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Waupun approves budget with modest increase: Strong focus continues on capital improvements

November 15, 2018

WAUPUN — There are a lot of expenses on the horizon, but the Waupun City Council managed to approve a 2019 budget with only a 3 percent levy increase at its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday.

The budget, which passed unanimously, increases the levy to $3.1 million from $3 million in 2018.

The tax rate increase of 3 percent translates to a nickel per $1,000 of equalized valuation — although recent revaluation may mean higher increases for some city residents and decreases for others.

“Part of this is the revaluation project that we went through this year,” said City Administrator/Director of Economic Development Kathy Schlieve. “So it’s a little hard to talk about the impact to an average home. Overall, however, the mill rate has dropped for both Dodge and Fond du Lac counties.”

For the purposes of the budget, however, the average Waupun home in Fond du Lac County has an anticipated value of $139,199, compared to $122,523 in 2017 — a change of $16,676. The mill rate will decrease 33 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation (down 4.34 percent). With current revaluation, however, the owner of an average home will pay $81.66 more than 2018 — an increase of nearly 8.7 percent.

Waupun’s equalized values for residential properties increased 10.4 percent in Fond du Lac County and 6 percent in Dodge County — at 99.8 percent of full value. Commercial values remained the same in Fond du Lac County, but increased 8.4 percent in Dodge County.

In Dodge County, the average home value increased $6,476 (from $105,620 in 2017 to $112,096 in 2018). The mill rate dropped 22 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The mill rate will decrease from $7.66 per thousand in 2018 to $7.45 in 2019, down 2.84 percent. With the new valuation, the owner of an average home will pay $25.26 more than in 2018, up 3.12 percent.

Mayor Julie Nickel summarized in her budget message, “The 2018 budget saw the first significant increase in our property tax levy in nearly a decade, with a majority of the increase being directed to support road improvements. A majority of the 2019 increase supports capital improvement and equipment replacement. The 2019 budget includes no reduction or elimination of existing services.”

According to Schlieve and Waupun Finance Director Jared Oosterhouse, one answer for funding ongoing road projects and capital spending is taking on long-term borrowing. Using that funding will allow the city to take on significant projects (such as Madison Street) that would cost more than the city is allowed to levy in a year. The city must also plan ahead for many upgrades (such as a new boiler and other improvements at City Hall and a new senior center).

Capital improvement fund reserves at the end of 2018 are expected to be $428,000. The levy for capital improvements for 2019 is $536,800. The total cost for redoing Madison Street in 2019 (both north and south) is $3.4 million.

The proposed general operating budget is projected to increase $107,256, or 1.9 percent, above last year. About half of that ($56,000) is to be paid out in wages and benefits.

Other increases include $24,000 for ambulance service, following a six-year freeze with the city’s ambulance provider. General liability and auto insurance increased $17,000. Worker’s compensation insurance increased $7,500. A $17,360 increase is anticipated in Department of Public Works expenses for fuel and salt costs. Building inspection fees are anticipated to increase as Waupun’s strong economic development continues.

An anomaly for 2019 is a savings of $43,000 in health insurance premium costs (down 6 percent from 2018).

A shorter pool season will result in a smaller payment for YMCA staff.

Additional expenses include a part-time police administrative assistant, budgeted at a cost of $16,793. A $10,800 increase is planned for the moving of an economic development assistant from a contracted post to a part-time position. That amount is offset by a reduction on economic development spending and doing a greater portion of that work in-house.

Additional revenue is expected in building inspection fees due to a strong economic development forecast. This has a neutral impact on the budget as revenues equal expenses for this service.

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