Electronic bill pay is my go-to for 99 percent of my reoccurring expenses. It’s quick, easy and traceable.

There’s one bill I still pay in person, however, and that’s the real estate property tax bill. Residents received their love letters from the city in the middle of December, and I still pay a portion of my taxes prior to the end of the year. So, last week I headed to the Rock County Treasurer’s Office to make the payment. My transaction wasn’t any different than past years. I stood in a short line, was called up and wrote a check—one of only a handful that I still write out.

While the transaction wasn’t any different, the deposit felt a bit more satisfying this year. Don’t get me wrong, paying taxes isn’t fun, but I felt like I received a good bang for my buck in 2018. The largest tax line on my bill came from the city of Janesville, a 3.3 percent increase from last year. There are several reasons for this increase aside from the standard cost of living. Over the past decade, the city has lagged in street repair. That’s changed over the last few years. The city committed to delivering a road repair plan and has delivered on the plan.

Up next was the talk about infrastructure improvements downtown. It was just talk—noise for as long as I can remember. In 2015, city staff and council walked the talk, and 2018 was a leap of progress like our city has never seen. City services are top notch, and public safety has never been a concern of mine. We are well represented.

Our city has borrowed money, and that’s a concern for many. Borrowing is never the best option. Thankfully, it has taken place during a time where interest rates are at historic lows. The city looked out for the residents’ best interest and was transparent in doing so. The budget process was a solid one, and the city is constantly updating its online dashboard highlighting key performance indicators.

I wouldn’t feel as comfortable with a 3.3 percent increase if we didn’t have a solid staff steering the ship. In my opinion, city staff bench strength is as high as I have seen it since I started paying taxes. I’m willing to pay a bit more if talent lands in Janesville and is committed to Janesville.

Kudos goes to our city council as well. They’ve supported growth and, for the most part, have kept partisan politics out of the nonpartisan body. That helps keep focus.

2018 was another great year of progress in Janesville. Taxes are never fun and sometimes those who pay don’t feel represented.

I, for one, believe I was represented and look forward to many more years of growth and laser focus in the city of Janesville.

Steve Knox lives in Janesville. He also writes a blog, Gen-X in J-Ville, about community issues for GazetteXtra.com.

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