Drop in debt payment helps to lower property taxes in Ashwaubenon
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUNBEON – The decrease in the property tax levy to fund the proposed 2019 village budget is primarily because of a drop of almost $400,000 in paying off debt service.
Next year’s budget being considered Tuesday, Nov. 27, for final approval by the village board, includes a total tax levy of $12,548,221, a decrease of $128,224 from the previous year.
Though the general fund levy would increase by $253,630 to $9,621,558, rising 2.71 percent, the amount going to the debt service fund is dropping by $397,746 to $695,913, a drop of 36 percent.
The second highest levy amount, referendum bonding, is decreasing by $2,000 to $1,545,250. The levy for capital projects would increase by $5,392 to $650,000 under the 2019 proposed village budget, while the levy related to special revenue funds would increase by $12,500 to $37,500.
Though the property revaluation that took place this year in Ashwaubenon has increased assessed values in the village, Finance Director Greg Wenholz said the tax rate for village purposes is dropping by 50 cents to $5.62 per $1,000, so the dollar amount someone could owe the village in property taxes could stay the same.
“Obviously, there are people who have reasons for other valuation changes within their property, so it’s never a perfect science for people,” Wenholz said. “But as a whole, that’s how we do that.”
Next year’s general fund budget includes $15,934,917 in expenditures, with more than half, $8,282,347, being allocated for public safety, followed by public works ($2,443,883), general government ($2,320,001) and parks, recreation and forestry ($1,876,297) accounting for the top-four expenditure categories.
“The expense side as far as departments, there isn’t really much change in that as far as non-personnel costs,” Wenholz said. “We run pretty lean within all those areas.”
Village Manager Allison Swanson said next year’s proposed budget contains an overall 2.25 percent cost-of-living increase for employee salaries, dependent upon performance reviews for all employees except sworn public safety officers.
In addition, based on a salary study Swanson conducted earlier this year, in which several employees received pay increases July 1, if their salaries were found to be below average when compared to other municipalities in the state with similar populations, she said further pay hikes are included in next year’s budget for positions still remaining below the salary goal.
Swanson said increases of half of the amount below the salary goal would take effect Jan. 1 with the other half taking effect next year on July 1.
According to the list Swanson provided to The Press Times, the following 12 positions would be eligible for pay increases from their current salary to the salary goal as follows: village manager ($119,860 to $122,519); village attorney ($110,040 to $118,843); finance director ($96,337 to $101,235); public works director ($100,970 to $106,905); parks and recreation director ($81,500 to $90,000); community development director ($77,400 to $90,000); IT manager ($69,406 to $70,000); recreation supervisor ($58,777 to $65,000); aquatics supervisor ($53,595 to $65,000); forester ($63,801 to $65,000); GIS ($61,043 to $62,525); and accountant ($57,500 to $62,525).
“Essentially, it’s a three-step process for those wage increases,” Swanson said.
She previously noted some staff members had informed her they could receive more pay by going elsewhere, and the increases are intended to retain current staff.