Village tax rate slated to fall

But officials caution that tax bills will be determined by the reassessment of properties
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Village of Belgium may see a decrease in its tax rate, but that may or may not translate into residents paying less in taxes.

Last week, the Committee of the Whole — the entire Village Board acting in a committee role — agreed not to levy the full amount allowed by the state.

The levy is slated to be $1,062,950, a .54% increase over last year.

The tax rate is estimated to be $7.22 per $1,000 of assessed value, meaning the owner of a $200,000 home would pay $1,444 in taxes in 2019.

That is 13 cents less than this year, but it doesn’t necessarily equate to a tax decrease.

“There’s no way to say that nobody’s taxes are going to go up,” Treasurer Vickie Boehnlein said. “If your assessment went up, your taxes will go up.”

Most property values, she said, are about where they were in 2014, before everyone’s assessments dropped in 2015.

The committee had to determine how to handle a rarity in the budget — an excess of nearly $7,500 in revenue.

“This is a problem we haven’t had since I’ve been on the board,” said Boehnlein, who had served as a trustee and board president for several years.

Two contributing factors to the scenario were a drop in the village’s debt service and a bump from new construction.

“We’re not even having to cut (the budget),” Boehnlein said.

The committee had to decide whether to spend the excess money, not levy the maximum amount it could or to levy only for what it needed.

Using the full levy allowed would have resulted in a 1.25% increase. A zero increase would have required cutting the budget.

Not taking the full levy, Boehnlein said, would not impact the village’s state aid the following year.

The committee chose the middle option — not to cut the budget, but not to levy to the maximum, either.

To eliminate the excess, the village had the option to reduce its charge to the water utility, but that wouldn’t have any impact on taxpayers, Boehnlein said.

Trustee Rose Sauers said she is concerned how it would look if the village took the maximum levy allowed.

“It’s all about appearances,” Sauers said.

Trustee Clem Gottsacker agreed to get rid of the excess but not to cut the budget.

The committee approved the budget, 5-0. Trustees Josh Borden and Dale Pfeifer were absent.

Included in the budget is a 2% wage increase for village employees and a 3% increase for the Department of Public Works superintendent.

Also included is $5,000 for two speed signs that residents requested in order to slow traffic coming into the village, and $600 for two Little Free Libraries at the request of a resident concerned with the lack of access to books for children and village residents.

A public hearing on the budget will be held on Nov. 12, after which the Village Board may approve the budget at its regular meeting.

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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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