(Beaver Dam) The 2019 Beaver Dam city budget unanimously advanced out of committee on Wednesday. Last week, the committee spent three hours pouring over numbers, but Wednesday night’s meeting lasted only ten minutes as Chair Lisa Davidson called for the tabling of the evening’s main item: discussion on next year’s borrowing plan. The reason for the delay: two of the seven committee members were absent: one planned, one unplanned.
While no progress was made in discussing the borrowing plan, we are learning more about its tax impact. The proposed 2019 Capital Improvements Plan totals just shy of $4-million dollars. The bulk of the borrowing would be for road maintenance which totals around $3-million dollars. The request for Phase Two Downtown Revitalization totals $250-thousand dollars and the city’s five-year plan identifies a Third Phase in the year 2020 that also totals $250-thousand dollars.
City Finance Director John Somers provided a breakdown of the tax impact of the proposed borrowing, one that also takes into account the 2018 Phase One revitalization plan already approved for this year, which totaled $550-thousand dollars. Phase One is costing the owner of a $100-thousand dollar home $4.78 on the tax bill they will see this December, payable in 2019. If the full $250-thousand dollars being requested for Phase Two is approved, that property owner would pay a combined total of $6.19 for both phases in the year 2020. If Phase Three is approved in two years, that same homeowner would pay a total of $10.36 for all three phases in 2021.
The three-phase plan, which would total just over one million dollars, would in subsequent years cost between $11-and-$14 annually before dropping to $8 in 2028 and then around $5 in the final year of borrowing in 2029. The grand total over the eleven-year period, for the owner of a $100-thousand-dollar home, would be $111.86, or – on average – just over $10-per year for eleven years. Again, that is just for the mayor’s downtown revitalization plan.
When looking at all the city borrowing that taxpayers are responsible for, the mill rate impact last year was $2.08-per-thousand, meaning the owner of a $100-thousand-dollar home paid $208 for all city debt in 2017; that includes items like roads and equipment purchases. The borrowing for 2018, which wound up totaling $2.78-million, brings the total debt service portion of that homeowner’s tax bill this December to $214; that includes roads and equipment and also Phase One downtown revitalization. If Phases Two and Three are approved, and borrowing for roads and equipment continues at traditional levels, those numbers would increase to $229 in two years and $244 in three years. If the city does not borrow another dime for downtown revitalization, but continues to borrow $1.7-million for roads and equipment, the total debt service for the owner of a $100-thousand dollar home would instead be $215 in two years and $218 in three years.
With Wednesday’s delay, discussions on the Capital Improvements Plan in committee will now be held this Monday. If city officials were to exceed a self-imposed borrowing cap of $1.65-million dollars, it would require support from three-fourths of the full council, or 11 of 14 alderpersons.
As far as the proposed 2019 budget that was approved in committee Wednesday night, the document totals $16.52-million-dollars and includes a tax levy of $10.56-million dollars, an increase of $231-thousand dollars from the current budget. The mill rate as proposed would be $9.95-per one-thousand dollars of assessed value, a decrease of 14-cents. Equalized values are up in Beaver Dam by over three-percent. Per city ordinance, a final vote on the 2019 budget is slated for November 19.
This is the first year that city officials are looking at borrowing at the same time as budget deliberations. In previous years, the borrowing vote took place in the spring after budget adoption. We cannot say for sure exactly when the borrowing plan will be adopted but it is anticipated to come before the full council for consideration as part of budget discussions next month.
The proposed 2019 Capital Improvements Plan includes $2.98-million dollars for road maintenance. The mayor’s request for downtown revitalization funding totals $250-thousand dollars. The borrowing plan also includes $250-thousand dollars in partial funding for a replacement ambulance; $40-thousand dollars in partial funding for a police department shooting range; $200-thousand dollars to build a parking lot for the new northside soccer fields; and $88-thousand for a boardwalk connecting Edgewater Park with Starkweather Drive.
The major road reconstruction projects identified for 2019 include: $950-thousand dollars for Roosevelt Drive from Warren Street to Park Avenue; $310-thousand dollars for Haskell Street from West to Madison streets; $340-thousand dollars for the alley north of Front Street between North Center and North Spring streets; and $1-million dollars for South Spring Street from East Davis to Park Avenue. The specific downtown revitalization plans for 2019 are unclear.
Prior to this year, the Beaver Dam Common Council operated under a self-imposed borrowing cap of $1.6-million dollars. Starting this year, the cap will be adjusted for inflation and borrowing will be limited to $1.65-million. That number could be exceeded with a three-fourths majority of the council, or eleven of 14 alderpersons.
A plan to exceed that revenue cap and instead borrow $3.7-million dollars in 2018 was debated but a late-hour compromise reduced the final amount to $2.8-million. At the time, there was little disagreement about funding city street projects and all of the money that was cut came from the downtown revitalization portion, which originally totaled $1.4-million dollars; that was amended in the eleventh hour to $550-thousand dollars.
View Beaver Dam’s multi-year borrowing plan here:
The proposed 2019 document totals $16.52-million-dollars and includes a tax levy of $10.56-million dollars, an increase of $231-thousand dollars, or two-point-one-six-percent (2.16%), from the current budget. The mill rate as proposed would be $9.95-per one-thousand dollars of assessed value, a decrease of 14-cents from the $10.09-per-thousand tax rate adopted last November. Equalized property values in the city are up roughly three-percent (3%) to one-billion, one-hundred-and-six-million, eight-hundred-forty-four-thousand, four hundred dollars ($1,106,844,400). The budget is compliant with state-imposed levy limits and the state’s Expenditure Restraint Program.
City Finance Director John Somers says there were also significant savings in health insurance over last year. Initially estimated at a three-percent (3%) increase, the city is looking at a 24-percent decrease next year. Somers attributes the sharp decline to Beaver Dam’s recently approved participation in a health insurance consortium with multiple area communities.
Highlights from the budget include a two-percent (2%) wage increase for city employees. The fire department is requesting an additional firefighter/paramedic position. The Parks, Forestry and Facilities Department is seeking a full-time custodial position. The Community Activities and Services Department is asking to convert a part-time Activities Specialist position to a full-time Recreation Supervisor.
Capital outlay requests total $506-thousand dollars, up from the $421-thousand approved last year. That includes funding in the police department for a new K-9 vehicle and solar powered speed signs. The fire department wants turnout gear replacements and thermal imaging cameras. There are also requests for a replacement aeration fountain and new sand at Crystal Lake Park, enhancements to the Tower Parking Lot restroom, upgrades to the Swan Park bandshell and wayfinding signs throughout the city to direct people to various community landmarks.
View Beaver Dam’s 2019 proposed budget here: