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Hobart sees red in some budget funds

By Ben Rodgers
Staff Writer

HOBART – The village of Hobart learned a few non-general fund budget accounts will be operating in the red for the upcoming year.

The Board of Trustees heard the information at it’s Nov. 7 meeting.

“I can tell you tonight we are gearing up for water rate study in 2018,” said Aaron Kramer, village administrator. “We can’t have the utilities running in the red. We have no cushion for future repairs, replacements of infrastructure.”

One reason why the accounts are in the red is that Kramer has included principle payments from those departments into the budget, something the village hasn’t done before.

“For the water fund, using as conservative numbers as I could get, the water fund is projected to run $33,000 in the red,” he said. “One major budget change you will see is prior to this … your budget would only show the interest you’re paying on your debt, your budget has never reflected the principle, you’re previous administration would report it as a line item.”

The sanitary sewer budget is also looking at a deficit, this one of about $96,000.

Along with the debt service line item the budget also reflects about $100,000 for the increased costs of treating water.

The village contracts with NEW Water for water treatment. Part of that contract means the village must pick up the price for projects the utility deems important.

Kramer attributed the $96,000 deficit to “a little bit of salary, debt payments and payments to NEW Water.”

“I don’t have a lot of control over those numbers, they’re fixed,” Kramer said.

The board also approved $528,408 for projects for a LaGuardia Drive extension, to facilitate a future development, (funds from TID no. 2 reserve), Wittman Road sanitary sewer extension (funds from the Green Bay Converting Escrow Account), Frobisher Field mini storm sewer (funds from TID no. 1 reserve), and Lear Lane sidewalk (funds from Tid no. 2 reserve).

There was also an additional $29,126 in costs for erosion control and compaction testing, with the amount assigned per the individual project.

There were a total of nine qualified bidders with the winning bid belonging with Feaker and Sons in De Pere.

The motion contained language that allowed for an alternate bid on the Wittman Road sanitary sewer extension.

“A wetland was identified in the route and the alternate is to directional bore through the wetland if we fail to get the permit to open trench though from the DNR,” said Allyn Dannhoff, public works director.

In other news the board learned that population growth in the village is exceeding projections.

Kramer is expecting the village to have more than 9,000 residents at some point in 2018.

The board also heard from Nick Wood, director of content and digital, for Multi-Media Channels, a subsidiary of Brown County Publishing, the company that owns The Press.

Wood was there in response to roughly nine pages of comments from village residents on whether or not they would like to keep a subscription to the weekly paper.

Wood looked through the comments and said roughly 70 percent of them were in favor of keeping The Press subscription.

The village currently pays for the cost of subscriptions through a grant, and has paid $8 per subscription for as long as anyone remembers.

MMC proposed an increase up to $11.25 per subscription to cover the postage, printing and operational costs.
Everyone agreed it was nice to have so many responses but Kramer wanted to make one point clear.

“Eliminating the paper is not going to reduce the tax levy at all,” he said. “This is not from the general fund tax levy.”

Wood stressed there have been significant investments made since MMC acquired the paper in August. With that investment local news coverage for Hobart and the other communities served by The Press will only get better.

The board will decide what to do with the proposed increase and whether or not to keep the subscription at its next meeting on Nov. 21.

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