Village Residents Quiet on Sister Bay Tax Increase

At the public hearing for Sister Bay’s 2018 budget, all was quiet regarding an increase in the village’s mill rate heading into 2018. The three percent increase in the mill rate follows nearly $3 million in increased valuation for the village, propped up by $6.5 million in net new construction.

The increased mill rate will mean an additional $20.35 in property tax per $100,000 in assessed property value. The village increased the mill rate by 3.51 percent between 2016 and 2017 and 7.09 percent between 2015 and 2016, including changes in valuation and net new construction. The village experienced a significant decrease in valuation between 2015 and 2016.

The village also expects an increase in water rates.

“There are a number of large capital projects on the horizon that need to be funded by the anticipated rate increase,” wrote Tasha Rass, village finance director, in her report to the board. “The final amount of the increase, if any, is unknown at this point.”

The village will also try to reimburse various government funds that have been depleted through transfers into the tax increment finance district (TIF). The TIF has borrowed money from the Capital Projects Fund, the Utility Fund, the General Fund and the Marina Fund in an amount around $4.9 million. The village expects the TIF to increase revenues in 2018 following new construction in the district, which will be used to pay back these funds.

The village will also seek to speed up payment of a $850,000 loan from the village TIF to the Marina, increasing annual payments by $12,319.59 but saving the marina $20,434.22 in interest over the life of the loan.

The village is expecting a vote on enacting a Premier Area Resort Tax (PRAT) to go through, adding an additional one-half percent increase to the sales tax in the village. The village estimates the PRAT will bring in $174,000 in annual revenue.

Rass highlighted a refinance of the village’s 2011 bond, resulting in interest savings of $520,000 through 2013. Village Administrator Zeke Jackson pointed to Sister Bay’s growing room tax revenue as a source of revenue, anticipating a 14 percent increase in revenue next year. Employee costs including wages, training and health insurance premiums also added to the village’s anticipated expense increases.

A standing-room-only crowd was in attendance in support of the budget’s public hearing on setting up a fund to purchase Jack Bunda’s 1929 Chris Craft wooden boat, The Shadow.

The Shadow has been a Sister Bay icon for many years,” said Russ Forkert, co-owner of Sister Bay Yacht Works. “There’s a group of people that would like to come together to preserve the boat, keep it in the Village of Sister Bay.”

Forkert suggested the village set up a tax-deductible fund that residents can donate to for purchase of the boat, estimated at about $100,000. The fund could also be used to restore the Sister Bay boathouse to house the boat for public display.

The village is also seeking to move operation of Sister Bay’s Marina Fest to local nonprofit groups.

Jackson said the festival has improved its financial stability significantly in the past two years. “It’s been cash flow positive $9,000 to $10,000,” said Jackson. “Maybe the nonprofits would want to take that over.”

The village will set up a special fund for the event, contributing $20,000 initially and $2,000 in annual funding after 2018. The village has traditionally contributed $20,000 to the event each year, with costs significantly exceeding the funds provided until 2016.

The village board plans to approve the 2018 budget at a special board meeting at 6 pm on Oct. 24 at the Village Hall.

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