Oak Creek The town of Oak Creek is anticipating decreasing revenues in 2012, and the Town Board is looking to make budget cuts accordingly. But that’s no easy task for the town of 800, which already was operating on a tightrope of a budget.
Still, there are some things the board members won’t concede. They have budgeted to add a new police officer to the town’s small department, even if a sales tax increase referendum on the November ballot to fund the new officer doesn’t pass.
“We’re trying our best, but we’re committed to law enforcement in town,” Trustee Wendy Gustafson said. “Until the election happens, this was the best we can do.”
The board unanimously approved a preliminary 2012 budget at its meeting Thursday. The approval came after three work sessions involving the budget.
Board members plan to wait until after the November election to revisit the budget because two measures on the ballot could affect revenues and expenditures next year.
If Referendum 2D passes, the town could collect an estimated $39,000 per year to fund a new police officer’s salary. The referendum proposes a 1 percent town sales tax increase.
Also on the ballot is Referendum 2E, which would ban medical marijuana centers in the town. In the 2012 preliminary budget, there is a note that estimates about $8,000 in license fees would be lost if the ban passes.
The town also is looking at declining revenues from property taxes because assessed value has decreased by about 30 percent.
The town is budgeting sales tax revenues to decrease about 5 percent from this year’s projected revenue of $74,000.
Mayor Nikki Knoebel said department heads did a lot of “skimming” off the top to cut expenses for 2012.
“It’s been a process and everybody’s come together to work on it,” she said. “After our first work session, we went to department heads and said they had to cut another 10 percent out.
“But we want to make sure our snowplowing levels are what people expect, that we’ve got the staff and the time if we’ve got a water line break. There’s no one big thing we cut.”
In the preliminary budget, the town outlined plans to save 15 percent (about $3,000) on its judicial expenses, hoping to offer municipal court once a month instead of twice a month.
In the general fund, the town plans to limit capital outlays to $3,000 (the town projects to spend about $10,500 by the end of 2011) and will save almost $2,000 with a new phone plan.
If Referendum 2D doesn’t pass, the board still wants to hire a new police officer and will examine other sources of revenue or use reserves until they can re-evaluate the situation, Gustafson said.
The preliminary budget anticipates using about $60,000 in general fund reserves and ending 2012 with $407,000 in that fund.
Trustee Johrene Meyers-Story was positive about the budget process at Thursday’s meeting.
“It’s been a challenge because we’re all concerned about our employees and our town,” she said. “I think it will all work out just fine.”
In other action, the Oak Creek Town Board:
■ Approved, 4-1, the transfer of an optional premise cultivation medical marijuana license from Elevation Wellness Center, owned by Skyler Hartman, to Craig Apothecary, owned by Shaun Hadley. The pair’s request previously was denied by the board, but they resubmitted their application, and town attorney Bob Weiss advised the Town Board that he had received the proper paperwork and that the transfer was legal.
■ Approved, 5-0, Revised Pay Application No. 11 for the wastewater treatment plant project. The change credited the town $5,250.
■ Approved, 5-0, Change Order No. 1 from Nolte Engineering for the water plant project at no cost to the town.
■ Approved, 5-0, a change in the Decker Park rental fees, which now will charge $25 per day and a $100 refundable damage deposit.
— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com