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High Speed Rail and 1.5%

election 2010, Budget, High Speed Rail, mayor

The recent mayoral candidate debates identified many issues facing the new mayor.  Here is some background information on a couple of them.

 


High Speed Rail (HSR)

There seems to be some debate over just who said what at the February 4 debate. I happened to audio record the debate. BrookfieldNow doesn't seem to allow me to conveniently embed the sound file on this blog.  Click here to switch to my web site page, then click on the link to hear the mp3 sound file.

You may want to refer to my August 3, 2009 blog entry on high speed rail.  Included was this excerpt from page 7 of the 2035 Comprehensive Plan Task Force meeting minutes of June 10, 2009.

“The discussion moved to high speed rail. Mr. Roffers noted that plans are underway to move forward with the Midwest Rail Initiative which has been prioritized by the federal administration. This region is competing with other regions for funds to implement this project. Mr. Gilmore made a motion to remove 4. Mr. Weller seconded. Ms. Donze noted that it is inevitable and that the City needs to support it. There was a discussion about the difference between light rail and high speed intercity rail. The second was withdrawn.

There was a motion to retain recommendation 4 – supporting High-Speed Passenger Rail by Ms. Winberg and seconded by Mr. Marcello.

In Favor: Moon, Donze, Clappier Gennrich, Winberg, Marcello, Sauer, Becker, Weller, Aprahamian, Taipala.

Opposed: Gilmore.”

I haven’t heard anything to change my opinion yet, so I'm continuing my wait and see stance, which seems to be what all four mayoral candidates are doing.  Here are a few other useful sources:


1.5%

Dave Marcello is using a campaign slogan of “50, 1.5 and 1” The 50 refers to how long his family has lived in Brookfield, his proof of a deep commitment to the city and his home. 1.5 refers to his vision that your annual property tax bill should be 1.5% of the assessed value of your house.   The 1 refers to the responsibility that each resident has to help Brookfield – in this case casting their one ballot. Given the current state of the economy putting a huge focus on government spending, let’s talk about "1.5".  It's an important issue no matter how the election turns out.

So, what goes into Brookfield’s 1.7% property tax? Here’s a breakdown:

2009 Tax Bill Funding 2010

Authority

 $ Property Tax / $1,000 Assessed

% Tax / $1,000 Assessed

 Revenue

Elmbrook Schools

 $ 8.3009

0.8301%

 $  53,069,660

City of Brookfield

 $ 5.3543

0.5354%

 $  34,758,500

Waukesha County

 $ 1.8679

0.1868%

 $  12,125,612

WCTC

 $ 1.1564

0.1156%

 $    7,506,846

State of Wisconsin

 $ 0.1696

0.0170%

 $    1,114,442

Total Tax Rate

 $16.8491

1.6849%

 $108,575,060

Notes

  • The Elmbrook School District is used here. A few Brookfield residents are in the Waukesha School District which has a lower rate of 1.57764%
  • The Elmbrook School District numbers reflect a state levy credit of $11,249,244. Their true tax levy revenue is $64,318,904.

How does that 1.68% rate compare to other cities? The city web site shows this graph.  It's a little outdated, but the comparison is about the same.

So, suppose the City of Brookfield budget, which is the only budget the City of Brookfield Mayor has direct influence on, takes the entire cut to make the total rate 1.5%. What would have to happen?

 

City Takes All Cuts

Authority

 $ Property Tax / $1,000 Assessed

% Tax / $1,000 Assessed

 Revenue

Cut in Property Tax

Elmbrook Schools

 $ 8.3009

0.8301%

 $53,069,660

 $0                               -  

City of Brookfield

 $ 3.5052

0.3505%

 $22,754,701

 $12,003,799

Waukesha County

 $ 1.8679

0.1868%

 $12,125,612

 $0                                -  

WCTC

 $ 1.1564

0.1156%

 $ 7,506,846

 $0                              -  

State of Wisconsin

 $ 0.1696

0.0170%

 $ 1,114,442

 $0                                -  

Total Tax Rate

 $15.0000

1.5000%

 $96,571,261

 $12,003,799

If you really believe (I think this is what Marcello was proposing) that the Mayor of Brookfield can lead every other taxing authority to spread the $12 million cut across all the taxing authorities in proportion to their budget, it looks like this. (Yes, there’s an error of about $88,000. It comes from over-simplifying the school tax credit and some other factors, but I think this gets us into the ballpark for discussion purposes.)

 

Cuts Spread Proportionately

Authority

 $ Property Tax / $1,000 Assessed

% Tax / $1,000 Assessed

 Revenue

 Cut in Property Tax

Elmbrook Schools

 $ 7.3899

0.7390%

 $47,245,544

 $  5,824,116

City of Brookfield

 $ 4.7667

0.4767%

 $30,943,938

 $  3,814,562

Waukesha County

 $ 1.6629

0.1663%

 $10,794,890

 $  1,330,722

WCTC

 $ 1.0295

0.1029%

 $   6,683,009

 $     823,837

State of Wisconsin

 $ 0.1510

0.0151%

 $       992,138

 $     122,304

Total Tax Rate

 $15.0000

1.5000%

 $96,659,519

 $11,915,541

You can get more property tax information than you really want to read at the Wisconsin Department of Revenue ( http://www.revenue.wi.gov  ) web site. That site has a 158 page report comparing tax rates for all Wisconsin cities, villages and towns.

The city’s web site has a page entitled What Does My City Tax Bill Pay For? It includes this chart explained as,  “Costs shown are based on a $335,000 home, which was the approximate median assessed value of a Brookfield home for 2009. This home would pay $1,793 for its 2010 City services.” 

If the entire $12 million was taken from the city’s budget, you would cut 35% ($620) off these costs. You can’t really cut anything from debt service – it’s a loan (bond) that you can’t default on. The cut of only $3,814,562 means 11% ($196), and again the debt service is the only thing you can’t do anything with. Good luck leading the school district, technical school, etc. in making their share of the cuts rather than just raising their levies by that much and claiming “your tax bill didn’t change”.  

 City Services Received

2010 Cost

Police Protection

 $356

Fire Protection

 $287

Public Works
(includes street maintenance, storm sewer maintenance, stormwater facilities, sanitary sewer capital charge from Milwaukee Metro Sewer District, pothole patching, street cleaning, snow removal, street painting, and engineering)

 $337

Parks and Recreation

 $94

General Government/ Administration
(includes Mayor, City Council, City Attorney, Assessor, Clerk, Finance, Human Resources, and Information Technology)

 $161

Community Development
(includes Planning, Building Inspection, and Code Enforcement)

 $47

Sanitation
(solid waste and recycling collection and disposal)

 $88

Brookfield Public Library

 $100

Debt Service (majority used for Public Works projects)

 $265

Other/Unallocated
(includes contingency and miscellaneous functions)

 $58

Total City of Brookfield Government Tax Bill ($335,000 assessed home)

 $1,793


References

For a description of the discussion about the current year’s budget, look at my blog entry of October 12, 2009

The details of the 2010 budget may be found on the city’s web site

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