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Aldermen vote to increase taxes
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MONROE - Residents of the city of Monroe were handed a $33 tax increase on every $100,000 of home value by the Monroe Common Council Tuesday when aldermen passed the proposed 2017 budget.

Council members passed the budget on a 7-2 vote with nods by Reid Stangel, Charles Koch, Tom Miller, Brooke Bauman, Ron Marsh, Richard Thoman and Jeff Newcomer. Aldermen Michael Boyce and Chris Beer voted against adoption of the budget.

Beer and Boyce also voted against the 2016 budget last year.

"I have said from the beginning of my time on this council that I would not vote for a city budget that raises the taxes," Beer said. "I will not be voting for this budget."

Projected revenue for 2017 is an increase at $10.7 million, up from $10.67 million in 2016. However, expenditures are anticipated to increase as well. In 2016, the total was $10.67 million. Proposed expenditures for 2017 total just over $10.7 million.

The driving force behind increased expenditures is the debt service taken on by the city to pay for projects and repay debt accrued by Tax Increment District 5 and 6. The 2016 borrowing amount was roughly $9.124 million. Of that total, the additional debt service payments for the city will be $97,576. More borrowing for overhaul of 8th Street in the coming summer months, a project which totals an estimated $5 million, still needs to be decided.

Other increases include $150,000 set aside as capital for future improvements and purchases. Some council members voiced approval at the idea of the city spending money "the right way" as Miller referenced during his commendation of funds being allocated for capital, which would be money saved to pay for pieces in the future rather than borrowing with interest in the future.

Money-saving measures were also instituted during discussion by the Finance and Taxation Committee in which officials decided contracted parking enforcement of the downtown Square for $40,000 was not a necessary expense. Other items of increased expense were the change from one 16-hour receptionist to two 20-hour positions at the Behring Senior Center for just less than $17,000, upgraded meeting and agenda/minutes video software for $10,000 and the purchase of an additional voting machine for $5,452.

Boyce criticized the increase of service fees and tax levy. He pointed to years past in which the city had a surplus. Miller pointed out that things had not been maintained, which led to the need for money now. Because nothing had been saved for new equipment purchases and other places had not been cared for, such as the Wastewater Treatment Plant and the public parking ramp, everything was now in need of money the city never planned for in past years.

The 33 cents per $1,000 of home value does not include tax increases which may be posed to city residents by the Monroe school district, Green County and Blackhawk Technical College.