Members of the Barron City Council will meet at 6 p.m. tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2019, to hold a formal hearing on a proposed municipal budget for 2020 that calls for just under $2.5 million in spending for city operations.
Financing that budget will be general fund property taxes of $929,162, “other taxes” totaling $399,000, and state funding of $977,135.
City Administrator Liz Jacobson said Monday, Nov. 18, that much of the “other taxes” will be used to pay off the city’s largest public improvement in many years, the new municipal water tower started earlier this year on the north side of the city.
Included in the new budget is an 8 percent increase in health insurance costs that the city expects to incur next year as part of the Western Wisconsin Municipal Consortium.
The monthly premium for a single city employee is now set at $742, while a family premium will be $1,815. The city contributes 87 percent of the premium for workers who live outside the city limits, and 90 percent to city residents.
Jacobson said that most city wage negotiations were done on a case-by-case basis, rather than awarding across-the-board wage adjustments.
In all, the city expects to increase spending on wages and benefits (including health insurance and retirement compensation) by about $50,000 next year, she added.
“We made (pay) adjustments in an effort to remain competitive, and to attract and retain the right people for the jobs,” Jacobson said.
Costs incurred since the July 2019 windstorm have postponed one major “big ticket item” in the next budget, she added.
The Barron-Maple Grove Fire Department had proposed replacing a used “rescue vehicle” it acquired six years ago, at a proposed cost of $300,000. The city of Barron was to have put up half of that sum to buy the vehicle, while the towns of Barron and Maple Grove each would be charged for one-fourth of the amount.
However, with the increased costs from cleaning up from the storm, “the townships informed us they couldn’t (afford) the new truck without getting reimbursed by (the Federal Emergency Management Administration) on storm cleanup,” Jacobson said.
Getting FEMA reimbursement continues to be an issue for the city, as well, she added. Including costs incurred by both the city and its electric and water utility, storm damage has now totaled $355,000, she said.
The city was due to meet Tuesday, Nov. 19, with FEMA auditors to go over all of the storm-related costs it has incurred thus far, Jacobson said.