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No tax increase in village budget plan

Village officials had been targeting nothing greater than a two percent increase for the 2008 budget, but even after the approved state budget would allow more, they went with no tax hike in the proposal at all.

Clerk-Treasurer Peggy Nelson said Wednesday officials working on the plan opted to take monies from the village's designated funds instead.

"With the recent increase in water rates, they decided it wasn't the right time to raise taxes," Nelson said. A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m. in the village hall.

The proposal includes a mill rate (taxes per $1,000 of valuation) of .004930, a 5.76 percent decrease from the .005214 rate in the 2007 budget.

Helping the cause was a slight increase in the village's assessed valuation, she said, citing expansion in The Highlands and Crossing Meadows additions as at least partially responsible. The '07 valuation of $196,017,600 represents a $1,674,700 increase over '06's $194,342,900.

Additionally, monies budgeted for some projects in '07 can be carried over to '08 because these won't be completed by the end of the year, the clerk-treasurer said. Included are an upgrade of the village's computer web site in the amount of $5,000, one-half the cost of a new squad car for $13,000 and a new plow truck for $43,000.

Officials expect the tax levy to be frozen at two percent in 2009, she said. Meantime, they asked all village departments to hold their budgets for next year to two percent.

The public works department will especially feel the effects of a curtailed budget, anticipating little street or sidewalk work in 2008, Nelson said. However, the "Safe Routes to Schools" grant recently awarded the village and school district should help in that regard.

As for dipping into designated funds, she said $104,113 is to be taken in '08. Yet, continuing to siphon off those funds in the future will eventually catch up with the available amount, she cautioned.

The rising cost of health insurance for village employees has been eased by a switch in providers, she said. Nonetheless, there could still be an approximately 15 percent hike in premiums.

Expenditures in the proposed 2008 budget total $3,000,451, a 23.29 percent increase over the estimated $2,291,185 for 2007.

Information shared by the clerk-treasurer shows the projected revenues for 2007 of $2,640,012 exceeded the actual budget amount of $2,433,623 by $206,389. The projected expenditures for '07 of $2,291,185 were under the budget amount of $2,433,623 by $142,438. A total surplus of $348,827 resulted.

For 2008, the proposed expenditures of $3,000,451 compares with proposed revenues of $1,581,139 (without levy and fund balance dollars applied), for a difference of $1,419,312, the information states. This amount reflects the total of $966,372 for the '08 levy, $348,827 for the surplus from '07 and $104,113 for the undesignated surplus.

A comparison of levies from 2003 to 2008 is as follows: $725,775 in '03, $827,595 in '04, $914,587 in '05, $937,707 in '06, $966,372 in '07 and $966,372 in '08 (proposed).

See the Nov. 21, 2007, print edition of the Pierce County Herald for the complete story.