The Common Council voted to set the budget parameters for the 2019 budget at the highest allowable by state law.
City Administrator Steve Barg presented five options to the council ranging from keeping the same tax levy, which would result in a slight decrease in tax rates, to raising taxes the full amount the state would allow.
“For nearly a decade, starting before I got here, the tax rate in the city was held flat,” said Barg. “And now for the last five years, there has been what I would call nominal increases. That such over that five-year period the tax rate has increased a total of 2.8%.”
The 2018 tax rate in the city of Marshfield was $9.20 per $1000 of assessed value. For the 2018 tax year the state allowed up to a 4.5% increase. Information on the 2019 allowable increase has not been released yet.
Several Councilmembers raised concerns over paying for the projects and maintenance that needs to be completed in the city.
“With all the things we want to get done, we have to,” said Alderman Tom Buttke. “How are you going to do it without? You can’t fix roads, you are going to keep getting further and further behind, and now we are living on trying to overlay a lot of streets rather than complete reconstruction. And in the long run, you are going to pay more.”
“Twenty-five cents in five years, and now we are proposing going up to 40 cents,” said Mayor Bob McMannus. “It’s very frustrating, being new, to look at all this deferred maintenance that now we are going to have to do. The citizens are going to be upset, and they should be! This makes no sense.”
“You are not going to have bathrooms, you are not going to have a pool. You might as well quit any discussion about that kind of stuff and talk about ‘what if we win the lottery?’ if we are not willing to raise taxes,” said Alderman Steve McSwain.
Alderwoman Rebecca Spiros raised concerns over budget overruns.
“We continually bid out projects; we continually go over budget on our projects,” said Spiros. “That’s where I would like to see things improve in this city – is for us to bid a project out and stay within budget. For once, I would like for us to stay within budget.”
The council voted 7-3 to recommend a budget with the tax increase allowed by state law. Councilmembers Sprios, Jason Zaleski and Tom Witzel voted no. The final budget will be adopted in November, and at that time the final 2019 tax rate will be set.