STEVENS POINT, WI (WSAU) - Stevens Point’s preliminary budget is moving on to the full city council. The city’s Finance Committee heard the presentation by Treasurer John Schlice and Mayor Andrew Halverson Monday night.
Halverson says this budget meets a few key goals. "The actual levy itself stays the same. The tax rate stays the same, and employment levels and service levels stay the same, and that's really the larger victory we wanted to accomplish with this budget.”
The Mayor says keeping the same tax rate as last year was helped by Wisconsin’s Act 10, which is helping the city save money in a couple key areas. "A lot of the changes with Act 10 has given us some flexibility on dollars we can reallocate. Plan design in health insurance is going to save us roughly six hundred thousand dollars moving forward. That's a huge component of being able to bring the budget into balance and then be able to continue to move forward with a stable tax rate."
Comptroller-Treasurer John Schlice says there is some borrowing planned for next year towards some major projects, but the city’s financial position is strong, so interest rates will be favorable. "When Moody's comes over and rates us, that's the biggest thing they look at is our financial strength, and we're double-A 3, which is the highest we can go based on the entire area here because that combines Portage County, the schools, and everybody's borrowing capacity. At double-A 3, we're the same as the State of Wisconsin.”
Schlice says the biggest challenge creating a city budget is figuring out what the state will provide. "When Governor Walker came in with Act 10, that kind of turned the whole world upside down in many respects. We don't know what the next state budget is going to bring, but the biggest thing we're looking at is the overall operation and if we'll have any big negative hits from the state.(because) They bring in over 30% of our revenue, so if you get a 10% reduction from the state, it's huge."
The total budget is $14,215,466. Both Halverson and Schlice are pleased the budget plan keeps the tax rate the same, and doesn’t cut staff or city services.
(You can hear the interviews with Andrew Halverson and John Schlice by clicking on the application buttons below the picture)