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Platteville city budget, first draft: 2.9% increase
1.5% pay increases proposed; trail projects also in budget
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The City of Platteville’s 2012, 2013 and 2014 budgets were created in an arduous and occasionally testy process.

There are early signs that the city’s 2015 budget may not include as much conflict as the previous three budgets.

City Manager Larry Bierke introduced the first draft of the 2015 budget at the Common Council’s Sept. 23 meeting.

A special Common Council meeting with city department heads will be held Monday at 5 p.m. A public hearing on the budget will be held Nov. 25.

The 2015 budget includes 2.7 percent more spending than the 2014 budget, including a 1.5 percent pay increase for city employees of 20 or more hours per week, two new staff positions — a part-time Senior Center attendant and a part-time building inspector — and increased spending of about 22 percent in information technology. The budget also includes paying off $1.5 million in debt, leaving the city at 59.15 percent of legal borrowing capacity and 84.5 percent of city-policy borrowing capacity.

One reason for the city’s rosier financial picture is growth in city property values, which increased an estimated $67 million this year. That gives the city another $181,000 of property tax revenue over last year.

One issue that was contentious in the 2012 and 2013 budgets, but less so in 2014, was the 37½-hour work week for full-time hourly employees, which remains in the 2015 budget. So does the Municipal Building’s being closed to the public on Fridays.

The budget includes a $3.5 million incentive payment through borrowing to the developer of the proposed Library Block project in Tax Incremental Financing District 7. It also includes $105,000 for the bike trail that will end in TIF District 5, paid for by TIF 5 revenues. It also includes spending an $800,000 grant for street, utilities and stormwater management for 39 acres of land in TIF 6.

The budget includes the 2015 portion of the city’s 2015–19 capital improvement plan, totaling almost $3.9 million. That includes almost $1.29 million for the Platteville Community Arboretum Moving Platteville Outdoors project, paid for in part by the $643,000 state Department of Natural Resources grant and almost $493,000 in PCA project donations. The capital budget also includes almost $985,000 in street construction, including paving 0.7 miles of Fourth Street from Main Street to Camp Street.

The initial version of the 2014 budget proposed to restore the 40-hour work week, but with furlough days, and no pay increases. Health insurance increases that were less than anticipated eliminated an initial estimated shortfall of $80,714.  With that and other cuts, the council kept the 37½-hour work week, but gave city employees a raise of 2 percent Jan. 1 and 1 percent July 1.