Janesville47.2°

Pay delay aids Janesville city budget

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
November 6, 2009
— Janesville’s proposed 2010 budget comes with a 1.79 percent levy increase made possible mostly because union employees agreed to delay a 3 percent cost-of-living increase.

Non-union employees will not receive a similar cost-of-living increase, although some employees in both categories are eligible for merit or longevity increases. The city budgeted $261,000 to cover those increases.


The delay in raises means a $552,000 savings for the general fund. More than 80 percent of the budget pays for personnel.


Union employees will get the 3 percent increase in December 2010, which is when their three-year contracts end.


“A large part of the credit goes to the bargaining units and their willingness to defer their cost-of-living adjustment,” City Manager Eric Levitt said.


A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for Monday’s council meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St. Staff did not meet a 15-day notice requirement, so the public hearing will begin Monday and continue to the next regular meeting Monday, Nov. 23.


A vote on the budget is scheduled Nov. 23.


City officials said residents likely would see minimal declines in service as a result of the budget.


The council on Monday might debate whether to follow through with a decision to cut hours at the compost site. They also will consider a proposal to raise the admission price at Rockport Pool and to charge residents $5 for a cubic yard of compost.


The council added about $100,000 to the levy during its three budget study sessions, but it also delayed borrowing $1 million for a new fire station until next year. That savings in the general fund debt service would negate the additions.


Changes made to the city’s health insurance program also are starting to save the city money, Assistant City Manager Jay Winzenz said.


The city is planning a 5 percent increase in health insurance costs. In 2009, the city was able to return some of the balance in the insurance fund to the general fund.


The budget that will be presented Monday shows an increase in the levy of $438,797, from $24.45 million to $24.89 million, or 1.79 percent increase. This does not include the library’s budget.


The owner of the average home assessed at $113,800 would pay $9.38 more in city taxes, an increase of 0.08 percent.


BUDGET CHANGES

If the Janesville City Council approves the 2010 budget as proposed, it would include:


-- Reduced hours at the compost site. The site’s regular hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. November hours change because of leaf pickup. Under the proposed budget, the hours in 2010 would mirror those at the landfill: 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. The reduction would save $15,538.


-- Increased fees at Rockport Pool. The city hopes to raise an additional $6,250 in revenue. Family passes, for example, would increase from $66 to $70, while daily admissions for youth would increase from $1.50 to $1.75.


-- A charge of $5 per cubic yard for compost, which now is free. The city would screen the compost if it charges for the product, something it does not now do. Some residents do not use the compost because it is not screened and contains bits of plastic and rock, for instance.


-- Increased hours at the Riverside Wading Pool, matching them with the hours at the Palmer Park Wading Pool. The increase in service would cost an additional $6,700.


-- Longer renting season for the Traxler Park Warming House. The increased availability would cost $1,000.


-- About the same level of police service as last year, despite the loss of a state grant that paid for two police officers. City Manager Eric Levitt had suggested leaving a position vacant. The council opted to keep staffing the same for an additional $27,000 because the position would be added mid-year.


-- $15,000 in seed money for an anti-poverty program expected to grow out of a poverty forum planned for next spring.


-- An additional $50,000 for snow removal to maintain the current plowing policy. The decision to plow is made when snowfall totals 2 to 3 inches. Levitt had suggested a firm policy that would send out plows only after 3 inches. He included an additional $100,000 for plowing to assure that the service level is the same in December as at the end of the season. In the past, the plowing budget was unrealistically low, sometimes resulting in less service later in the season.


-- No borrowing for the new central fire station. The council opted to defer $1 million in borrowing until next year, saving $120,375 in debt service.


-- Maybe no change in garbage collection. The council opted to delay decisions on charging for trash pickup until future study sessions.


Levitt had suggested charging for trash collection after a certain level. One suggestion was that city crews would collect only up to three bags of garbage for free. The council also is expected to discuss landfill policy because several council members questioned the wisdom of accepting garbage from outside the county.


A look at the 2010 budget for the city of Janesville:

Total budget


Not including library


Next year $41.39 million


This year $41.64 million


Decrease 0.60%


Tax levy


Next year $24.89 million


This year $24.45 million


Increase 1.79%


Tax rate


(Per $1,000 of assessed valuation)


Next year $7.11


This year $7.03


Increase 1.17%


ON THE AGENDA

The Janesville City Council meets at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St. Besides a public hearing on the budget, the agenda includes:


-- Discussion and action on a request to expand the Palmer Park pet exercise area


-- Action on a proposed advertising policy at the Youth Sports Complex


-- Introduction and scheduling of a public hearing on a proposal to increase bus fares for the Janesville Transit System


-- Closed session to discuss a potential development agreement in Tax Incremental Financing District 22



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