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2016 Platteville budget projected smaller than 2015
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City managers and aldermen come and go, but the City of Platteville budgets every year to fund city functions.

The proposed 2016 city budget had its unveiling at the Common Council meeting Monday night.

The public will have several chances to observe the budget-making process and weigh in, with two Common Council budget review sessions in the Police Department conference room Oct. 20 and 26 at 6 p.m., a public presentation on the budget at the Police Department Nov. 17 p.m., and the public hearing on the budget and the 2016–2020 Capital Improvement Plan Nov. 24.

The proposed operating budget is 1 percent smaller than last year, at $8.2 million. The budget decrease is the result of transferring EMS operations to Southwest Health, according to City Manager Karen Kurt.

State tax levy limits allow a tax levy increase of only $31,253, which equals the total of net new construction in the city last year, one year after a jump in the tax levy from the closing of Tax Incremental Financing District 8. The state Expenditure Restraint Program allows a tax levy increase of up to 0.84 percent this year.

The 2016 budget now includes a 1-percent salary increase for city employees on Jan. 1. Funding equivalent to another 1 percent increase as of July 1 will be set aside to start funding a new salary structure to be determined by a compensation study, which was discussed at a work session before Monday’s regular council meeting. It also includes small increases in part-time hours at the Mining and Rollo Jamison Museums and the Platteville Public Library.

The budget includes 10 percent health insurance increases, though health insurance premiums have not been determined for next year. It also includes, for the first time in several years according to Kurt, a $15,000 contingency fund.

The budget includes almost $3.08 million of capital projects, though only $450,000 of capital spending is in the budget. The city’s 2016 street projects and a new fire truck will be funded by $1.68 million in debt, with other projects funded mostly by non-general-fund revenues — library technology funded by Library Board funding, a new hangar and new terminal and hangar roof at Platteville Municipal Airport paid for by airport funding, a sand volleyball court at Harrison Park paid for by Park and Recreation revenue, and a Platteville Public Transportation taxi van funded by federal and state mass transit grants.

The budget’s capital borrowing fits within state debt limits (which will reach 55 percent) and city debt policy (which will reach 79 percent).

The 2016 capital spending list includes a new fire truck, a 2½-ton dump truck, a leaf vacuum, new police dispatch 911 software, a park tractor, playground equipment at Harrison Park, and a new city website. It also includes work on Bonson Street from Main Street to Furnace Street (which will be funded by TIF 7), Richard Street from Straw Street to Chestnut Street, Short Street from Adams Street to Cedar Street, Cedar Street from Water Street to Fourth Street, and Furnace Street from Chestnut Street to its west end.

Removed from the capital budget were Municipal Building remodeling funding, Fire Department command and fire inspector vehicles, and landscaping and a new elevator and handicap-accessible doors at the museums. Also removed was intersection improvements along Business 151 at Water Street, East Mineral Street and Staley Street, and reconstruction of Mason Street, Biarritz Drive and DeValera Drive.

The budget includes listings of “guiding principles” and “themes and goals.” “Guiding principles” include growing prosperity within the city, fostering “good relationships with public and private partners,” providing incentives for “private efforts that support long-range city goals,” promoting “unique development, places, events and activities,” and using “talents of staff through participative decision-making.”

The budget’s goals include completing the Library Block project, finding a developer for the former Pioneer Ford property, developing a program to support converting single-family homes from rentals to owner-occupied homes, and “exploring” a possible referendum to fund work on the Municipal Building and the fire station.

The budget’s listed themes are divided into “Educate and Enforce,” “Inspire,” and “Support.” Themes include an education campaign on building code enforcement issues, reinstituting “ongoing proactive code enforcement,” reviewing the residential parking permit program, creating a branding strategy for the city, revamping the city website, developing a new city newsletter, continuing IT upgrades, creating a formal staff compensation plan, and instituting a consistent process for hiring employees.