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West Allis begins reviewing its 2014 city budget

Tax impact shifts with falling property values

Oct. 22, 2013

West Allis — A review of Mayor Dan Devine's proposed 2014 city budget, which calls for a 0.32 percent increase in the property tax levy, will begin Monday in front of the West Allis Administration and Finance Committee.

The tax rate is anticipated to be $10.75 per $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of 94 cents per $1,000 or nearly 9.6 percent.

Because the value of local properties fell an average of 8.6 percent in the citywide revaluation this year, there are fewer thousands of dollars of property to tax, so the tax rate has to rise so that the same amount of money can be raised.

Residential break

However, owners of residential property that fell the average of 9.3 percent should feel no property tax increase because they have less taxable property and because commercial property picked up more of the property tax burden in the revaluation.

Commercial property fell only 6.6 percent, so taxes for such properties will go up an estimated 2.3 percent with the same $10.75 per $1,000 tax rate.

The biggest hit in the revaluation was taken by industrial properties, for which assessed values fell an average of 20 percent. So, property taxes on the average industrial property could be down 12.5 percent, the city estimates.

Budget elements

The mayor's proposed budget is $122 million, which is 2.2 percent higher than the 2013 spending plan. The $56.8 million general fund, commonly thought of as the operating budget, would go up less than that, by 1.2 percent.

The main increase in overall proposed spending is nearly $3 million in the capital projects area. The money would be spent in two of the city's tax incremental finance districts to encourage development in those areas of the city, Devine said. The city would get paid back for its investment when that new development happens.

Some of the $3 million would be invested in a parking structure for the Summit Place office complex on part of the former Allis-Chalmers manufacturing plant location, he said. The rest would be for a potential loan for a project in the Six Points area,.

Devine said he feels people will "be generally content" with his budget, given the 0.32 percent levy hike, which was reached despite the fact that shared revenue and transportation aid from the state was flat, as is development.

Better funding from those sources would have given more flexibility to provide services, he said. The major reduction in the proposed budget is eliminating three firefighters. That will likely mean more overtime, but there will be a net savings, he added.

Technology at work

Otherwise, services will remain at the same level as 2013, though the city is considering how technological additions could accentuate what's offered.

The city is hoping to improve police service by adding a technology person, Devine said, explaining that the addition should speed up response times.

The city also is looking to equip building inspectors, the Health Department and possibly other personnel with iPads so they can print notices right in their vehicles and deliver them to properties while they are there. Now they produce the notices at the City Hall and mail them, he said.

In addition, the city is looking into providing GPS units for public works vehicles to better keep track of their locations so they can respond more quickly to calls, Devine said.

— Jane Ford-Stewart

NEXT STEP

WHAT: budget presentation before the Administration and Finance Committee

WHEN: 6 p.m. Oct. 28

WHERE: West Allis City Hall, 7525 W. Greenfield Ave.

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