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.