The finance committee meetings for the City of Brookfield 2010 budget are over. You may watch the three meetings in their entirety on cable television. The meetings were attended by most of the aldermen and senior city staff plus Al Hamari of the Brookfield News. No member of the general public nor any community blogger (except me!) attended at any time.
There were many questions and discussions during the three meetings. Some (though not all) of them are shown below. The bottom line is that the operating budget and thus tax levy were reduced by $32,500.
The next step will be a public hearing during the usual Common Council meeting on Tuesday, November 17 at 7:45 p.m. Following that hearing will be debate, possibly modifications and final approval.
Library Book Budget Cut
Library funding was cut by $15,000. By state law, how the library spends its budget is under control of the Library Board which is appointed by the Mayor with Council approval. However, the discussion clearly identified cutting the materials budget (books, magazines, monthly bulletins, etc.). A similar cut was made last year and was overturned by the full council.
The motion was made by Ald. Jerry Mellone and seconded by Ald. Reddin. It was approved by Sutton, Reddin, J. Mellone, L. Mellone and opposed by Garvens, Nelson, Berg.
Calhoun Road / I-94 Interchange Study Funded
Ald. Jerry Mellone wanted to delete all capital budget funding for the I-94 / Calhoun Road interchange. For 2010 that was $100,000 to pay for an environmental impact study (EIS). The interchange has never been fully approved and if it was built the state would provide substantial funding. However, the EIS is a very complex multi-year effort and has to be complete before a decision can be made.
Ald. Lisa Mellone pointed out that since the money was borrowed via a bond issue in the spring of 2010 and the first payment would not be due until 2011, this would have no impact on the 2010 budget, passed or not.
The motion was made by Ald. Jerry Mellone and seconded by Ald. Lisa Mellone. It was approved by J. Mellone and opposed by Sutton, Reddin, Garvens, Nelson, Berg, L. Mellone.
Parks & Recreation Survey Cost Shifted
Ald. Lisa Mellone noted the proposed $10,000 community survey concerning what type of recreation programs the city should have would be paid for with general revenues. She noted that the park program self supporting fund had a $250,000 balance and suggested the $10,000 survey be paid from that reserve instead of new revenue.
The motion was made by Ald. Lisa Mellone and seconded by Ald. Nelson. It was approved unanimously.
Safety Building Utility Bill Funding Reduced
On Tuesday, October 6 the city accepted a grant to place photo-voltaic panels on the roof of the Safety Building. Construction is expected by late January, 2010. The electricity produced will offset the power bill by an estimated $15,000 per year. The committee agreed to reduce the power bill budget by $7,500. That allows a safety margin if installation of the solar panels is delayed, if power output is less than predicted, etc.
The motion was made by Ald. Lisa Mellone and seconded by Ald. Sutton. It was approved unanimously.
The number of city employees is measured as Full Time Equivalents or "FTE" meaning one person working 40 hours/week or 2 people each working 20 hours/week, etc. Seasonal workers (swimming pool lifeguards, etc.) are not counted. City staff for 2010 will be 360.22 FTE, down from 363.65 in 2009. The reduction was made by not filling positions vacated by retirement or resignation. There were also some reassignments of current employees. You may read all the details by clicking on the following document.
This table shows the FTEs for the past several years. I've never understood the lie that the size of the city staff explodes every year. This table shows why.
- Interest income (budget book page 41, acct 020430-466000) - Budget expects $400,000. It averaged about twice that much in the years before current low interest rates.
Spending NOT Cut
- Contingency - The entire $400,000 contingency (e.g. unexpected expenses such as more road salt for a bad winter, as happened in 2007-08) would be entirely funded ("applied surplus") from the general reserves fund, as has been the policy for many years.
- Court employee education training kept at $1,525. A big part of that is the required annual continuing education for the municipal judge.
- D.A.R.E. - Fully funded at $32,000 of which $24,000 is city tax money. Officer overtime for teaching is about $23,000. There are 600 students in the program for a cost of about $53/student.
- McCoy Field Renovations - Baseball backstop, fencing, batting cage, portable toilet enclosure for $20,000.
- Mosquito & Deer Control - Fully funded. Ald. Lisa Mellone briefly suggested reducing funding, but no change was adopted. About $54,000/year is used to pay for the study required by the state DNR to determine if treatment is needed.
- Road salt and sand - $316,200, up from $231,528. Road salt increased about 33% per ton over last year.
- Senior Taxi - City subsidy is $6,860.
- Waste Hauling - Increased 7.7% from $1,549,150 to $1,668,138. That was almost entirely due to increased tipping fees paid to the state. Thus, the state is now getting a slice of your property tax dollars in addition to your income and sales tax dollars.
As a result of the changes made, the proposed levy of $35,108,000 was decreased by $32,500 to 'only' $35,075,500.
The following table shows the city tax rate and assessment for various property values. These do not include school taxes, etc. The amount in (parentheses) is the change from the column to the left.
|Assessed Value||2008||2009||2010 Original||2010 Approved|
|$1,000||$5.0782||$5.3026||$5.4082 (+$0.1056 or 1.99%)||
|$278,200||$1,412.76||$1,475.18||$1,504.56 (+$29.38)||$1,503.20 (-$1,36)|
|$335,000 city average||$1,701.20||$1,776.37||$1,811.75 (+$35.38)||$1,810.11 (-$1.64)|
|$451,400||$2,292.30||$2,393.59||$2,441.26 (+$47.73)||$2,439.05 (-$2.21)|
|$546,400||$2,774.73||$2,897.34||$2,955.04 (+$57.70)||$2,952.35 (-$2.69)|
|$667,000||$3,387.16||$3,536.83||$3,607.27 (+$70.44)||$3,604.00 (-$3.27)|
Proposed Budget Documents from City Web Site