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Howard board approves tax levy around $7 million

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOWARD – The village board kept people who pay the tax levy in mind when giving final approval Monday, Nov. 25, to the 2020 budget.

Faced with the financial impact of future projects, such as the County VV interchange at State Highway 29 and the reconstruction of Lineville Road, and their effect to still have funds available for road resurfacing, the board selected the least expensive option of the four presented to put some additional money into the budget.

Howard board members decided to add $300,000 to the capital projects levy with $150,000 for roads and another $150,000 for funding fire department capital projects to increase the levy to $6,948,598, an increase of $820,101 or 13.38 percent higher than the previous year.

The additional $150,000 for the fire department is designated to go toward the future purchase of replacing a ladder truck.

The board two weeks earlier had requested staff put together options for providing additional funding for road resurfacing in light of the amount budgeted for that purpose projected to decrease with additional projects on the horizon.

Chris Haltom, director of administrative services, presented the four options to do that ranging from the additional $300,000 approved to close to $2 million more.

Haltom said he would not recommend the most expensive option with the village collecting property taxes, because of the anticipated “earful” of complaints that amount of a tax increase could generate.

Trustee Craig McAllister said he wouldn’t support any additional funding beyond the $300,000.

“It’s been an expensive year as it is,” McAllister said. “And the other thing we do have to keep in mind is that although we’re all focusing on the road resurfacing number, there (are) still road projects going to be going on in the Village of Howard in the years that the road resurfacing projects won’t be happening.”

McAllister said Howard is attractive because of its low tax rate.

The budget impact of the option the board approved projects $500,000 being spent on street resurfacing and contracted services for 2020, compared to $1 million in 2019.

Future budget projections list $400,000 for that line item expense in 2021 and no dollars budgeted in 2022.

In today’s dollars, Haltom said around $390,000 would pay for a mile of road resurfacing.

Tax rate

Given property in Howard has been reassessed with the village’s total equalized value having increased to more than $1.9 billion with an assessment ratio of more than 100 percent, Haltom said that has resulted in the mill rate decreasing while the tax levy is increasing.

For village purposes, Haltom said the mill rate decreased by about 9 cents to $3.83 per $1,000, but the assessed value of the average home in Howard increased by $32,690 to $225,070.

As a result, he said the tax bill on that home for village purposes will increase $108 and around $211 overall with the dollar amount of the Howard-Suamico School District tax levy going up and the decrease in property taxes for Brown County being close to offsetting the increase from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

The figures Haltom presented indicate the overall mill rate for village property owners in the Howard-Suamico School District in Brown County will be $16.48 per $1,000.

Budget motion

The motion the Howard board approved to adopt the 2020 budget calls for more than $10.8 million in general fund expenditures includes adding $300,000 to the tax levy initially proposed and also has a provision requested by McAllister that funds be earmarked for constructing a half basketball court at Spring Green Park.

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