the public every opportunity to do that,” Schuetz said.
Based on residential and commercial assessments alone, the city estimates a proposed 4.9 percent tax rate increase. That amounts to a bump of $35 for the tax bill on a $100,000 home.
Coupled with decreased costs of city services, residents can expect a 1.8 percent cost of living increase, according to city estimates.
The proposed budget reflects a levy increase of 4.7 percent, including $300,000 in cuts since March 2011—when city staff started budget planning.
About $107,000 of those cuts came from employee concessions to pay and benefits through Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill and a proposed employee health insurance change.
The city’s various departments also trimmed $125,000 in spending, according to city records.
During Tuesday’s budget hearing, Schuetz and Mayor Tom Chesmore commended staff for making cut after cut to trim a potential budget gap exceeding $400,000 in the face of potential state shared revenue cuts of more than $100,000.
“I equate it to asking a skeleton to go on a diet,” Schuetz said
Meanwhile, Schuetz told the council that talks continue between the city and its department of public works union about a proposed change in its health insurance carrier.
Other city employees agreed to change carriers earlier this year as part of a plan that would save the city $60,000.
City of Milton 2012 budget
Next year $4.02 million
This year $4.06 million
Next year $2.47 million
This year $2.36 million
(Per $1,000 of assessed valuation)
Next year n/a*
This year $7.11
Note: Percent changes calculated on whole numbers.
*Milton city staff reports it cannot calculate next year’s proposed tax rate because it has not received assessments on manufacturing properties from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.