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Fox Point projects slight decrease in tax rate

Dengel concerned that board is using $140,000 of reserves

Nov. 12, 2013

Fox Point — Though the village tax levy is proposed to increase in 2014, an increase in village property values means the tax rate will end up decreasing compared to last year.

Village Manager Melissa Bohse said the tax rate is projected to decrease 2 cents from the 2013 rate to $6.57 per $1,000 of assessed property value. For a resident with a $300,000 home that means a village tax bill of $1,971, or about $8 less than last year.

The overall village tax levy is expected to increase by about $24,000, the amount allowed by state law as a result of new construction within the village, Bohse said.

Village reserves

The proposed 2014 budget, discussed by the Village Board at a workshop last week, uses about $140,000 of cash reserves to cover a budget shortfall. However, Bohse noted, the village came in about $150,000 under budget in 2013, meaning the net effect on cash reserves would be a roughly $10,000 increase.

Nevertheless, Trustee F.R. Dengel took exception to the village running a budget which requires the use of any cash reserves.

"I'm concerned about getting on a path where we're spending more than we're taking in," Dengel said. "We're going to need to change that."

Village President Michael West disagreed, saying that a look at past budgets shows the village has been using progressively less cash reserves in recent years, and that reserve levels remain above the amount designated by the Village Board.

Cash reserves are an important indicator of financial health and a key contributor to a municipality's credit rating, which affects interest rates on long-term debt.

"I think that the numbers tell us that the notion of spending down fund balance in any material way isn't going to happen," West said. "(The 2014 budget) still allows us to stay above the limit that is recommended by the rating agencies and our auditors."

Hearing upcoming

At the workshop the board made several changes to the proposed budget, which will be the subject of a public hearing on Dec. 2 and will likely be adopted by the board that same night.

An estimate had been included in the budget for a $180,000 study on the village pool, a number based on 10 percent of an earlier estimate of a new pool. Trustees agreed that a $50,000 price tag was more appropriate.

The replacement of a $280,000 excavator machine was delayed until 2015 as well.

In some cases the village does not have easements for areas where it has utility lines, or has easements for areas with no underlying infrastructure. The board directed Bohse not to spend any money on easement purchases or abandonments until a detailed report is presented, or the outcome of possible state legislation that could eliminate the requirement to have easements on land with utility infrastructure is known.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: 2014 village budget hearing

WHEN: 7 p.m. Dec. 2

WHERE: Fox Point Village Hall, 7200 North Santa Monica Blvd.

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