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Fox Point's village levy increases by a half-percent

Reserves being used to cover some expenses

Nov. 30, 2012

A 2013 budget calling for a 0.5 percent increase in the property tax levy was approved Thursday by the Fox Point Village Board.

After six deliberation sessions with village staff and a public hearing, the board took action on the budget, which totals nearly $7 million. The document was approved, 6-1.

Coming in at 79 percent, property tax payments represent the majority of Fox Point's income. Additional sources include payments from other governmental agencies, license and permit fees and fine and forfeiture payments.

To make ends meet, the village is dipping into its reserves. About 5 percent of next year's expenses are expected to be covered through the fund balance (reserves).

Trustee wanted zero increase

Trustee Douglas Frazer, the dissenter, said he would have preferred the board adopt a 0 percent increase in the levy.

"This is an element I'm not happy about," Frazer said of the 0.5 percent increase. "I wish we would've kept it the same because it could've sent a signal to the rest of the community."

Village President Mike West said the levy amount was a balancing act between taxing residents and maintaining a healthy fund balance.

"Had we made (the levy) zero, we simply would've used more of the reserves," West said.

Trustee Eric Fonstad said he was content with the amount presented, pointing out there had been robust discussion at prior board meetings.

"I feel that this is one of those things where we made a reasonable determination," Fonstad said.

Village Manager Susan Robertson said she projects 15.25 percent of Fox Point's total budget in 2013 going toward the fund balance - a figure on par with the board's goals.

The meeting was lightly attended, and a few residents did address the board during the hearing portion about upcoming capital expenses.

Resident Larry Booth, an outspoken opponent of efforts to repair the Bridge Lane ravine footbridge, queried the board and village staff on the status of the line item.

The village has allocated $1.1 million toward the rehabilitation effort, and has budgeted an additional $525,000 in 2013. Additional money is being sought through fundraising efforts.

When asked by Booth how the village would proceed if costs exceeded the budgeted amount, Robertson said the footbridge effort would follow the same path as any other project.

"Staff first evaluates (the project) and looks at other alternatives," Robertson said.

Salaries and benefits represent the majority - 56 percent - of Fox Point's overall expenses. The second highest expense, shared service agreements with other municipalities, is second highest at 25 percent.

Robertson lauded the village's many shared service agreements, pointing to overall savings in such areas as the library, fire and emergency medical services and police dispatch.

Sewer rates increasing slightly

After adopting the budget and levy, the board also voted unanimously in favor of a proposed 1.7 percent increase in Fox Point's 2013 sewer rates.

Rate consultant John Mayer said the rate was designed to address several scenarios, including a decrease in overall usage throughout the village and increased costs associated with principal and interest fees.

Mayer said a typical Fox Point taxpayer should expect to pay an additional $1.41 per quarter in light of the sewer rate increase.

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