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Milton OKs 8% tax rate increase

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
November 30, 2011
— The Milton City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the city’s 2012 budget and tax levy, pushing forward a 4.7 percent tax levy increase and an overall tax rate hike of 8 percent.

As the council and city staff discussed the likely impact of the tax increase on city residents, one city official sought to clarify earlier media reports of the tax increase.


Prior to a public hearing on the budget Tuesday, Mayor Tom Chesmore voiced concern over the Gazette’s Tuesday, Nov. 29 report that the city faced an 8 percent tax rate increase. He said the report might have created “misconceptions” about where the cost of living is headed in Milton.


On Tuesday, City Administrator Jerry Schuetz reported that sinking property assessments coupled with projected fee decreases should soften the increase that the average homeowner will pay on their total tax bill.


With a projected decrease in city residential assessments this year of about 2 percent, a person living in an average-priced, $133,000 home would see a tax increase of about $56, or roughly 6 percent, on the city portion of their tax bill.


But with a projected freeze in storm water rates in the coming months, and a decrease in garbage collection fees, the average homeowner could see a “cost of living increase” of 3.4 percent—or an increase of $40 with city taxes and fees combined.


That increase comes even as city staff made $311,000 in budget cuts since March, the city reported.


About $107,000 of the cuts came through employee concessions to pay and benefits. The city’s departments also trimmed $135,000 in proposed spending.


The cuts come as an answer to a possible $420,000 budget gap and a possible 18 percent tax levy increase. Both emerged as the city grapples with state shared revenue losses and new debt—some linked to a new, $3 million public works facility which is still under construction.


Meanwhile, talks have yet to yield an agreement between the city and its department of public works union over a proposed change in the union’s health insurance carrier.


Schuetz said the public works union has asked to continue talks Tuesday, Dec. 6. He characterized two sets of talks this week and earlier this month as “positive.”


Other city employees agreed to change insurance carriers earlier this year under a plan that would save $60,000, according to city figures. Of those savings, about $20,000 is linked to the proposed union insurance change, Schuetz said.


The savings already have been factored into the budget.


2012 MILTON BUDGET

A look at the 2012 budget for the city of Milton.


Total budget


Next year $4.02 million


This year $4.06 million


Decrease 1.03 percent


Tax levy


Next year $2.47 million


This year $2.36 million


Increase 4.7 percent


Tax rate


(Per $1,000 of assessed valuation)


Next year $7.68


This year $7.11


Increase 8 percent


Note: Percent changes calculated on whole numbers.



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