Muskego - A zero property tax rate increase proposed in the 2017 city budget will go to a public hearing at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, at the Muskego City Hall, W182 S8200 Racine Ave.
Included in the proposed 2017 city budget are the city's first disc golf course, planting more trees to provide shade in city parks, body cameras and a drone with night vision for the police department and money for remodeling for the Muskego Public Library.
While construction of a new city hall is expected to start next year, the property tax rate is predicted to fall 2 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The rate for 2017 will be $4.97 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Previous debt falling away is a major factor in keeping taxes level. The proposed 2017 budget uses no surpluses to achieve its balance, and it taxes only a portion of the new growth in the city's tax base, said Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti.
The proposed budget was welcomed by aldermen.
"We're on target," said Alderman John Engelhardt, a finance committee member. "There are no major changes to be concerned about, that I can see."
"The budget was welcomed by the council," mainly because of the tax rate reduction, said Alderman Kevin Kubacki.
"Everything looks good," said Alderman Neil Borgman. "Finance did a good job."
"Most people will see their tax bill stay pretty stable, even though we are borrowing to finance new buildings," he said.
$7.1 million borrowing
The city borrowed $7.1 million for a department of public works garage addition and for a portion of the city hall project. Additional borrowing will be needed for the remainder of the city hall project and remodeling and expanding the building to become a new police station.
The estimated totals for each project are $3.2 million for the DPW garage; $7.55 million for the city hall; and $7.6 million police station. Approximately $1.1 million of design costs have been funded through landfill funds to reduce overall borrowing.
The proposed property tax levy is $12,769,972, up $119,237 or 0.94 percent from the $12,650,735 in the previous budget.
Total expenditures for the general fund, regarded as the operating budget, and for debt are estimated at nearly $18,3 million, which is 3.1-percent higher than the previous year.
The hoped-for disc golf course and additional tree planting along with other park improvements have survived budget evaluations so far. Tree planting, pegged at $15,000 will be funded by a grant. The disc golf course is estimated at $25,000.
Also surviving so far are body cameras for police and a drone, also for police use. The costs are $40,500 for the body cameras and $7,491 for the drone that would be outfitted with night vision. Replacement electronic stun guns also are still in the proposed budget for $16,700.
Also, Muskego Public Library children's area redesign pegged at $61,500, HVAC work, $45,000; and eight chairs, $8,000, remain in the proposed 2017 budget.
The proposed spending plan also includes a 1 percent increase in pay scales for all non-union employees.
"To stay competitive with like communities," Chiaverotti said. Also included is a maximum 1.5 percent merit pay increase. The city and the police union have only just started contract negotiations.
Chiaverotti said she is pleased with the proposed 2017 budget partly because it relies on so little of the growth in the city's tax base.
"The net new growth for this budget is 1.49 percent and the budget utilizes 0.812 percent, or just a little more than half," she said.
"This is an inclusive process that has proven to be fundamental for long-term success," she said.