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Hales Corners budget hits the road

Restructuring of debt allows for various additional expenses

Nov. 27, 2012

Hales Corners - The village has an eye on road repairs in its 2013 budget, which calls for $365,000 street spending compared to $225,000 this year, and may have to weather higher health insurance costs.

Kurtz Road will see a complete rehabilitation this year. The city is also planning on reopening Godsell Avenue.

To help pay for road work, health insurance and other spending, the village has refinanced its debt this year, saving $500,000 in next year's budget, and will boost its property tax levy 1 percent, or $45,577.

The proposed $7.9 million budget, passed Monday by the board of trustees, translates into a tax rate that is expected to increase from $7.07 per $1,000 of assessed value to $7.14. On a house with a median value of $227,000, the new rate would result in a $16 increase on the village's portion of the homeowner's property tax statement.

Rising health care costs

The village has less control over the rising cost of health insurance. Its current insurer, United Health Care, is charging a 15 percent renewal premium.

Village officials researched other plans, including a Wisconsin Education Association plan, but did not find a definite new insurer at the time of the budget approval. The process will continue, but for now the budget assumes the village will remain with United.

If the village finds that the WEA health plan can save money, offiials could amend the 2013 budget, though not the tax levy, which must be set in time for tax statements to be mailed in December. Any savings could be used for street repair or other expenses.

The board of trustees could discuss health care options Dec. 10.

The board of trustees chose to adopt the budget as-is, with one vote against it coming from Trustee Daniel Besson.

Besson admitted the delayed discussion over the health care issue frustrated him.

"My frustration is that we were told we were going to have a discussion tonight," he said Monday. "We had a budget hearing where we didn't have a discussion because we were going to have it tonight. Now tonight we'll have it next week?"

The crunch was unavoidable, given the village's staff resources, Village Administrator Michael Weber explained.

"Unfortunately, the (health care) renewal rate increase was supplied to us the same time when we were in the height of preparing for the general election," Weber said, nothing that staff's multi-tasking abilities were tested.

Utility changes

Also in the 2013 budget, residents will see a decrease in sewer utility costs and an increase in garbage collection fees. The sewer fee dropped due to lower costs from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewer District to the city. The reduction will be from $169 to $167.

The garbage collection fee increase is due to the new contractor rates and a $6,000 study by the city on ways to get rid of leaves. The change is from $194 to $200.96.

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