Increase Taxes to the Max

Marshfield Common Council Vote Gives City Staff the Checkbook

(Marshfield) On Tuesday, June 26, at the meeting of the Marshfield Common Council, a 7 to 3 vote established property tax rate parameters for the 2019 budget. Steve Barg, City Administrator, asked Council for direction for setting the tax rate for the 2019 budget.

Steve Barg told Council, “For nearly a decade, starting before I got here, the tax rate in the city was held flat. 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 current tax rate is $9.20 for the City of Marshfield. If a resident owns a $100,000 house, before any credits or adjustments, they pay $920 to the City of Marshfield in property taxes. (The total tax bills are comprised of state, county, and local taxes.)

Barg presented these options for Common Council to consider for 2019:

  • Same Tax Levy as 2018 (Total Dollars Collected)
  • Same Tax Rate as 2018 (Slight increase due to property values increasing)
  • An increase of up to a .5% (Increase established 4 of the last 5 years)
  • An increase of .96% (2018 Property Increase, a new tax rate of $9.29) 
  • An increase base on the state’s levy limits. (In 2018, this was a 4% increase, a new tax rate of nearly $9.60 or $960 per $100,000.)

In 2019, the city faces many challenges in the budget. Members presented at the meeting pointed out that these challenges include but are not limited to: a new compensation plan for staff, an aggressive plan for road repair, and addressing delayed maintenance.

A motion was made by Jockheck, seconded by Alderman Gordy Earll (District 4) to approve the following parameter for the 2019 budget; increase the tax rate close to, or up to, the maximum allowed under the State’s levy limits. Ayes – 7; Nays – 3 (Witzel, Zaleski, Spiros). Motion carried.

In his motion, Jockheck echoed the challenges that are being faced with the new staff compensation plan and added the construction of a new pool.

Alderman Tom Buttke (District 9) said, “With all the things we want to get done, we have to. 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.”

Mayor Bob McManus said in response, “Twenty-five cents in five years and now we are proposing going up to 40 cents. It’s very frustrating, being new, to look at all this deferred maintenance that now we are going to have to do and the citizens are going to be upset. And they should be! This makes no sense.”

OnFocus asked Mayor McManus to weigh in on the following questions:

The city has increased only $.25 over 5 years. How do you respond to the citizens of Marshfield when you are proposing a tax increase that is collectively higher than the last 15 years combined? The majority of council members have been elected for a term greater than 2 years. What do you say to them, regarding the fact that maintenance has not been addressed as it should have been? What are your priorities for addressing the deferred maintenance, including the current city hall?

Mayor McManus answered OnFocus with: “There is definitely frustration at the fact that the total amount of increase for the past 5 years was only 25 cents for that entire time, and yet what is on the table is 40 cents just this year.  Realistically, Steve Barg, the City administrator is using this as a tool and frame of references and does not want to raise it by that much.  As an example last year they authorized up to 1.9% and when the numbers were finally crunched the amount was only .9%.  So, I understand, and agree completely with what Steve is proposing.  However, a separate issue is the fact that there is so much deferred maintenance in so many areas that is coming to a head.  And because it was not handled, in my opinion, appropriately at the time, it just get’s bigger.  This is why I was clearly frustrated I don’t understand why this was allowed to happen.

Priorities on deferred maintenance and City Hall.  Realistically going into budgets we will be able to get a look at everything, including all the deferred issues that we have.  Once we have the entire picture we will begin a strong plan to address those issues.  But we will not continue to kick the can down the road.  We have to run the city no different then people run their budgets at home.  If you don’t keep up with the issues in the home they will bite.”

Alderman Steve McSwain (District 5) said, “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.”

Vote Results for 2019 Tax Rate Parameters

In discussion, Alderperson Rebecca Spiros (District 8) said, “We continually bid out projects, we continually go over budget on our projects. 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.”

Alderman Mike Feirer (District 1) encouraged members of the community to call members of council and give their input. Council is seeking 3000 to 5000 calls so they know what the real feelings are of the citizens. Find their contact information here: http://focusonmarshfield.com/get-involved-local-government/

WATCH FULL DISCUSSION HERE: (Provided from City of Marshfield Website)