Dear Village President Jeffords, Board of Trustees, Village Staff, and members of the community,
In last year’s Budget Address, we focused on the multitude of factors surrounding the Village Board’s decision to go to our taxpayers in November of 2018 and seek a referendum to temporarily raise our levy limits for the purpose of “road maintenance and road construction”. The narrow passage of the Village’s road referendum, which will be in place for the next nine (9) years, afforded the Village Board the ability to double the amount of road construction we are able to afford annually from $750,000 to $1,500,000.
Our decision to seek a referendum was as a result of the Board’s policy decision to not borrow money to fund road construction costs or other “operational” costs. While the Village has the ability to borrow money and raise its property tax levy to cover the principle and interest of debt service payments, it was the decision of the Board to make a commonsense appeal to the voters in our traditionally fiscally conservative community to convey to them the “snowballing” effect borrowing for these types of ongoing costs would have on our community in the long-term.
Under Wisconsin State Statutes, absent borrowing or referendum passage, the property tax levy can only be increased by the amount of “net new construction” the community saw in the previous year. The logic behind this provision is that new growth is not being subsidized by the existing tax base. For the Village, this amount of “net new construction” has equated to less than a 2% increase for each of the last six (6) years, even with averaging 46 new single-family homes each year over that same period of time. Admittedly, the Village has seen very little non-residential economic development growth over in recent years. While the Village saw the construction of Brown-Campbell’s manufacturing facility in our Endeavor Business Park and a new Kwik Trip gas station/convenience store in 2019, it comes on the heels of many years of slow or no growth and the Village being repeatedly passed over for other communities in southeastern Wisconsin which are similarly situated along I-41.
Therefore, it was the decision of the Board in 2020, to invest in our future by setting aside funds for professional services like engineering and planning to help shape what this vision for the future might look like in the Village’s “Northeast Corridor”. The “Northeast Corridor” is generally bordered by STH 167, STH 175, I-41 and Pleasant Hill Road. The Board also expressly authorized Staff to attempt to work with our regional municipal partners on potential economic development opportunities for collaboration in this same geographic area. In November of 2019, the Village reviewed and approved an Infrastructure Feasibility Analysis that was prepared by Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. This engineering study was funded by federal grant dollars as a part of our Washington County EPA Brownfields Redevelopment Coalition. The report looked at the costs of obtaining a sewer and water system for the “Northeast Corridor”, an area that is roughly 300 acres of land directly north of the newly constructed Kwik Trip. To bring sewer and water utilities to this limited area from Germantown would cost approximately $2M. If they were to come from the Village of Jackson to our north, it would be more than double the cost at $4M.
This area has long been discussed as being a site “ripe” for economic development and as one of the last untouched canvases in southeastern Wisconsin along I-41, it behooves us to treat it as the jewel it has the potential to be and explore all options related to economic development and funding alternatives, including developer-funded Tax Incremental Financing (TIF).
For the Village, the economic winds would tend to suggest the use appropriate for this area is light industrial/office. This is consistent with our previous planning efforts for this area dating back to 2004 when the Town of Richfield adopted its first Comprehensive Plan. Given its proximity to I-41 from State Highway 167 (Holy Hill Road), the potential for rail access, the amount of land under contiguous ownership, and high visibility along I-41, this site is truly unique. This small geographic area has the ability to be able to provide hundreds, if not thousands, of family supporting jobs as well as the potential to dramatically increase the Village’s tax base over time to help fund our municipal operations, including road construction. Right now, this area generates very little taxes due to its agricultural uses.
Businesses tHat may be looking to locate to this area, like the recent news of Milwaukee Tool in West Bend and Briggs and Stratton in Germantown, could be transformative to our local economy and continue to diversify our tax base. One only needs to look at the economic development going on with our neighbors to our east in Germantown and frankly, our region, to understand why it was important for the Village to better understand these types of costs if it is truly serious about economic development as a means to help minimize the future property tax burden on our residents.
Noteworthy, in the 2020 Budget, is the continued investment in its Village Staff. To continue to attract and retain Staff during highly competitive “employee markets”, the Village made changes to its health insurance program which eliminated deducible payments and co-pays for its employees. This change was done at no added cost to the taxpayers. Also, for the second time in a decade, the Village Staff received a 2.5% increase in salary versus its traditional cost of living increase of 1%. From a human resources perspective, the cost of turnover has hurt our organization in the last several years. With a full-time administrative Team of four (4) individuals, losing even a single employee is detrimental to the organization, let alone the complete turnover we’ve seen organizationally in the last four (4) years. The Village also continues to invest in its largest departmental budget, Public Works, which accounts for over 50% of our annual expenditures. In 2020, the Village will again fully fund its Equipment Replacement Plan (ERP) by saving $230,000 for the replacement of the Village’s fleet over time. Additionally, with the continued rising costs of salt, up 21% from 2018, the Village is also exploring the expanded use of brine (salt/water concentrate) to help combat our blistery Wisconsin winter months. In FY2020, the amount budgeted for salt is $195,000.
Thank you for continuing to put faith in me to help lead this community and in the rest of our Village Staff. The Village is on the cusp of realizing a tremendous opportunity and we do so intent on continuing to move “Forward….Preserving our Country Way of Life!”.
In all scenarios, it is envisioned that these types of improvements would be developer-funded and tied to significant job creation in our Village.
2020 Village Budget (PDF)
2019 Village Budget (PDF)
2018 Village Budget (PDF)
2017 Village Budget (PDF)
2016 Village Budget (PDF)
2015 Village Budget (PDF)
2014 Village Budget (PDF)
2013 Village Budget (PDF)