WISTAX study analyzes municipal finances
After falling 3 percent in 2012, net operating spending in Wisconsin’s 244 largest cities and villages rose 2.2 percent in 2013 from $823 to $842 per person.
Waupaca County’s three largest cities – Waupaca, New London and Clintonville – were included in the study. All were below the state average increase of 2.2 percent and only Waupaca had any increase at all.
These figures are from MunicipalFacts15, an annual study released by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX).
The 2013 figures represent the second full year since 2011 Act 10, which required most public sector employees to fund half of their retirement contribution, eliminated benefits as a subject of collective bargaining, and limited bargained wage increases to inflation.
A second, more focused measure of municipal spending examines only the four largest expenditure categories: general government, street maintenance, police, and fire-ambulance.
After dropping 1.7 percent in 2012, these combined expenditures rose 1.6 percent in 2013, returning to their 2011 level of $562 per capita.
Police expenditures (40.7 percent) accounted for the largest portion of spending, followed by fire-ambulance (24.7 percent) and street maintenance (20.5 percent).
Following a small decline in 2012, per capita net expenditures for police increased 0.6 percent to $229 per capita in 2013. Likewise, fire-ambulance expenditures fell 0.5 percent in 2012, but increased 1.1 percent in 2013 from $137 to $139 per person.
The fluctuation in street maintenance was more pronounced; after a 7.5 percent drop in 2012, street maintenance spending jumped 7.4 percent in 2013 to $115 per capita, but remained below its 2011 level ($116).
Per capita spending in general government bucked the trend, however, rising in 2012 and falling in 2013. Additional election costs from the 2012 recall elections helps explain why general government expenditures increased 0.2 percent in 2012, despite Act 10. In 2013, without additional election costs, expenditures fell 2.1 percent from $81 to $79 per capita.
On the revenue side of the ledger, shared revenues (state income, sales, and excise taxes shared with local governments) were unchanged in 2013 at $127 per capita.
In 2012, they dropped 6.7 percent from $136 per capita in 2011. Additionally, per capita debt rose 0.3 percent in 2013 to $1,552 per capita, compared to average annual increases of 1.2 percednt during 2009-13.
In the city of Waupaca, spending on municipal operations in 2013 was $982 per capita, a 1.4 percent change from 2012 vs. the 2.2 percent increase among the 244 municipalities studied by WISTAX.
In 2013, average law enforcement spending was $229 per resident, while police spending in Waupaca was $243.
Street maintenance spending totaled $164 per capita, compared to $115 elsewhere. While net fire and ambulance expenditures averaged $139 statewide, they averaged $33 per person in Waupaca.
MunicipalFacts15 compares municipal finances in Wisconsin’s 244 cities and villages with populations between 2,000 and 150,000. The 116-page book provides information on property taxes, property values, debt, income, income taxes and population.
MunicipalFacts15 was researched and printed with support from Ehlers, an independent financial advisory firm. For more information or to purchase a copy of MunicipalFacts15, visit www.wistax.org.