By Patricia Bogumil

Waterford Post interim editor 

Before any new numbers could be plugged in or moved around in the Village of Waterford 2012 budget process, one old number had to stay the same.

“Our Village Board President, Tom Roanhouse, was very adamant that we would not raise our levy,” said Village Treasurer Lori Peternell. “It was very important to him and the Board to maintain our same levy.”

Another important component to the 2012 budget is the Board’s decision to make use of new employee benefit contribution guidelines set out in 2011 Wisconsin Act 10.

The new state law deals with state finances, public employees’ collective bargaining/compensation/fringe benefits, the state civil service system and the Medical Assistance program.

In particular, Act 10 spells out the need for certain state employees to begin making contributions to their health insurance and pension plans, Peternell explained.

And while village employees are not part of the Wisconsin Retirement System addressed in Act 10, the Village Board decided to follow the parameters of Act 10 for village employee contributions for health care and pensions, she explained.

In the proposed 2012 budget, the village’s 17 non-union employees are paying 15 percent toward their health insurance premium. They are also paying up to 5.7 percent in their pensions. Three union employees will continue to work under a contract until 2013.

Previously, no employee health/pension contributions were required.

“So with doing that, the board freed up some money in the budget to allocate elsewhere,” Peternell explained.

About $49,000 was freed up by the new employee health/pension contributions: $39,627 in pension cost savings and another $9,473 in insurance premium cost savings.

That $49,000 savings then helps offset a reduction of $66,000 in state aids. “We had about a $10,000 gap,” Peternell said.

Each department head then looked at their particular budget and made select cuts. Even so, there will be no cut in village services and no reduction in employee numbers or hours worked in the 2012 budget proposal, she said.

The board and department heads worked together using the idea that: “We’re going to keep the levy the same and make it work,” Peternell said.

Funding for capital expenses like infrastructure, buildings and roads will likely be reduced or delayed, she said, but added: “We’re OK now.”

If some unexpected need arises, the village has a capital savings plan set up that can be tapped for unbudgeted capital expense needs.

She credits the board’s ability to prepare a 2012 budget with no hike in the tax levy and no service cuts to the board’s long-term financial and budgetary planning and its close working relationship with its financial advisors.

Levy and tax rate:

Unlike the Town of Waterford, which expects to see a drop in income next year due to a drop in assessed property values, the Village of Waterford underwent a property revaluation in 2010 and its valuation base is holding steady.

Under the proposed 2012 budget, the village’s tax levy of $2.693 million is identical to last year’s levy.

Because the tax levy and property values are holding steady, “it’s probably safe to say” the mil rate needing to be paid by taxpayers will also hold steady, Peternell added.

Last year, the village’s portion of the mil rate was $6.53. Under that rate, the owner of a $200,000 home pays $1,306 in village taxes.

The total mil rate is currently being prepared by the Racine County Treasurer’s office and includes taxes from other entities, including Racine County and the schools.

Peternell said it is likely the upcoming total mil rate now being prepared will be similar to what village residents paid last year. Last year’s total rate was $21.46 per $1,000 valuation.

Under that total rate, the owner of a $200,000 village home pays $4,292 in taxes.

The 2012 Village of Waterford budget is available for public inspection in the Village Clerk’s office in the Village Hall, and at the Waterford Public Library, during normal business hours.

The 2012 budget proposal will be presented for public comment at a public hearing being held Monday, Nov. 28, 6:30 p.m., at the Village Hall, 123 N. River St.