Village officials have to pinch pennies when reviewing requests from groups hosting community events
There was a time when local nonprofit groups looked forward with anticipation when the Saukville Village Board and its Finance Committee met to dole out the revenue from its room tax assessment.
Today, there is just a hint of dread as the money is being divvied up.
Over the years, the village has taken in as much as $65,000 from the 7% tax it assesses guests at the Super 8 motel.
Last year, the pool of revenue fell to a record low $34,500. That bottom-line threshold dropped even lower this year, with the village anticipating slightly more than $31,000 from the tax.
Unfortunately, the decline in resources runs counter to the growing needs and expenses encountered by a handful of community groups that apply for a piece of the room tax pie.
The primary purpose of the room tax is to generate tourism within the community, although a portion of the money collected goes to general tax relief.
This year, as last, village trustees agreed to apply $9,000 of the collected room charge toward the general fund.
The next largest allocation went toward Fourth of July fireworks, an expenditure that is particularly dear to Village President Barb Dickmann.
“I don’t think we can get by with anything less this year,” Dickmann told trustees as they deliberated about which requests to fund.
Another $1,000 was set aside for the community’s Independence Day parade.
While no money was reserved for holiday decorations this year, compared to $4,800 last year, trustees agreed to allocate $3,200 for a new sign at the Oscar Grady Library.
Representatives from the Saukville Area Historical Society felt the biggest pinch from the declining revenue.
Society President Ann Kertscher said the group was hoping to receive $2,000 to continue programming and another $3,000 to help pay for maintaining the Crossroads Museum on North Mill Street.
The group hosted a highly successful display of local Santa Claus costumes last winter, and held several genealogy-related programs. It also plans to reintroduce the walking tour brochure detailing local landmarks around Veterans Park.
But Kertscher said maintaining the museum, which is housed in the former fire station, is an endless challenge.
“The building is probably a priority for us. It has been 10 years since we did tuck pointing, and it is in dire need. We could probably get by with a few less programs,” she said.
The firehouse was sold to the Society for $1, with the stipulation that it revert to the village if it is no longer used by the group.
“So, in a way, the money we put into the building could return to you if we ever move out,” said Society member Donna D’Angelo, a former village trustee.
“Obviously, that is something we hope never happens.”
The Society’s room tax allocation was set at $4,000, which was $1,500 more than last year.
The allocation to the Saukville Chamber of Commerce was raised from $2,000 to $2,500. That money will cover most of the monthly rental fee for the Chamber’s office.
Two of the Saukville Fire Department’s largest fund-raising events, the Summer Thunder motorcycle poker run and classic car show, received a total allocation of $4,300 — the same amount as last year.
The countywide National Night Out, hosted by the Saukville Police Department, received a $500 allocation.
At the request of organizers, no money was set aside for the 9/11 memorial ceremony, another countywide event. Officials said they would consider reinstating the funding in future years if a request is received.
The village also retained its position as a lead sponsor of the Live at the Triangle music series with a $1,000 allocation.
Village President Barb Dickmann was almost apologetic when talking to the representatives of the groups seeking funding.
“Unfortunately, we are not talking about big numbers here. Thank you for understanding and working with us,” Dickmann said.