The Lake Mills City Council will be voting on the 2022 budget at its Nov. 2 meeting. While the numbers have not been finalized, City Manager Steve Wilke said people can expect to see the mill rate decrease compared to last year; however, when a mill rate decreases it means property values have increased. He said the average homeowner can expect to see an increase of $25 to $40. The most up-to-date budget documents show Lake Mills is anticipating $4,811,300 in general property taxes, an increase of $2,657,200 compared to what the budgeted for 2021.

The city’s budget website shows Lake Mills’ general fund with approximately $10.2 million in both revenues and expenses. Compared to the 2021 budgeted amounts, this represents an increase of $326,500 in revenue and an expense increase of $317,600.

Overall, taxes account for 53.7% of the general fund revenues with the overall budgeted amount for this revenue source is $5,458,400.

As for the general fund expenses, 23.5% is for capital projects, 20.7% is debt service and 19.1% is for public safety.

While the budget document shows the capital projects expense of $2,315,200 being in line with what was budgeted for 2021, this year’s capital projects expense has been forecasted to be approximately $1 million over budget.

The 2022 capital projects include $248,000 for the Oak Street project that includes curb, gutter and pavement replacement. This will be a bit less than half the cost of this year’s West Lake Street rebuild.

The capital projects for the coming year also include several vehicle purchases including $650,000 for a new fire truck, $55,000 for a new police squad car, and $60,000 for a new street department truck.

The city manager said fire trucks have a 15-year usable life. He said while the engines last more than a decade, the vehicles also cost a lot of money.

Wilke also noted the city buys a new police squad every year as part of its fleet cycle.

“All vehicles have gone up this year,” he said.

One of the largest annual capital projects that has seen significant increase is the $300,000 for the compositing; in 2021 it was budgeted at $5,000. Currently the city has a site on Stony Road for residents to deposit yard waste, which is later hauled to a landfill.

“We’re looking at buying enough land to create a compost site rather than just haul to a landfill,” Wilke said. “The place that we’re currently landfilling is full so we have to make a decision – we either have to haul a lot further or we’re going to compost.”

Another large expense for 2022 is the installation of a new road at Rock Lake Cemetery through the area that the city just platted to create more burial lots, the city manager said.

Council action

During the Oct. 19 meeting of the city council, the following actions were taken:

• Approved the final district ward and council district boundaries as amended. There were two changes made to the document describing the location of the boundaries, but there were no further modifications to the map.

• Approved a two-year contract with the police department. Beginning in 2022, there will be a 2.5% wage increase and in 2023, wages will increase another 1.5%. An officer who works as a field training officer will, beginning in 2022, receive a 50-cent per hour increase for each hour spent training a probationary officer; in 2023, there will be a $1 per hour increase for the same task. In 2022, full-time officers will be given a yearly uniform allowance of $650; in 2023 the annual amount will be $700.

Additionally, all new hires will be on probationary status for the first 12 months upon completion of his or her field training.

• Approved the 2022 fee increases for John’s Waste Disposal Service. Monthly fees per household would increase 5% from $15.39 to $16.16. The rise is due to increased labor costs and increased processing costs for recyclables. The change in per household cost aligns with the 5-year contract the city made with the waste management company in 2020.

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