Mayor presents 2013 budget and CIP
At tonight’s Common Council meeting, Mayor Keith Bosman delivered the proposed 2013 operating budget and the 2013-2017 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). Bosman said that both budgets would be distributed after the meeting to the council members. Bosman made a few comments at the beginning of the meeting.
The operating budget for 2013 is $71.9 million. Bosman said that, “in four years, fifty positions have been eliminated in city government. With the economy down, our business has increased. The demand for city services increases as Kenosha grows. There is no reduction of services being planned in this budget, as far as police and fire are concerned. There are no cuts in Transit or Parks.”
Further comments by the major informed the Common Council that, as far as shared revenue from the state from sales and income tax, the return to municipalities will remain the same as in 2011, $11.4 million. “This is the second largest pot of money besides property taxes,” said Bosman. He also stated that the city will not balance its budget using money from its fund balance. The reason for this is that the city doesn’t want to jeopardize its credit rating.
The state has one payment which has been reduced, the funding for municipal services for the city being a first responder to UW-Parkside. The funding has been reduced from $260,000 to $250,000 for 2013. This funding may vanish completely in future years.
The 2013 budget also includes a 2% wage increase for all employees. “Many employees have received no raise for five years. They’ve been paying more money for their health care. Deductibles have gone up to $2,500 and $5,000. They’re paying some of their retirement contributions. I want to thank the employees for working with us. It’s time that the employees get a raise.”
Bosman said that the budget includes a 2.2% increase in levies, which comes to $30/year for the average homeowner, 66 cents a week, with no reduction in services. “This is a responsible budget for a growing city.”
The CIP for 2013 is $11.4 million, and that amount is planned for the next four future years. “The Chrysler plan will be at the forefront. The building will come down before year-end. Once the city takes possession of the property, that’s when the environmental clean-up will begin. Most of the money has been grants and loans, which we hope will be forgiven over time.”
Bosman continued, “Infrastructure has been a big part of the city’s CIP. Miles of streets will be redone, including 60th Street, west of the Chrysler property. With the county remodeling the courthouse, the city will improve the streets in front of the courthouse, the avenue, and Sheridan Road to the viaduct.”
“Is the Southport Park an issue?” he joked. The master plan for the 29-acre park will tell the city how much needs to be spent. There has been $1 million put into the CIP for the park for the four years of the plan. “Once the plan development is done, then we’ll know how to spend the money.”
Safety enhancements are also being planned at the airport. The plan is to extend the runway 1,000 feet, which will be a $6 to $7 million project. All but $300,000 is funded. Bosman said, “The airport is a key factor in bringing new companies to Kenosha. Companies with corporate jets would like to use our airport, but they can’t because the runway is not long enough.”
The city has $8.2 million in federal grants to use for use on the expansion of the streetcar system. “The city will have to use it or send it back,” said Bosman. A twenty percent match by the city is needed. The city will have to determine where the streetcar should go.
Re-branding has also been included in the budget and the CIP. The amount which has been included in the budget is $100,000, half of which needs to be raised from outside sources. “The downtown study has told us that this is an important part of the city’s development,” Bosman said.
Bosman told the Council that they had from today to about three weeks from now to digest the budgets. Committee meetings will start being conducted at that time and go through Thanksgiving. He encouraged the council members to ask questions and make suggestions. “This is a living, breathing document until it’s finalization,” he said.