Winzenz's comments referred to a tightening squeeze between limited revenues and growing needs for services demanded from municipal governments. As the City of Eau Claire and other local governments complete operating budget deliberations for 2020, Eau Claire's city staff has managed to draft a balanced budget. While it does fund some enhancements like expanded absentee voting hours, promotion of the census, operation of the Haymarket fountains and staff support for affordable housing and neighborhood engagement, there were even more requests of value that were not able to be funded.
Although Eau Claire has seen significant increases in population, area of the city, miles of streets and acres of parks, the city has had to be creative in the use of its resources to maintain essential services. Between 1996 and 2018, the number of city employees in public safety increase by 33, but in other city functions actually decreased by 7 positions.
Winzenz said municipal governments will eventually have to resort to service reductions or deferred maintenance, unless new revenue alternatives emerge or levy limits are relaxed. Much like school districts, cities can also go to the voters in a referendum to increase property tax rates.
Download PowerPoint Slides (Jay WInzenz, Eau Claire City Finance Director)
Dollars and Sense: Is it time for a new municipal financing framework in Wisconsin? (Wisconsin Policy Forum)
Eau Claire City Budget site with draft budget, presentations (City of Eau Claire)
2020 Draft City Budget (City of Eau Claire)
City tax bill to rise slightly next year (Leader-Telegram)
Scott Rogers, Governmental Affairs & Workforce Director