Aldermen OK budget that promises tax increase

Port spending plan includes funding for communications manager, human resources department

By KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM

Ozaukee Press staff

The Port Washington Common Council on Tuesday approved a $10.5 million general fund budget for 2023 with little comment.

The budget, which reflects an increase of $268,000, or 2.6%, from last year’s spending plan, includes funding for several initiatives, including the hiring of a part-time communications manager for $35,000 and establishment of a human resources department for $83,000.

The levy needed to support the budget is $3.7 million, an increase of $157,000, or 4.4%.

The tax rate required to support the levy is $5.51 per $1,000 assessed valuation, an increase of 28 cents, or 5.4%.

That means the owner of a house valued at $270,000 will pay $1,490.46 in city taxes for 2023, an increase of $75.74, City Administrator Tony Brown said.

In addition, homeowners will pay a $52.51 charge for recycling services, he said.

Aldermen also approved a resolution allowing the city to add $40,000 to its levy limit this year.

Brown noted that the city can do this because last year it levied $40,000 less than it could have under the state levy limits. According to state law, the city can carry that amount over to the next year’s budget if approved by aldermen, he said.

While no one commented on the budget during the public hearing, Ald. Pat Tearney asked officials to consider adding $15,000 to the budget for the Business Improvement District.

The BID, which is funded through a tax on downtown properties, had sought the funding but it was not included in the budget, Tearney said.

He noted that the BID uses its budget to finance the Main Street program, and that offers benefits not just to downtown businesses but residents throughout the city.

“A vibrant downtown brings in more development,” he said.

Brown said the funding was not included in the budget for several reasons, but primarily because the city needs the money to finance existing services.

“I think we need to prioritize what we’re doing,” he said.

He added that he is working with Main Street on two initiatives, a public mural program and enhanced facade program, and if Main Street takes them on, the city would provide funding for the group.

The money for those programs will come through American Rescue Plan Act funding, he said, not the general fund budget.

Through the years, the city has provided anywhere from nothing to $25,000 annually to Main Street, officials said.

Aldermen approved the budget without the $15,000, with Tearney casting the lone dissenting vote.

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