Budget forecasts slight increase in property tax rate

By Dave Fidlin

Correspondent

After months of behind-the-scenes planning, the wraps have been taken off the Village of Waterford’s proposed 2021 budget, which includes a 0.09 percent decrease in the property tax levy and a 0.8 percent increase in the mill rate.

Village Administrator Zeke Jackson discussed the components of the documents with members of the Village Board at a meeting Nov. 9. Members of the Finance Committee have been combing through the granular details in advance of this week’s presentation.

During the discussion, Village President Don Houston said quite a bit of heavy lifting has occurred behind the scenes to bring the $9.86 million budget to its completed state.

“Staff has worked very, very hard on this,” Houston said. “We’ve spent a lot of time on this budget.”

According to published information on the proposed budget, the village anticipates levying $2.621 million in taxes next year. This year’s levy amount was set at $2.623 million.

The mill rate also has remained steady, year-over-year. In 2019, it was set at $5.94 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation; this year, it is $5.98 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

In a memo outlining the budget, Jackson touted the village’s increased tax base this year, which plays into the levy.

“The village continues to grow,” Jackson said. “We experienced approximately $6.8 million in net new construction and approximately $33 million in market growth.”

In general, the village’s core operations — encapsulated within the general fund portion of the budget — are set to remain the same.

Within specific departments, a few fluctuations are included in next year’s spending plan.

For example, public safety is set to decrease from $1.4 million to $1.3 million — a figure that partially accounts for a reconfigured plan of dual contracts with the Town of Waterford Police Department and Racine County Sheriff’s Department.

The public works line item also is slated to decrease — from $705,926 this year to $645,403 in 2021. But spending within the parks department is expected to increase — from $66,615 to $141,954 — as work on Ten Club Park gets underway.

In the memo, Jackson also addressed the village’s various utilities, and where each stands in the upcoming year.

“Utilities are set to have modest rate raises in 2021,” Jackson said. “Staff is recommending that the village equalize sewer rates with the town’s 2020 rates. Water rate increases are determined by PSC (Public Service Commission).”

Plans call for a public hearing on the proposed budget at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23. Due to COVID-19 precautions, the meeting will be held virtually and can be accessed online or by phone. The board could adopt the budget after the hearing.

Also this week, the board adopted a resolution in support of taking out $3.5 million in general obligation promissory notes. The borrowing includes a 1.35 percent interest rate.

Proceeds from the notes are being applied to tax-incremental district No. 3, which encompasses the Mercury Business Park site.