Standing firm on a commitment to be fiscally lean, Menomonee Falls officials Monday night presented a 2012 general operating fund budget that reflects the challenging economic times for both the village and its residents.
The $25.6 million budget, which was approved unanimously by the Village Board, cuts spending by 0.57 percent over last year and increases the property tax levy by 0.91 percent to $21.7 million.
"In these tough times, you guys have done a great job of holding the line," Village President Randall Newman told Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald and other officials. "You have done a great job managing and challenging your leaders to do things differently and they have done that, saving the village costs."
The village's tax rate is expected to increase 0.4 percent — from $5.17 to $5.19 per $1,000 of assessed value.
A owner of a home assessed at $250,000 will see a total increase $10 in village taxes, including the municipality's solid waste fee.
"We are pretty pleased about that," Fitzgerald said. "This certainly fits the Village
Board policy direction of maintaining a very tight fiscal control and very limited increase this year in times of relatively tough economic circumstances and high unemployment."
Over the last six years, a homeowner of a house valued at $250,000 has experienced a total increase of $25 in their village taxes.
"We have tried to maintain a flat-tax structure," Fitzgerald said. "Relative to total circumstances of the fiscal position of the village, I think we have been pretty conservative and pretty appropriate for the taxpayer (during) this period of time."
The number of employees recommended by staff will decrease from 214 in 2011 to 208 in 2012. Public safety, utilities and the library have all been slated to each lose one employee. The Public Works Department will lose three employees.
"The only way you can truly do that (stay lean) in this era is to continue to cut the number of full-time employees and the benefit load associated with that," Fitzgerald said.
Seven years ago, the village had 270 employees — 25 percent more than the 208 employees budgeted for in 2012. The decrease of six employees next year is due to attrition rather than layoffs, Fitzgerald noted.
Act 10, which included collective bargaining reform, was responsible for a total decrease in all revenues from the state of $305,828. An increase pension fund contributions by employees ultimately resulted in a $21,000 net loss in revenues.
"Our original numbers when all of this was going on last winter, we thought we would lose closer to $600,000, so this has become very good news," Fitzgerald said.