Marshfield, WI (OnFocus) At the first City budget meeting on Monday night, the 2020 City of Marshfield budget was presented with a recommended tax increase of 19 cents, or 2.02 percent. If approved, taxes will increase to $9.45 per thousand in assessed property value.
“Nobody’s excited about increases in tax rates. I think we’ve held the line incredibly for the last decade or so,” said City Administrator Steve Barg.
According to budget documents, in the last nine years the Council has approved limited tax hikes of 31 cents, or 3.5 percent. Tax increases are meant to keep up with rising costs, from salary increases to business-related costs, while maintaining services. Each 1 percent increase produces an additional $130,000 in income for the city.
A comparison was provided for other communities which placed Marshfield below the current tax rates of Stevens Point ($9.65, proposed $9.98), Wausau ($10.27, $10.48 proposed), and Wisconsin Rapids ($11.82, proposed increase unknown).
The challenges of the 2020 budget included flat state aid, meeting state levy limits, rising insurance costs, maintaining eligibility for the State Expenditure Restraint Program (ERP), and increased business costs.
Additionally, the budget was complicated by a $1.6 million TID adjustment. Those funds had been transferred to the city’s general fund and then used to balance the budget last year, which was discovered and rectified this year by transferring the funds back to the TIF districts.
“There was nothing wrong with what we did, it just put us in a position where we had to pay back those TIDs,” said Barg.
To address the issues created by this adjustment, the 2020 budget process took multiple measures, including curbing overtime as much as possible, leaving one position vacant, charging TIF districts for staff time spent on TIF projects, charging interest allowed by state law to TIF money, and other measures.
The City also took a “ground up” approach to the budget this year, starting with a base budget with expected inflation and salary increases factored in, and then adding in the top requests from departments.
The total 2020 expenses add up to $46,970,636, a 5.6 percent increase from the previous year, largely due to the aquatic center project which will replace Hefko Pool.
The next two budget meetings will take place Tuesday, Oct. 29 and Monday, Nov. 4 at 6 p.m. A public hearing and adoption of the 2020 City budget will occur Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 6 p.m.
To view the budget, visit the City of Marshfield website.