A self-described status-quo 2013 budget without any major cuts or additions is being touted by city officials as deliberations get under way.
Mayor Steve Ponto and Director of Finance Robert Scott presented details of the nearly $68 million budget at a Finance Committee meeting last week.
While several employee groups are expected to make additional health and retirement benefit contributions, several revenue sources are drying up. To balance both scenarios, city officials are proposing a 1.11 percent increase in the property tax levy, from $35.3 million in 2012 to $35.7 million in 2013.
"There are a variety of cost factors that are impacting the department budgets," Scott said. He pointed out some departments, including Police and Fire, remain under collective bargaining contracts, and employees are privy to automatic salary adjustments.
City officials plan to increase the overall salary budget by 2 percent next year.
Under new state regulations, municipalities can only increase taxes equivalent to the amount of new construction.
"With many cost forces on the city budget being above and beyond the types of issues that affect all enterprises, restrictions on our primary revenue source make the job of presenting a responsible budget that preserves services more challenging," Ponto said.
One bright spot for the city is health insurance. Costs are expected to increase by about 3 percent - a reduction from the 5 percent rise that had been projected earlier this year. Health insurance increases have been modest in recent years, and Scott attributed the projected amount to routine health insurance inflation.
"We continue to experience good news in this area," Scott said. "Our savings has been paying dividends."
Several capital improvements are slated for the upcoming year. One of the pricier projects is a stormwater project along St. James Street and Bermuda Boulevard with a price tag of $1.85 million.
Other planned projects include improvements to the library parking lot, technology updates at the Police Department and allocating $160,000 toward controlling mosquito and deer populations.
Like other municipalities, Brookfield has been receiving less income from the state for such services as recycling. But other revenue sources outside the levy are beginning to inch back up toward pre-2009 levels. Room tax collections, for instance, are up 6 percent - an indicator people are traveling and using hotels with greater frequency.
During last week's meeting, several department heads came before the committee and discussed their wish-list items.
Library Director Edell Schaefer outlined items in her budget, including plans to overhaul the parking lot in an effort to better accommodate patrons.
"It's something people have been asking for," Schaefer said of the parking lot improvements. "As much as we all love the farmers market, (the changes) will be a huge improvement for the library. People get quite creative when the market is taking place. They'll even park on sidewalks."
Further deliberations on the 2013 budget are anticipated in the weeks ahead in advance of a public hearing in late November. An adopted budget and levy will be minted in time for tax bill preparation in early December.
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Brookfield Common Council
WHAT: public hearing on city's proposed 2013 budget, levy
WHEN: 7:45 p.m. Nov. 20
WHERE: City Hall, 2000 N. Calhoun Road
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