Residents to vote on 4.8% levy hike
Town of Lisbon — Town residents will be asked to approve a 2014 town budget that includes a nearly 5-five percent increase in the tax levy and a more than 50-cent increase in the tax rate at the Nov. 20 annual town budget hearing at 7 p.m. at the Hamilton High School library.
The town's tax levy and highway budget must be approved by qualified residents who attend the annual budget meeting.
Town officials said the increases in the tax levy and tax rate are the result of a combination of factors, including a reduction in the size of the town's tax base and an increase in spending intended to reduce the town's debt and debt service costs in the future.
The approximately $3.5 million levy makes up the biggest share of the total budget of about $4.8 million. The cost of the stormwater utility, capital projects, debt service and other nongeneral fund spending account for the remaining $1.3 million in the 2014 budget.
The levy is up about 4.8 percent over last year's approximately $3.4 million. The tax levy is the amount of money the town intends to raise in real estate revenues to fund government operations.
The levy results in a tax rate increase of about 53 cents per $100,000 assessed valuation, from $2.99 in 2013 to $3.52 in 2014, about an 18 percent increase. The rate represents the amount individual taxpayers pay when the tax levy is applied to the town's tax base or total assessed value. There was a decrease in the town's tax base of about $125 million as a result of property value reassessment conducted by the town assessor.
Because of that reassessment, it is difficult to assess the effect of the budget on individual homeowners. Some residents may see a large increase in their municipal tax, some may see a smaller increase and some may experience a decrease in the town portion of their tax bill, according to town officials.
There was 0.8 percent new economic growth during 2013, according to town officials.
Nearly a third of the total tax levy — about $1.3 million — will be devoted to paying debt service.
The total principal and interest debt payments in 2014 budget are about $1.3 million, about $46,000 more than in 2013.
Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said the budget reflects the Town Board's desire to decrease borrowing and pay off past debts.
"The 2014 budget refinances one existing loan, which will lower the total interest payments over the life of that new loan. The 2014 budget will also pay off more than three times as much principal on our existing loans than the amount of the new loan," Gehrke said.
However, in order to decrease loan payments and curb future debt, more money needs to be used from general operating funds to pay for capital projects, Gehrke added. As a result, there is a nearly $100,000 increase in road repair and maintenance costs, some of which in prior years would have been paid for by borrowing money, according to the budget document.
In addition, Gehrke said an additional $50,000 is included in the 2014 budget to eliminate what he defined as the "structural deficit."
The structural deficit represents the difference between general fund revenues and general fund expenses. In previous years, the deficit has been made up by using cash reserve funds.
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