(Beaver Dam) Officials in Beaver Dam Monday night held their first discussions on next year’s budget and borrowing plan. The city can only increase its levy by $115-thousand dollars, which represents a net increase in construction of 1.2-percent. The maximum the mill rate could be next year is $10.26 per one thousand dollars of assessed value. The mill rate this year is $9.46.
Expenditures increased $2.39-million dollars to $20.73-million. The bulk of the increase can be tied to the addition of $1-million dollars in debt service from the construction of a new public works facility, which is exempt from state levy limits. Wage increases of one-percent (1%) to one-and-a-half percent (1.5%), coupled with a realization of police salaries, resulted in another $844-thousand dollars in red ink.
Beaver Dam’s new city administrator Nathan Thiel is recommending a series of cuts totaling $868-thousand dollars to balance the numbers. The deficit could be reduced by scaling back contributions to the Shared Ride Taxi program ($100,000), reducing the legal services budget ($119,500) and reclassifying capital outlay as debt, removing it from state revenue caps.
Another cut suggested by Thiel would increase employee health insurance deductibles ($165,000), which drew little support from the council. Alderman Mick Fischer says now is not the time to be scaling back employee benefits because the job market is so tight and retention is a concern. Alderman Kevin Burnett noted that increasing deductibles would essentially result in a 1.8-percent reduction in pay.
Thiel also recommends cutting contributions to the Chamber of Commerce ($59,000). Alderman Ken Anderson supports such cuts to the chamber saying last year’s budget was too generous and now is not the time to be spending money on advertising. Council President Mike Wissell countered by touting the importance of the chamber’s contributions to fireworks and tourism.
Revenues next year are estimated at $6.1-million dollars, increasing approximately $200-thousand dollars.
Elected officials are considering a maneuver that would generate more revenue by altering how services are paid. That might include separately billing garbage and recycling services by adding it to the utility bill as a flat fee.
Thiel says the move would essentially be cost neutral to residents but would free up considerable room in the levy, which would in theory lower property taxes. There was apprehension but general consensus by the council was in favor of the maneuver with officials indicating support for the fee if the change freed up levy space that would keep employee deductibles unchanged.
A draft budget is expected to be presented next week.