PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Platteville property owners could see higher 2020 tax bills based on a draft city budget proposal.

The city’s mill rate would increase an estimated 2.4% from $7.73 per $1,000 in assessed value in 2019 to $7.91 per $1,000 in 2020, according to the proposal recently reviewed by Common Council members.

Owners of a residential property assessed at $150,000 would pay $1,188 in city property taxes, a $28 increase from 2019.

“We want to limit tax increases as much as we are able, while continuing to provide the level of service that residents rightly expect,” said Platteville Administration Director Nicola Maurer, who is the acting city manager.

City staff members have not prepared final figures, but the proposed budget totals more than $15 million, with operational expenses increasing by about $450,000.

Expenses reflect a 2% wage increase for staff and police totaling $116,500. Fire Chief Ryan Simmons also will transition from part time to full time at a cost of $60,000.

The proposed capital improvement budget totals about $2 million, which includes revenue from the city tax levy, cash reserves, wheel tax revenue and $1.2 million in borrowing.

Major expenses include street projects totaling $1.1 million and vehicle replacements at a cost of $263,000.

Projections indicate that the city’s operational expenses in coming years will outpace net new construction, which determines how much the city can increase the tax levy.

The city provides levy support for the city’s capital improvement budget, but to do so in future years will require additional use of reserve funds, which could lower the city’s bond rating, Maurer said.

If the rating is demoted, the city could be subject to higher interest rates when it borrows money.

Alternatively, the city could defer maintenance, but that course of action might cost more in the long term, said Public Works Director Howard Crofoot.

“Deferred maintenance means that instead of planning and scheduling repairs or replacement, then what happens is as stuff breaks, then you have to go out there and fix it on the spot,” he said. “At that point, we’re paying a crew to come in on overtime to do a quick fix.”

The city also has a deficit in one of its tax increment districts, which requires payments from its general fund.

“But if we have growth in (that district) or citywide, or both, or increases in state funding, that will help,” Maurer said.

Platteville’s challenges resemble those faced by municipalities across the state, she said. For example, a city’s levy limit is reduced if it increases or institutes a user service fee, such as fire inspections.

Maurer said a point for optimism is the closing of another tax increment district that has experienced significant growth. When the district is closed in 2025 or 2026 and it returns to the tax rolls with a greater assessed value compared to when it was created, she expects the city to see increased revenue.

Council members will review the draft budget at their Tuesday, Oct. 15, meeting. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Nov. 26, after which council members could vote on whether to approve it.

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