Here we go again… From the Washington County Insider:
November 4, 2020 – West Bend, WI – There will be a public hearing Monday, November 9 prior to the West Bend Common Council voting on a tax increase for 2021.
During Monday night’s meeting the proposed tax increase was dropped from a .09 cent increase to .08 which brings the proposed tax rate to $7.93. That is a $248,000 increase from 2020’s budget total of $24,246,478.
The 2021 total budget and accompanying details were not part of tonight’s agenda packet.
Readers might remember (probably not) that I rung the warning bell last year when they raised property taxes for the first time in a decade when they didn’t even need to.
November 11, 2019 – West Bend, WI – The West Bend Common Council voted 5-3 Monday night to increase the mill rate to $7.85 per thousand dollars. That’s 6 cents per thousand more than 2019 and will raise taxes on residents whether their property increased in value or remained the same.
If you want to know where they are spending those higher taxes that they intend to impose on the property tax payers of West Bend, look no further than employee benefits:
- Health insurance for a family non-union coverage is $250 per month for 2020 with a $5,000 deductible in network
- On a percentage for a family the employee is paying 14% of the premium and the taxpayers are covering 86%
- The new 2021 proposal for a family jumps $20 to $270 a month however the family is now paying 13% and 87% will be covered by taxpayers.
The overall budget is going up $248k to cover a $255k increase in health insurance costs and employees will pay a lower share of their health insurance premium.
There is a core of former public employees on the Council who see it as their job to transfer money from the taxpayers into the pockets of public employees. They will continue to increase taxes every year because that’s what they do. West Bend is returning to the bad old days of annual tax increases, increasing debt, and nothing to show for it.
Mayor Christoph Jenkins had this to say, but he only gets a vote if there is a tie on the council. Call your Alderperson. They meet on Monday.
My Fellow West Benders,
This letter is to update you on the final steps of the City of West Bend’s 2021 Budget.
First, thank you to Administration, Department Heads, and our Finance Director for helping to put together our 2021 Budget. The annual budget lays a foundation for what we look to accomplish moving forward and supports our overarching goals. The budget is a collaborative effort, and inevitably in this effort there’s not always 100% agreement. The City Council recently sat down for an in-depth roundtable discussion on the budget, and many ideas, thoughts, and questions were shared. While sometimes at odds with each other, we all work for and represent the City of West Bend, and our residents are blessed to have a group of people advocating for them in such a strong manner.
As it stands recommended, the City of West Bend would see an 8-cent tax increase moving from 7.85 to 7.93. This would result in the average $200k valued home seeing a $16 increase in the City portion of their taxes. Though this is a nominal effect, as I stated at the roundtable, it is not a levy increase I am in favor of for our taxpayers.
There are certainly good things planned and budgeted for next year; these include, body cameras for our police officers, critically important in this ever-polarizing world, a $3 million increase in road bonding to tackle our main thoroughfares, and CARES Act grant funding that covers the cost of operating our taxi service for those in need. We also face challenges – an ever-increasing employee health insurance policy, increased tax incremental financing district obligations, and continued desire to recruit top-talent to serve the great City of West Bend. In the end, many requests for funding were made from department heads, and a total of $1 Million in requested funds were removed.
We have seen and continue to see astounding growth, economic development, and investment in our City. Accounting for our increase in net new construction and overall value, even with taxes stable at 7.85, the City would net an increase of $909k of revenue. At the proposed 7.93 rate, we see an increase of about $240k of additional revenues. I believe closing a $240k gap to prevent pushing more of a burden on to our taxpayers is a drop in the bucket in a roughly $25M annual budget. Our Finance Chair, Alderman Meghann Kennedy, has been diligent in asking tough questions and brainstorming solutions to adjust these budgeted costs. Many Aldermen have continued to dig deeper throughout this process, and we have been open to feedback and ideas on all fronts.
Our residents, businesses, and property owners continue to experience one of the most challenging years ever. An ongoing pandemic and uncertainty in the economy has led to increased cost of doing business, reduced revenues, furloughing, or laying off employees, and upending our way of doing things. We, as a City of West Bend organization, have been blessed to not have to go to these harsh lengths to continue the high-level of service and operations. But in the end, I do not feel it’s right at a time like this in our history, for the City to ask for more when others have had to sacrifice or work with less. We are truly in this together, and my hope is the City can do our part and keep this tax rate stable.
As is the case every year, there is an opportunity for YOU to make your voice heard to your elected officials. Monday, November 9th at 6:30PM at City Hall will be our Public Hearing on the budget where you can do so. In addition, you may contact your Alderman to ask questions or share thoughts and ideas, by visiting: https://www.ci.west-bend.wi.us/government/elected_officials/common_council.php
Stay informed, stay safe, and stay positive. There are always good things to look forward to in the great City of West Bend.
Christophe E. Jenkins