City Council Approves 2013 Budget

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MTT News Desk's picture
By: 
Matt Geiger
The little-used public comment microphone at city hall

A single citizen – representing .00564 percent of the City of Middleton’s total denizens – spoke during last week’s annual budget hearing.

The Middleton Common Council hosted the public hearing prior to its approval of a 2013 budget that contains $41,683,904 in total expenditures.

Two proposed amendments failed and the council voted 8-0 in favor of a resolution to levy property taxes and adopt the 2013 budget documents in the general fund and in the special revenue, debt service, capital and enterprise groups.

Emmy Lou Immell, the lone resident to address the council at the Nov. 28 meeting, voiced appreciation for the work done by those running the municipality but urged them to keep taxes as low as possible.

District 2 alderman Gurdip Brar said he opposed the city’s decision to combine the capital, operating and other budget documents into a single resolution on the meeting’s agenda. His motion to divide the budget vote into three components – one for the capital portion, one for the operating portion, and one for the remaining sections - died for lack of a second.

District 7 alderman Hans Hilbert proposed an amendment that would have increased the levy by $159,000 to fund the acquisition of a new truck for the Middleton Fire District. The motion failed, however, when five members of the eight-person council (JoAnna Richard, Jim Wexler, Susan West, Brar and Paul Kinne) opposed it.

The final 2013 budget is expected to increase the city mill rate by 7 percent. It includes total general fund expenditures of $21,270,407 and capital spending of $10,469,923. Along with special revenue and enterprise expenses, the budget includes total fund spending of $41,683,904.

The expected mill rate for Middleton, not including taxes the city collects for other government entities, will be $6.04 per $1,000 of equalized property value. While the rate is up for the second year in a row, it still remains lower than last year’s rates in similarly sized communities such as Sun Prairie, Fitchburg, Waunakee, Stoughton and Verona.

Earlier this year the Middleton Common Council held a series of budget workshops at which it whittled the projected mill rate down from $6.5, which would have been a more than 15 percent increase over last year’s rate, which was $5.65.

The mill rate settled on last week will lead to $1,691 in city taxes on a $280,000 home.

The mill rate increase was caused by several factors, according to city finance director John Lehman.

Debt service is up sharply, rising by approximately $743,000. The money is being used to pay for three public safety buildings – a station for the Middleton Fire District, a police/court facility, and an EMS headquarters. Lehman said he expects debt service levels to stabilize near current levels in future budgets.

Another significant contributor to the mill rate increase is a roughly $100 million plunge in assessed valuation – a reduction of 12.5 percent. The change represents the second year in a two-part correction of a Department of Revenue mix-up caused by an accounting error two years ago.

Non-tax revenues are slated to decrease by roughly $102,000 in 2013, with lower interest earning dollars as the primary cause.

The city used an increase in ambulance rates, Tax Increment Financing District cost recovery, and special one-time revenues to help shore up part of the budget gap. The rest will be filled by the 7 percent increase in the local mill rate.

Another factor in the budget is that departmental operating expenses are set to rise by about $208,000, a 2 percent increase over last year.

The approved budget includes significantly more funding for roadwork, including an additional $175,000 for chip sealing and crack filling.

 

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