This past August, the Waupaca Common Council approved borrowing $1 million for capital projects as part of the 2015 budget. Can the city really afford to continue borrowing and spending millions of dollars on capital projects and on a proposed new public works facility given its current financial condition?
The city’s total debt as of the end of 2013 was $27.29 million. The cost of this debt to city taxpayers in 2014 is $1.4 million. This translates into almost 41 cents of every tax dollar to pay for the city‘s debt in 2014.
Moreover, is accumulating millions of dollars of additional debt fair to city taxpayers who are already paying outrageously high taxes?
Contrary to what you hear from some city officials, Waupaca does in fact have unreasonably high property taxes, according to the Madison-based Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WTA), a non profit organization devoted to public policy research and citizen education. And Waupaca’s property taxes have been unreasonably high for years.
The WTA annually publishes “Municipal Facts,” which provides important financial information on spending, debt, tax rates and resident’s income for selected municipalities throughout the state. Municipalities are grouped based on population with 20 cities and villages included in each group. Waupaca is included with populations of 5,500 to 7,500.
Using Waupaca’s “Municipal Facts 13” group of 20 municipalities, Waupaca has had the highest tax rate each and every year since 2001-02 when “Municipal Facts” was first published. And of 596 cites and villages in Wisconsin tracked by the WTA, Waupaca ranked 53rd in property tax rates for 2013-14, which puts Waupaca in the top 9 percent of property tax rates in all of Wisconsin.
As expected, most of the financial rankings in the current “Municipal Facts 14” publication for Waupaca were on the high side. However, one ranking on the low end was income. Waupaca ranked 18 out 20. Stated another way, there were only two other municipalities with lower taxpayer income.
Bottom line? Every year for the past 13 years, Waupaca has assessed unreasonably high taxes on taxpayers who can least afford them. Adding more debt multiplies the city’s fiscally irresponsible actions.
With the 2015 operating budget currently being discussed by the Common Council, please let your council members and city officials know how you feel about their unsustainable borrow, tax and spend fiscal policies and outrageously high taxes. Enough is enough.