Two members of the Waupaca Common Council attempted a last-minute effort to cut the city’s capital borrowing, but failed when the council approved the city’s 2015 budget by a vote of 7-2 on Nov. 18.
Deb Fenske, Steve Hackett, Alan Kjelland, John Lockwood, Paul Mayou, Eric Olson and Dave Peterson voted to approve the $7.6 million expenditure budget.
Jillian Petersen and Scott Purchatzke voted against it, and Paul Hagen was absent.
Next year’s expenditures are up 0.85 percent from the city’s current budget and will be supported by a tax levy of $3.5 million, which is 3 percent higher than the city’s current levy.
When city taxpayers receive their tax bills next month, they will see a city tax rate of $10.26 per $1,000 assessed valuation.
That compares to the present tax rate of $9.89 and is the first increase in the city’s tax rate in five years.
The owner of a $100,000 home in the city will pay $37 more in the city’s portion of taxes.
City borrowing $1.17 million
The Common Council followed the vote on the 2015 city budget with a 7-2 vote to borrow up to $1.17 million to fund capital projects in 2015 and 2016.
Like the vote on the budget, Petersen and Purchatzke again voted no.
“I’d be remiss to my constituents if I didn’t express concern about the capital borrow,” Purchatzke said.
In August, the council voted 7-2 in favor of a long-term borrowing of $1.5 million and a short-term borrowing of $100,000.
Petersen and Purchatzke voted against the borrow, and Kjellend was absent at that meeting.
It was one of four options presented to the council and was the highest of the long-term borrow scenarios.
On Nov. 18, a capital borrow of $1.19 million was before the council to fund capital projects in 2015 and 2016 and to include the fee for the city’s financial advisers.
The State Trust Fund will be the lender, and it will be a 10-year term.
However, the borrow was reduced by $20,000, after Hackett reminded his fellow alderpersons that the council voted earlier this month to put the $21,000 savings from the first phase of improvements at South Park into a non-lapsing account for future projects at the park.
The borrow included $20,000 for the approved grant for the second phase improvements at the park.
With the $21,000 in savings being able to cover that match, Mayou agreed to amend his original motion to borrow up to $1.19 million, reducing the amount by $20,000.
Fenske, who had seconded his initial motion, agreed.
Purchatzke called the funding scenario the majority of the council agreed to go with last summer the “Cadillac” of the four options and said he thought the city was “over reaching” on the total amount borrowed.
Petersen agreed, saying the city needed to look again at the amount and wait until the city’s debt drops before funding some of the capital projects.
Purchatzke said some of the capital items are critical and others could be put off for two years.
He suggested slashing about $390,000 by removing $160,000 for improvements at city hall and the library, as well as public works vehicles.
“I disagree with you. There’s nothing on this list that’s extravagant,” said Mayou.
Referring to the $85,000 to replace the city’s 1990 hauling truck, he asked who keeps their cars for 25 years.
Kjelland said council members had several months to discuss the issue and that it was too late now, at the 11th hour, to suggest cuts.
He described the budget as well constructed and thought out, and to Purchatzke said that while he may think some capital items are not important, others believe they are important.
Petersen said the city will be in a better financial position in a couple years to do those things.
She believes items on the capital list are important but it is not responsible to do all of them now.
Fenske said when the city’s debt drops off in 2018, the city will have the opportunity to pay off the 10-year loan more quickly, because there is no pre-payment penalty on the loan.
Noting the city raised taxes few times in the last 15 years, Peterson said putting off capital projects would result in more costs in the future.
Lockwood said interest rates will increase and the city should “move forward and get things done.”
A public hearing on next year’s budget took place before the Nov. 18 council meeting.
“We gave our public the opportunity to come in tonight and give their concerns,” Olson said. “Nobody did. I’m ready to vote.”
Mayor Brian Smith said to Purchatzke and Petersen that if the city had no future capital needs, what they said would make sense.
However, the city is looking at the reconstruction of Main Street and a facility for public works in the future, he said.
“We need to start going down the list before we get to the big things we have to do,” the mayor said.
Smith said the borrow will allow the city to maintain its quality of life and in a few years, to possibly pay off that debt a bit sooner.