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River Hills on board with NSFD funding formula

Nov. 21, 2013 10:27 a.m. | River Hills — Village President Bob Brunner will give his approval next week when the North Shore Fire Department votes on a proposed funding formula.

After spending nearly an hour in closed session talks Wednesday evening, the River Hills Village Board gave a 6-1 recommendation that Brunner votes in favor of the formula next week. Brunner, who has repeatedly criticized the proposal, was the lone "no" vote.

Trustees declined to comment on the nature of their closed-door deliberations.

The meeting was the second time in the last week that the River Hills board discussed the formula proposal, which Brunner had previously said he would veto at the NSFD board level. Talks among NSFD board members became heated in the last month after Brunner announced his intention to veto the formula, prompting Glendale Mayor Jerome Tepper to say he would advise Glendale to withdraw from the fire department.

Over the weekend, Brown Deer Village President Carl Krueger invoked a provision of the NSFD agreement which allows six communities to expel the seventh on a unanimous vote. The NSFD board Tuesday morning opted to hold over the formula and expulsion deliberations until next week, a move which gave the River Hills board one more chance to sway Brunner.

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Glendale passes flat levy, reduced budget

Nov. 20, 2013 11:01 a.m. | Glendale — The city will tax the same amount as last year and spend less, but a decrease in property values means an increase in the tax rate.

The Common Council last week approved a $12.2 million levy and $18.7 million city budget. The levy remains flat in 2014 while overall city spending decreases by about $215,000, or 1 percent, compared to 2013.

Though the city's equalized value — the fair market value of city properties as estimated by the state — increased, the city's assessed value decreased by about $8 million. The spike in value of commercial properties within the city's tax incremental financing districts paired with the drop in assessed values citywide means a 21 cent, or 2.8 percent, increase in the tax rate to $7.54 per $1,000 of assessed value, City Administrator Richard Maslowski said.

For the average Glendale homeowner with a $170,000 home, that means a city tax bill of $1,281, about $35 more than last year.

In a memo to the Common Council, Maslowski writes that the continued struggle is in accounting for inflation in basic operating costs like electricity, gas, and natural gas while having flat revenue due to state-mandated levy limits.

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Bayside keeps tax levy flat for fourth consecutive year

Nov. 19, 2013 9:33 p.m. | Bayside — Bayside has held the line on its tax levy for the fourth consecutive year. The tax rate on the other hand is rising slightly.

After a brief overview of the 2014 budget, the Bayside Village Board on Tuesday approved a $4.4 million tax levy that supports a $9.3 million budget. With decreasing property values, the tax rate is increasing 5 cents — $7.71 per $1,000 in assessed value in 2013 to $7.76 in 2014.

In 2012, the tax rate was $7.07, according to 2014 budget documents.

The average Bayside home will see an increase of $15.60 on the village portion of their tax bill. For a $300,000 home, that totals $2,328.

The tax levy is only $7 less than the last two years and identical to the 2011 budget, said Village Manager Andy Pederson.

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Sewer rates to increase in Whitefish Bay's 2014 budget

Nov. 19, 2013 9:09 p.m. | Whitefish Bay — Sewer rates will increase by 16 percent next year in Whitefish Bay under the 2014 budget adopted by the village.

After conducting a public hearing on Monday, the Village Board adopted resolutions approving the main components of the 2014 budget, including its four utility funds. The board also approved a separate resolution for the sewer utility rate increase.

Beginning Jan. 1, the rate will rise from $2.65 per 100 cubic feet to $3.07 per 100 cubic feet, an increase expected to generate more than $400,000 in additional revenue for metered local usage in 2014, compared with what is projected for 2013.

Village Manager Patrick DeGrave said the rate increase, which was initially proposed at 33 percent for 2014, will be split between 2014 and 2015 in an effort to ease the burden on users. The increase, along with the transfer of about $227,000 from the village's 2014 capital fund, will help offset increased debt service payments of more than $500,000, which will fund projects along Larkin Street and Hollywood, Hampton and Bartlett avenues, in addition to design and construction inspection services.

Since 2011, the village's debt service costs have increased by 108 percent for its sewer utility and 45 percent for its water utility, as presented during a recent budget review session. With a continued focus on infrastructure improvements, the 2014 budget includes a total of about $11.6 million in capital projects to be financed through a combination of borrowing and special assessments for water, sewer and stormwater utility improvements, as stated in the letter of transmittal for the proposed budget.

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Shorewood taxes to increase slightly

Nov. 19, 2013 8:37 p.m. | Shorewood — Average village homeowners can expect to pay about $16 more in taxes for village services in 2014 than they did for 2013.

On Monday the Village Board approved a 2014 tax levy of about $10.6 million, a 0.97 percent increase over the 2013 levy. The increase is the first of five annual increases of about 1 percent planned by the village board; the total 5 percent increase is the amount allowed under state levy limit laws.

According to Village Manager Chris Swartz's budget presentation, the levy has increased at an average of about 2 percent over the last 10 years, in part due to a decrease in interest on village investments and declining state aid.

"Those things continued to be squeezed," Swartz said. "You have to cut expenditures, as we've done, and increase property taxes (as a result)."

For 2014 the village tax rate comes to $7.17 per $1,000 of assessed home value, a 5 cent increase over last year. For a Shorewood homeowner with a $300,000 home, that means a 2014 village tax bill of $2,152, or $15.65 more than the 2013 tax rate.

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NSFD board delays formula, expulsion decisions as River Hills meeting looms

Nov. 19, 2013 10:40 a.m. | Waiting for the results of a second round of discussion at the River Hills Village Board on Wednesday, the North Shore Fire Department Board of Directors early Tuesday decided to delay its decision on a proposed funding formula.

The decision will be made when the NSFD board meets at 4 p.m. Nov. 25 at the NSFD headquarters in Brown Deer.

Consideration of both the formula and a possible expulsion of River Hills was on the agenda Tuesday. By delaying the two matters, the NSFD board bought time for the River Hills Village Board to weigh in and potentially call a vote on the formula at its upcoming Wednesday meeting.

River Hills Village Manager Chris Lear said several trustees have contacted him to have a formula discussion and potential vote included on the board agenda Wednesday.

"We want to see what the outcome of that is before we cast this thing in stone," said Bayside Village President Sam Dickman, who made the motion to hold over deliberations until next week.

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River Hills could face expulsion from North Shore Fire Department

Nov. 18, 2013 3:15 p.m. | River Hills could find itself forced out of the North Shore Fire Department, depending on the outcome of an NSFD Board of Directors meeting Tuesday.

The main topic of conversation will be a proposed funding formula, which River Hills Village President Bob Brunner has threatened to veto. Glendale Mayor Jerome Tepper has said that he will advise Glendale to leave the fire department if the proposal is defeated.

Meeting with the River Hills Village Board on Friday, Brunner said he was committed to the veto, despite whatever feedback the River Hills board may have had. He declined to comment Monday what his position was relative to the veto.

The fire services agreement binding the seven NSFD member communities contains a provision which allows representatives from six communities to expel the remaining community on a unanimous vote. The provision has existed in the NSFD arrangement since the department's inception in 1995 but has not been invoked or included on an agenda before now.

Over the weekend, Brown Deer Village President Carl Krueger requested that an item relating to a possible expulsion be added to the NSFD board's agenda.

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Two charged in Glendale murder

Nov. 18, 2013 1:40 p.m. | Glendale — Robert Christophel, 28, of Milwaukee, and Nicholas Retzlaff, 25, of Bayside, were charged Friday with first-degree intentional homicide in the murder of 65-year-old Glendale resident Peter Holzberger.

The two also are charged with burglary, and Retzlaff is charged with attempting to flee from an officer, leading a high-speed chase through the streets of Milwaukee.

The charges were filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

The men face life sentences if they are convicted on the homicide charge.

Holzberger was a former member of the Glendale Environmental Council and a transparency advocate who threw his hat in the ring three times for Glendale's 3rd Aldermanic District in the 1990s and early 2000s. In each of his three attempts, Holzberger lost out to longtime incumbent William Huegel.

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