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City Approves 2024 Budget, Tax Levy

After holding a public hearing in which no one spoke Monday, the Sturgeon Bay Common Council approved a resolution to adopt the 2024 city budget and tax levy.

The tax levy of $8,179,832 includes an increase of $342,012, or approximately 4.12% over the previous year. The 2024 budget includes $20,509,859 in expenses and revenues, an increase of about $1.37 million over the previous year’s budgeted amounts, with the general fund portion increasing by more than $900,000.

Among general fund expenditures, public safety is increasing $240,445, and there is also a budgeted increase of $491,364 from the previous year for general government.

The general fund expenditures include $13,857,244 in operating expenses and $1,942,875 in debt service to total $15,800,119. Capital expenditures, which total around $4.7 million, include more than $2.7 million to be paid for through long-term debt and $500,000 in grant money.

The city is increasing the levy by the amount it is allowed under state law, said city treasurer/finance director Val Clarizio. That 4.12% is based upon several factors, including net new construction, closing tax increment district #1 this year in the Industrial Park and paying off debt.

The levy dollars finance $5,850,145 of the operating budget (up $95,218); $1,813,060 for debt payments (down $10,325); and $516,627 for the capital budget (up $239,119).

Though the city had yet to receive the notice of state school levy tax credit, or the tax increment calculation worksheet from the state, and could not finalize the tax rate calculations when the council approved the tax levy, Clarizio said the city’s property tax rate is currently projected to increase by 31 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to $8.14 per $,1000.

Rising Health Insurance, Personnel Costs

Included among the higher expenditures for next year is an expected 14% increase in health insurance premiums, said City Administrator Josh Van Lieshout. The city participates in the State of Wisconsin’s local government program, for which the city’s share averages 88% of the premiums paid.

Van Lieshout said overall personnel costs, which account for the majority of the city’s expenses, are budgeted to increase 6.7% for next year. 

Budget Additions

Additional items the council favored including in the budget three weeks earlier were also given final approval Monday.

The council added $12,000 in the general fund budget, while reducing that amount in the city’s contingency fund, for a facilities study of the West Side Fire Station.

The purpose of the study, which was requested by fire chief Tim Dietman, is to examine the current space utilization, assist in predicting future space needs and evaluate the location and size of a future west side station.

At the request of District 5 Alderman Gary Nault, the council designated $82,400, to be funded by debt service in the capital budget or grants, to pay for improvements at Sunset Park’s Bradley Lake, more commonly known as Little Lake. Those improvements include docks for fishing and aerators for better water quality.

In an effort to better monitor the city’s parks and elsewhere where there have been past problems with vandalism, the council approved adding $225,535 as debt service in the capital budget for installing security cameras with fiber optic cables.

Sunset, Otumba and Graham parks, as well as the city’s dog park and compost site, will be included in the additional security camera monitoring.

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