Reedsburg approved writing off delinquent personal property taxes with accounts under $20 appearing to be noncollectable at the end of the fiscal year.
The item was unanimously approved by the common council Dec. 9. Prior to the council meeting, the finance committee unanimously approved to recommend the item to the council. Alderperson at Large Brandt Werner and First District Alderperson Craig Braunschweig were absent.
City Administrator Tim Becker said at the finance meeting the approval will change the city’s policy allowing staff to write off the amount rather than bring it to the council for further action.
City Clerk/Treasure and Finance Director Jacob Crosetto said the reason for the change is because costs to send out monthly notices and certify the mail exceeds the cost of the delinquent amount, which usually includes interest and fees if late. He said the accounts written off are typically for business closure because they can be added to the next year’s tax roll and there isn’t really a way to contact the business if it closes. Anything over $200 is sent to the city attorney to file a small claims lawsuit, Crosetto said.
The financial impact is minimal. In 2019, one account had under $20 and no accounts in 2018. Crosetto said the city has 31 personal property parcels total, with about ten taxed under $20.
If a taxpayer is late on paying property taxes, they are informed monthly along with any accrued penalties and interest. Personal property taxes are due to the city by Jan. 31 of each year and any late payments begin to accrue interest and fees by Feb. 1.
Crosetto said anything over $20 can be sent to the State Debt Collection or Tax Refund Intercept Program in September for collection. Both State Debt Collection or Tax Refund Intercept Program require accounts have a $20 minimum balance.
State statute describes personal property as “all goods, wares, merchandise, chattels, and effects, of any nature or description, having any real or marketable value, and not included in the term ‘real property.’” Crosetto said it can include machinery, furniture, tools, and equipment inside a business.
The common council approved adding the splash pad project to the city’s 2017 Comprehensive Outdoor Recreational Plan, a document listing the city’s plans for future projects and its costs.
Parks and Recreation Director Matt Scott said adding the project is a pre-requisite in applying for grants. He said the city will start applying for grants this spring and will re-submit the entire comprehensive outdoor recreation plan to the state to have on file for those requests.
The estimated $750,000 project is scheduled to start construction at Webb Park in 2021. Qualifying for a 50/50 cost grant could save about $350,000 to $400,000 in costs.
Other projects listed in the plan include clearing logjams and creating more accessibility to the Baraboo River, continue making improvements to Nishan Park and providing support facilities for 400 State Trail users.
Webb Fund request
The finance committee, held prior to the common council meeting, unanimously voted to deny a $2,500 request from the Reedsburg Area Community Choir for a Webb Fund money. The council did not vote on the item.
The reason the committee denied the request is so the city can build the Webb Fund to use for larger projects. In September, the finance committee changed its policy for the fund to have at least $200,000 in it before releasing additional money, which could take until 2022. Those who want to apply for Webb Fund money can appeal their request to the finance committee.
As of September, the Webb Fund has a total of under $69,000 for public and city projects, Crosetto said. The trust receives $50,000 per year in interest separated into biannual payments.
A representative from the Reedsburg Area Community Choir was not present at the meeting to speak on why they were requesting funds. The application lists the money would be used to purchase sheet music for choir members. Members of the finance committee suggested the choir could look into other city funding for specific projects such as room tax, community development authority or the arts committee.
The council unanimously approved an elections contingency plan, which lists procedures in different emergency scenarios, such as a natural disaster, active shooter, medical emergencies, loss of power and any threat that may be present on Election Day.
Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.
Get Election 2020 & Politics updates in your inbox!
Keep up on the latest in national and local politics as Election 2020 comes into focus.