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West Allis budget includes additions

Package will be focus of Nov. 5 hearing

Oct. 23, 2012

West Allis - A proposed 2013 West Allis city budget would cost $9 more for city services for the owner of a home assessed at $150,000 next year.

Mayor Dan Devine's proposed $109.6 million budget will go to a public hearing at 7 p.m. Nov. 5.

The overall budget is up 1.2 percent from this year, but the general fund, viewed as the operating budget, would be up less than 1 percent, or $56.1 million in 2013 - an increase mainly attributed to employee wages. The 2013 budget would fund six positions that were approved for this year but not funded. Three of those were firefighters.

The proposed 2013 levy for that budget is up 0.69 percent to $40 million, an increase of $272,831. The actual property tax rate for municipal purposes is recommended at $9.81 per $1,000 of assessed value, up from $9.75 this year.

The administration and finance committee may schedule a meeting on the budget before the hearing and probably will meet Nov. 14 to give the proposal a final review, taking public comments into consideration. The Common Council will vote on the budget Nov. 20.

Serviceable budget

Alderman Tom Lajsic, administration and finance chairman, said, "I'm fairly well satisfied with the mayor's proposal."

Lajsic said he plans to have some department heads in to discuss the budget after the hearing.

The proposed budget contains no service reductions.

However, higher overnight parking fees and a new accident crash fee might be in the offing. Although both ideas are still in the conceptual stage and still need council approval, each might bring in an additional $25,000. Accident crash fees are being established by more communities to help offset the cost of dealing with traffic accidents. The fees normally go to the drivers' insurance companies.

Community enhancements

Three budget additions could result in a better image for the city, a neater city and energy savings, said City Administrator Paul Ziehler.

One addition is $25,000 for a promotion, marketing and branding program to build the city's image.

"We need to continue to improve our image as an attractive place to bring business and to live," Ziehler said.

The second addition is $25,000 for a neighborhood enhancement facilitator, a new position. The facilitator would work full time, but only from April to October, getting property owners to keep up their properties.

A third addition is $50,000 for an energy sustainability coordinator, who would help the city save energy and be more environmentally harmonious. Energy savings should offset much of the $50,000 cost for the coordinator, Ziehler said.

Worker raises and benefits

The proposed budget contains employee raises. Under their contract, police will receive a 2 percent raise in April. The city is in arbitration with the firefighters over the contract for this year and next year. Once that contract is settled, Ziehler said it will be clearer what kinds of raises should be given to nonrepresented employees.

An annual employee health savings of $800,000 will kick in next year, as the city goes to a new health provider that excludes doctors and hospitals in the Columbia-St. Mary's network. Additional savings will come from changes to the actual employee health plan.

Even with the savings, the city's self-funded health insurance program could have a $1.4 million deficit next year, Ziehler said, but he noted that such deficits often loom at this point.

The 2012 deficit that was projected at $1.7 million is down to a projected $300,000, he said. In fact, the plan lost money only once in nine years, he added.

NEXT STEPS

WHAT: public hearing on proposed 2013 West Allis budget

WHEN: 7 p.m. Nov. 5

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

WHAT: Common Council 2013 budget approval

WHEN: 7 p.m. Nov. 20

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

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