Caledonia to borrow extra for roads, lose three firefighters/EMTs in 2023 [The Journal Times, Racine, Wisc.] – InsuranceNewsNet

The village is also borrowing for some other capital items. The village’s debt level is $80.9 million; this figure includes the major borrowing incurred for the public safety building — approximately $24 million.

The village is at 52% of the state’s mandated borrowing capacity. Caledonia’s bond counsel and rating agencies are both “very comfortable” with this ratio as was reflected by the bond rating assigned to the village when it borrowed for the public safety building, Village Administrator Kathy Kasper and Finance Director Wayne Krueger Wrote in a joint statement to The Journal Times.

The total Levy for the village is $15,927,508; the sanitary sewer utility district is levying $552,808. The sewer district boundary is different from the village boundary, and thus has a division in the Levy amount.

The Levy limit formula only increases by the net new construction number that is calculated by the state.

Although the 12-month average of the consumer price index increased by 7.6%, the Levy Limit formula does not allow an increase in operating Levy dollars to support the rate of inflation. The net new construction for the village of caledonia increased in 2022 to 1.96%, up from 0.41% in 2021.

As personnel costs and goods and services costs are increasing at a greater rate than either levy limits or state shared revenue, the village is forced into a scenario of borrowing for more capital items.

“Borrowing for capital in government is very common, many governments borrow for all of their capital items rather than levying for some and borrowing for some,” Kasper and Krueger wrote in the joint statement. “caledonia is not the only entity struggling with these limits and attempting to balance providing appropriate service levels to their residents.

However, some of the village trustees felt differently. Trustee Lee Wishauwho was acting as village president in Dobbs’ absence, said one of his goals when he was first elected to the board was to reduce debt, and the last few years the village has been “crazy” with it.

“That is a fact, that we are heavily in debt,” he said.

Trustee Fran Martin also expressed concern for the village borrowing. It’s a “bad hole to be digging,” she said.

health insurance

Health insurance rates increased for the village due to the insurance group’s prior year’s utilization of insurance. The difference between the increase that was included in the proposed budget and where the insurance quote actually landed was $168,670.

The village had to adjust budgets in various accounts to accommodate for this increase in health insurance expenditure. The village stayed with the same provider, but made changes in plan design to encourage consumerism in health care choices in the group, Kasper and Krueger wrote.

Some of the budget adjustments were transferring capital assets from levy funding to bonding for $65,000. Another was real locating the new engineering technician from the engineering department to the stormwater utility fund for $57,000.

Krueger said because of expenditure restraint levels, it can be increased by moving enterprise parks into the general fund, which builds the base for future years.

“It’s kind of a shell game to move it back and forth,” Krueger said.

“I understand that we had to do what we had to do to get this budget through,” Wishau said. “I think we all realize that we need to take a hard look at what we’re doing with health insurance costs next year. This can’t continue. We can’t keep moving expenses to bonding. We are well past the point of stopping that, in my opinion.” He suggested eliminator dental insurance.

Police

There are to be no changes to staffing levels at the Caledonian Police Department from 2022 to 2023. The Police Department is staffed by 36.19 sworn personnel; the 0.19 employee relates to a pending officer retirement in January 2023.

The number of police officers, in relation to the village’s population, large geographic area and call volume remains an ongoing challenge for the department. The current staffing levels, compared to similarly-sized surrounding municipalities and agencies throughout the state, demonstrates the extent of the staffing shortages faced by the department. The department says that it is committed to working with elected officials and village leaders to increase staffing levels to better meet the needs of the community, according to the village budget.

In efforts to offset costs to the village, the police department has been “very aggressive” in pursuing grants for equipment and personnel, which is to continue in 2023, the village budget states.

Fire

While the police department is seeing no changes in staffing, the Caledonia Fire Department is to lose three firefighters/paramedics.

A Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant was awarded to the village in March 2020 to hire new firefighters.

The Fire Department was staffed at 46 sworn personnel in 2022 and will continue to be staffed at that number until March 9, 2023when the approximate $906,680 awarded will run out.

This budget reflects the end of the SAFER grant funding and the subsequent loss through attrition of three firefighter/paramedic positions.

2021 was the department’s busiest year ever, responding to 3,169 calls for emergency services and the department is on pace to equal or exceed that number in 2022, according to the village budget. This marks a 6.9% increase over 2020 and a 36% increase over the previous five years.

Parks

The Caledonia Parks Department recently completed the Crawford Park Master plan to establish the long-term goals of the park with future amenities like a skate park, splash pad, sledding hill, open-air shelter with restrooms, multi-use sports field, court sports and ice skating rink.

The project, being split into three phases taking place over six or more years, is costing a grand total of $10,091,158 And it was approved by the village in October.

The parks department is a special revenue fund which receives a small portion of the tax levy. The budget also consists of a fund balance transfer from park fees which is generated via building permits impact on new construction. The 2023 budget has revenues from parks and recreational rentals while expenses are typically for personnel and equipment, according to the budget.

The 2023 capital outlay for the parks department consists of the acquisition of engineering services for the design of a master grading and drainage plan to begin the phased development of Crawford Park.

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