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Koshkonong supervisors advance balanced budget

October 17, 2017 GMT

KOSHKONONG — Even the smallest of municipal budgets need full scrutiny.

After three-and-a-half half hours and a close examination of more than 100 line items, the Town of Koshkonong Town Board of Supervisors on Monday approved a finessed budget that balanced revenues and expenditures to the tune of $1,203,559.

The tax levy covered by the township will be $505,873. That is up about $3,000 from last year, and includes a $107,950 loan payment due. That loan, initially taken for the Koshkonong Mounds Road reconstruction, also ended up covering the purchase of a used plow truck.

The first two years of the loan repayment will add 31 cents per $1,000 assessed property valuation to the overall tax or mill rate. Town Clerk Kim Cheney was still waiting to finalize the total mill rate for 2018.

The regular board meeting for November is scheduled for Nov. 8. Due to an an anticipated long agenda that night, the public hearing and electors meeting to approve the budget is scheduled for the following week on Nov. 15.

Both meetings will start at 7 p.m.

“We are at a balanced budget,” said Town Treasurer Donna Miller after the lengthy discussion during the board’s budget session.

Initial numbers as assigned by the board were about $27,000 over budget, which forced members to go back and reduce numbers for various areas. Among the cuts were a proposed audit of the Town of Koshkonong and money allotted for road salt and legal fees.

The potential audit had been brought up after a discrepancy with the loan repayment, a miscalculation that resulted in extra meetings due to the misplacement of a decimal point. There also were other questions brought up about the town garbage contract, and the idea of an audit held appeal to some of the board members.

"I just thought it was good business practice," Town Chairman Bill Burlingame said about yearly audits.

Town Supervisor Stacy Kutz agreed, although she said the town would need to provide some specific documents to get an accurate quote on the cost of an audit.

Town Supervisors George Jaeckel and Jim Brandenburg both opposed the idea, saying that taxpayer dollars could be better used since Town Clerk Kim Cheney and Miller already both checked each other’s work, in addition to the board checking the bills each month.

“All five of us sitting here, every month … we look over each bill," Brandenburg said.

The cost most likely would have varied somewhere between $5,000 and $15,000, said Kutz.

The board initially voted 3-2 to get Kutz the documents to seek an exact quote, but then decided not to pursue it when the budget proved too tight. Burlingame suggested using outside help, perhaps another municipality, to reduce costs, and Town Supervisor Walt Christensen agreed.

“Put a nail in the coffin," Christensen said. "You can’t go halfway, and it may be more. Find an alternate way of doing it that doesn’t have any cost.”

The board also cut money in several smaller amounts — most between $500 and $3,000 — from printing expenses, meeting per diems, travel, road salt, equipment maintenance and fuel.

Also among the items budgeted for was an assistant for Cheney. Cheney said during the meeting that she essentially would be training her replacement, and then after the meeting, said she is looking to retire, possibly as early as this coming spring.

There is $10,000 budgeted for that assistant at this point in time.

The town board also increased the amount it had budgeted for road construction to about $110,000, and decided not to allocate funds for additional policing by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

The board also discussed fees at Monday night’s meeting. Among the changes include the elimination of the building moving permit and tower permit fees, raising the returned check fee to $45 and moving the town hall rental fee and deposit from $50 to $75.