Electors at budget meeting support raising taxes, but not to the extent officials had requested
Town of Belgium electors on Monday night approved spending more than the state allowable levy limit next year, although not by as much as the Town Board requested.
Electors approved a 2016 levy of $410,448, which is $4,197, or 1.03%, over the allowable levy of $406,251 and 2% over last year’s levy of $402,400.
The Town Board last month approved a resolution to ask voters to exceed the levy limit by $23,769, which would have been $27,620, or 6.9%, more than the 2015 levy.
That resolution was amended to the 2% figure, which electors found easier to stomach.
“I’m willing to give them some, not the whole thing,” said Tom Peterson.
Electors defeated a motion by a 15-5 vote to set the levy at the state allowable limit of $406,251. They then approved the 2016 levy of $410,448 by a 14-11 vote, and finally the increase of not more than 2% by a 14-9 vote.
The Town Board requested the increase to help pay off the five-year loan for the new Town Hall, which calls for a payment of $23,900 next year. Electors voiced concern that when the five years is up and the loan is paid off, the town will find another use for that money and taxes won’t decrease.
“If we let it go up, it never comes back,” said Jeff Coeur.
“That’s why we’re all here,” said Peterson.
Town Chairman Tom Winker said taxes would decrease in five years if he has a say in the matter.
“If I’m sitting up here, it’s going to go back down,” he said.
Winker said the town is still working with two possible donors who could help pay for the new hall. He said donations weren’t able to be made this year but next year is possible.
The approved levy calls for a mill rate of $1.44 per $1,000 of equalized property value, meaning the owner of a $200,000 home will pay $288 in town taxes. If the larger levy increase was approved, the mill rate would have been $1.51.
Electors first approved road expenditures for $343,980 on a 13-8 vote, after a motion to reject spending that money didn’t receive a second and thus didn’t reach a vote. In the final budget document, the town lowered the number to $324,408 to reflect the smaller-than-proposed levy.
Last month, the board discussed asking to exceed the levy limit by $77,000, but lowered it to $23,769.
After the public hearing on the budget and meeting of the electors, the board held a regular meeting at which it approved the 2016 budget of $565,058, 1.6% higher than last year’s budget. The vote was 2-0 as Supr. Jim Blick did not attend the meeting.
Included in next year’s budget is paving 16-foot wide Clay Ridge Road, scheduled to be completed over three years. Other road maintenance may be adjusted to pay for it.
Supr. Bill Janeshek said the town is hoping to obtain free road material from Ozaukee County to use on the Clay Road project.
Regardless of the levy increase, Winker said the town in spring will assess road conditions and prioritize work. He said a major factor in the roads budget is Mother Nature, namely snow plowing and salt costs.
“What we don’t spend on snow is what we can spend on roads,” he said.
To exceed the state allowable tax levy, towns with less than 3,000 people must receive approval via a meeting of the electors, according to state statute. Every eligible voter in the town may attend and vote. The process is the equivalent of a school district holding a referendum to exceed its revenue cap.