Without much fanfare, the DeForest Village Board recently approved a total 2020 tax levy totaling $7,714,676 for all taxing funds by unanimous vote.

Along with that budget comes a mill rate of $6.94 per $1,000 of equalized value, down from the 2019 figure of $7.57. That’s a drop of 8.32 percent.

“It’s a pretty moderate budget for trying to get things done, for trying to keep on top of services for the village,” said Village Administrator Steve Fahlgren.

Following a village-wide revaluation this year, an average $234,000 home went up in value to just over $263,000, due to a 12.37 increase in valuation. While the mill rate fell, village taxes on such a home will rise slightly in 2020, going from $1,773 to $1,826, for a difference of $53. That’s a local 2.99 percent hike.

The budget includes a 3.01 percent increase in general fund operating expenses. Total spending of more than $7.6 million was authorized by the village board, compared to 2019 expenditures of $7.434 million.

There weren’t many big changes between 2019 and 2020, although the Fire & EMS District portion did go up 16.19 percent, as the department shifted to a paramedical level of service.

One key provision in the 2020 budget is that it includes borrowing for a new leaf-vac truck. Fahlgren explained that it will not be paid for in this budget. The fiscal impact will be felt later.

A new splash pad for Fireman’s Park is also part of the budget, although it won’t be paid for by taxpayers.

Impact fees from economic development are expected to throw in $200,000 for it, while funds raised from leasing billboards should match that amount. Another $50,000 in grant money, plus $25,000 in donations from community groups and businesses will help foot the bill.

Trustee Jeff Miller said at the Nov. 19 village board meeting that he appreciated the work staff did to keep expenditures that impact taxpayers to under 3 percent in a fairly steady fashion.

“We’re doing better than most communities,” said Miller, who also noted how the village is still able to provide necessary services to its residents.

Saying that a lot of the budget reflects residents’ feedback at the same meeting, Trustee Abigail Lowery thinks they will be happy about the splash pad.

Village President Judd Blau talked about striking a balance between levy limits and expenditure restraints, while still providing services to meet the needs of residents.

“We’re continually working on adjusting things to meet the stringent standards set by the state,” said Blau.

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