VIROQUA, Wis. – On Tuesday the Viroqua City Council approved the city’s 2024 budget that will see an increase in expenditures, including wage increases, but will also see a drop in the local tax levy. Local units of government are limited in how much they can raise the tax levy by the state and the growth in new construction or property values. This year the city will have a local tax levy of $2,615,015. That is down $76,810 from last year or 2.85 percent. The mill rate (amount of tax on $1,000 in property value) dropped from $7.819 last year to $7.643 this year.
This year the city saw a little more breathing room since the state did increase aid to local governments by sharing some of their $7 billion state surplus. That amounted an additional $199,304 for the city from the state which helped offset a budget increase of about $262,000. Viroqua City Administrator Nate Torres called the additional aid a “lifesaver” for the city.
As the graph below shows the total amounts the city is allowed to levy (green) and the amount they are actually levying (blue) are getting closer to one another. That leaves less flexibility in the budgets moving forward.
The city did increase some wages to keep pace with a rapidly changing labor market. Seven police officers saw a six percent increase and the library staff received an adjustment to catch up with market levels.
Increases in fuel and utilities also caused expenditures go up for all departments. Combined with wage increases and insurance increases, those increased expenditures alone used up all of the increased state aid of $260,000.
The city will also use some of their ARPA funds (funds received from the federal government for COVID relief) to tackle some of their larger projects they would not have been able pay for from the general fund budget. The city still has about $440,000 left in ARPA funds and they use $160,000 to pay for a new website, draft a new comprehensive plan and replace police body cams.