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Hobart seeks to keep mill rate constant

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOBART – The village’s mill rate in 2020 would remain at $4.41 per $1,000 of equalized value under the proposed budget presented Tuesday, Oct. 1, by Village Administrator Aaron Kramer.

Kramer said the goal during the process to put Hobart’s operational budget together is to keep the tax rate that doesn’t include the village’s two Tax Increment Districts (TIDs) the same for the fourth consecutive year.

The mill rate is calculated into the tax levy, which is based on property value in Hobart increasing overall.

Kramer said the village’s operations levy is estimated at $2,946,650, an increase of about $20,000 from 2019.

“If you don’t do anything with the mill rate, we have about an extra $20,000 to work with, due to natural growth outside the two TID districts,” he said.

Compared to the present year, the proposed 2020 budget would increase general fund spending by around $10,000 to $1,765,781, lower the debt service by almost $6,000 to $609,598 and increase capital expenditures by $15,480 to $571,270.

Kramer said he is proposing a 2.5 percent salary increase next year for all of the village’s full-time employees, unless an individual salary has been approved by a prior board action.

“This (salary increase) is about the middle of the road,” he said. “(Among area municipalities proposing increases for 2020) I saw as low as 2 (percent), and I think Lawrence was the highest at 3 (percent) with some people getting more, because they’re trying to get salaries brought up to more of the median for the area – 2.5 (percent) was the average.”

Kramer said the addition of one police officer has been proposed for 2020 with the officer being paid $25.97 per hour for the first year of service, $28.97 per hour plus any additional increase approved by the board for the second year of service and $31.37 per hour (adjusted to reflect any increases approved in the 2021 and 2022 budgets by the board for general employees) for the third year of service.

The Village of Hobart and the Town of Lawrence both fund the combined Hobart/Lawrence Police Department.
Kramer said health insurance costs are being budgeted next year to reflect an expected 9 percent increase in premiums.

For employees who are eligible for the village’s health insurance program, but choose to get coverage elsewhere, Kramer said they will continue to receive a $3,000 “opt-out” payment, which two employees now receive for a net savings to the village.

Kramer said the employee contribution to the health insurance deductible will increase next year by $70 to $360 to phase in $70 annual increases until the employee share is $500 in 2022.

Overall mill rate

Though village government accounts for about 20-25 percent of the overall mill rate in Hobart, Kramer said the overall mill rate has also been going down in the village.

“The (Pulaski) school rate’s been going down,” he said. “I just read where the county’s going to have a considerable drop, if the county board approves what’s being proposed. On the south end (of the village), those residents will likely see an uptick, because the West De Pere referendum will kick in now in their tax bills to pay off those bonds.”

In the event the village would increase its mill rate by 1-3 cents per $1,000, Kramer said the overall mill rate in Hobart would likely still go down for residents.

“A one-penny increase would generate an extra $8,800, based on the calculations we’ve got from the state,” he said. “Again, you can do the math really easy. If you need $88,000 more, you’ve got to raise the mill rate 10 cents, which is 10 cents per $1,000. If you have a $100,000 home that’s $10.”

Kramer said the village is not looking at increasing its mill rate at this point, but he wanted to inform the board about what the impact would be to do so.

Because the village’s mill rate is below $5 per $1,000, Kramer said Hobart can’t participate in the state’s expenditure restraint program.

“I’m not advocating you raise our mill rate 59 cents just to get a couple of thousand dollars from the state,” he said. “But that kind of gives me a feeling of where the levy limit is going to be.”

Budget timetable

Kramer said the 2020 village budget will be presented at the board’s Nov. 5 regular meeting.

If needed, he said any budget revisions could be acted on at a special board meeting Nov. 12.

Kramer said a public hearing on next year’s general fund budget will be held Nov. 19 when the board would be able to give that measure final approval.

“That gives us ample time to get the numbers to the county, so the tax bills can be sent out to spread the Christmas joy,” he said.

Kramer said next year’s budgets for water, storm water, sanitary sewer and the two TIDs will be presented Dec. 3 with approval of those budgets set for Dec. 17.

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