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Bay's budget gets a review

Package includes funding for stormwater control

Oct. 16, 2012

Whitefish Bay - Officials have wrapped up their review of the village's proposed 2013 budget, which they are poised to adopt next month.

The Village Board on Monday reviewed several components of the approximately $14.2 million budget, which proposes a slight increase to the property tax levy and tax rate.

The 2013 property tax levy is projected to increase two-thirds of a percent from the 2012 tax levy, to about $10.58 million. The 2013 tax rate is estimated at $5.34 per $1,000 of assessed value, a 3-cent increase from the previous year.

In its latest review of the budget, the Village Board examined general fund revenue, the capital projects fund, funds for the water, sewer, stormwater and parking utilities, and the budgets for the library and Engineering/Department of Public Works, including proposed capital projects for those areas.

With regard to the general fund, the village is anticipating an approximately 33 percent increase in state shared revenue, said Finance Director/Clerk Jennifer Amerell. Other noted changes include the elimination of electric licensing revenues, with those licenses now being issued by the state, as well as a reduction in anticipated revenue from parking citations, due to an inflated 2012 estimate.

Stormwater project funding

Next year will be the first for the stormwater utility, which is expected to be operational by mid year. As a result, 50 percent of the anticipated stormwater utility expenses in 2013 will be financed by the general fund, with the expectation that the utility will repay the general fund through user fees generated beginning in 2014.

Nearly $6.6 million in capital projects are planned for the stormwater utility in 2013, including the addition of a retention pond for Estabrook and Cahill Park and upsizing of a pipe laid under a stretch of Lancaster Avenue, which likely will require collaboration with the city of Glendale.

Also noteworthy is the likelihood of a rate increase in 2013 to support the sewer utility, which Amerell described as "stressed."

"It's going to be very important that the board looks at the rates on an annual basis," Amerell said.

Village Manager Patrick DeGrave said that a 3 percent increase in sewer user rates would likely be sufficient for the fund to break even, but staff is recommending a 5 percent increase, which would provide an extra cushion. Staff likely will request board action on the rate increase within its next meeting or two, DeGrave said.

Trees in the Works

The Engineering/Department of Public Works budget includes a more than 150 percent increase in funding for the replacement of trees, which will enable the village to better diversify its tree stock, explained Public Works Superintendent Kevin Kaegi.

Previously the village was primarily planting bare root trees in its replacement efforts, which were a cheaper option but limited it to ash, maple and honey locust trees, Kaegi said.

Maple and honey locust trees make up more than 10 percent of the village's total trees, Kaegi said, which is inconsistent with the 10 percent threshold set by the village.

This year the village will begin planting ball and burlap trees, which offers about six to eight different species of trees to choose from. By having a greater variety of trees, the village is able to better protect trees from any pest issues that may target a particular type of tree, said Engineering/DPW Director Daniel Naze.

Waste and record-keeping

The capital fund also budgets $50,000 for the purchase of a used yard waste vehicle, which is needed mainly as a safety precaution for workers operating the truck, Naze said.

Although not included in the 2013 budget, the board also expressed a desire to discuss offering curbside waste collection at some point in the future. Switching to a four-day collection cycle is another option that may be considered, Naze said.

Also looking beyond 2013, the board briefly discussed beginning to convert its records to a digital format, through which they would be easily accessible both internally and to the public.

DeGrave said the project would be longer term and would likely involve hiring a part-time employee to scan the village's hard-copy records, which would require purchasing scanning equipment as well as dedicated server space.

Trustee James Roemer expressed concerns regarding the ongoing hardware maintenance costs associated with such an endeavor.

"It makes complete sense operationally, it's just that hardware cost and obsolescence that comes with it," Roemer said.

DeGrave said staff would return to the board with more information and cost estimates to discuss the topic further at a future meeting.

The board did not suggest any changes to the proposed 2013 budget. It is scheduled to consider adoption of the budget at its second meeting in November, following a public hearing.

NEXT STEP

WHAT: Village Board public hearing on and adoption of the 2013 budget

WHEN: 7 p.m. Nov. 19

WHERE: Village Hall, 5300 N. Marlborough Drive

MORE INFO: The budget can be viewed on the village's website, wfbvillage.org.

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