Wauwatosa residents will be paying about $11 more on their tax bills next year.
That's after the Wauwatosa Common Council passed the 2017 city budget by a 13-3 vote at its Nov. 22 meeting.
According to the budget, the city had a 3.05 percent increase in new construction and that has helped to keep the tax levy increase at 0.66 percent. That amount equates to the average homeowner paying $11.05 more on their tax bill in 2017 than they paid in 2016.
“We painstakingly went through the budget,” Alderman Dennis McBride said. “There is some inflation in the economy and I think the $11 increase per household is in line with that.”
One of the dissenting votes was cast by Alderman Jason Kofroth. He said he was not comfortable with the methods used by the council to review the budget and will be making some recommendations on a few changes to the way the budget is reviewed.
“We weren’t elected to be yes men to our city staff,” Kofroth said. “We were elected to be watchdogs.”
He said the changes he will propose will bring efficiency and accountability to the budgeting process and will look at past practices and expenditures and not only focus on year-to-year changes.
Alderwoman Nancy Welch had a different reason for her dissenting vote.
“I don’t think that continuing to rely on construction and continuing to run up the city debt is good policy,” Welch said.
City Administrator Jim Archambo, one of the primary city employees tasked with putting the budget together, said he understands the concerns mentioned by some council members and is willing to explore means of improvement in the process.
“We have a limited number of hours to go through the budget with the council,” Archambo said. “It doesn’t lend itself into diving into each item the way it could.”
Archambo mentioned that they could change the time frame in which the city budget discussions take place.
McBride said he believes in the city staff and that he is not certain what Kofroth has in mind but would be willing to listen to what he proposes.