The $151K question in West Bend
By Melanie Boyung
Special to the Daily News
WEST BEND — The Common Council is deadlocked on whether taxes or savings should be used to finish the budget for next year.
The council this week reviewed the 2020 city budget, before the public hearing notice for the budget is posted. It was a new version that held a flat tax rate at $7.79. The budget that was reviewed at the Finance Committee in early October, presented by City Administrator Jay Shambeau, was balanced and included a 6cent increase to the tax rate.
The increase was since eliminated by using $151,100 of fund balance. “This is our best guess for the amount we need to maintain the $7.79,” Shambeau said this week.
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Shambeau’s original presentation projected a $7.85 tax rate for 2020, which is the amount a property owner pays in city taxes per $1,000 of property value. At the Finance Committee, Shambeau was directed to rework the budget to hold the tax rate flat and use the fund balance to make up the difference. That after Mayor Kraig Sadownikow said there was about $500,000 left over in the budget.
At Monday’s council meeting, Alderman Justice Madl proposed returning the budget to the original presentation, including the 6-cent change.
The motion fell after the eight-member council tied on the vote, and Sadownikow voted against the motion.
Madl and Aldermen John Butschlok, Mark Allen and Steve Hoogester voted to revert the budget, with Aldermen Andrew Chevalier, Chris Jenkins, Rich Kasten and Roger Kist voting against.
“I don’t support making that change,” Madl said of using fund balance.
Sadownikow, at both the Finance Committee and Common Council, argued that the $151,100 was not enough funding to add a road project or complete a significant project. If there was a particular need for the money, he said he would hear it, but absent that he felt the tax rate should be left flat.
“If we’re going to change taxes, let’s make sure there’s a reason for it,” said Sadownikow, who later in the meeting resigned effective immediately.
Another motion was made to approve the flat-tax version of the budget, which also failed on a 3-5 vote. Madl, Allen, Butschlok and Hoogester, who voted for the original budget then voted against the other version, as well as Kist. Kist did not comment further when asked about his voting against both motions.
In the absence of any action by the Common Council, the Finance Committee’s direction will be followed. The city will publish the notice for the budget public hearing using the flat-tax version of the budget Finance Committee asked for.
Shambeau and City Attorney Ian Prust told the council there is nothing binding about the notice, as it is just informing the public of the budget hearing. The Common Council can continue considering the budget, and make changes before the budget is finalized.
The budget totals $24.25 million in revenues and operating budget expenses. Of that total, preliminary budget documents showed $15.88 million was from taxes. That amount would be about $15.73 million, if the $151,100 was taken from fund balance instead being raised in taxes.