Reedsburg residents could see a decrease in their tax bills next year.
While it doesn’t offset the over 6% increase due to a budget error in the 2019 budget, residents could pay 1.27% less in taxes than last year. Residents could expect to pay $10.69 per $1,000 of assessed value if the council approves the final budget next month. The value of $100,000 house will pay $1,069 in taxes, a $14 decrease from last year.
Last year, the council approved a no tax increase of $10.19. However, then-City Administrator Stephen Compton did the calculations for the levy based on equalized property value instead of assessed value. The error resulted in the mill rate jumping to $10.83.
City Administrator Tim Becker said the 2020 budget will increase 7% to $6.7 million and the city qualifies for expenditure restraint by $91 because of an increase in equalized value.
The finance committee unanimously approved the budget at a special meeting Oct. 16 for the council to further review and possibly adopt. Committee members Craig Braunschweig and Brant Werner were absent.
The council’s budget review is set for 7 p.m. Nov. 11. Because the budget has been approved by the finance committee, the second meeting scheduled for Oct. 29 is not necessary, Becker said.
Becker said the proposed budget accounts for a 1.5% increase in salaries for city employees and a $72,185 salary for a full-time firefighter. The city eliminated $350,000 from the Capital Improvement Plan for the proposed splash pad the city is looking to build as a means to reduce the tax levy.
Everything else in the capital improvement plan remained the same, including money set aside for plans to expand the police department and construct a new public works building.
Finance Committee Member Phil Peterson, who sits as chairman for the parks committee and on council, said the city budgeted for the estimated $750,000 project in 2020 as a placeholder and is still looking into fundraising and grant opportunities for the project’s estimated construction date in 2021.
Becker said the “best time” to take on a big expense, like the splash pad, was in 2021 because TID 3, 5 and 7 will expire, so the city will have more ability to fund the project.
The city is also proposing additional funds for the cost of the full time school resource officer it shares with the school district and provide more competitive wages for park employees to hire additional help in the summer.
Becker said piecing together 2020 budget wasn’t easy because of the challenges with the 2019 budget. According to Becker, some of the accounts didn’t make sense, revenue predictions were significantly off, and the city removed the internal revenue service fund because it “wasn’t working the way we wanted to work.”
The misalignment meant the city had to fix and correctly identify some of the accounts, mainly in public works, but it doesn’t mean the city is cutting services or projects.
The city is also conducting a reevaluation of property since the city’s assessed value and equalized value has a greater than 10% difference, a rule required by the state. Becker said the reevaluation means the city is making sure the evaluations are right around the current market value of a house, not affecting the tax rate.
Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.
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