Funding options

Village begins exploring best upgrade projects for $460,000 in federal relief, along with $150,000 in local surplus money
By 
CONNOR CARYNSKI
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Village of Saukville has several options in its budgeting cycle on how to spend funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and potentially surplus unassigned funds.

In addition to the $460,000 the village will receive through the ARPA during the next two years, village trustees are considering ways to use $150,000 in surplus money from an unassigned fund balance to complete capital projects without borrowing.

Greg Johnson, an Ehlers financial municipal adviser, met with the village Finance Committee June 29 to discuss additional funds the village has as it begins the 2022 budgeting process in August.

Johnson said the village’s unassigned fund balance, or funds for unbudgeted expenses that may arise, currently totals $1.78 million, or 55% of what the village spends annually.

A policy states that the village should only retain between 16% and 30% of operating expenditures on its fund balance, and that some funds could be spent this year without damaging the village’s credit rating through Moody’s Investors Service, which is currently a healthy AA3.

Johnson said a village’s unassigned balance is a strong indicator of financial health and that the village could spend $150,000 this year without fear of damaging its credit rating. That would leave the village with $1.63 million in its unassigned fund.

“Use of $150,000 of fund balance should still keep your fund balance at a very healthy range and provide some additional cash for capital items this year,” Johnson told the committee.

Village Administrator Dawn Wagner said the village will have to spend about $50,000 on repairing the public works fueling system, which fuels all municipal vehicles, leaving $100,000 for capital improvement projects if the Village Board decided to use the funds this year.

“We are going to have to spend some money on the fuel system this year,” she said.

The unassigned funds could be used congruently or separately from the ARPA funds in tackling capital improvement projects.

Johnson said the $460,000 in ARPA funding could be used for water and sewer projects but that general street improvements are not eligible uses.

He presented two options for using funds. The first would be to help upgrade the sewer facility’s phosphorus-removal capabilities, a project expected to cost about $6.3 million in coming years.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources requires phosphorus levels be below a certain amount in treated water before being discharged, requiring expensive filters and processing systems.

If the village decides not to pledge the funds toward the phosphorus-removal project, Johnson said, they could instead be used for other water and sewer projects, including replacing water pumps, valves and sewers in need of repair.

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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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