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Manufacturing value helps cut mill rate in budget

Real estate and personal property manufacturing totals for 2006 in Ellsworth, unavailable earlier, have contributed to an even lower mill rate in the 2007 village budget than was foreseen, Clerk-Treasurer Peggy Nelson said Thursday.

The rate, which indicates taxes per $1,000 of valuation, had been projected at .005118 in the '07 budget proposal, Nelson said. In the same budget projection, the total assessed value for the village was $188,818,300.

But the manufacturing totals, just received last week, added $5,524,600 to the value, resulting in a total assessed value of $192,342,900, she said. That means the mill rate is now down to .004972, representing an 18.68 percent decrease from the .005901 rate in the 2006 budget.

The clerk-treasurer explained that the '07 budget summary with the first figures was prepared before the manufacturing totals were available and had to be published in last week's Herald to meet a requirement it appear at least 15 days before the budget hearing. The hearing is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. in the village hall.

Otherwise, assessed valuation in the village increased by $35,441,700 from 2005 to 2006, she said. Debt service is down, as $28,234 has been budgeted for it in the '07 proposal, compared to the $43,457 in last year's budget. While shared revenues from the state are up approximately two percent for the coming year, highway aids are down one-quarter percent.

A continuing state-imposed levy freeze has led to the personal property tax increase in the '07 budget plan being held to 3.06 percent over last year, Nelson said. All village departments were asked not to exceed increases of three percent. That cap has resulted in the curtailment of some projects for next year, including a reduction in street and sidewalk jobs, plus tapping into a surplus fund in the amount of $81,000.

Meantime, revenue was again overprojected in the past year's budget and expenditures were underprojected, allowing for a carryover totaling $219,000 for '07, she said. Purchase of a new squad car has again been carried over to next year, along with an upgrade of the village's computer web site. Some money has been budgeted for Summit Park tennis courts, but what attention they'll get--removal or reconstruction--is "still up in the air," she said.

Health insurance remains a major expense, according to Nelson, and a choice from four plans being offered for '07 will need to be made. She denied rumors of a deficit in the village's insurance fund, but said a savings in employee health insurance approved by the board for this past year was never implemented by the insurance company, and corrective action is being pursued.

Expenditures in the proposed 2007 budget total $2,433,623, a 1.04 percent increase over the estimated $2,189,836 for 2006.

Upcoming projects

Besides the new squad car purchase, web site upgrade and tennis court attention, significant projects in the year ahead include replacing the 1995 pickup truck and budgeting toward a new plow truck. A total of $50,000 has been budgeted for capital equipment under street machinery and equipment.

A matching grant has been received from the state's Department of Transportation for street signs. A total of $6,300 has been budgeted.

Expenditures and revenues

Expenditures in the 2007 budget proposal include increases over this past year's estimates in seven of the eight categories, as follows: general government, to $529,271 from $458,031; public safety, to $641,230 from $618,827; public works, to $844,465 from $729,747; health and human services, to $17,138 from $14,339; culture, recreation and education, to $262,045 from $234,939; conservation and development, to $64,240 from $44,498; and capital outlay, to $47,000 from $46,000.

The only decrease was in debt service, from $43,455 to $28,234.

Revenues in the proposal include increases next year over this year's estimates in three of the nine categories: general property taxes, to $966,372 from $937,707; other taxes, to $73,025 from $70,628; and intergovernmental revenues, to $725,171 from $715,231.

Decreases are found in: special assessments, from $47,220 to $42,026; licenses and permits, from $84,023 to $72,223; public charges for services, from $143,240 to $140,795; intergovernmental charges for services, from $376 to $375; and miscellaneous revenues, from $127,395 to $100,751.

Fines, forfeitures and penalties are unchanged at $13,000 in both the '06 estimate and '07 proposal, as are long-term debt borrowing and debt contributions, at 0. A cash balance applied of $299,885 is included for '07, as compared to $322,304 for '06.