Taxes in De Pere decreasing
By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – De Pere residents may notice their property tax rate going down next year.
With the passing of the 2020 budget, the mill rate in De Pere decreased by 4.48 percent, from $7.07 per $1,000 of home value to $6.76. The taxes on a home assessed at $200,000, went down $62.
Making one minor amendment to the spending plan, the De Pere Common Council unanimously approved the 2020 city budget Tuesday, Nov. 19.
“This budget is balanced and provides for the city’s service needs in a cost-efficient manner,” said De Pere Mayor Mike Walsh.
He said each city department was given the goals of keeping expenditure increases to a minimum (excluding capital projects and equipment), decreasing operating expenses, and increasing revenues by an additional 3 percent.
Yet keeping services plentiful while tamping down spending is no easy feat, Walsh said, and outside forces aren’t making things any easier.
“Every year I say the state continues to impose restrictions on municipalities’ ability to raise revenue by maintaining levy limits, and it continues today,” Walsh said. “We’ve also continued to receive unfunded city mandates from the state, which causes us to reduce city services, increase city fees, or create alternative revenue sources.”
ERU rates, which tax the amount of impervious surface area on a property, for residences will go up by $5 per household, to $97 per residence, due to unfunded mandates by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the United States Environmental Protection Agency for storm water management, he said.
“Depending on what the public water commission does, we expect water rates to increase 20 to 30 percent,” he said. “These increases will continue into the future to pay for those unfunded mandates.”
Walsh railed against Republican leadership in the State Senate and Assembly for failing to pass legislation to eliminate the dark store loophole, which assesses open stores as empty instead of operational.
As that legislation languishes, homeowners are paying more in property taxes, Walsh said.
“The difference is shifted to you as owners, and that has increased our property taxes accordingly,” he said.
The 2020 budget includes:
• An additional $30,000 for marketing and branding of the city.
• An extra $175,000 to replace existing storm sewers.
• An additional $350,000 for new storm sewers to mitigate excess rainfall in the city.
• $275,000 to replace an ambulance.
• $420,000 to fund one-third of a new ladder truck, purchase of which is slated for 2022.
• An additional employee position in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry to help with parks maintenance.
Walsh pointed out the city cut $3.6 million in capital projects and equipment.
The city has lost shared revenue in recent years, including in 2019, when it lost $3,000.
In 2020, the shared revenue will increase by $16,000.
In 2018, the city qualified for $184,000 from the State of Wisconsin in expenditure restraint payments, which reward some municipalities for reining in spending.
This year the city qualifies for $269,341 in ERPs, an increase of $84,517, thanks to fewer communities qualifying for the program.