Janesville54.3°

Insurance and debt drive Milton budget increases

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Stacy Vogel
November 7, 2007
— The Milton City Council has cut as much as possible in recent years, but it canít cut its budget any more without cutting services, City Administrator Todd Schmidt said.

Residents will pay 4.6 percent more in 2008 to maintain the current level of service under the proposed city budget.


The city completed a budget Tuesday that will go to public hearing Tuesday, Nov. 27.


The budget includes a 27.6 percent spending increase, but Schmidt said that number is misleading because the city plans to use $600,000 from a reserve fund to pay off a loan.


Factors contributing to the levy increase include:


-- Debt service. The city borrowed more than $4 million in 2007, mostly to pay for street projects. Itís looking at borrowing again in 2008 to repay some of the previous debt and pay for $1 million in improvements along Highway 59.


-- Workers compensation insurance. Premiums will more than double in 2008 after a few injuries in past years, including an accident in 2006 that left a city employee with an injured neck, Schmidt said.


-- Police salaries. The city increased the amount allotted for wages by $36,000 because of errors in the 2007 calculations, Schmidt said. The errors didnít affect the 2007 budget because the city had planned to hire an additional police officer, which it didnít do because of a hiring freeze. The 2008 budget also includes the additional officer.


-- Fire department. The city will pay an extra $19,000 in fire and EMS expenses, not including capital expenses. (The city already borrowed money for the major capital expense in 2007 and 2008, a new tanker bought this year.)


-- Insurance. Premiums for city employees will increase 12 percent in 2008.


-- A change in assessment policies. Starting in 2008, the city proposes to assess a portion of properties every year instead of doing them all at once every four or five years.


Typically, the city pays $100,000 every few years to reassess homes and spends about $10,000 a year to maintain assessments, Schmidt said.


Under the new system, it will spend $30,000 a year to revaluate some city homes, allowing the city to maintain ďfull-value assessmentsĒ and yearly adjustments of all properties.


The system will spare homeowners the shock of dramatically increased property values every few years, Schmidt said.


IF YOU GO

What: Public hearing on proposed city of Milton budget


When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27


Where: Shaw Municipal Building, 430 E. High St.


Copies of the budget are available beforehand at the municipal building.


A look at the proposed 2008 budget for Milton:

Total budget


Next year: $4.36 million


This year: $3.42 million


Increase: 27.6%


Tax levy


Next year: $1.98 million


This year: $1.85 million


Increase: 7%


Tax rate


(Per $1,000 of assessed valuation)


Next year: $6.26


This year: $5.99


Increase: 4.6%


Note: Percent changes calculated on whole numbers.



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