The 2015 executive budget will be published this week, and I’m proud to be a part of it for the first time as mayor.
It continues to fund our first-class city services while delivering real savings that we’re reinvesting for the future and using to enhance our work in some key areas, especially economic development.
You can read the proposed budget here. Some highlights …
- Revenues are proposed to increase 5.2% from the 2014 budget to 9.2 million. This is primarily due to an increase in state transportation aids and due to our treatment of debt service, as we reflect debt service payments our utilities make to the general fund as a revenue to offset the correlating expense.
- Total expenses are proposed to decrease 0.25% to $18.6 million. Not including debt service, the decrease in expenditures is 4.3%. These savings include significant general fund savings driven by the city’s move to a deductible health plan. The decrease is also driven by the shifting of fire hydrant rental costs from the tax levy to water/sewer bills. This shift counts toward our state-imposed levy limit, so this is not “new money” we can raise through taxation.
- The tax levy is proposed to decrease 5% to $10 million, due again primarily to the one-time shift in fire hydrant expenses.
- The city’s net new construction growth from 2013 to 2014 was +.509%. Therefore, the city’s levy can grow by just that amount. The budget meets that limit, which applies to the city’s tax levy, excluding post-2005 debt service payments.
The proposed budget makes significant investments in our people and fills important gaps in the delivery of city services.
Included in the budget are three new part-time positions that are funded predominately by cost savings and shifting of existing funds. All of them are necessary steps to move South Milwaukee forward and better deliver our services, and I’m excited to add them.
- First, the budget includes funding for someone to lead our economic development efforts. This half-time position would be funded predominantly with money previously appropriated to the Community Development Authority and contributions from our tax incremental financing districts. This will be our go-to person inside City Hall when it comes to attracting and retaining local business, marketing our city and driving our downtown redevelopment efforts. It’s a position long overdue for South Milwaukee, and I am convinced he or she will pay immediate dividends.
- We are also recommending the creation of an urban forestry position in the Street Department, to be funded primarily through changes to the self-deposit station hours. In the proposed budget, the station would remain open year-round on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday (our three busiest days). This has been the schedule for December 1 through March 31 for the last couple of years. The change would free up 16 man-hours that we would use toward coordinating our street tree program — training a person to help us move from being focused on tree removal to creating an actual urban forestry program that includes replanting and other measures aimed at being good stewards of our city’s canopy.
- The final position would enhance our human resources capability, by shifting duties inside the administration department and creating a new clerical position for engineering and the mayor.
The budget also includes $30,000 — $15,000 carrying over from 2014 and $15,000 for 2015 – for planning. These are dollars we plan to use to update our comprehensive plan … and take a deep dive into downtown planning. Stay tuned for more information on that.
Also, the budget calls for a 2% salary increase for all employees, in addition to automatic annual increases through seniority-driven steps, for eligible employees. The raise includes our public safety workers. The current fire labor agreement includes a “wage reopener” to be negotiated by the end of 2014. The police agreement — which the council approved earlier this week but still requires police union ratification — includes the 2% increase.
I would like to know what you think of the proposed budget. Post your comments here, or weigh in at one of our upcoming meetings. The budget will officially be published in the NOW newspaper on Oct. 30., with a public hearing on Nov. 24. The city council then meets Nov. 25 to consider adoption of the document.
I also want to thank City Administrator Tami Mayzik, City Clerk Jim Shelenske, and all the department heads for their work in preparing this budget. These are the people, and their teams, who bring these numbers to life, leading the way in delivering our city services. Also, thank you to Finance Committee Chairman Ald. Joe Bukowski and Vice Chairman Ald. Pat Stoner for their work in producing this document and providing strong oversight of this process.
My pledge: To continue to be a responsible steward of your money, while finding ways to invest in our city services and build a stronger South Milwaukee. This executive budget is a good start — a real step toward South Milwaukee’s promising future.