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Thiensville planning flat levy for 2014

Village officials continuing with no debt philosophy

Oct. 8, 2013

Thiensville — With adoption of Thiensville's 2014 municipal budget a month away, officials are in the process of piecing together the funding puzzle. A draft document, calling for a zero-percent property tax levy increase, was unveiled this week.

Village Administrator Dianne Robertson discussed the budget with the Village Board on Monday during a Committee of the Whole meeting. She shared highlights of the village's four departments — police, fire, administration and public works — and a line item-by-line item review followed.

Since the village's largest source of income — taxes — is expected to remain flat, Robertson said she presented the board with a budget that incorporated higher priority expenses and placed others on the back burner.

In 2013, the village levied $2.4 million in taxes from residents.

Robertson's budget includes the assumption the village will continue its long-running pay-as-you-go policy in funding improvement projects. Thiensville has not borrowed funds in recent history, and does not have any outstanding debt.

"We're making improvements, not by borrowing, but by using the cash flow that's coming in," Village President Van Mobley said. "We're different from almost any other municipality in this country."

The board did scrutinize a few items in the capital expenses list during Monday's deliberations. At least one item — a proposed study to connect Village Park to a Wi-Fi system — was removed from the list. The $5,000 allocated to the expense has been moved back into a contingency fund.

Footbridge 'an odd luxury'

Officials were also sharply divided on a proposed pedestrian footbridge that would be placed along Main Street and, as proposed, connect the village's two business corridors. Two property owners have granted easements to make the proposal a reality, but a number of board members expressed concern about the anticipated $75,000 price tag.

Trustee Kenneth Kucharski, a staunch proponent of the footbridge, said it would help connect businesses on Main Street to those on Green Bay Road.

"We've been talking about being a more walkable community," Kucharski said. "I think it's vital to have a connection between the two (business areas). I think it would also look great over the (Milwaukee) River."

But Trustee Kim Beck was among the dissenters. In the short term, he questioned why the line item was included in the budget.

"The rest of the budget is so bare bones," Beck said. "This just seems like an odd luxury."

Robertson said she worked with other department heads to ensure the 2014 budget was lean and cost conscious.

"I want to thank the department heads for coming in with slim budgets this year," she said.

Employees could get raises

A few changes are in the works, including a switch in the Thiensville Police Department's squad replacement cycle. In the past, squads were replaced every three years; moving forward, the cycle might be extended to every four years.

The budget proposal includes a number of provisions, include an across-the-board 1 percent salary increase for all union and nonunion employees.

Robertson said she also anticipates spending more on elections in the upcoming year since there will be four. This year, there were two elections.

The board could continue discussing the budget at its next meeting Oct. 21, and a public hearing will be held Nov. 4 at a time that will be announced later.

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