Sussex board grapples with 2014
Rosy budget picture painted by staff
Village of Sussex — During the next 90 days, the Village Board is going to "grapple" with the issue of how it wants to "paint" the village's fiscal picture as part of a proposed 2014 budget of nearly $15 million dollars.
Included is a general revenue fund of about $8.8 million. Most of that money — about $ 5.6 million — will be raised from real estate tax revenues which will be about 2.42 percent higher than in 2013.
The real estate tax levy will require an individual homeowner tax rate of $5.03 per $100,000 assessed valuation, a 1.57 per increase over the 2013 rate of $4.96.
For the average homeowner, whose property has an assessed valuation of about $280,000, the 2014 village tax bill will be about $1,405.95, an increase of about $13.41 above what the homeowner paid in 2013.
That same homeowner can expect to pay approximately $4,856 in real estate taxes for all units of government including the village, Hamilton School District, WCTC, Waukesha County and the State of Wisconsin, according to village officials.
The proposed 2014 budget and real estate tax levy and rates were presented to the Village Board meeting at its initial budget workshop on Aug. 4.
The "base budget," as described by Village Administrator Jeremy Smith, totals about $14.9 million dollars. In addition to the general revenue fund, the budget also includes about $4.6 million for the village's sewer, water and storm water utilities and about $1.8 million for annual debt payments.
While the debt service is paid off with real estate tax revenues, most of the water utility operations are paid for by user fees.
Smith said departmental operation expenses, with the exception of personnel costs, are similar to the 2013 budget.
He said an overall employee cost (salaries, benefits) increase of about 3 percent was offset to about 1.6 percent as a result of some reorganization of job positions. Smith said the budget anticipates a continue increase in revenues in both the police and park and recreation departm
Most of the village board's deliberations over the next three months are likely to be focused on the so-called "options" included in the budget proposal.
The options, according to Smith, are programs, equipment and other items suggested by staff or board members that were not included in the "base budget."
Assistant Village Administrator Melissa Weiss emphasized that all suggestions offered by village staff members were included in either the "base" budget or the list of options.
For example, the grapple. She explained that Department of Public Works employees believe they need a large grapple that can be attached to DPW truck and used to pick up large branches and other landscape debris during annual brush pick up in the village or can be used to remove large trees downed during storms.
She said the village has been borrowing the Town of Lisbon's grapple, but village employees are concerned that in the event of a major storm, the town's grapple may not be available because the town will be using it.
Another option is the paint job. Fire Chief Colin "Corky" Curtis will be lobbying the board for approval of a new coats of paint on the Public Safety Building.
There will also be discussion about whether the village should spend about $11,000 doing a scientific survey regarding how village residents believe their village government is functioning and what services they would like to see the village provide.
One of the reasons the village trustees can consider these and other options in the budget is because they are nearly $300,000 below the maximum levy increase they are permitted by state law, according to Smith. Many other municipalities in Lake Country are either at or near their allowable levy increase and do not have the budget flexibility the village is enjoying, according to Smith.
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