Janesville64.7°

Edgerton budget talks look long-term

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Stacy Vogel
October 6, 2009
— Edgerton, like most municipal governments, faces some tough losses in creating its 2010 budget.

Some losses, such as a drop in interest income, might only be temporary.


But others, such as cuts in state aid and revenue sharing, might be permanent, Administrator Ramona Flanigan said.


"This is not a one-time loss," she said.


The city next year will lose $50,000 in shared revenue, highway aid and other state revenue.


The city council got its first look at an early version of the proposed budget Monday night. The budget includes an estimated $77,000 drop in revenue.


The draft budget still has a lot of holes. For example, the state hasn't given the city its "levy limit worksheet" yet. The document tells cities how much levy they can raise based on property value changes and other factors.


The city also still is in negotiations with its two unions, making it hard to know how much to budget for wages and benefits. The union contracts expire at the end of the year.


But the council has to decide philosophically how it wants to deal with declining revenues, Flanigan said. You can cut capital projects for a year or two, but sooner or later, those projects have to be done, she said.


The council could try to cut operating expenses, but that might reduce city services and upset residents.


"I hope the discussion can be more long-term than just this year," Flanigan said.


The city could look at using fees instead of taxes for some services, she said. Currently, expenses such as garbage collection and storm water management come out of Edgerton's tax levy, even though several surrounding communities charges fees for these services.


Flanigan and her staff have taken a hard look at operating expenses in preparation for budget discussions. She carefully examined line-item expenses from the last five years to find out where the city can save a few hundred or few thousand dollars, she said.


For example, the draft budget includes a $200 cut in postage for the public works department and a $2,000 decrease in heating costs at the municipal garage.


The only capital expenses included on the draft budget are $140,000 for a new plow truck and $14,000 to $15,000 for police equipment, Flanigan said. The city also plans to borrow money to reconstruct Randolph Street and build a new City Hall, but those loans won't affect the 2010 budget.


City voters in June approved spending up to $1.2 million on a new City Hall.


Flanigan expects the council to hold a special budget meeting later this month when it has more definite figures.



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