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Portage council approves budget with 1.5% tax increase
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Portage council approves budget with 1.5% tax increase

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Shawn Murphy

Murphy

With no substantive discussion, members of the Portage Common Council approved the 2020 budget 7-0 on Nov. 26 resulting in an increase of 1.53% in property taxes.

City Administrator Shawn Murphy and Finance Director Jean Mohr provided a presentation to council members. Allan Radant and Martin Havlovic were absent.

Murphy said members didn’t have any new concerns and that no discussion took place because most of the decisions for the preliminary budget draft are made during the council’s Finance Committee meetings.

“Just the annual challenges of meeting levy limit restrictions,” Murphy said, referencing the tax cap the state places on municipalities. It is based on new construction. Portage had 1.78% net new construction in 2019, up from 0.75% in 2018.

Mohr said the preliminary budget recommended by Finance Committee members was approved by the full council without changes. Taxes will increase for homeowners from $8.80 per $1,000 of home value to $8.93 per $1,000. This means that for the owner of a $100,000 house, their city portion of property taxes will be $893 in 2020.

Overall, most assessed values within the city increased, with the exception of personal property like commercial items such as processing equipment and inventory not defined as realty, like land or buildings. Murphy said the state government “has been kind of chipping away” at municipalities’ ability to tax personal property.

Assessed valuation overall went up 3.85%, with a 13% increase in manufacturing values.

The total levy for 2020 is $5.99 million, up more than 5% from 2019. Debt taken on by the city increased by more than 12% for 2020 projections to more than $1.14 million. Expenses for the public library increased by nearly 11% from about $469,000 in 2019 to more than $520,000. The general fund, which is the principal operating fund for the city, increased by more than 3% between 2019 and 2020, from $4.19 million to $4.32 million.

The general fund includes general government administration, police services, municipal court, fire protection, municipal services, parks and recreation and cable television.

Personnel expenses make up 67% of budget expenditures, Murphy noted. The next highest cost is purchasing services, which makes up 10%. The largest portion of revenue is taxes at 58%, with intergovernmental revenues at 32% for the second-highest contributor.

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