City spending to drop by 1 percent in 2016
By Angie Landsverk
After four consecutive years of a level tax rate, the city of Weyauwega is raising its tax rate.
The city’s tax rate will be $8.21 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, compared to the current tax rate of $8.16 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, which it was since 2010.
For taxpayers in the city, the five-cent increase in the city’s portion of the overall tax rate means the owner of a $100,000 home will pay $5 more in city taxes than that same homeowner paid this year.
The tax bill going out next month will include the tax rates of the city, county, school district, Fox Valley Technical College and the state.
The Weyauwega Common Council unanimously approved a 2016 city expenditure budget of $1.75 million and a property tax levy of $754,626 when it met on Nov. 16.
The discussion included three options for the tax rate: $8.16, $8.21 and $8.26 rates.
Ald. Keith Najdowski said he believed the budget proposal was well thought out and put together after input from the city’s committees and preferred the $8.21 tax rate.
Ald. Nick Gunderson agreed.
While no one wants to raise taxes, it is important to maintain the city’s capital fund and not borrow from it to keep the tax rate level, he said.
The city’s 2016 expenditure budget is down 1.08 percent from the current budget of $1.8 million, and the levy is up 1.23 percent from the present levy of $745,442.
During the discussion about the budget, City Administrator Patrick Wetzel said the 2016 budget includes levying for the city’s allowable limit.
Last year, the council backed off on levying the city’s allowable limit to keep the city’s tax rate level, he said.
“The city has gone out of its way to keep the (tax) rate the same for four years,” Wetzel said.
In order to maintain that $8.16 tax rate, the council would have had to cut a total of $4,500 out of the 2016 budget. In his executive summary, Wetzel said net new construction in the city means general property tax collections will increase slightly.
In addition, the closure of Tax Incremental Financing District #3 in the city means the properties in that district will return to the tax roll, he said.
Wetzel said the city will see another year of decreased state aid, as well as a one-year decrease in recycling aids.
On the expenditure side of the budget, with the municipal building under construction, next year’s budget includes an increase in the costs to operate it.
“This increase is projected for roughly seven months in our new building next year, and will be updated on our 2016 experience, as we develop the 2017 budget,” Wetzel wrote in his executive summary.
The approved 2016 budget also includes a 2 percent wage increase for general employees and those in the police department.
In the Public Works Department, there is a base rate, Wetzel explained, with employees receiving raises as they obtain certifications.
There is no increase to the base rate in that department.
In addition, the budget includes several changes related to health insurance.
Up until 2015, city employees paid 10 percent toward the cost of the insurance premium.
Beginning in 2016, they will pay 12 percent, Wetzel said.
In the past, the city fully funded a Health Savings Account for employees enrolled in its health insurance program.
The amount put into that fund matched the deductibles, which was $1,250 for someone on a single plan and $2,500 for someone on a family plan.
For employees not taking the city’s health insurance, the city put those same amounts into an Individual Retirement Account or a deferred compensation fund, Wetzel said.
With the Internal Revenue Service mandating deductibles of $1,300 for a single plan and $2,600 for a family plan, the city will now change the amount its funds to an HSA, IRA or deferred compensation fund to $1,000 (single) and $2,000 (family), respectively, he said.