2018 City Budget Up for Public Hearing Monday Night

The City Manager’s proposed 2018 Budget was presented to the City Council on November 6, following review of its various component budgets by the City Council Finance and Utilities Committees.

The Budget will be the subject of a public hearing at 6:00 PM on Monday, November 20.

Final City Council action is planned for a 6:00 PM on Monday, November 27.

Taking all funds into account, the 2018 Budget addresses $34 million in City spending, for a variety of local services and capital projects.

This column presents a quick summary of the 2018 Budget.  For more details, go to www.two-rivers.org.

Tax-Supported Funds:  General, Library and Debt Service

The General Fund pays for services including Police, Fire/EMS, Public Works, Parks/Rec/Cemeteries, and General Government.

Spending for 2018 is proposed to increase by 2.49 percent ($244,155), to $10,068,598.  (Only 2 percent higher than ten years ago; 2008 General Fund Budget was $9.88 million.)

Over half of General Fund spending is for public safety:  Police, Fire and EMS.  The PD budget is proposed to increase by 3.37 percent, mostly due to planned increases in wage and benefit costs.

The Fire/EMS budget is proposed to increase by 6.18 percent, due to wage and benefit increases and the addition of one full-time firefighter/paramedic.  That addition is to help address an ever-increasing number of ambulance runs—both for emergent situations and inter-facility transfers.

The Parks and Rec budget is proposed to increase by 6.17 percent, to bolster staffing for facilities marketing and management (new half-time position, established mid-2017) and recreation facilities maintenance (position expanded from half-time to full-time.)  Those positions will help promote, manage and maintain the investments the City has made in its Parks and Rec facilities in recent years.

It’s pretty much “status quo” in other General Fund areas—Public Works, General Government, Cemetery, Senior Center, resulting in the 2.49 percent overall increase.

Additional funding to support this modest spending growth will come from a $45,000 increase in taxes (from $2,032,302 to $2,077,302), $120,000 in increased EMS revenue, $55,000 from property sales and modest projected increases in permit revenue.

(Note: largest source of General Fund revenues is intergovernmental; State-source revenues like Shared Revenues, Street Aids and the annual Expenditure Restraint payment total $4.7 million, or about 47 percent of this budget.)

Property taxes fund about 70 percent of the operating budget for the Lester Public Library, which is proposed at $862,438 for 2018.  I am recommending an increase in City tax support of 2 percent ($11,666), to $594,971.

Property taxes are the primary funding source to service non-utility debt issued for capital projects.  Taxes for the Debt Service Fund in 2018 will be unchanged from the current year, at $2,445,283.

Total increase in City tax levy:  $56,666, or 1.1 percent.  To raise that amount, the City share of the tax rate will need to grow by about 0.34 percent.  That will raise City taxes on a $100,000 assessed home by $4, from $1,074 to $1,078.

Capital Projects Funds

Funded primarily through long-term borrowing and grants, the Capital Projects Funds finance infrastructure projects, capital equipment and vehicles.

The 2018 Budget includes funding for about $3.5 million in capital projects and purchases.  Projects include:
–27th Street repaving and utility work, Forest Avenue to Washington Street
–Sandy Bay Highlands Subdivision, Phase 2 (22 new lots)
–Completion of the bike/ped trail along Lincoln Ave. to the TRHS campus
–Vets Park repaving
–New parking area at Vietnam Vets Park
–Public Works backhoe replacement
–Fire and Police radios
–Hamilton waterfront property purchase
–Police and Public Works vehicle replacement

The City will also borrow $500,000 to reduce its long-term liability to the WI Retirement System, and will make a total payment of $620,000 toward eliminating that long-term liability.

While the City Council and I want to reduce the City’s overall debt level by about $2 million, the 2018 Budget only reduces net City debt by about $150,000, because we also want to borrow money while rates remain favorable, to pay off that WI Retirement obligation.

Utility Funds

Quick summary of the City’s fee-supported Utility Funds:

Solid Waste Utility, budget $706,410, up 0.2 percent.  Funds trash and recyclables collection, street sweeping and leaf pickup.  No increase proposed for garbage stickers or environmental fee on utility bills.  Fund balance $112,000.

Water Utility operating budget $2,286,340, down 3.4 percent.  Rate case pending with PSC; estimated at 11 percent.  Utility presents a financial challenge for the City, with a $1.8 million cumulative deficit at 2016 year-end—projected to improve by $400,000 by end of 2018.   2018 capital investment by this utility:  $1.5 million (includes $500,000 in State funding for lead laterals).

Electric Utility, operating budget $9,343,220, down 0.45 percent.  ($7 million is wholesale power purchases.)  Last rate increase January 2014; no rate change proposed.    $255,000 in capital projects, funded from operating income.  2018 fund balance projected at $360,000.

Sanitary Sewer Utility, operating budget $2,420,000, up 1.03 percent.  Last rate increase January 2014 (3 percent); 4 percent rate hike proposed for 2018.  Utility has recovered from a deficit situation in recent years.  Fund balance $174,000 unrestricted, plus a $1.2 million replacement reserve.  About $4.8 million in capital projects, including $4 million investment at the treatment plant, planned for 2018.  Long-term financing at favorable terms secured through DNR’s Clean Water Fund.

–Storm Water Utility.  In existence since 2014, this utility will be more actively investing in storm water infrastructure in 2018.  Budgeted operation and maintenance expenses $227,203.  Capital projects totaling $1.1 million.  With a fund balance of $1.2 million, this utility will be able to borrow for capital projects “on its own” (revenue-supported debt).

Again, for a more detailed look at the proposed 2018 City Budget, go to www.two-rivers.org.

Two Rivers City Manager Greg Buckley can be contacted by calling 920-793-5532 or by e-mailing gbuckley@two-rivers.org.

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