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De Pere Common Council passes budget with 7.1% inccrease

– The De Pere Common Council unanimously passed the city’s just-under $21 million 2023 budget this week.

It’s 7.1% larger than last year’s operating budget, which was just over $19 million.

It includes about $3.2 million for public works (an increase of 140,000 from 2022), $2.99 million for culture and recreation (an increase of $277,000 from 2022), $3.7 million for general government (an increase of $293,000 from 2022) and $10.67 million for public safety (an increase of $655,000 from 2022).

“This budget is structured to meet the needs and expectations of our community and provide our residents, businesses and visitors with excellent municipal services as we compete for staffing in a competitive labor market, and inflationary pressures are impacting all sectors of the local economy,” Mayor James Boyd said. “This budget provides funding to maintain and enhance existing municipal services as we continue to focus on the quality of life and overall economic vitality of the community.”

The city property tax levy is up 5.1%, although the mill rate is down by 6.85%.

The proposed mill rate for 2023 is $5.85 per $1,000, which is 42 cents lower than the adopted 2022 mill rate of $6.27 per $1,000.

The equalized value of the city grew 15.05% in 2022, increasing by almost $400 million ($377,763,200), from about $2.5 billion ($2,509,546,300) to almost $2.9 billion ($2,887,309,500).

“The equalized value is the market value of the city,” De Pere City Manager Larry Delo said in presenting the budget to the board and public.

The assessed value of the city is about $2.7 billion.

A few highlights from the budget include:

• Funding to maintain and repair municipal facilities throughout the city (such as replacing the boiler at City Hall).

• Additional funding to support and expand the efforts of the De Pere Beautification Committee and Definitely De Pere.

• Additional funding ($5,000) for the community’s Sister City program.

• Funding for financial incentives to promote economic opportunities throughout the community, including a $30,000 contribution to Downtown De Pere, Inc. for Main Street program activities.

• $146,546 for Geographic Information System Services.

• Funding ($728,923) to support the ongoing efforts of the health department to manage the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response as well as vaccination clinics.

• Funding to replace several pieces of municipal equipment and vehicles, such as aging police and fire department equipment. Some examples are $84,000 for police vehicle leases, $425,000 to fund half of the cost to replace a 1995 pumper vehicle for the fire department and $34,000 to purchase a tethered drone to use in responding to police and emergency incidents.

• Funding for infrastructure, developer grants, downtown facade grants and cultural enhancements throughout the downtown to promote the community and emphasize economic development.

• $500,000 for the City’s share of partial engineering costs to reconstruct Main Avenue and Reid Street in the future; $260,000 for partial engineering to reconstruct Lawrence Drive in 2025, $360,000 for alley improvements and $860,000 for street pulverizing and paving projects throughout the City.

• Resources and money to maintain and reward what Mayor Boyd called an “innovative, effective and efficient workforce.”

The budget includes a larger than usual increase for the public safety budget, Delo said.

“That’s not just here — you’re seeing that throughout the state and throughout the nation,” Delo said. “Public safety has continued to grow at a faster pace typically than other services for costs, and also typically makes up 50% or more of operational cost for all municipalities.”

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