Budget is approved
The 2019 city budget was unanimously approved by the Watertown Common County at its meeting Tuesday evening.
Alderwoman Emily McFarland did not attend the meeting but did support the budget as a member of the finance committee. The operating budget is $17,019,061 and will require a tax levy of $8,625,000. In addition, the budget includes a debt levy of $4,815,000 for a total levy of $13.44 million.
The total levy is $886,169 higher than a year ago and represents an increase of about 7 percent.
However, the tax rate will increase by a smaller amount because assessed values have increased in the city in the past year.
The new property tax rate for city purposes, including operations and debt, will be $10.43751 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in the Jefferson County portion of the city and $10.45328 in the Dodge County portion.
Those rates are 3.1 percent higher in the Jefferson County portion and 2.4 percent higher in the Dodge County portion.
Mayor John David said the budget reduces the city’s outstanding debt again this year. He said when he took office six years ago the debt was $44 million and it now stands at about $38 million.
The budget includes $1.8 million for street projects in 2019. This year’s budget for street work was $1.3 million, but because of a variety of reasons, three streets planned for work in 2018 were not completed and as a result those projects and the accompanying funding were added to the 2019 budget.
David said, “We are right at the expenditure restraint limit and we can’t add anything to the budget without making cuts elsewhere. And, if we go over the expenditure restraints, we lose about $400,000 in city state aids.”
The budget does include funding for a human resources director, a new position that has been talked about by the council for several years.
David said about $40,000 has been included in the budget to fund that position for about a half year. He said he hopes to get the process for filling that position moving soon so much of that preliminary work can be completed before he leaves office in April 2019.
The only other staffing position addition in 2019 is making the cable TV coordinator position full-time. It is currently a little more than half-time but the council deemed it important to add the hours.
One of the largest capital outlays in the budget is $200,000 for a new dump truck with a plow for the street department. That truck will be shared by the street department and the stormwater utility and a little over half of the cost will be covered through the stormwater utility budget with the remainder from the street department.
Other capital projects included in the budget for 2019 are $110,000 for the fiber-optics projects to be shared with the Watertown Unified School District, $36,000 for equipping three new squad cars for police duty, a breathing air compressor for the fire department at a cost of $50,000, a pool heater for $35,000, a half-court basketball court and shade structure at Mary Rose Park in the Grandview Heights Subdivision at a cost of $23,000 and an American Disabilities Act compliant minivan for the city cab service at a cost of $17,000.