Dear Village President Jeffords, Board of Trustees, Village Staff, and members of the community,
I am pleased to submit a municipal budget for 2015 that is both balanced and in conformance with Wisconsin State Statutes. For the second year in a row, the Village’s mill rate per thousand dollars of assessed value will remain steady at $1.67, the lowest mill rate of any Village in Washington, Ozaukee, and Waukesha County. Organizationally, this is undoubtedly a direct reflection of our Board’s desire to hold true to our Village’s adopted mission to ‘have a thoughtful and responsible approach to taxation that minimizes the financial burden of living here while supporting the essential government services and programs that sustain the health, safety, and beauty of the Village (Village of Richfield Strategic Plan, 2012)’.
Since 2010, the Village has worked to update the annual budget document to bring it more in-line with generally accepted Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) standards. A large portion of those financial reporting ‘best practices’ the GFOA seeks deal with financial transparency and the actual readability of the document. I believe that our organization has again met the challenge to increase the level of transparency in our annual budget and what we’ve come up with is a document that we are calling a true ‘Citizen’s Budget’ for the first time in our community’s history. This municipal budget is not OUR budget, it’s YOUR BUDGET! It is one of the only documents, aside from a Comprehensive Plan, that is explicitly developed for the public’s own use and understanding. Therefore, we like to consider our budget document the figurative ‘front door’ to find more information about how your tax dollars are spent.
Typical budgets are with chock-full of jargon and convoluted spreadsheets with little or no explanation of what the terminology means or what goals and objectives are being sought. By the very nature of a ‘Citizen’s Budget’ we attempted, to the greatest degree possible, to avoid those pitfalls and obstacles. Making our budget more accessible to residents not only offers greater transparency for our organization, it also may encourage residents to become more engaged in our operations and help us to continue to involve our residents in our unique participatory form of budgeting.
In the past year, the Village experienced considerable residential growth. In fact, Richfield had the 8th highest residential growth in the State of Wisconsin. The development of fifty (50) new single family homes has allowed the Village to utilize one of Governor Walker’s ‘Tools’ for municipalities, by affording us the ability to modestly raise our levy by only that amount our Village saw for new growth (1.16%), otherwise called ‘net new construction’. In 2013, the equalized value for the Village of Richfield was $1,385,562,800. In 2014, the equalized value increased by $16,031,700 or approximately $320,000 per newly constructed home.
As a part of this budget, the Village has made a considerable investment in our 146 miles of roadway, by increasing the single largest expenditure item in our budget, ‘Major Repair and Construction’, by $183,231 or 28% over the previous fiscal year. The increase in spending not only represents a modest increase in road reconstruction, but also takes into account bolstered efforts with necessary preventative maintenance such as crack-filling and shouldering.
The Village has also continued its practice of budgeting for over the course of several years for major capital expenditures. In 2015, the Village is proposing to purchase zero (0) pieces of new equipment but will continue the fiscally prudent manner of budgeting for six (6) major equipment purchases that will be staggered over the upcoming years. The total amount of planned budgeted savings for our equipment/vehicle capital outlays total nearly $160,000.
Overall, of the Village’s 26 separate departmental breakdowns, over half (57%) saw a zero (0) percent increase in spending or a reduction in overall spending. This takes into account an average increase of 25% in employee health insurance costs, the potential for a 1% raise for employee performance, approximately $840,000 in total Capital Improvement Program expenditures, a 5% and 3% increase in contracted emergency service expenditures, and an increase in expenditures for our contracted professional services. The increase in contracted professional services is directly related to the reduction of full-time equivalent staffing levels at Village Hall from 2014.
As outlined previously, the primary purpose of the Village’s budgeting process is to design, adopt, and implement a roadmap for the Village to accomplish goals in the upcoming fiscal year. While doing so, we must be cognizant of those we represent by continuing to be good stewards of our resident’s tax dollars, keeping consistent with our adopted philosophy of maintaining a small, personable, responsive government with reasonable property rates and strong core services for our residents while moving ‘Forward. Preserving…A Country Way of Life’!
2015 Village Budget
2014 Village Budget
2013 Village Budget