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Columbus officials looked at both short and long-term planning at the Dec. 4 City Council meeting at City Hall.

The City Council approved the 2019 operating budget and looked at three decades into the future with an update on the Roadmap 2050 initiative.

Kim Manley, finance director, presented a quick breakdown of the budget. While, overall, property taxes will see a slight increase, residents shouldn’t be shocked when they receive their tax bill.

“Overall, most people will see a very similar tax bill as last year,” Manley said. “For most of you, if your assessed valuations didn’t change on your homes, you will actually see a decrease (on tax bills). It’s not going to be hundreds of dollars, but it will be a little less than what you saw last year.”

Council members approved a tax levy of about $3.6 million for 2019. City Administrator Patrick Vander Sanden said city staff began preparing next year’s budget in June. Council President Andy Traxler said it’s a time-consuming process.

“It takes many months for staff and council to work on and I thank everyone for taking the time out of their busy lives to get this done,” Traxler said.

According to Vander Sanden, residents should begin receiving tax bills next week. Payment in full, or at minimum the first installment, is due by Jan. 31. Payments may be mailed or dropped off at City Hall, 105 N. Dickason Blvd. Payments can also be made at both Farmers & Merchants Union Bank locations in Columbus; online at cityofcolumbuswi.com or by phone at 1-866-917-7368.

For questions on the budget or tax payments, contact Manley at kmanley@columbuswi.us or 920-623-5900.

Crystal ball to 2050

Library President Cindy Fesemyer also presented an update on Roadmap 2050. Fesemyer, along with Matt Schreiber, director of planning and economic development, said the plan strives to make Columbus a vibrant, welcoming community several years and decades into the future.

The city formed a four-person Citizen Engagement Team last summer to gauge feedback from the community. In November, the city hired MSA Consultants to help plan the road map. MSA Project Manager Jason Valerius told the Committee of the Whole Dec. 4 that Columbus’ pre-planning should help them reach long-term goals.

“You’ve chosen some great members of the community to lead this process,” Valerius said. “Planning for 30 years in the future is a good timetable.”

Valerius said MSA will examine several aspects of Columbus, including facilities, programs, and fiscal processes, including bonding and Tax Incremental Financing districts.

“How does it all fit into the dreams you have for the city?” he said. “This is your jump start on the future.”

In the next few months, MSA will meet with the engagement team. The consultants plan to unveil their findings to the public in June of 2019.

Traxler said the process is really exciting and should benefit city residents.

Industrial wastewater treatment program

The city may consider stiffer corporate regulations for its wastewater treatment program.

Dave Arnett, from engineering firm Ruekert-Mielke, said there has been a small increase in industrial discharge from local manufacturing plants, including those in Fall River.

“You’re OK to this point, but if something were to go wrong, it could impact the treatment of your wastewater,” Arnett said.

Arnett said the city could conduct a study and set local limits on manufacturers based on study results. In addition, companies could obtain permits for certain levels of discharge.

Committee member Kassia Millar asked if setting limits on wastewater discharge would curtail industries from coming to Columbus.

“I really don’t see it that way, but that is something for you to keep in mind,” Arnett said.

Follow Kevin Damask on Twitter @kdamask or contact him at 608-963-7323.