Less-taxing budget approach: Mequon levy to decrease, tax rate to remain flat for 2013

Nov. 14, 2012

Mequon - Mequon's 2013 levy will decrease by about 1.3 percent and the city tax rate will remain flat.

The Common Council approved a 2013 levy of approximately $13 million and a 2013 budget of about $18.4 million. From the 2012 fiscal year, the budget increases about 0.5 percent and the levy decreases by 1.3 percent.

For the third year in a row, Mequon's tax rate will be $3.04 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Mequon's overall value has remained nearly flat, City Administrator Lee Szymborski said, keeping the tax rate flat and meaning the average Mequon resident with a home valued at $350,000 will pay $1,064 in taxes to support the 2013 city budget.

"The average home in Mequon will receive a city tax bill in the same amount as last year," Szymborski said.

The flat tax rate fits into an overall picture of similarly constant taxes throughout the last 10 years. From 2003 to 2008, the tax rate fluctuated by 3 cents, from a low of $3.38 to a high of $3.41. A city revaluation in 2009 took about 10 percent off the tax rate, bringing it down to $3.05, where it has remained at $3.04 since 2010.

In part, the levy and tax rate have been and are flat due to a shrinking city workforce, Szymborski explained. Over the last 12 years Mequon has reduced staff by about 13 percent. Benefit reductions have also been the result of consolidating jobs, using limited-term employees, and replacing long-term employees with new, lower salaried ones.

As a result, workforce costs account for approximately 72 percent of the city's general fund budget, compared to 77 percent last year.

The budget calls for the use of approximately $185,000 of reserve funds. Though this leaves the city's reserve (or fund balance) just north of $2 million, and aboveits goal of keeping at least 10 percent worth of its general fund in reserve, Szymborski recommended that the city not use any more, since the fund balance is a key component when determining the city's credit rating.

The budget includes continued debt service for road project borrowing, and the council will discuss further borrowing for road projects at an upcoming December meeting.


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