Watertown City Council held its hearing on the 2023 City Manager’s Proposed Budget, presented by City Manager Amanda Mack and Chief Financial Officer Kristen Bobzien. Inflation, insurance rates, wage increases, and the lack of federal aid dollars were the main variances in the increases; Mack mentioned that staff represents a significant percentage of the City’s budget.
Mack talks about a few new positions that have been included in the budget…
A net amount of $30,000 would have an impact on the general fund of the “lake coordinator”. Councilor Glen Vilhauer commented that this was his recommendation and said Kampeska Lake is Watertown’s greatest asset.
Councilor Mike Danforth inquired about what happens when demands are not met…
Councilman Bruce Buhler inquired about a marketing coordinator position, and Mack said they didn’t know what that position would look like and what it should look like. He also talked about making sure the city uses its grapple saw properly.
Mack reported that a promotion from payroll specialist to human resources specialist increased salary by $12,000, cemetery salaries increased by $37,000, an additional forestry position and another cemetery attendant position. street maintenance II, and all this amounts to a 9% increase in costs.
Several general fund revenue increases were planned, including a property tax increase, a sales and use tax increase, $75,000 from medical cannabis licenses, ambulance fees, and others.
A 17e the south street reconstruction project was discussed; Public Works Director Heath VonEye said he hopes the city can get another year out of it. Since it will be a question of moving from a rural road to an urban road, it will be a major project including “curb and gutter”.
Over $609,000 in proposed purchases have been advanced, including public works vehicles, computers, new WPD patrol vehicles, library books, and more. It is proposed that the Department of Parks and Recreation will have a raise of more than $250,000, a BBB (Boose, Board, and Bed) tax increase and a $44,000 decrease in zoo donations. Overall, the Parks and Recreation Department would have a staff cost increase of 21%. Operating expenses would increase by 14%.
Mack discussed some purchase proposals that the Parks and Recreation Department needs…
There were no significant changes to report at the Prairie Lakes Wellness Center, but a 6.1% cost increase.
Although the BBB fund is expected to grow, Mack says some funds need to be allocated differently…
A 20.6% increase in the cost of capital improvement fund expenditures is expected, including road improvements, industrial park, storm sewers, flood control projects, recreational and other facilities. It was noted that $1.4 million included the expansion of bike paths. $245,000 is set aside for improvements to the Boys and Girls Club buildings.
FITs have been the subject of discussion as their use has increased in recent years. It is mentioned Hanten Industrial Park, Mallard Pointe, and 1st the North Avenue extension is funded by the city, and they are repaying a loan and The Loft for $1.8 million. Most others are what they call “pay as you go”, so any revenue received goes back to the developer for the life of the TIF, and there is a cap on the payout.
In conclusion, the Board voted on additional expenses that were not included in the proposal, primarily for equipment and general fund approval of the Lake Coordinator position for $85,000. A discussion about the housing incentive program between Mack and Councilor Colin Paulsen came up, and a budget amendment would be needed. Vilhauer said the Event Center deposit would be refunded at the end of the year.
Look at all the slides attached to the article for reference and more information. The first reading of the finance ordinance will take place on November 7e2022. Full audio of the meeting is attached below.