Falls Council conducts initial budget review

by Jeff Pederson Sheboygan Falls News Editor

The Sheboygan Falls Common Council conducted an initial review of the 2016 city budget, during a Finance and Personnel Committee meeting Tuesday, Sept. 15.

All three major city department heads submitted their 2016 budgets in person.

Despite accounting for a 2.5 percent salary increase for employees, Department of Public Works Director Jerry Benzschawel reported a 2.03 decrease in the combined 2016 street and park budget.

“I was told to maintain a 0 percent budget and that’s what I did,” Benzschawel said. “I added up the 2.5 percent salary increase for each employee and included that increase equally in each budget line item per the procedure of the DPW budget in the past. That worked out to a $1,768 per line item increase.

“I also added $1,000 to the training program, which was transferred from the storm and sanitary sewers line item,” he said. “I also factored in a 25 cents per hour wage increase for part-time employees in our parks department as well as a $600 cemetery department wage increase. Everything else in the department budget was kept at zero.”

Benzschawel noted that the decrease in the overall DPW budget was due to a change in the salary payment structure for the DPW director position.

“The DPW only pays half of my salary out of its budget, which is a change from last year,” Benzschawel said. “Due in large part to this change, the DPW budget actually has a decrease for 2016.”

Total expenditures for the DPW street and sanitation, parks and cemetery departments is projected to be $5,954,951 in 2016, which is a 2.03 percent decrease from $6,078,372 in 2015.

Police Chief and Director of Public Safety Steve Riffel reported a 1.19 percent increase in the police department budget and a 33.69 percent increase in the fire department budget.

“On the police side, this was a very challenging budget, due to the higher demand we have for services as we get more people as the city continues to grow and the number of personnel changes we’ve had in the department over the past year,” Riffel said. “Now we are getting on track personnel wise and we are doing very well with that.”

Riffel said the budget proposal includes the elimination of the auxiliary/desk officer position at a cost savings of $12,122.

“We have found that we can’t fill that position any longer,” Riffel said. “In the past we’ve looked at it as a catalyst for future full-time officers, but that just isn’t the case anymore.

“It is only 16 hours a week and the pay is not that much,” he said. “The position is just not serving the city or the department as it has in the past,” he said.

Riffel noted that by contract police offers are due a 2.5 percent wage increase in 2016.

“The city is obligated to a 2.5 percent wage increase due to a previously negotiated contract,” Riffel said. “We may need to look into the compression issue at some point, as there have been instances where officers are making more than their supervisors on the command staff.

“I am budgeting $3,000 in additional overtime for next year due to personnel changes and the need to proactively combat the drug problem we are up against right now,” he said. “We’ve had issues with overdoses and drug-related incidents and it is a really big problem. I am proposing to have one of our officers more focused in the metro drug unit, which will help us get more intel about drug issues in the city.”

Riffel submitted a budget with expenditures of $1,249,723 for 2016, which reflects a 1.19 percent increase over 2015, when expenditures came in at $1,136,182.

In reporting the fire department budget, Riffel said the inspectors salary was decreased by $500 due to a change in the leadership selection structure of the department.

“Our fire department officers are now going to be appointed, rather than elected as they have been in the past,” Riffel said. “That changes things a bit cost wise for certain personnel positions.”

Riffel reported a $2,800 increase in supplies in equipment due in large part to the renovation of the fire station.

Due to the department’s continued focus on public education, Riffel stated that an additional $500 has been designed for community fire safety education in 2016.

“Chief [Chris] Wesendorf has done a wonderful job with the fire department,” Riffel said. “Our ISO ratingdroppedtoa3thisyear, which is almost unheard for a department of our size.”

City Clerk Treasurer Joel Tauschek noted that the city’s indebtedness for the State 32 Highway project, which was $432,863 in 2015, has been retired and will not be included in the 2016 budget.

As a result, the city’s overall 2016 tax rate will drop and additional money will be available to set aside for future large-scale projects and purchases.

“That indebtedness for the Highway 32 project is gone now, which makes a big difference,” Tauschek said. “Now we have set aside a $50,000 outlay toward the future purchase of a new fire truck and another $50,000 outlay toward the future purchase of park equipment.”

The overall project tax rate is projected to drop by 4 cents from $6.12 per thousand to $6.08 per thousand, which reflects a decrease of .66 percent.

“I think it is about time to think about these major expenditures ahead of time, instead of waiting,” Alderman Al Mayer said. “Setting aside this money now allows us to get ahead of the curve and save for some significant items in the future.

“I’m very happy that we are taking advantage of the opportunity to set aside money for future needs,” he said.

During the budget review, Mayer suggested incorporating a performance review process in considering compensation for city employees.

“With Act 10 we were given the opportunity to act differently on salaries and be more proactive in this based on performance,” Mayer said. “I know when Shad [Tenpas, deputy administrator] was hired, the intention was for him to develop an employee evaluation system.

“I think that is important as we look to way to better manage salaries in the future,” he said. “

With the $50,000 outlay for a future fire truck purchase added into the budget, the fire department budget is expected to increase by 33.69 percent from $145,289 to $194,242.

The city government budget is anticipated to increase by $3.09 percent from $1,319,023 to $1,359,738.

Total indebtedness is projected to drop 13.89 percent from $1,919,775 to $1,653,088.

The street lighting budget will experience no change and the Municipal Court budget is anticipated to increase by $3.50 percent from $33,521 to $34,695.

The library budget is estimated to increase by 1.91 percent from $325,741 to $331,955.

Unclassified expenses are projected to increase by 2.86 percent from $55,686 to $57,279.

Total revenues are estimated to decrease by 3.63 percent from $2,512,344 in 2015 to $2,421,070 in 2016.

“If the 2005 bond for the high- way wasn’t paid off, we would still be in the same spot as we have been over the past few years trying to make cuts to reduce taxes,” Finance and Personnel committee Chair Randy Messner said. “Having that debt retired makes a big difference and allows us to do some things that we haven’t been able to do in the past.”

Mayor Randy Meyer commended the soon-to-retire Tauschek on his work in developing the budget.

“Joel looks over the numbers every year and he has always done a great job keeping the city’s finances in order,” Meyer said. “He has once again done a great job in his final round of budget plan-

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