By Kevin Boneske
HOWARD – When the village board goes through the 2021 budget over the next two months, it will be following policies that include limiting the assessed tax rate growth to the extent possible to maintain a steadily decreasing tax mill rate.
Decreasing the mill rate is part of the village’s budget policy guide with Howard under a state mandate to limit increases in tax levies by the percentage growth within its property values.
“As long as the growth in existing property values increase higher than the growth in the budget document itself, then we’ll have a natural decrease in mill rate with the re-evaluation every three years,” said Director of Administrative Services Chris Haltom, who presented the policies to the board for approval Sept. 14.
The budget policies also call for maintaining current services to the public and adding new services when the tax rate is not affected.
However, should state aid be cut in the future, the policies state service levels may need to be reduced.
“You have to look at cutting services, whether that be personnel, or (road) resurfacing, or equipment purchases – something has to change, if a source of your revenue is decreasing,” Haltom said. “You can’t necessary increase your levy to make that up.”
In a related motion, the board approved a calendar for putting together next year’s budget.
Haltom said no special budget meetings are scheduled with the board slated to go through the budget at its meetings Oct. 12 and 26 and Nov. 9 and 23.
“The board would have two meetings in October and the two meetings in November to discuss the budget,” he said. “Staff would plan on reviewing a draft of the budget internally during the next couple of weeks before we put it together for the board for their first meeting in October.”
Haltom said a public hearing will take place Nov. 23 when adoption of the 2021 budget, tax rates and levies is also scheduled prior to tax bills being sent out in December.
At the request of Director of Public Works Geoff Farr, the board approved amending the village code as it relates to private well abandonment.
Farr said the change applies to buildings connected to the public water system that also have a private well, rather than the previous out-of-date wording related to all private wells.
“We’re clarifying here tonight that this is only these properties that are already connected to the water system,” he said.
Farr said the intent of the ordinance is to prevent all unused, unsafe and non-complying wells from becoming safety hazards or channels for contamination of aquifers and to prevent illegal cross-connections with the municipal system.