Each fall during October and November, the Town Board establishes our annual budget. This process usually takes several meetings. The challenge is to meet our needs in the face of rising costs and the decrease in shared revenue from the State. It is anticipated that with the State’s budget problems we will continue to lose significant dollars of shared revenue. Our budget is also constrained by State mandated levy limits.
Most of the budget has little or no flexibility. Roads must be maintained, snow removed, and public safety provided. Contractual payments must be made. Some costs, like the costs of fire and EMS protection and local schools, are out of our control. Fuel costs continue to increase. The only real areas of control are capital outlays for our Town roads for the repair and maintenance program. We can only delay these projects. Unfortunately, this means increased costs in future years.
Residents, interested in the process of establishing our budget, are invited to attend our meetings. Plan to attend the annual budget workshop in October, the hearing in November and the Annual Town meeting in early April. Watch for the posting of dates and times.
This web page provides links to the budget process the Town Board uses as well as the Annual Budget for the current year.
Town of Dekorra Budget Process and Taxation
The town budget process is a 4-step process, with public participation in 3 of the 4 steps.
Step 1 is a public workshop where all potential budget items are discussed by the Town Board, a potential value assigned to each, and all items totaled up. The total is usually too high and a paring effort then follows, to get to a number that meets the statutory levy limits and that the Town Board feels the electorate will find acceptable. The workshop is publicly noticed and the electorate is welcome to come and comment. The budget workshop usually occurs in October.
Step 2 is the public hearing, which is the chance for citizens to comment and ask questions on particular items and amounts the Town Board is proposing. By state law, it is a hearing, not a “vote” by the electorate on specific line items in the budget. However, the Town Board may allow a non-binding show of hands opinion poll on any items so desired by the electorate. The budget hearing usually occurs in November.
Step 3 is the Special Town Meeting where the over-all levy is adopted by the electorate. The Town Board makes a recommendation but the electorate in attendance, by law, sets the total amount of the levy by motion and vote. The Special Town Meeting generally occurs immediately after the public hearing.
Step 4 is the adoption of the Budget by the Town Board. If the electorate adopts a levy less than the budget proposed by the Town Board, the Town Board must adjust line item amounts, eliminate them, or find other funding sources. The Town Board may meet immediately after the Special Town Meeting or at the next regularly scheduled Town Board meeting to adopt the budget.
Summary of Process
In summary, the four step process is intended to provide checks and balances. The electorate controls the overall levy amount while the locally elected Town Board allocates the approved levy funding to the specific budget line items, with input from the citizens.
Taxation and Levy Limits
The state has a levy limit that limits the increase of the levy from the year before to the greater of the increase in equalized value or 3%. Principal and interest payments on loans are not included in this limit. The limit may be exceeded only by a referendum process conforming to State Statute 66.0602.
Distribution of Collected Taxes
Approximate distribution of collected taxes is as follows: 43-45% goes to the School District, 28-30% goes to Columbia County, 7-9% goes to MATC, 9-10% goes to the school tax credit and only 10-11% goes to the Town of Dekorra. About 50% of Dekorra’s 10-11% is utilized on roads – replacement, repair, maintenance and snowplowing.
Refer to the document “Handbook for Wisconsin Municipal Officials” – Finance and Taxation on the Town Budget page of the website by clicking on the link.