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Greenfield budgets for less

But proposed package includes small tax hike

Oct. 22, 2012

Greenfield - In its proposed 2013 budget, the city would spend nearly 5.3 percent less than it budgeted for this year but would increase the property tax levy by 1.98 percent.

The Greenfield Finance Committee of the Whole cleared the mayor's proposed budget last week to go to a Nov. 20 public hearing. A Common Council vote on the proposed 2013 budget is slated for the same night as the hearing.

The finance committee is continuing to hold meetings on the proposed budget and may request changes before the budget is finalized.

Numerical summary

The total $46.3 million proposed budget is $2.6 million less than the city budgeted for this year.

Of the total $46.3 million proposed spending plan, $24.4 million would be for the general fund, considered the operating budget. That would go up 2.7 percent, or $639,422.

More than offsetting that is a $4 million drop in road work next year. The city pursued an ambitious road program this year, spending $12.3 million this year on capital projects, mostly roads, compared with $8.4 million proposed for next year.

Paying off the debt on those 2012 road projects is the main reason that the levy could jump nearly 2 percent, said Mayor Michael Neitzke. Even so, the projects attracted more state transportation aid, Neitzke said.

Under state law, the levy could be even larger, but Neitzke said he isn't proposing levying to the maximum because it's still a tough time for many taxpayers. The city is forgoing about $150,000 in property tax revenue, he estimated.

At the same time, the proposed budget represents no decrease in services, Neitzke said.

Impact of raises

The proposed budget contains 2.25 percent across the board.

Neitzke noted that all employees took a pay freeze this year and paid toward pensions and more toward health insurance.

The planned 2013 raises would still be less than the 2.7 percent the city could give under the new state law. That amount is tied to the rise in the consumer price index.

The proposed raises didn't contribute to higher spending as much as they might have. The departments were told to absorb them, Neitzke said.

"Basically, they had to have a flat budget on the operating side," he said, though acknowledging that some of the smaller departments that had already been hit with cuts and attrition weren't able to do that.

"And we're ahead of the curve in pension contributions for police and fire," Neitzke said, noting that while state law doesn't require emergency personnel to pay toward their pensions, police and fire personnel in Greenfield do.

Seeding a farmers market

The proposed budget contains seed money for a farmers market.

It sets aside $5,000 of the hotel room tax for possible establishment toward that goal. The room tax is supposed to be used for tourism, and a farmers market qualifies because it would attract people from outside the city, Neitzke said.

However, a farmers market is far from certain, he added.

He's trying to get people involved and already three potential sites are being eyed, Neitzke said. One is in the City Hall parking lot and the other two are at Konkel Park.

"There certainly seems to be a need for one," the mayor said.

- Jane Ford-Stewart

AT A GLANCE

The 2013 proposed Greenfield budget will go to a public hearing on Nov. 20 with a Common Council vote slated for that evening, also. The budget figures are:

Proposed 2013 budget: $46,338,324

2012 budget: $48,920,832

Difference: 5.3 percent lower, or $2,582,508

Proposed 2013 levy: $21,834,243

2012 levy: $21,409,326

Difference: 1.98 percent higher, or $424,917

Proposed 2013 operating budget: $24,404,56

2012 operating budget: $23,765,134

Difference: 2.7 percent higher, or $639,422

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