City officials in West Bend have pinpointed a couple solutions to get a handle on the annual budget by using a new program called ‘truth in budgeting.’
For the past five years Mayor Kraig Sadownikow and the council have made the budget process more public and for 2016 the city projected a deficit of $1.2 million.
“It’s a difficult number to grasp because we have more efficiencies in place and it costs 6.2 percent less to run the city, than in 2011, but why is that deficit still so high,” asked Sadownikow.
After lots of study, Sadownikow and Dist. 7 alderman Adam Williquette, head of the finance committee, found debt payments on borrowing are draining finances.
“Some of these debt payments took place as many as 20 years ago,” said Sadownikow. “Debt payments for capital projects, debt payments for TIF districts; in some years our past borrowings on debt were $5 million on capital projects alone.”
In 2015 the city implement a plan called ‘truth in budgeting.’
“We’re going to reduce our capital borrowing and we’re proposing putting a $1.5 million cap on it for the next three years,” he said.
“We’re paying cash for more things and we’re also working on a plan where the city will put away $100,000 a year for a future large purchase, so we’re not handcuffed when a single $1 million purchase, such as a fire truck, is needed.”
Williquette said paying down the debt will take time, but it allows the city to continue to move forward without raising taxes.
By changing to the $1.5 million maximum capital borrowing on debt payments we’re “bending the curve” according to Sadownikow.
“Even though we’re borrowing less, payments on debt are still going up because of past borrowings so we’re bending the curve, paying down some of it and at the same time our reserves are going up,” he said.
Sadownikow said the proposed borrowing cap along with knocking down longstanding debt payments could mean a possible surplus in 2016.