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Hobart board reviews 2020 budget prior to public hearing

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOBART – The village board took another look at the proposed 2020 budget Tuesday, Nov. 5, two weeks before presenting those planned revenues and expenditures at a public hearing for final approval.

As currently proposed, Village Administrator Aaron Kramer said the general fund 2020 budget would maintain the current mill rate of $4.41 per $1,000 of equalized value.

“I can’t look you in the eye tonight and say it will be $4.41 when all is said and done” because of rounding numbers, Kramer said. “Compared to last year, right now a $200,000 home is budgeted as a 36-cent tax increase, roughly.”

Kramer said other goals in the 2020 budget besides maintaining the mill rate include:

• Financing the purchase of several new pieces of equipment for the Public Works Department totaling $77,000.

• Replacing the breathing apparatus for the fire department at a cost of $162,000.

• Continuing the village’s commitment to public safety with the addition of one police officer to the staff in 2020.

• Implementing a technology upgrade across all departments.

• Maintaining the village’s commitment to repairing infrastructure with expenditures of more than $335,000 on road and bridge improvements.

• Avoiding the use of funds from the debt service reserve, and maintaining those funds to pay off one of the general fund bonds early in 2020, while, at the same time, putting the village on schedule for the likely borrowing of the funds needed to construct a new fire station in 2023-24.

• A substantial investment in the village’s parks ($108,500) using the park fund and not the general tax levy.

• Maintaining a responsible contingency fund for any unexpected expenditures in 2020.

Kramer said the contingency fund is slightly more than 1 percent of the budget, “a little lower than I’d like, but we do have a Rainy Day Fund.”

The village’s health insurance is an uncertainty in the budget, Kramer said, after having projected a 9 percent increase with the final numbers coming in closer to 10 percent.

“We may have to make a few tweaks before the final budget hearing,” he said.

Kramer said the 2020 operations levy, not including the village’s two Tax Increment Districts, is estimated at $2,946,650, which would be an increase of just under $20,000, or .6 percent, from 2019.

He said the levy for capital expenditures is being budgeted to increase $19,215.

Kramer said the mill rate would increase by about a penny by raising the tax levy by $8,811.

On the revenue side of the budget, Kramer said the biggest change has come in state transportation aid with the amount the village receives having increased by more than $46,000, which is partly a result of increased state funding and the village’s increased investment in road repair and maintenance over the past several years.

“The more you spend (on) your own, the more the state gives you in state transportation aid down the road,” he said.

The general fund budget lists state transportation aids increasing from around $307,000 to $353,000.

On the expense side, Kramer said 2.5 percent salary increases are proposed next year for all of the village’s full-time employees, unless an individual salary has been approved by a prior board action.

Kramer said the addition of a police officer has been proposed for the 2020 budget, 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 with Lawrence paying 33 percent of general fund costs and 50 percent of capital expenses.

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.

Kramer said the village’s debt obligations for 2020 ($612,598) are being met without using any of the debt service reserves, with an anticipated decline in the Lambeau Field stadium tax refund.

As of Dec. 31, 2020, he said the village’s general fund debt will total just under $5.7 million.

Kramer said funding for the majority of the village’s capital projects come from the general tax levy ($575,005), with the remainder coming from the park fund ($108,500), storm water fund ($108,484) and the Town of Lawrence ($65,625).

He said no borrowing will be required to fund the 2020 capital projects.

Budget timetable

After the board elected not to hold a special budget meeting on the budget Nov. 12, a public hearing on next year’s general fund budget will be held Nov. 19 when the board will be able to give that measure final approval.

Kramer said that budget may be viewed on the village’s website with paper copies also available at the village hall.

He 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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