Waupaca council approves 2016 budget
By Angie Landsverk
City of Waupaca taxpayers will see a lower city mill rate when they open their tax bills next month.
Waupaca’s tax rate will be $10.19 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, which is down 7 cents from the present rate of $10.26.
The owner of a $100,000 home in the city will pay $7 less in the city’s portion of taxes.
However, that same home owner will pay $69.60 more in total taxes.
That is because the tax rates of the other taxing authorities – Waupaca County, the Waupaca School District, Fox Valley Technical College and the state of Wisconsin – will all be higher to support their 2016 budgets.
In addition to a lower city tax rate, the city will also have a lower tax levy.
The budget resolution adopted by the council includes a city tax levy of $3.47 million, which compares to the present levy of $3.54 million.
The Waupaca Common Council approved the 2016 budget and levy by a vote of 6-4 when it met Tuesday, Nov. 17.
Steve Hackett, Alan Kjelland, Paul Mayou, Dave Peterson, Eric Olson and Chuck Whitman voted in favor it.
Lori Chesnut, Paul Hagen, Jillian Petersen and Scott Purchatzke voted against the budget.
During the public hearing held prior to the council meeting, no one spoke in favor of or against the budget.
When the council took up the discussion during its meeting, it was about a proposal to make up the 2.6 percent increase in the health insurance premium of city employees.
Prior to the meeting, Mayor Brian Smith had discussions about the topic with Kathryn Kasza, the city’s finance director and treasurer, and Henry Veleker, the city’s administrator.
“The thought here is the employees are receiving a 1 percent rate increase and the additional (health insurance premium) cost is greater, so they are kind of getting a decrease,” the mayor said.
An option presented by Kasza was to give a two-month premium contribution holiday next year to all employees participating in the city’s health plan to make up the 2.6 percent increase.
When Mayou made the motion to approve the city’s 2016 budget resolution, he included that in his motion, so those employees will receive that two-month premium contribution holiday.
Kasza told the council the cost to do so will be about $13,100.
“The impact on each of the funds is very minimal when you break that down,” she said. “The total impact is not enough to make a change in that tax rate.”
The money to cover that cost would be put into the General Fund by a transfer from a different fund, such as the city’s Debt Service Fund.
Smith said the cost is minimal and it would be a one-year deal.
“I think it would mean a lot to the employees,” he said.
Some members of the council, such as Purchaztke and Hagen, expressed concerns about setting precedent, with health insurance costs expected to continue increasing.
“Maybe the cost of living increase will be greater next year, so it’s not as much of a difference,” Smith said. “The employees took a big hit over the last five to six years. To just give them a little bit would go a long way.”
The mayor’s three vetoes were also addressed during the Nov. 17 meeting.
Smith vetoed the 2016 budget of Waupaca Online due to concerns about its revenue being overstated.
A revised budget for the utility was presented and approved by the council.
The mayor also vetoed the council’s action which authorized staff to begin the process for a water rate increase.
Discussion on a rate increase is now being delayed until mid-year to see what the city’s annual audit shows in regard to the water utility’s rate of return.
When Smith vetoed the city’s 2016 water fund, he did so because he was not sure if a water rate increase was included in that fund’s revenue projections.
Since that adopted budget did not include a water rate increase, the council did override that veto.
Before the council voted, Smith said, “You won’t hurt my feelings if your override it.”