Menomonee Falls — The 2014 village budget proposal calls for a $22 million levy — up $288,750 over last year — to support a $26.44 million budget.
Because of a higher assessment ratio, the village portion of the tax rate remains fixed at $5.20 per $1,000 of assessed value. That means the owner of a home valued at $150,000 will pay $780 to the village.
Municipalities are allowed by state law to increase tax levy revenue in the percentage equal to net new construction from the preceding year. For Falls, that translates to an allowable increase of 1.6 percent. The village plans to limit the levy increase to 1.3 percent in order to maintain a flat tax rate, Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald said during a budget presentation to the Committee of the Whole on Monday.
"We're pretty pleased that we can present to you a budget that we think is pretty straightforward, pretty sane and also certainly won't be highly charged relative to the taxpayers," he told the committee members.
Menomonee Falls had the highest construction growth in Waukesha County in 2013. It grew by $70.7 million, or 1.64 percent, Fitzgerald said. Pewaukee saw the second-highest growth in the county, with $36 million in new construction.
By not taxing to the full, allowable amount, the village is losing $70,000 of potential revenue. Though that is a permanent loss in revenue, Village President Randy Newman pointed out that it also is a permanent savings for residents.
Fitzgerald said he does not recommend straying from the state levy limit law every year, and they should consider taxing to the allowable amount in future years.
"If you do this every year, you really start to compound your problems," he said.
This year, the village is in a situation where net new construction and the tax rate are not linear. Their assessment ratio is pushing 107 percent, Fitzgerald said, which means they are able to raise the levy while maintaining an unchanged tax rate.
"This year it makes sense to do this," Fitzgerald said. "We made the case to you in prior years that if we don't take the allocation of the levy for new growth, the existing taxpayers are actually subsidizing the new-growth taxpayers and we don't think it makes any sense."
In 2014, all funds are being held at no more than 1 percent growth, "so in many ways we continue this extremely fiscal conservative circumstance," Fitzgerald said.
Since 2006, the village has raised taxes a meager $29 per resident, which is an average of $3.02 per year. Since 2007, village staff has decreased by 43 employees. Village services have been maintained through consolidated departments and contracting outside of the village for services.
Next year will be the first year since 2007 the village is not cutting any employees.
The 2014 budget will be presented once more at the village's public hearing, where the Village Board also will take action on the budget.
BY THE NUMBERS
tax rate, per $1,000 of assessed value
WHAT:2014 budget hearing and Village Board action on budget
WHEN:6:30 p.m. Nov. 18
WHERE:Village Hall, W156 N8480 Pilgrim Road
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