Green Bay council passes 2021 budget
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – Green Bay taxpayers will see a small increase in their property taxes for the second year in a row under Mayor Eric Genrich’s administration.
“This is a no-nonsense budget with a real emphasis on public safety, maintaining essential services for the people of the City of Green Bay,” Genrich said.
Council approved the $112 million city budget in a 7-5 vote at the Tuesday, Nov. 10 meeting – with Alders Brian Johnson, Chris Wery, John Vander Leest, Mark Steuer and Jesse Brunette voting “no.”
The approved 2021 budget calls for a 2.77 percent increase in the tax rate for an increase of $9.72 per $1,000 or property value.
This is slightly lower than the 3 percent increase Genrich proposed last month – due to a few minor changes made by alders Tuesday.
This means property owners will see a tax increase of approximately $39 on a median $150,000 home.
Genrich said the increase is needed to offset revenue losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Johnson proposed two amendments looking to trim more out of the budget following a difficult year.
The first was a 1-percent cost-of-living wage increase freeze for non-union employees from Oct. 1 2021 to Dec. 31, 2021, which would save approximately $60,000.
The second was to require all city departments, with the exception of police and fire, to reduce expenses by 1 percent throughout 2021.
Public Works Director Steve Grenier said the only way his department would be able to make these cuts would be to eliminate services.
“I made the comment to the mayor in the past, we’re done cutting fat out of the budget, I’m cutting muscle right now to get down to the numbers we did,” Grenier said. “If there’s any thought process out there either within the general public or within this meeting that these budgets are just sort of thrown together, that assumption would be wildly inaccurate.”
Both amendments to the 2021 budget failed with a tie-breaking vote from the mayor.
Changes passed which contributed to the decrease include increasing the projected hotel room tax revenue amount by $90,000, eliminating about $1,450 from the city council budget for training, travel and supplies and removing $220,000 from the city law department (city attorney, etc.) budget that was added by the finance committee last week.
Highlights of the 2021 budget include the addition of two police officers and filling a firefighter position that went unfilled in 2020.
These additions increase the number of officers to 187, which is seven short of a full force.
This is the second year in a row the department has been able to add additional officers.
Fire department consolidation
Alders also voted unanimously to approve the Green Bay Metro Fire Department consolidation agreement with the Village of Bellevue.
Bellevue has its own 24/7 staffed fire department, with nine full-time and 24 part-time employees.
The village board began looking at the future of the department after the fire chief stepped down in March.
Green Bay has been providing fire chief services in the interim.
Fire Chief David Litton said he sees the consolidation as a win-win.
“We have been working on this agreement for seven months, while we’ve been the interim chief group for Bellevue,” Litton said. “We went into this on both sides not wanting to miss anything, let’s be transparent. And as a result, I think we have a really great agreement here.”
The village has a contract for rescue services with County Rescue through 2021. Therefore, those services won’t transition until Jan. 1 2022.
Bellevue voted on the consolidation at its Nov. 11 meeting.
The Village of Allouez consolidated its fire department with the City of Green Bay in 2012, forming the Green Bay Metro Fire Department.