Beaver Dam Alderpersons May Have Hands Tied In Budget Debate

(Beaver Dam) The Beaver Dam Common Council met as a Committee of the Whole Monday night to review the 2020 proposed budget. The $14.42-million-dollar document – as presented – includes a tax levy of $10.98-million, an increase of $486-thousand dollars, or 4.6-percent, over the current budget. No word yet on the mill rate impact. The city’s capital borrowing portion of the budget, the CIP, was approved two weeks ago.

The council was told that $69-thousand dollars needs to be trimmed from the budget to meet the state’s Expenditure Restraint Program. A total of $386-thousand dollars needs to be reduced to meet state levy limits.

Mayor Becky Glewen told the council where some of those reductions would be made.

Around $143-thousand dollars in savings would be realized by reducing the rec department budget, eliminating a one-ton plow truck and LED road sign from the DPW budget, and by postponing the purchase of a staff vehicle for the fire department as part of a regular replacement cycle.

The mayor’s revised budget with the latest changes is expected to be given to city officials by Wednesday (October 30). Monday night’s agenda allowed only for a “brief overview of the proposed operating budget” and “presentation by department heads.”

Alderman Mick Fischer sought to make an amendment to the budget to re-insert the fire department’s staff vehicle but was told that no motions could be made until next Monday’s meeting. However, by that time, it may be too late for alderpersons to offer such input on the budget.

State statute dictates that a municipal budget must be published 15 days prior to its adoption. Beaver Dam’s budget is traditionally adopted on the third Monday in November which, this year, is November 18. The council will have its first planned opportunity to offer changes on November 4, which means the budget would have to be published this week before the council can formally debate the Operations potion of the budget on Monday. No formal vote to publish the budget is planned; it is also not required.

Finance Director Jeff Wiswell indicated that it is his understanding that no new items could be added to the budget once it is published, only removed.

Glewen was asked by Administrative Committee Chair Kara Nelson if this is the most prudent course of action.

“I feel uncomfortable with that,” Nelson said, “are the department heads okay with those [budget requests] being removed without us voting on them?”

“This is the budget I’m putting forward so,” Glewen said, “the staff give input to that but you can add it back. I am sure staff would like to include everything in there.”

The question of what changes could be made to the budget after it is published was not immediately clear Monday night and is being researched.


Pictured above left to right: Finance Director Jeff Wiswell, Mayor Becky Glewen


Pictured above: Former Beaver Dam Finance Director John Somers, who retired this year but was hired back on as a consultant, addresses questions on the budget from the council