01STOCK_WHITEWATER

WHITEWATER

The Whitewater City Council has approved the 2019 city budget with increases across the board—to the general fund budget, tax levy and tax rate.

Finance Director Steve Hatton said the council approved the resolution at its Nov. 27 meeting.

Whitewater homeowners living in Walworth County will see an 8.1 percent increase in the city portion of their tax bills—from $6.07 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $6.56.

Those who live in the Jefferson County portion of the city will see a 5.18 percent jump, from $6.14 per $1,000 of assessed value to $6.45.

The general fund budget increased 3.38 percent, while the tax levy jumped more than 10 percent.

Hatton said the primary drivers on the expenditure side were a $168,750 increase in debt service and a $78,055 provision for wage increases, which city officials say will keep city jobs competitive. The budget also calls for money for police vehicles, building repair and street repair.

As for revenue, Hatton pointed to reductions in some revenue streams, including $70,049 in general transportation aid from the state. He also pointed to increases in room taxes and interest earnings (after rising interest rates).

“Our property tax levy increased by a larger amount than the overall budget to offset reduction in other revenue sources—making us more reliant on property taxes to balance the budget,” Hatton said in an email.

The assessed value in the city increased from last year, as well.

Hatton said the city does not produce one total budget. Instead, the city works with several budgets, including the general fund, tax increment districts and the utility enterprise fund.

In the budget presentation, city officials cited future concerns, including how the state “allows for a very small number of revenue streams to fund local government operations.”

Another future concern was that a 2017 study found a need to replace one water reservoir and five water mains in the next decade, according to the presentation. Completing those projects will cost an estimated $7.34 million, which means water rate increases to come.

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