Village tax levy, mill rate proposed to increase in Ashwaubenon
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – At a joint meeting Tuesday, Nov. 10, the village board and Finance and Personnel Committee backed a budget for next year with a village tax levy of $12,714,769, an increase of $156,251 from the previous year.
The 2021 budget will be up for final consideration Nov. 24 when the Ashwaubenon village board holds a public hearing.
Village President Mary Kardoskee said the budget process has been difficult because of lost revenue with the COVID-19 pandemic and facing a $1.3 million deficit.
“Our development is really going strong, even in the midst of COVID, and we want to continue to spend the village taxpayers’ dollars very wisely,” she said. “All of that being said, to balance the 2021 budget, we do have a slight tax increase and we are also using some of our reserve (funds).”
Kardoskee said next year’s proposed village budget doesn’t cut any services, nor does it defund the public safety department.
Finance Director Greg Wenholz presented next year’s budget, which calls for a municipal tax rate projected at $5.79 per $1,000, an increase of 11 cents, or 2 percent, from the previous year.
Based on the median value of a home in Ashwaubenon having an assessed value of $159,200, Wenholz said the property tax payment to the village would be around $922 with the proposed village tax levy, an increase of about $18.
“I think it’s really important that the residents understand that we don’t take it lightly to raise taxes, but when you break down what you’re getting for services, we’ll compare our services to anyone in this area, dollar for dollar,” he said. “Hands down, I think we’re the best.”
Of the total proposed tax levy, Wenholz reported $9,784,368 (77 percent) is for the general fund, $1.547,850 (12.2 percent) is for referendum bonding, $756,140 (4.7 percent) is for capital projects, $601,411 (5.9 percent) is for debt service and $25,000 (0.2 percent) is for special revenue.
In putting together the village tax levy, he said debt service is the top priority to pay for projects approved in the past.
Wenholz said the village will be able to keep $650,000 in the capital projects levy to go toward road reconstruction for the annual repaving of roads.
To balance next year’s budget, Wenholz said the village is able to take $325,000 out of its reserves and still maintain a fund balance of at least 20 percent of annual general fund expenditures, as called for in village policy.
“We’re sitting at 2019 at the end of the year at about 34 percent,” he said. “Using $325,000 puts us down to about 31 percent.”
Wenholz said the village’s share of room annual room tax is budgeted to drop $100,000 to $325,000.
“The room tax commission has (revenue) projections low through May, but they are projecting numbers back in summer to come right back up,” he said. “For us, the summer months and the fall months are where we get the vast majority of our room tax.”
On the expense side, Wenholz said an across-the-board salary increase of 2 percent is included in the budget for village employees.
“Most communities that are doing wage increases are matching any union increases,” he said. “They do not want their employees who work in a union to not get something, so they’re matching what the corresponding union’s getting.”
Wenholz said he expects the Ashwaubenon Public Safety Officers’ Association, which has been working under the terms of its previous collective bargaining agreement that expired at the end of last year, to receive a similar salary increase.
Ashwaubenon also hired a new village manager, who will be responsible for figuring out the village’s human resources services, for which $50,000 is budgeted for next year to contract out those services.
The village manager position has remained vacant since Allison Swanson’s resignation in July.
Kardoskee said the village is also moving forward to hire a clerk with the position no longer being elected following board action to change the charter ordinance along with the upcoming resignation of Village Clerk-Treasurer Patrick Moynihan Jr., who will become Brown County’s clerk in January.
Of the $16,384,357 in budgeted general fund expenditures for next year, the categories with the four largest amounts include $8,387,435 for public safety, followed by $2,558,231 for public works, $2,511,271 for general government and $1,931,459 for parks, recreation and forestry.