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Shorewood village taxes to increase by less than 2 percent

Big-ticket projects top list of items inching proposed budget upward

Oct. 31, 2012

Shorewood - Plans are in motion to increase the municipal property tax levy by 1.79 percent, based on discussion and action by officials at a meeting Monday.

The Village Board voted in favor of a tentative plan to levy $10.52 million on property owners for the 2013 budget. A year ago, the board approved levying $10.34 million for the current budget.

The proposed tax increase is not the maximum amount the village could levy upon property owners. In mid-September, Village Manager Chris Swartz presented the board with a draft version of the budget that entailed a 2.4 percent increase in the levy.

The village's proposed budget includes a number of big-ticket projects, most notably reconstruction and stormwater improvements in Basins 1 and 6. The extensive infrastructure project is designed to address the extensive flooding and basement backups that occurred in July 2010.

All told, next year's capital improvements for stormwater and sanitary sewer improvements hover around $2.85 million. The village is borrowing funds to cover some of the cost of the work.

Other planned expenses include $99,314 toward replacement police squads, $20,000 toward landscaping maintenance along Capitol Drive and $12,000 toward exterior repairs at Village Hall.

Shaving more costs suggested

The board has been scrutinizing Swartz's budget, making suggested additions and subtractions, in the past month-and-a-half. During Monday's wrap-up session, the board favored several tweaks that whittled down the levy increase by 0.61 percent.

Several proposed projects and initiatives - include a proposed website upgrade, villagewide survey, funding a public art project and a program to welcome new residents - were either reduced or cut from the 2013 budget entirely.

In some instances, the board also has decided to increase funding for a few line items. For example, the proposed budget increases police squads by $8,000, up from the proposed $91,314 in Swartz's initial version of the budget.

The board has proposed putting the money toward Chevrolet Tahoes. While the upfront cost is greater, officials assert there would be savings in the long run because of fuel efficiency.

"For a basic cost analysis … it's a better cost for the life of the vehicle," Trustee Michael Maher said. "You hate to put so much money into the squads. But we've been putting money into infrastructure and have been staying ahead of it. We're judiciously looking at every project."

Tough choices

During the wrap-up session, the board examined the high-priority items - including the stormwater and sanitary sewer improvements - and such discretionary items as the marketing efforts that include the Shorewood Today magazine.

"If you pull the pin now, you've wasted the money and effort you've put into it," Trustee Don Ford said. "Some of this takes a while to build up."

With deliberations complete, the next step in the process is a public hearing. Property owners can weigh in on the proposed 2013 budget and levy during the Village Board meeting Nov. 19.

If the proposed 1.79 percent levy increase moves forward, the owner of a property valued at $300,000 would pay $2,122 on the municipal portion of the tax bill - an increase of $38 from last year's tax bill.

NEXT STEP

WHAT:public hearing on Shorewood's proposed 2013 budget, tax levy

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19

WHERE: Village Hall, 3930 N. Murray Ave.

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