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City says yes to budget with 4% tax rate increase PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 16 November 2016 20:06

Port council approves 2017 spending plan that includes initiatives on firehouse, senior center after quiet public hearing

While the City of Port Washington’s 2017 budget contains funding for some initiatives sought for years, such as a feasibility study for a new or expanded firehouse, and the possibility of purchasing a home for its senior center, no residents commented on the spending plan during Tuesday’s public hearing.

Aldermen unanimously approved the proposed $9.3 million 2017 general fund budget and corresponding $3,085,000 levy.

The city will also levy $2.1 million for its debt service.

While in past years the city has used some of its surplus funds to offset the levy, the committee decided not to do this in order to increase its reserves and maintain the community’s bond rating, Ald. Dave Larson, chairman of the Finance and License Committee, said.

The city’s tax rate is projected to be $6.06 per $1,000 of assessed value, a 4% increase from last year’s rate of $5.80. For the owner of a house valued at $200,000, the increase would be $53.

The budget reflects an increase of 3% from this year, led by an 8% increase in health insurance, a 2% increase in wages, the addition of two summer employees to help maintain Union Cemetery and the fact that Street Commissioner and Water Supt. Dave Ewig is retiring and will be replaced by two department heads, Larson said.

Additional staffing is also needed at the library, where there is increased participation in youth programs, he said.

The budget includes $35,000 to rent the senior center building, but Larson said the city is considering buying the structure because plans to seek another facility “haven’t gained any traction.”

“We’re just so far away from that,” he said. “The best situation we can put ourselves in right now is to buy the building. This would ensure seniors have a place to go.”

The city will have more discussions on the matter before a final decision is made, Larson said.

Also up for discussion is a $15,000 study of the firehouse, something Fire Chief Mark Mitchell has been seeking for years. 

The Common Council also approved the Business Improvement District’s $60,000 budget, raised through a tax on downtown properties.

The tax rate for the district will remain at $1.83 per $1,000 valuation next year — the same as it has been for the past couple years, City Administrator Mark Grams said.

The majority of the district’s budget, $55,000, is used to fund Port Main St. Inc.

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