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By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — The Elk Mound Village Board has approved reducing the Elk Mound Police Department budget for 2023 by $6,280.
No information was reported at the village board’s November 21 meeting regarding the total of the proposed police department budget or the total of the proposed budget for the village.
Police Chief Chad Weinberger did not attend the meeting.
Village board members wondered if there was really a need to spend $3,000 on radios for the police department and also suggested that memberships for the police department be set back to $250.
The police department budget for 2023 was reported to be 18 percent more than the budget for 2022.
At the November 7 meeting, Karin Wolf, village clerk-treasurer, reported to the village board that the preliminary budget for 2023 has a deficit of $51,194.
Terry Stamm, village trustee, said at the November 21 meeting that money in the parks savings account could be used to put toward certain items in the budget.
Wolf pointed out that part of the parks savings account is being used to pay for the update to the village’s Smart Growth comprehensive land use plan.
As for the 2023 budget, insurance costs have increased by 22 percent, Wolf said.
An additional $10,000 is included in the village’s budget to increase the hours for Julie Conlin, administrative assistant, to full time, she said.
The budget for snow and ice removal has been increased by 7 percent, and the solid waste and recycling per capita fee will increase because of the increase in the population, Wolf said.
Colfax Solid Waste and Recycling will have the same per capita fee of $28.06 for 2023 as was charged in 2022 and 2021.
The Village of Elk Mound is a member of the Colfax Responsible Unit for recycling. State law requires all municipalities to form their own Responsible Unit or to be a member of another Responsible Unit.
The budget also has increased because more benefits will be paid for the administrative assistant since the position will be full-time instead of part-time, although some benefits were available for the part-time position as well, Wolf said.
Village board members discussed the fact that no one is overseeing the police chief’s hours, and that many times, the police chief comes in to work early and leaves late.
You have to trust your employees to be honest, but perhaps a time study would be useful, said Greg Kipp, village president.
Because of the nature of the work and the certifications needed, Mark Levra, director of public works does not have a back-up, and because of the nature of the work and the certifications needed, the police chief does not have a back-up, Stamm pointed out.
The Dunn County Sheriff’s Department could provide back-up for the Elk Mound police chief, he said.
If the Dunn County sheriff’s department responds to a call in Elk Mound, the village does not pay the sheriff’s department for responding, Levra noted.
Levra said that in his proposed budget for the public works department, if all of the money was not used in a particular line item for the 2022 budget, then he reduced that line item for the 2023 budget.
Inflation over the past year has been between 8 percent and 9 percent, and the cost of supplies have gone up as well for items like paper, pencils and pens, Kipp said.
The police department has a “citations savings account,” and that money could be used to contribute to the police department payroll but perhaps also could be used in the regular budget, said Pat Hahn, retired clerk-treasurer who is working with Wolf as Wolf transitions into the clerk-treasurer position.
The Elk Mound Village Board unanimously approved reducing the police department budget for 2023 by $6,280.
The budget hearing for the proposed 2023 budget is scheduled for December 5.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, Elk Mound experienced $1,548,600 in net new construction for 2021 and had an equalized value of $43,631,100 for 2021.
The total allowable budget increase for 2023 is 9.7 percent for Elk Mound to qualify for the 2024 Expenditure Restraint Program, according to a letter from the DOR in September of 2022.
The 9.7 percent allowable increase includes a consumer price index increase from September 1, 2021, to August 31, 2022 of 7.7 percent.
According to the DOR, Elk Mound had net new construction in 2020 of $198,200 with a total equalized value for 2020 of $44,174,600 and a total budget growth limit of 3.3 percent.
In 2020, there were 319 municipalities in Wisconsin that qualified for part of the total expenditure by the state of $58,145,700.
Wisconsin has 585 city and village governments and 1,265 town governments.
According to the Department of Revenue’s website, the expenditure restraint program (ERP) provides unrestricted aid to qualifying municipalities that limit growth in spending. The payment is in addition to aid paid under the county and municipal aid program.
Counties do not qualify for payments under ERP program. Originally called the tax rate disparity program, the ERP was enacted in 1990 in response to criticism that the state shared revenue program for municipalities encouraged municipalities to increase spending, since at that time, aid payments were partially dependent on spending. Municipalities now qualify for a payment if their municipal-purpose tax rate is in excess of five mills, and if they limit their general fund budget increase to no more than inflation plus a growth factor.
Since 2003, funding for the program has been set at $58,145,700.
In other business, the Elk Mound Village Board:
• Denied an application from Anthony and Melissa Devine to rezone Lot 9, Lincoln Street, from R-1 Single Family Residential (low density) to R-2 Single Family Residential (medium density).
• Learned that the Elk Mound Fire Department has gone out on four runs in October that included two traffic accidents on I-94, one structure fire that turned out to be a faulty smoke detector and one mutual aid for Menomonie.
• Approved a mobile home park license for VLCL Properties for the Nelson Mobile Home Park. The license fee is $50.
• Approved rescheduling the Dec. 19 meeting to Dec. 21 and the Jan. 2 meeting to Jan. 4.