News Flash

Impacts of Levy Limits

Posted on: March 8, 2019

Village of West Salem

West Salem

How does the levy limit impact your community's services?    West Salem had always prided itself on being one of only two municipalities in the State of Wisconsin without any general obligation debt. West Salem has always been frugal with precious taxpayer dollars. Levy limits set in place forced West Salem to get on the borrowing train, and, of course, there is no way off this train. West Salem used to set aside funds one year to carry over to the next year toward the purchase of replacement public works vehicles, police squad cars, or street reconstructions. This is no longer possible, and West Salem is to the point that all capital expenditures have to be borrowed for. Our public works department plow trucks, dump trucks, and equipment are all well over ten years old (some are over twenty years old), and maintenance and repair costs are increasing. There are no funds to replace any of these vehicles and equipment without borrowing. No street projects were budgeted for in 2018 because there were no funds available to do so. West Salem used to be able to reconstruct or repair full Village blocks of streets. We can only afford one block at a time now. Our police department is relying more on the County Sheriff's Department to respond to calls for service because our police department does not have the staff it needs for 24/7 coverage. Badly needed municipal building maintenance is not being done because the Village must spend its dollars providing mandated services. The cost of living and the costs of keeping West Salem operating FAR exceed the tiny levy limit increases allowed by the State of Wisconsin. Municipalities are falling apart, and thus far, the Governor and the Legislature are more interested in securing votes for their elections than they are at making sure the folks that really do the work are able to do the work mandated by the State. This has to end or municipalities will be going out of business.

How does the levy limit impact your community's budgeting practices and finances, eg, your amount of borrowing?    West Salem has never been willy-nilly spending taxpayer dollars on fluff. Before levy limits, estimates were obtained for reconstruction of the oldest street including DNR mandated utility main upsizing, and the costs were included in the next year's budget. The needs of the community were carefully considered and included in a budget. After all other revenue was plugged into the budget, the remaining funds needed were levied on the taxpayers. With levy limits, we are forced to now budget backwards. We are notified what our meager levy dollar amount is, add to it expected other revenue, and only then are we able to consider expenditures. After normal operating expenditures are considered, the initial draft budget is always in the "red". The Finance Committee cuts what it can from the budget, and then what capital is the most demanding for the upcoming year is decided. That decision is then discussed with the bank for loan options. The West Salem School District has an operating funding referendum on every election ballot, and the electorate here has referendum fatigue. The voters would not approve a capital acquisition referendum for the Village of West Salem, and, in fact, resoundingly turned our referendum request down eight years ago. West Salem was forced to borrow for our portion of a badly needed fire truck for the West Salem Volunteer Fire Protection District.

How does the levy limit impact your community's staffing levels and employee compensation?    The public works department and the police department have suffered the most as a result of meager levy limit allowances. Similar sized municipalities have at least two more full time police officers than West Salem can afford. We have one and a half public works department employees plus the public works director tending to the potholes and snow plowing of this Village of 5,042 residents with nearly 30 miles of streets. We have to pull utility employees out to perform street department duties as a result. No new employees can be added to the public works department, and capital expenditures have been foregone in order to add one police officer to our force over the last ten years. The Administration office functions with two full time employees, and one part time employee. Compare this to similar sized and even smaller municipalities who are able to staff twice that number! None of our employees are receiving even average compensation for the work they are performing compared to other municipalities, and there is nothing the Village can do about this. We constantly lose good, well-trained employees to the County or other municipalities who are able to pay better than the Village.

Anything else you'd like to say regarding the impact of levy limits on your community?    Continuing tiny levy limit increases and always increasing expenditure increases will hamstring local governments to the point no improvements will ever be afforded. West Salem has reallocated several employees to other funds and cut parks staff. More services are offset by increased user fees and fees and permit costs were increased. There is nothing more we can do to keep the doors open here unless there is some relief from levy limits. Our public blames us for lack of maintenance of parks and streets. The complaints mount, and public service work is not nearly as attractive and fulfilling as it used to be.


Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in Impacts of Levy Limits

Algoma

City of Algoma

Posted on: March 7, 2019
Blanchardville

Village of Blanchardville

Posted on: March 19, 2019
Chetek

City of Chetek

Posted on: March 13, 2019
Chilton

City of Chilton

Posted on: March 19, 2019
Eden

Village of Eden

Posted on: March 7, 2019
Fountain City

City of Fountain City

Posted on: March 7, 2019
Hartford

City of Hartford

Posted on: March 19, 2019
Horicon

City of Horicon

Posted on: March 13, 2019
Hortonville

Village of Hortonville

Posted on: March 7, 2019
Kewaunee

City of Kewaunee

Posted on: March 7, 2019
Kingston

Village of Kingston

Posted on: March 19, 2019
Marshall

Village of Marshall

Posted on: May 17, 2019
Merton

Village of Merton

Posted on: March 7, 2019
Monticello

Village of Monticello

Posted on: March 7, 2019
Nashotah

Village of Nashotah

Posted on: March 19, 2019
North Shore Fire truck

North Shore Fire Dept.

Posted on: March 27, 2019
Oostburg

Village of Oostburg

Posted on: March 7, 2019
Osseo

City of Osseo

Posted on: March 13, 2019
Palmyra

Village of Palmyra

Posted on: March 13, 2019
Plover

Village of Plover

Posted on: March 13, 2019
Pound

Village of Pound

Posted on: May 17, 2019
Rib Lake

Village of Rib Lake

Posted on: March 13, 2019
Rosholt

Village of Rosholt

Posted on: March 7, 2019
Sharon

Village of Sharon

Posted on: March 7, 2019
Shiocton

Village of Shiocton

Posted on: March 19, 2019
Valders

Village of Valders

Posted on: March 7, 2019
Washburn

City of Washburn

Posted on: March 7, 2019
Waupaca

City of Waupaca

Posted on: March 7, 2019