Curtailed expenses, hike in property valuation drive spending plan that goes to public hearing on Nov. 7
One year after Town of Grafton residents faced an 11.5% tax-rate increase to support 2013 municipal spending, they can expect better news on their next tax bills.
A 2014 town budget that calls for a 1.1% decrease in the assessed tax rate will be presented at a 7 p.m. public hearing Thursday, Nov. 7.
The proposed rate change is the result of pared expenses, a minimal loss of state aid and an increase in property valuation, Town Chairman Lester Bartel said.
“Last year, the town was hard hit by revenue losses from Act 10, which didn’t help us because we don’t have (unionized) public employees,” he said.
“This year, we also don’t have any large increases in costs.”
A major added expense last year, Bartel noted, was the town’s $164,000 cost share for upgrades to the Grafton Fire Department, which voters approved in a November 2013 referendum. The upgrades included hiring a full-time chief and providing per-call pay for firefighters and emergency medical responders.
Passage of the referendum allowed the Town and Village of Grafton to exceed a state-imposed levy limit to cover increases in a cost-sharing agreement for department operations.
The rate to support 2014 spending is projected at $2.86 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, down three cents from the current rate. Based on the new rate, the owner of a $300,000 house would pay $858 for town spending, a $9 decrease.
The new town levy is projected at $1.46 million, down 0.75% from the previous levy of $1.47 million.
Total town expenditures are estimated at $1.76 million, about $10,000 less than in 2013.
“We have no increases for fire and rescue, and our staff did a really good job of holding the line on expenses,” Bartel said.
Grants and state aid total $161,548, down less than $400 from 2013.
Although the town continues to face costs associated with the Denow landfill cleanup, the 2014 budgets calls for only a $10,000 increase in fees for general and environmental legal services, which are projected to total $70,000.
“The landfill is one area we can never be sure about. It could change at any time,” Bartel said.
Another factor playing in the town’s favor is the valuation increase. While other municipalities face declines in their property tax bases, the town’s assessed value of $511,186,600 is up $2 million from the previous year.
During the public hearing, the proposed budget will be presented, and residents can ask questions and make comments.
A special town meeting will follow the hearing, during which residents will be asked to approved the tax levy and highway expenditures. The Town Board will then convene to consider adoption of the final budget.
The hearing and meetings will be held at the Town Hall, 1230 11th Ave.