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Waukesha Budget: Garbage Fees Help Avoid Tax Increase

The proposed garbage fee would save $2.7 million in taxes, but is expected to cost residents $136 per year.

For the second year in a row, the is introducing a budget that keeps city property taxes flat while the overall budget is decreasing.

City officials released the proposed 2012 budget on Friday. The $125,123,000 spending plan includes a 2.43 percent spending decrease compared to last year. The $56.2 million general fund operating budget decreased 1.19 percent compared to the $57.9 million budgeted in 2011.

The city eliminated $3.6 million from its budget due to reductions in state aid. To offset the decrease, officials proposed a garbage, recycling and large-item disposal fee in the budget, which is projected to cost residents $136 a year. The proposed garbage fees, which already exist in Oconomowoc, Menomonee Falls and Pewaukee, saves $2.7 million from the budget.

The proposed fee allowed the city to avoid deeper cuts, said Interim City Administrator Steve Crandell in a memo to the Common Council and city department heads. 

“This was done to promote equity among the various property owners, (condominium, commercial and residential) and to preserve core city services,” he wrote. 

However, cuts are proposed in the 2012 budget. They include: 

  • Unfunded vacant positions; $223,000
  • Two police vehicles; $55,800
  • Asphalt grinder; $136,000
  • Borrowing for a Parks & Recreation vehicle; $26,000

The overall budget includes a request of $4.99 million in borrowing while $9.78 million in property taxes is going toward the city's general debt fund. The capital improvement plan includes infrastructure repairs for sewer and streets. It also includes a roof replacement and improvements at the city garage and improvements to the police department and parks. Information technology requests are also included to address aging equipment and software, Crandell said in a memo.

“The mayor, Council and Finance Committee have been clear about its desire to minimize the tax impact on Waukesha residents,” said Crandell in his budget memo. “Under this direction, and in appreciation of the financial challenges Waukesha citizens and businesses face, the 2011 levy needed to support the 2012 executive budget is proposed to remain flat at $51,405,434, for the second year in a row. Therefore, there would be no change for the average homeowner as a result of the city’s proposed budget.”

Mayor Jeff Scrima, in a memo to the Common Council and citizens, said that the city’s executive leadership team is proud of the work that was done for the budget proposal.

“We understand the struggles our citizens and city employees face,” Scrima said. “Putting together this proposal was time consuming, complex and required flexibility. Under this proposal the average homeowner will see the same, and in some cases better, level of city services and not see an increase in the city portion of their tax bill.

The Finance Committee will begin its review of the budget during its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. A Common Council meeting is schedule from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 1 before the regularly scheduled meeting to review the Capital Improvement Plan and five-year plan. The council will review the 21012 budget at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 and will meet at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 for a budget hearing and adoption.

James Wigderson October 10, 2011 at 04:30 AM
Hi Mark, a number of those households would include larger residential developments (condos, apartments) such as those developed by the Scrima family that do not use city garbage services even as they use a disproportionately high amount of other city services.
jt October 10, 2011 at 06:56 AM
looks like scotty walkers cuts are not working so good for all you righties in waukeshau! well, he didn't raise taxes, but he screwed you on the garbage by cutting revenue sharing! can't wait to see how many of you cry now!
jt October 10, 2011 at 07:04 AM
if you don't like it, move! just as walker told public employees, if they don't like his changes, go work somewhere else! next time use your brain when voting wakeshau!
Shane October 10, 2011 at 12:56 PM
Scott Walkers's changes in how government operates where necessary to get spending under control and I support them. Adding this new fee does not reduce cost to the taxpayer, it only adds a new revenue stream to local government which they can and will easily raise when it suits them. I believe they is still plenty of money to be saved by cutting spending on other non-core services.
Mark McCullough October 10, 2011 at 01:41 PM
Maybe I wasn't clear. The reason I couldn't make the numbers add up is that the number is too high for only households that use city garbage collection and too low for all households based on my uninformed understanding. Unfortunately, I couldn't readily find the numbers on how many households use municipal garbage collection services. The most likely option I can think of to make the numbers fit is that it will be everyone with an opt-out plan and an estimate on how many people will explicitly opt out. But again, this information should be made explicit, not implicit.

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