The Waunakee Village Board Monday learned of several capital improvements, comprising $52.3 million in projects that could be completed over a 10-year period, and how these would impact Waunakee’s debt and levy.
Financial consultants Ehlers Associates prepared the capital improvement and financing plan that includes possible projects considered by each of the department heads.
Village Administrator Todd Schmidt explained that the document prepared by Todd Taves of Ehlers was not meant to be acted on, but to provide a view of the tax impacts, purchases and borrowing for budget purposes in the coming years.
“Just because it’s on the list, doesn’t make this certain,” Schmidt said, cautioning that Taves’ work was a planning document. “We said, if you see the potential for a project, show it so we can see the affordability.”
The plan identifies $53.2 million in capital investment over the 10 years, including the $2.27 million to be financed in 2019 for the completion of the library. The village would cash fund $24 million of the projects from the tax levy, leaving a balance of $29.2 million to be funded through debt.
In addition to major public projects, such as a pool and a sports complex, which may be subject to voter approval, Taves’ report projects the capital improvement plan adding $100,000 per year to the current $1 million that the village levies annually for street improvement projects, for a total of $2 million towards streets at the end of 10 years.
The capital improvements include the building of a pool in either 2022 or 2026 projected to cost $6.5 million, along with a $6 million sports complex and a new village hall.
Assuming all the projects are completed, by 2030, property taxes would rise by $215.44 per $100,000 in value. A home valued at $300,000 would see an approximate $645 tax impact.
Taves’ capital plan also examines the debt capacity. The state constitution limits the amount of debt carried by a municipality to 5 percent of its value. The Village of Waunakee’s policy limits that further, to 2.5 percent of the overall value.
“The internal policy is much more stringent,” said Renee Meinholz, the village’s financial manager.
One table within Taves’ report shows that if a pool were built in 2022, the village debt would be at 19.22 percent of the state limit.
Taves’ analysis assumes an increase in the village’s equalized value at 3.52 percent, but Meinholz pointed out that the village’s increase in value has been closer to 7 percent per year.
Trustee Susan Springman noted that the village officials haven’t seen each project and do not know the details.
Village President Chris Zellner said the draft capital plan includes increasing road improvement funding, which he thought was important.
“The pool was just thrown in,” Zellner said, adding on that according to surveys, it has been identified as the No. 1 project village residents would like to see.
The village’s Parks and Recreational Committee was set to discuss the what a process to plan for a community pool might involve at its June 5 meeting, after the Tribune’s deadline.
Other capital projects on the list came from staff.
“We put in the village hall as part of a laundry list,” Schmidt added, noting that in 10 years, revitalizing the west end of Main Street, where the village hall is located, may be a priority.
As for the youth sports center, Community Services Director Sue McDade said that has been the subject of conversations with a variety of youth sports groups over the years.
“That conversation keeps coming up as part of our long-term space plan,” McDade said.
Schmidt asked Taves to compare the debt projections with other similarly sized communities and asked if Taves had any warnings or concerns for village officials.
Taves called the debt “manageable,” noting it would be “pretty average for a community in a growing area that has a lot of capital and infrastructure and needs to support that growth.”
Springman noted that village officials will need to consider operating expenses, particularly with the fire department and EMS.
While Meinholz pointed out that equipment for those two departments is factored in, Schmidt noted that operational costs are not.
Another consideration is the impact of future school district referendums, Spingman said.
“We have to look at what the bottom line is because people aren’t going to live here if they can’t afford it,” Springman said.
Also at Monday’s village board meeting, trustees approved a developer’s agreement for the Kilkenny Farms West Commercial Center, where the Festival Foods grocery store has been proposed, on the west side of Hwy. Q south of Woodland Drive.
One point of discussion was a path along the west side of Hwy. Q, identical to the one on the east side. Village officials previously discussed using Tax Incremental Financing to build the path.
Because it would have no connection to the south, the board instead approved the developer’s agreement without it, opting to instead reserve an easement should the path be built in the future.