Brookfield Faces $787,000 Deficit in 2014 in Light of Gov. Scott Walker's Budget
An exception that has allowed Brookfield to pay down its debt could go away if Gov. Scott Walker's 2013-15 state budget proposals remain intact.
City officials anticipate having to cover a $787,000 budget shortfall in 2014 if Gov. Scott Walker's proposed state budget is passed as written, which could mean higher or new fees for Brookfield residents.
Director of Finance Robert Scott said the city is limited in what it can levy because new construction growth has been declining, and a change in how debt service is factored would account for more than $150,000 of the shortfall.
"State law limits what the city can levy to support its general operations, and that is based on the new growth in the city," Scott said. "Brookfield is largely built out, and our new growth of late has been less than a half a percent."
Scott said the forecasted deficit between what the city can take in from property taxes and the cost of running the city stands at $787,000, and he feels that number will grow in the years to come.
A big part of that number, $153,000, is related to the city's debt service levy for 2014. For any debt incurred prior to July 1, 2005, cities had been required to lower what they could levy for debt service. However, Brookfield and other communities have been able to sidestep that requirement by not carrying over that money to fund future budgets. The state is now proposing to close that loophole.
Scott explained in a memo to the Finance Committee that the city has used this exception in 2012 and 2013 budgeting, but the downward adjustment would mean a reduction in the debt service levy limit for the next three years' budgets.
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Scott said it's important to take a hard look at the city's options now. He plans on laying out the scenarios Tuesday at the Finance Committee meeting at City Hall at 7:15 p.m.
What's on the table:
- Development of new fees or significant increases in fees where they are appropriate. (Services like building permits cannot be overcharged by state law, for example.)
- Decrease in operating budgets
- Reallocation of levy dollars from specific purposes like funding stormwater projects, or from specific project revenues like cell tower fees.
"We knew these days were coming, and the aldermen have been aware that these conversations would happen sooner than later," Scott said. "What we're hoping to do tonight is start that discussion."