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Janesville gets first look at 2009 budget

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
October 10, 2008
— The Janesville City Council late this week got its first look at the proposed 2009 Janesville budget.

Residents shouldn't notice changes in services.


Those living in low-income target areas would see more code enforcement and blight elimination.


Economic development and green operations would get more staff.


The city would gear up for a 2010 revaluation.


Construction of a downtown parking ramp should begin.


Here are other highlights:


The numbers

The average homeowner would pay $21.22 more for city services, based on the average assessed home valued at $113,300, for a total of $932.23 in city taxes.


The 2009 general fund would total $42 million, an increase of $1.3 million or about 3 percent. General fund debt service would increase $570,525 and represent 12.6 percent of the general fund.


The tax rate increase would be 2.3 percent.


Under the cap

The budget provides the same level of services and stays under the state's levy cap, which permits a 2.35 percent increase in the operating tax levy, said Jay Winzenz, acting city manager.


The city was almost a million dollars in the hole before it even started budgeting—the 2.3 percent cap doesn't begin to cover 3 percent increases in wages, 5 percent increases in health insurance and increased energy costs.


To close the gap, Winzenz proposes the city:


-- Transfer $200,000 in revenue from the sanitation fund to pay back a previous landfill debt.


-- Require TIF No. 3 to pay a $150,000 debt to the general fund.


-- Save $79,265 with staff turnover.


-- Shrink the contingency fund by $72,300.


-- Borrow $650,000 for major street projects rather than use the operating budget.


New initiatives

-- $50,000 for a skate park. Past councils have shown no inclination to chip in for the park other than donating land in Palmer Park. “I guess we feel the skate park facility is a facility that is needed in the city of Janesville,” Winzenz said. “Fundraising efforts have been progressing slowly, and this is an attempt to maybe kick start those fundraising efforts a little bit.” Organizers hope to raise a total of $250,000.


-- $500,000 to buy and tear down blighted buildings in the Fourth Ward and Look West neighborhoods. “(To make) a significant difference, we believe that general fund dollars are necessary,” Winzenz said.


-- $111,156 for software to eventually allow residents more interaction with the city's Web site, such as applying for permits, paying bills or checking complaints on their properties.


Continued funding

-- $1 million for a downtown parking ramp, combined with $1.25 million borrowed in 2008. More will be borrowed in 2010.


-- $1 million for a new central fire station, added to $1 million already borrowed.


-- $425,000 for a new bus garage, in addition to $575,000 already borrowed. The city must pay $1.2 million of the $6 million-facility, with the federal government paying the rest.


-- $325,000 for a renovated Rockport Pool, for a total of $1.55 million. Total maximum cost is estimated at $5 million.


-- $60,000 for Peace Trail, a new segment of the bike trail. The money will create a gravel base from Tripp Road to Eau Claire Road on the city's south side.


-- $70,000 for playground renovations in Pershing Park and Harmony Grove Park off Newville Road.


-- $58,000 to subsidize the Tallman House, which is the same amount as 2008. Last year, the administration suggested phasing out the subsidy.


-- $195,000 for the controversial bike trail under East Milwaukee Street. That brings total funding for the project, including previous city borrowing and a state grant, to $590,000. About $80,000 has also been spent to move utility lines.


Unexpected event

-- $310,000 for the local share to recover from the 2008 flood.


Other reductions

-- $37,181 less because of two fewer elections.


-- $40,327 less to operate seven fewer stoplights, which will be removed (sites to be determined).


-- $104,850 less for health insurance because of plan changes and fewer retirees drawing on the city for their health insurance. The city pays health insurance for 25-year employees who retire at 55 until they are 65.


-- $133,646 saved by position eliminations and substitutions.


Other increases

-- $860,00 more for wages, a 3 percent increase.


-- $282,000 more for health insurance, 5 percent increase. The 2008 increase was 10 percent. “We had a very bad claims experience for awhile, and according to our actuaries, we're just getting back to normal,” Winzenz said.


-- $201,979 more for vehicle fuel.


-- $132,559 more for electricity and gas.


New personnel

-- A firefighter, $68,134, including benefits. The city for years has found it cheaper to pay overtime rather than add staff and pay benefits. “However, people can only work so many hours,” Winzenz said. “The city has reached the point where it is in the best interest of the fire department to fill a position.” The salary is offset by overtime savings of $52,585.


-- A wastewater and storm water engineer, $95,507, including benefits. His or her main focus will include monitoring upcoming construction and storm water regulations.


-- An economic development assistant, $48,770. “Given the state of the local economy, I believe it's time to bring a second economic person on board to increase the marketing and business attraction efforts,” Winzenz said. The department has been staffed by one person—Doug Venable—for 21 years.


-- Additional part-time hours for a property inspector and property maintenance employee in low-income target areas with the money coming from federal block grant funds, $26,404.


-- A part-time environmental technician, $24,798, to work with the sustainability committee and increase ways the city can operate in environmentally sensitive ways.


The number of city employees would decrease. The city consolidated and eliminated positions to reduce from 320 in 2008 to 318 in 2009 the number of full-time employees funded by the general fund. Full-time employees in the non-general funds—those people who work for utilities and the library, for example—would drop from 199.16 in 2008 to 199.03 in 2009.


Preparing for ...

-- The 2010 revaluation with $66,600 to cover commercial revaluations, postage and public relations. The city might pay for the residential costs through borrowing. The city would contract with an outside firm to perform the revaluation. It must do so in 2010 because for five years it has fallen below the 90 percent threshold of fair market value.


Utility increases

All utilities would increase rates in 2009.


A 10 percent water utility rate increase begins Jan. 1, or an additional $4 per quarter for the average residence. The 9 percent wastewater rate increase begins Jan. 1, or an increase of $5.10 per quarter for the typical residence. The storm water utility would increase 7.8 percent, or 68 cents more per quarter for a typical residence.


What's next

Study sessions are scheduled for three consecutive Wednesdays—Oct. 22, Oct. 29 and Nov. 5. The public hearing and adoption is Monday, Nov. 10. The council will set the overall tax rate on Monday, Nov. 24.


JANESVILLE BUDGET

A look at the proposed 2009 budget for the city of Janesville


Total budget


Next year: $41.88 million


This year: $40.63 million


Increase: 3.1%


Tax levy


Next year: $28.76 million


This year: $27.40 million


Increase: 5.0%


Tax rate


(Per $1,000 of assessed valuation)


Next year: $8.23


This year: $8.04


Increase: 2.4%


Note: Percent changes calculated on whole numbers.



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