Milton council to consider 2018 budget Tuesday

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Jim Dayton
Saturday, November 18, 2017

MILTON—Two local nonprofits would get $10,000 apiece and Milton would qualify for extra state aid under the city's proposed 2018 budget.

The city council will consider the proposed budget Tuesday. City Administrator Al Hulick said he does not expect major changes before the budget receives final approval.

Under the budget, the city's tax rate increases from $9.84 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $10.10. But Milton can only control its tax levy, and other state-driven factors can lead to such tax rate increases, Hulick said.

Hulick prepared his preliminary budget to fully grant $10,000 requests from two nonprofits, The Gathering Place and the Milton Historical Society. The budget also grants a $1,200 request for YMCA scholarships.

If approved, nonprofit allocations would increase by about $5,400 compared to this year.

During budget discussions last year, the city council splintered on nonprofit funding. Three council members voted against the proposed budget, saying the city should prioritize its own needs rather than those of nonprofits.

Mayor Anissa Welch broke the tie and approved the budget. Only one of the dissenting members, Dave Adams, remains on the council.

Hulick believes the philosophical debate of using city dollars to fund local nonprofits could earn more scrutiny in future months.

Milton is expected to qualify for expenditure restraint, an extra state-imposed cap that restricts how much a municipality can increase its tax levy. Fewer communities now qualify for expenditure restraint, increasing the payoff for those that do, Hulick said.

The state aid payment for municipalities meeting expenditure restraint has increased from $77,000 in 2015 to a projected $122,000 in 2018.

With that financial boost growing, Milton will continue to strive for expenditure restraint until it begins affecting how the city provides services, Hulick said.

A small increase in new construction in the Milton industrial park helped limit the expected tax rate increase.

Because of that growth, some residents have suggested getting rid of the wheel tax.

That won't happen. The $30 wheel tax, which went into effect earlier this year, has allowed Milton to maintain its roads and begin funding other capital projects or equipment purchases, Hulick said.

“If we didn't have the wheel tax, the capital piece of that would be completely sucked up with repaving roads,” he said. “We wouldn't be able to maintain our roads and the rest of our infrastructure but for the wheel tax.”

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