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Village Taxes Will Remain Status Quo

The 2013 proposed budget features a slight increase in the tax levy, but the 2012 village portion of tax bills will remain virtually the same.

Residents of Menomonee Falls can expect to see a miniscule increase in the village portion of their 2012 tax bills.

The village plans to increase its overall tax levy by $205,589, or roughly 0.95 percent, in its 2013 budget. That would bring the total levy to $21.9 million. The increase was due to $42 million worth of new construction in the village. State law limits a municipality’s ability to increase its tax levy revenue by only the total increase in value created from new construction.

“These are always tough budgeting times in this economy, and with restrictions placed on municipalities due to restrictions from the state,” said Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald. “In our heyday, we would have been five to seven times that (total growth). The economics still are not anywhere close to where they were in our peak times.”

The village's department leaders and board members met Wednesday night to discuss the budget at Fire Station #3 on Lilly Road.

The tax rate remains virtually unchanged. It will rise from $5.195 per $1,000 of assessed value to $5.198 per $1,000 of assessed value. The fractional increase equates to an additional $1 on the village tax bill of an owner of a $250,000 home. That’s a bill of $1,400 including the solid waste fee.

“The taxpayers should feel very good relative to tax impact,” Fitzgerald said. “There’s a feeling that our taxes are always going up, but that’s not true.”

Since 2006, the village’s tax rate has risen from $5.08 per $1,000 of assessed value to $5.19 per $1,000 of assessed value. That’s roughly an increase of $28. The village has maintained conservative principles and a lean team of personnel to maintain services in a difficult economy.

“We’ve been fairly fiscally consistent and conservative for the better part of the decade, and I would expect that trend to continue,” Fitzgerald said.

For perspective on the crippling economic conditions, the village’s return on investment earnings is expected to come in at $86,500 in 2013. In 2007, that was $1.2 million. The village has also shed $260 million of its $4.4 billion total  equalized value due to market conditions over the past four years.

In response, the village has reduced its number of full-time employees from 233 in 2007 to 180 in 2013. They’ve also looked at ways to realign itself as an organization. The village will also save $240,000 through employee insurance modification, and they plan to move toward a self-funded model in 2014.

This year, village leaders avoided adding additional fees for utilities. The solid waste fee also held steady at $100.12.

“Revenue is not keeping up with expenditures, even in a cutting mode,” Fitzgerald said. “If we go below where we are at, it’s going to be difficult to maintain services. We are getting to the point in a community of 36,000 people that it’s a real challenge. We can realign and redefine, but we are really at the core level right now.”

Despite the economic challenges, the village has maintained services by contracting out many of the tasks in the Public Works Department. The village has also paid down its long-term debt in a timely fashion, added needed equipment to the fire department, and has plans set in place to accommodate growth in the southwestern portion of the village.

The Village Board will hold a public hearing on the budget Nov. 19 to receive public input.

Jefferson E. Davis October 18, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Carl: Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald has done a good job holding costs down for taxpayers while maintaining services and programs when the naysayers have always said it couldn't be done. Too bad the Jeskewitz's, McDonald's, Steliga's and Ellis's on the Board didn't do this when it was suggested to them in the early 2000's saving the taxpayers millions of dollars by lowering employee costs and paring back other expenses that were long overdue. Instead, they were apparently more interested in their own self-interests for Falls Fest, the "bankrupt" Radisson Hotel, the Chamber Building quid pro quo, Marcus Theater deals on Main Street and "Scott Walkering" those that dared to ask questions or challenge the status quo to save money for taxpayers. One slight suggestion for consideration regarding your statement that, "...village leaders have avoided moving to a fee structure for utilities". Menomonee Falls already has some of the highest fees in the area for utilities when it comes to water and sewer fees. Also, garbage collection was always included in the property tax bill and was only switched to an "$85 fee" after 2005 when the Village Manager and Village Board imposed an additional tax of $1,200,000 for garbage pick-up only. Waste Management is cashing in on the dump in Menomonee Falls at taxpayer's expense with its sales of methane gas to WeEnergies providing energy to some 12,000+ homes in the area. Garbage pick-up should be free!
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) October 18, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Does the village not also get "a little taste" from charging WM a land usage fee? Two hands in the cookie jar it seems.
Jefferson E. Davis October 18, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Nuitari: You are correct. The Village gets about $3,000,000 - $3,200,000 a year from Waste Management (WM) in "tipping fees" for every ton of garbage that is dumped in Menomonee Falls. A variation of the two agreements (1994 and 2004) are available at Village Hall for review if you would like. But don't worry about all of that "extra cash" coming in that could be used to pay down debt or to be used for tax relief is instead, thanks to the Greco's, Jeskewitz's, McDonald's, Steliga's and Ellis's, being used to pay off the $42,000,000 Municipal Facilities Complex Debt Service through 2022 that the establishment didn't want anyone to know about until it was discovered in 2003. The establishment at the time promised the community that it was all paid for without any taxpayer funds. The discovery had the potential of, according to the Finance Director's Memo at the time, adding nearly $1,000 in new property taxes for the average homeowner as early as 2015 - 2022 if something was not done. The new Village Manager, Mark Fitzgerald, was given an edict in 2007 by the Village Board Members (Steliga, Jeskewitz, McDonald, Ellis) who tried to hide the $42,000,000 in 2003 to "fix it". Fix it he did. He got the DNR to expand the dump by going much higher and wider than was originally approved by them which should take care of the $42,000,000 by 2022. $3,000,000 for WM is nothing when they gross over $12,520,000,000 (billion) a year as recent as 2010.
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) October 19, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Yowzers. Makes me what to join the mob. Or run for village board.
Craig October 19, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Based on comparables in my neighborhood, my home value went down by over 20%. Shouldn't my taxes also go down, or at least the market value arbitrarily placed on my home?

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