Mayor Villa approves council’s budget changes with caveats

Mayor Michael Villa approved the Common Council’s changes to his proposed budget today without exercising his option to issue any line-item vetoes as allowed by the city’s charter. The budget changes were approved by the council with a 4-1 vote on May 15. First Ward Alderman Bill Baaki cast the no vote.

Villa issued a statement along with the signed resolution:

Although I have not vetoed any items that were changed, that does not indicate that I agree with everything in the council’s proposed budget. I think we as a “team” did not prepare a budget that addresses the deficit in any way. In other words this budget is prepared as if we have no deficit.

Next year will be even more difficult. We must increase revenue and have dollars set aside to reduce our general fund deficit. That translates to likely tax increases and/or cuts in personnel.

We cannot continue to ignore these deficits as if they do not exist. At some point our bond counsel and/or the state will require changes that will directly impact our city.

According to the latest audit report, the general fund had $5.4 million fund balance deficit at the end of the 2016-2017 fiscal year, as well as a $600,464 deficit in the golf course fund, and a $1 million deficit in the transportation fund. The transportation department was shut down earlier this year.

The final approved budget contains a 1.2% tax rate increase, and an overall .53% reduction in total user fees. Villa’s original proposed budget contained a 7.32% tax rate increase with a 5.69% reduction in total user fees. The council reduced the tax rate primarily by transferring additional appropriated fund balance from the water fund which had a $2.16 million surplus as of the most recent  audit report. The council also rolled back a 17.43% cut to water rates, keeping them at the same rate as last year.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.