Jamin Friedl

Jamin Friedl

Jamin Friedl

Finance director Jamin Friedl showed the Hub this month how the new and tweaked fiscal policies will affect the budget process moving forward.

In his office at City Hall after a recent Redevelopment Authority meeting, some 13 hours after he’d arrived for the day, he pulled up a spreadsheet. It had four metrics in a green box in the corner with a “Yes” or “No” next to them, depending on the numbers Friedl had plugged in.

Each will help guide budgetary decisions, and together they provide a framework as city staff build each budget proposal

1. Mill rate increase at or below 2 percent

This number mirrors Gov. Tony Evers’ proposal to allow municipalities to raise levies by the amount of net new construction plus 2 percent. That had been the limit in Wisconsin before the Scott Walker administration changed it for the 2011-13 budget to be net new construction only.

2. No more than 40 percent of the tax levy can go to pay off debt

This year, that number is 34 percent, Friedl said, explaining the 40 percent goal is both “attainable and palatable,” as city staff determined. The amount is anticipated to approach and surpass 40 percent in the next three years, according to calculations by Ald. Denise Duranczyk (Dist. 1).

3. No more than 4 percent of the city’s value in debt

This cap is 1 percentage point lower than the state’s. It had previously been raised from 2 percent. “The closer you get to the ceiling, you limit yourself to big projects down the road,” Friedl said. “If another big project comes down, but we’re sitting high, it kind of ties our hands.”

4. New debt moratorium

The policy forbids adding to the amount of debt the city takes out. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to stop borrowing,” Friedl said, “it means if we pay off $3 million, we can borrow $3 million.”

– Alexander Cramer