Fond du Lac City Council will take a couple more weeks to consider applying more reserve funds to the 2015 budget.
Council decided Wednesday to delay budget approval until Nov. 12.
Members are considering whether they should apply additional fund balance to reduce the tax rate and how such a move would impact future budgets.Ohhh... So, the conservatives are ticked that the city isn't dipping into it's reserves and running them dry before raising the tax rate.
Sen. Rick Gudex and Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, both former councilmen, were in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting and spoke as “city residents” during the audience comments portion of the meeting.
Gudex suggested Council use some or all of the $1.5 million in unassigned fund balance to help reduce the tax levy that includes a 5.4 percent increase. He said the $1.5 million is taxpayer money and he said it was unfair to have that sum in reserve and ask taxpayers to “pay more” in the form of a tax increase.
Mind you, we're talking about the City of Fond du Lac here. Not Madison. Not some liberal bastion...
The proposed increase would equate to an additional 45.4 cents per $1,000 of equalized valuation. A home valued at $121,000 (the city’s average value) would see an increase of $55 in the city portion of their tax bill. The owner of a home valued at $150,000 would see an increase of $68.10 over last year’s bill. Tax increase, though, will vary in the wake of a citywide property revaluation, where some properties increased in value and others decreased.Funny, my parent's home is valued at $155,000, meaning they will see a bill of about $70.00 more than last year. I mean, it's not like there wasn't inflation in there or anything...
The proposed budget already includes about $715,000 from the city’s fund balance.So, it's not like the city is completely bilking taxpayers here. They're trying to be fiscally smart.
Thiesfeldt said every budget has challenges and he said the current council is focused on payback of debt. Still, he believes there is enough excess to put more toward the budget.
“I am very uncomfortable with maintaining a fund balance well beyond Council policy of 15 percent and ... increasing taxes by 5.4 percent of equalized value,” he said. “There should be some consideration to knocking that down.”
Council has a self-imposed policy of retaining at least 15 percent of its expenditures ($31 million). With a projected $6.2 million in fund balance, a total of $4.7 million would be considered the “floor,” or least amount to retain, said City Manager Joe Moore.
Gudex said if the 15 percent figure isn’t the right number, then Council should change its policy.Typical Republican logic here... Oh, well, if that number isn't the "right" guide number, just change it at random to make it look better.
Thiesfeldt said when he was on Council, members were dealing with the recession, Mercury Marine threatening to leave Fond du Lac and the flood of 2008.
“We felt, as a Council, that we could not burden the people with great tax increases,” he said Thursday, adding that the council during his tenure refinanced debt from 10- to 20-year repayment. “And they are trying to get back to that (10-year payment) policy and I support that.”Congratulations. You're no longer on the council. You decided to run for the Assembly and make decisions there. Don't come swoop back in to the council chambers and start talking to them like they are a child. They're no more important in our democracy than you good sir.
Moore and Director of Administration Hal Wortman both voiced concerns Wednesday about the use of additional fund balance to reduce a tax rate increase.You know, the City Manager and persons who work directly with these budgets on a daily basis and have considerably more background in functioning within a budget than Mr. Thiesfeldt.
He was a private school teacher. I'm a public school teacher. I'd absolutely love to be in elected office one day, but I'll be damned if I would ever feel it appropriate to
Wortman said the city could get into a cycle of increasing budget deficits and would have to cut services.Sounds like a Republican budget to me... Or, a Thiesfeldt-Gudex DREAM WORLD.
Moore said by lowering the levy — no matter how it’s done — it would “re-set” the baseline property tax levy and the amount cannot be recovered. There is no additional state aid and the levy may be increased only by the percentage of new construction and increases in debt service.Ohhh, state aid. Funny, who were the ones who had votes in screwing local municipalities over the last few years with the loss of shared revenue? Gee, those 2011 Act 10 reforms worked so well for local municipalities...
“If you don’t levy up to the levy limit, you’ve reduced your levy and that is the new base for the next budget year and years going forward,” Wortman said. “You’ve lost forever whatever amount you reduce it by.”Welcome to why you have to levy up to the limit. This is exactly part of the problem with rural school districts in Wisconsin as well right now and the funding problems with those districts. The Republicans over the last few years have done nothing but create havoc for local municipalities and gave them "tools" to piss off their employees and drive morale through the basement floor.
Nice work Neo-Stalwarts...
Wortman said there would be better ways to use excess fund balance, including repayment of debt, avoidance of new debt and for economic development.DING, DING, DING!
“I would say stick with the levy budget as is,” he said. “It would be a poor financial decision to draw down the tax levy.”
Lord save us...
Moore said the risk inherent in using the entire $1.5 million is having no fund balance at the end of 2015 for use in 2016. Previous budgets have used some fund balance to support the upcoming year’s budget. If an emergency arose, there would be no funds to draw from. Moore said staff would have to ask Council to go below its 15 percent minimum in reserve and that could trigger the concern of auditors and bond rating agencies.I mean, because it's not like the city hasn't had a few floods over the last 10 years. Or excess snow plowing is out of the question. Or a wind storm. Earthquake, locust, whatever...
Council President Sam Meyer said he is not opposed to giving extra time to council members who need it to consider the budget. The postponement also would allow Karyn Merkel, who was absent and excused from Wednesday’s meeting, to vote.In other words, the local GOP is going to twist some arms and do some pretty high-level "discussing" with the relatively conservative members of the council about making the "right" decisions. Or, as I suspect, have state legislators tell members of the council what the legislature and Governor have in store should they win Nov. 4th with the 2015-17 Biennium Budget.
Meyer said he believed it prudent to keep a portion of fund balance in reserve so there is the ability to react to situations and opportunities as Council did Wednesday by authorizing up to $255,000 in assistance to Marian University for the development of the AC Nielsen building. Meyer said he wanted to be comfortable about the city’s ability to pay bills in the future.Let's watch this a little closer.
Oh, and hey Mary Burke! Here's something for you to latch onto as well!