Cost to average homeowner to increase 3.16 percent

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City tax bills will be higher in 2017 for Waukesha residents, with the average property owner paying about $61 more than he or she did in 2016.

That is how the numbers pan out in the 2017 city budget, which the common council approved on a 9-5 vote Tuesday, Nov. 15. Aldermen Adam Jankowski, Daniel Manion, Cory Payne, Kathleen Cummings and Andy Reiland cast the dissenting votes.

The council OK'd a $64.97 million budget for 2017, a roughly 6-percent increase from the $61.29 million 2016 budget.

The city's property tax levy, a primary funding mechanism for municipalities, also increased. The council approved a $58.26 million levy for 2017, up about 3.5 percent from the $56.27 million levy in 2016.

The city's tax rate is roughly $10.68 per $1,000 of assessed property value, according to City Finance Director Rich Abbott. The 2016 tax rate was about $10.35 per $1,000 of assessed value.

That means a Waukesha property owner with a home valued at $186,400 -- considered the median home value -- will see his or her bill increase by about $61, or 3.16 percent. The city portion of the tax bill will jump, for the average homeowner, from $1,929 last year  to $1,990 this year, according to City Administrator Kevin Lahner.

Most of that increase, about $58, will go to paying down the city's debt, Abbott said.

By the numbers

The most substantial portion of the 2017 budget, about $31.3 million, was tabbed for public safety, according to budget documents. That's up about 3.76 percent from last year. Such spending is common among municipalities.

There was also $9.3 million set aside for culture and recreation programs -- about a 1.5 percent increase from 2016 spending -- and $8.7 million earmarked for public works projects, which is down roughly three quarters of a percent from last year.

A number of new staff positions were also included in the budget.

For example, the city will be adding two more community service officers and a human resources employee. A community service officer is an individual who provides support in crime prevention, investigation and response where full police powers are unnecessary.

Some aldermen thought the addition of HR staff was an imprudent expense and asked but failed to remove funding for the position from the budget. They were the same ones who voted against approving the budget.

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