The Stoughton Common Council approved its 2020 budget Tuesday, Nov. 12, as submitted by the mayor the previous month.
The budget includes only a fraction of the more than $350,000 in staffing requests made by department heads and yet will be an increase in city taxes for most people.
While the city’s tax rate will drop nearly 2 percent, the effective tax rate will rise for most property owners because home values have gone up about 5 percent on average.
City taxes are about 30 percent of the total tax bill each year.
Two proposed amendments to add full-time positions to the mayor’s plan failed to get the support of the majority.
One, proposed by Ald. Greg Jensen (Dist. 3), would have moved a police community service officer position from part-time to full time at a cost of $49,000. Finance director Jamin Friedl told the council any funding for the position would have to come from moving around city sick leave and retirement funds.
Ald. Regina Hirsch (Dist. 3) voted against, saying she opposed moving money that would affect sick leave or retirement funds.
“There’s so many positions I wish we had funding for,” she said. “In the long run, it’s not sustainable.”
Ald. Timothy Riley introduced an amendment to make a library circulation supervisor full time from 30 hours. After alders expressed little support, he modified his amendment to 32 hours, and it was rejected.
Stoughton library director Jim Ramsey told the council he understood there were ultimately no small requests but that it would “make a big difference to the operation of our organization for a relatively small amount of money.”
Several council members said they felt this was too late in the budget process to add amendments relating to staffing, although many also expressed that they felt the requests were worthy and should be taken up at a later date.
“I’d prefer not to make a last-minute decision,” Ald. Lisa Reeves (D-2) said.
Alders had already chosen two targets for $22,500 city staff helped determine was discretionary staffing spending at a previous discussion. In that Thursday, Oct. 24, committee of the whole meeting, they added a part-time custodian to address the city’s additional building maintenance needs and seasonal part-time staffing at Troll Beach, which has seen an increase in attendance.
The budget also contains a 2 percent across-the-board wage increase for nonunion personnel but 3 percent for union members because of the results of those contract negotiations. It has the smallest increase in the operating budget in at least five years.
The city will compile tax bills in early December after getting final numbers from other taxing jurisdictions, and the county is expected to mail the bills in mid-December.