Council approves $15.56M budget for 2024

Tax rate to drop almost $2 due to property revaluation
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

The Shawano Common Council signed off on a $15.56 million budget for 2024 on Nov. 15 where taxes are expected to drop for most property owners.

“We can continue the goals that you set for us, which is to continue to provide cost-effective services to our residents the best possible way that we can,” said City Administrator Eddie Sheppard to the council. “I think the budget we’re bringing forth tonight is in line with those goals.”

The city had to do a market revaluation this year because the assessed values for property, which the city uses to determine taxes, and the equalized values for the same property, which is what school districts and Shawano County uses, were out of whack. As a result, the tax rate for Shawano will be $8.84 in 2024, a steep drop from the $10.67 rate that the city had in 2023.

“Our assessment ration had fallen to 83%,” Sheppard said. “The state requires that you have to be between 95% and 105%.”

With the market revaluation, property values jumped up as a result. Sheppard said that any property that saw an increase in value of less than 28%, their taxes will go down, but properties with values of 28% and over will see their taxes go up.

The city’s tax levy for next year is over $6.7 million, a 5% increase over the levy in 2023 that totals $335,156. Sheppard noted that about $240,000 of the increase is attributable to cost increases overall.

“This past year, we saw a big boost to our non-levy revenues,” Sheppard said. “About $300,000 of that is an increase in our state-shared revenues, but all told, it gave us about $698,000 more this year overall.”

He noted the increase in shared revenues is a good thing, because the municipalities have had to work with a flat amount for years while contending with state-mandated levy limits. The increase will continue into 2025.

The budget includes a 4% cost-of-living pay increase for city staff, according to Sheppard, as well as a 15% increase in insurance plans. Originally, the city had been looking at a 3.5% raise for employees.

“We were able to find some additional revenues and cut some costs to bring about a 4% COLA (cost-of-living adjustment),” Sheppard said. “That’s a good number for us to stay competitive moving forward.”

General government amounts to $1.8 million of the overall budget, while public safety takes up $4 million, Sheppard said. Public works takes $2 million, and that includes the street maintenance and snow plow operations. Parks and recreation accounts for $1.2 million.

“About 21 cents of our dollar goes toward general obligation debt,” Sheppard said. “We have a very small amount of special parks debt service (1 cent) that was specifically for Memorial Park and Franklin Park, as well as the pavilion at Smalley Park. Those projects have been very well received in the community.”

The new budget includes integrating a detective position created in the middle of 2023.

“You thought that was a need with the way things are at this point,” Sheppard said.

The budget also includes more street repairs with the help of a $1 million Community Development Block Grant. Sheppard said the grant will cover the reconstruction work of segments of Lutz, Franklin and Andrews streets.

“We’ve been extremely aggressive in pursuing these outside funding opportunities,” Sheppard said. “We’ll continue to work on as many streets as we can in the city of Shawano on an annual basis without having to accelerate our borrowing or use additional levy dollars to try to support that.”