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Wisconsin Dells common council adopts $5.7 million budget
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Wisconsin Dells common council adopts $5.7 million budget

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Wisconsin Dells’ city budget and tax levy will increase slightly for the 2021 fiscal year.

The common council approved to adopt its $5.7 million budget unanimously at its Nov. 17 meeting. The budget will increase 1.51% from last year. The tax levy will slightly increase at 1.2%, or $41,094, for a total levy of $3.4 million. When the 2020 budget was adopted, it was passed at $5.6 million with a tax levy at about $3.4 million. Mayor Ed Wojnicz and Alderperson Mike Freel attended the meeting remotely.

The mill rate per $1,000 of assessed value will be $9.75 for Dells’ residents in Sauk County, $10.32 for Columbia County residents, $8.86 for Adams County and $10.05 for Juneau County. Last year, the city approved a mill rate of $9.63 for Sauk, $10.08 for Columbia County, $10.37 for Adams County and $11.22 for Juneau County.

Finance Director and Administrative Coordinator Karen Terry said the city was allowed a 1.6% increase to meet the expenditure restraint program. The debt levy also decreased from the prior year, she said.

Dells' finance committee recommends $5.7 million budget to council, tax levy could increase

Wojnicz acknowledged the city departments for their work in putting the budget together, especially with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think we knew going into the budget the shortfall that we were going to have with PRT funds by the pandemic and the slowdown and the downturn in the economy,” he said. “I think we came through it fairly well and I appreciate the department heads who brought in realistic budgets knowing full well we just don’t know how we are going to recover from this.”

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“I think it’s a budget our residents can be very comfortable with.”

The city is budgeting a conservative $1.6 million in revenue for premier resort tax funds due to anticipated impact of COVID-19 next year. To make up for the estimated shortage of funds, $100,000 will be transferred from the public works PRT fund to the general PRT fund and paid back at a later time.

For the EMS budget, the city will defer its capital outlay to purchase an ambulance and hold off on the city’s contribution for the purchase until possibly 2022 to reduce the financial impact of the budget. The move will cause a 7.19% increase in the EMS budget, with about $560,000 of total budgeted city dollars up from slightly over $520,000 in 2020, according to budget documents. It’s less than the 15.5%, or a total of over $601,000, originally requested due to decreasing revenue as well an increase in expenses.

Dells/Delton EMS requests 15.5% fund increase in 2021 budget

The finance committee approved the change with a unanimous vote. The EMS commission met with city representatives days prior to the finance committee meeting to finalize its budget, said Brian Holzem, chairperson of the finance committee who also sits on the common council and the Dells-Delton EMS commission.

Holzem also requested the Dells-Delton EMS provide a summary of 2019 calls. He wants to know how many are received in Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton, separately, to determine the percentage of calls in each community. Holzem hopes it will help officials find a fair pay structure for services. Currently, each municipality pays a fixed percentage, Holzem said.

Other business

The council approved with a 5-0-1 vote to update its ordinance on private well operation permits based on DNR requirements. Council Member Terry Marshall abstained. The ordinance changes say a permit may be granted to a well owner for five years rather than one year. Conditions for the issuance or renewal of a well operation include at least two samplings taken a minimum of two weeks apart.

Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.

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