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Council passes 2010 budget
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MONROE - The Common Council approved the city's 2010 budget Tuesday on a 7-1 vote, as plans for implementing a downtown parking fee system - a revenue source in the budget - are still on hold.

Alderman Jan Lefevre voted against the budget. Lefevre said she was not in favor of doubling last year's funding to Green County Development Corporation and the absence of some type of cleanup day.

"After listening to the people and their calling me, and while I was campaigning, the citywide cleanup days were the major thing they asked me to do for them," she said. "Some people who called feel they are not getting the value of their tax dollar."

Lefevre also said GCDC should better indicate how they are spending the money the group receives.

The budget sets the property tax levy at $6,103,819, which is a 1.76 percent increase from the 2009 tax levy of $5,998,000.

The 2010 budget for city expenses is about $13.1 million, a 21.37 percent increase from 2009. However, funds set aside for capital expenditures make up about $3.4 million of the budget. Therefore, the city plans to spend about 2.6 percent less than 2009.

Aldermen Thurston Hanson and Neal Hunter were absent.

The city has not been able to calculate the property tax rate for city residents because it is waiting for information from the state.

A resolution setting parking fee structure has not yet been approved, leaving a $24,250 hole to fill in the budget.

The parking fee system was listed in the budget as expected revenue, but the line item is something Police Chief Fred Kelley said he is required to include in order to track revenue.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Judiciary and Ordinance Review Committee passed an ordinance regarding Title 10 of the City Code which concerns traffic and vehicles, including parking and parking enforcement. But, the council has not taken up the new ordinance.

A note from Hanson to Mayor Ron Marsh strongly encouraged the committee to postpone taking any action implementing a parking enforcement system on the Square until 2011.

Lefevre recommended at least a six-month wait.

Alderman Paul Hannes also expressed his desire to wait before deciding fees until "we see if we're going to have a problem or not."

The committee reviewed the parking ordinance draft after Kelley and City Attorney Rex Ewald explained that time limits and fees could be set and implemented only by resolution of the council.

Ewald said the ordinance the committee passed does not change the city's policies, but rather codifies and organizes the current code.

Kelley said the ordinance only establishes the process by which fees and permits can be implemented, and only about five small sections in the ordinance relate to parking limitations.

Until parking and permit fees are implemented, the city will not have any revenue coming in from those items.

Kelley said if the council doesn't pass a resolution on parking limits and fees, there will be no revenue.

"But parking control is not intended to be a source of revenue," Kelley said. "It is a service the government provides that taxpayers pay for."

Parking control, like the parking meters that were removed last spring, was never intended to make enough money to pay for that service, he added.

But Kelley said parking downtown remains a "constant problem," and time-limited parking is one way to maintain a turnover of parking spaces, he said.

"Nearly daily, and more than once daily, we get a complaint that a non-customer is parking in front of a store and taking up space," he said.