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W’bago sets final levy at 3.96 percent

By Staff | Dec 13, 2015

It started at more than 11 percent, so those in attendance at the Winnebago City Council meeting last Tuesday were happy to hear that the tax levy increase would be much less than that.

In fact, since setting the preliminary tax levy in September, Winnebago’s city administrator Chris Ziegler has been working to reduce the increase landing at a final levy increase of 3.96 percent.

“We started in September by setting our preliminary levy at the highest number and started to work that down to come up with a final number,”?he explained.

The original 11.63 percent increase with a total levy of $607,777 was revisited during the council’s November meeting.

“It was 10.32 percent at the last meeting,”?Ziegler said. “Now, it is at a $566,008 levy which will be quite a bit less.”

He adds that he increased the budget for the campground and decreased the budget for municipal center improvements.

“This year we made $15,000 at the campground and anticipate that will continue,” Ziegler explained.

He also told the council that the ambulance and capital equipment funds will also be lowered this year.

“The biggest thing is the wages and those are pretty much locked in,”?he added.

The council voted in favor of setting the final levy at a 3.96 percent increase for 2016.

“You trimmed quite a bit off and I think it looks good,” council member Scott Robertson said.

Next year’s budget and levy were not the only time during the meeting that the council discussed Winnebago city employee’s wages.

The council also looked into adjusting part-time, non-union staff members’ wages to reflect the cost of living.

“I am recommending a 3-percent pay increase for our part-time, non-union staff, effective Jan. 1,” Ziegler said. “These staff include three library assistants and the building official.”

He added that this increase has already been factored into the 2016 budget.

“We typically do the three percent for these employees,” he explained.

However, some of the council members questioned the automatic increase.

“I would like to hear a little bit about what these employees have done to deserve a raise,”?Jean Anderson suggested. “What tasks have they completed? What are they doing well?”

Councilman Dean Johnson agreed, adding that in many other settings part-time employees would receive a cost of living increase but only in accordance with the amount of hours they put in.

However, after some discussion the council members did approve the cost of living increase for the part-time, non-union employees.