Draft Point Beach Budget Would Raise Taxes $238 on Average Home
No furloughs or layoffs included in draft budget
A draft Point Beach municipal budget, which is subject to change, would increase taxes on the average home of $700,000 by $238.
The tax assessment of an average home in Point Beach is $700,000.
The municipal tax rate would increase from .252 last year by 3.4 cents to .286 this year, and there would be no employee furloughs or layoffs, if the draft budget is ultimately adopted.
The budget was presented by Point Beach Borough Administrator Christine Riehl to the mayor and Point Beach Borough Council at a budget workshop session at Point Beach Borough Hall on Tuesday night.
However, while Mayor Vincent Barrella and the council members discussed the budget, they did not take a vote on it, because the meeting was a budget workshop, not a regular meeting.
Councilman William Mayer, who is on the council finance committee and worked closely with Riehl on the budget, called the tax hike "a big increase."
"I'm not happy about it," he said. "I don't think anyone is happy about it, but I don't think we have a choice."
He said that while Point Beach enjoyed a banner year for higher revenue, particularly in parking and court fines, "a lot of chickens came home to roost on the expense side, like bonds, debt payments, and furloughs."
By "furloughs," he meant having to put money back into the new budget that had been taken out last year when all non-uniformed employees had to take 17 unpaid days.
The budget is tentatively scheduled for introduction on March 20. Following introduction, the budget will be subject to a public hearing and adoption by council.
After the budget is introduced, it becomes public information and can be viewed at Borough Hall.
According to the draft presented Tuesday night, the new, total budget would be $13,252,915, an increase of $1,378,064 from $11,874,851 last year.
The proposed tax levy is $7,087,287, compared to $6,245,899 last year, which is an increase of $841,388, which is $22,000 below the state-mandated 2 percent cap.
The draft budget calls for anticipating $1,260,419 in surplus, using $809,378 to offset a larger tax increase, and leaving $451,041 in the surplus to use for next year, Riehl said.
Last year, $487,074 was used from surplus last year to offset a higher tax increase.
The draft budget calls for a possible increase in salaries and wages of $376,778. However, Riehl told council, that is tentative because the town has not settled with two of the three local unions representing municipal employees.
Other increases include pensions up by $20,000 and a health insurance increase of $408,690. Of the latter, $148,000 is money the town is moving back into the health insurance expenditure column, after it had been charged to the water and sewer account, Riehl said.
Barrella and Riehl also noted that the draft restores money to the water and sewer utility budget, compared to the budget in 2009 that took money from that budget for things like health insurance.
"The budget shell game that's been played the last few years can't be played anymore," Barrella said. "The right decisions have to be made to get us on the road to fiscal stability."
After the meeting, Riehl said, "Slowly, some expenditures were moved into the utility. The harm in that is if the utility is not sustaining itself, then you wind up with an increase in the water and sewer budget."
If the council continued to pull money from water and sewer to pay other expenses "we would have had a water and sewer rate increase," Riehl said.
The draft budget does not call for any increase in the water and sewer budget, she said.
Councilmen Bret Gordon and Stephen Reid were absent.