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Elkhorn proposed 2015 budget includes nearly 19 percent tax levy increase

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Andrea Anderson
Saturday, November 8, 2014

ELKHORN—Elkhorn city residents will see an 18.85 percent tax levy hike next year in large part because of the new Sunset Pool voters approved in November 2013.

The $3.5 million dollar pool is part of about $6 million in borrowing the city did in 2014 and will begin repaying in 2015, City Administrator Sam Tapson said.

“The council followed the lead of the community vote and determined this was something important enough to the community to follow through on,” Tapson said. “If you're going to do those things and make those sorts of improvements, there is an associated cost. There is no way to sugar coat it.”

The remaining $2.5 million in borrowing will go to street repair and maintenance and park improvements including replacing the deteriorating fields at Rotary Soccer Field and expanding parking at the Sunset Pool.

The proposed $31.73 million budget would increase the tax levy from $4.04 million to $4.79 million.

If the budget passes without changes in November, residents will pay $7.89 per $1,000 of property value on top of taxes for the county, state, school district and technical college.

Residents paid $6.89 per $1,000 in 2014.

The total budget increases 11 percent from $25.59 million this year to $31.73 million next year.

If not for spending on the pool and repairs, residents would have seen a tax levy increase of about 2 percent, not 18.85 percent, Tapson said.

Tapson said the tax levy spike made it a difficult budget to write.

“This one was tough,” Tapson said.

“We have approached every single budget the same way. We're trying to make sure we can sustain services and ensure the long-term integrity of the city and be mindful of the impact. But sometimes the impact of the levy you can't always control.”

Other items in the budget include:

-- To meet staffing standards and maintain funding, two part-time positions will be added to Matheson Memorial Library, 101 N. Wisconsin St. The seasonal youth associate position will become regular part-time and a reference associate will be added. The library's security system will be upgraded at a cost of $30,000 to $35,000.

Adding positions is needed because attendance and circulation at the library have increased steadily, Tapson said.

-- About $15,000 is being earmarked to expand building inspection services.

The city contracts with a company for 12 to 15 hours a week to inspect properties and enforce the property maintenance code.

To provide better service, the city council wants to add eight hours to the weekly total. The budget includes $15,000 to hire a part-time employee or expand the contract, Tapson said.



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