Town will ask to exceed levy limit

Supervisors say the budget can’t handle $43,000 increase to pay for new grass fire truck
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Town of Belgium will be asking its residents to exceed the state-allowed levy limit by more than $43,000 to pay for its share of a new fire truck.

The board approved the resolution on Monday by a 2-0 vote. Chairman Tom Winker and Supr. Tom Bichler voted for it. Supr. Bill Janeshek was absent.

The Belgium Fire Department last month requested money to replace its 1993 grass fire truck, with costs to be split between the town and village of Belgium that it serves.

The village and town agreed to pay $75,000, with the village paying $31,695 (43.26%) and the town $43,405 (57.74%). The breakdown is based on equalized property value.

The truck costs $89,264. The fire department is picking up the extra $14,000.

“I think it was a fair agreement that all three of us could live with and the taxpayers can live with,” Winker said.

“We’re a frugal bunch here but I’m proud of that. We spend the money like it’s coming out of our own pocket.”

The only two places to pull the money from would be the roads budget, which the board didn’t deem to be a good idea.

The increase translates to 15 cents per $1,000 of equalized value, which translates to $30 more on a $200,000 home, Town Clerk Ginger Murphy said.

“Thirty dollars I don’t think is going to kill anybody,” Winker said.

The fire department plans to buy a pickup truck from Ewald Automotive Group for $33,419 and add $55,845 of equipment.

The department plans to sell its 1993 grass fire truck with 15,000 miles that the new one will replace. That money will  help offset the cost of the new truck.

The new grass fire truck will respond to all calls and will be able to reach farmers’ fields that larger trucks cannot, Fire Chief Dan Birenbaum said.

In a larger discussion on the budget, Winker and Bichler said they support raising the town levy by the cost of living each year.

“We have to keep up with inflation,” Bichler said.

Resident Tom Peterson said he was concerned that the levy increase for the fire truck would carry to future years, but Winker said that $43,000 would be taken off the levy before future cost-of-living increases would be applied.

He reminded residents at the meeting that in four years the fire department wants to replace an ambulance for $230,000.

A couple of residents asked if money could be set aside in each budget to save for that expense.

Winker said the town only has one year of payments left on the new town hall. Once that falls off, the town could borrow money for the ambulance without substantially increasing the levy.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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