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Incorporation doesn't change 2012 budget

Town's public hearing Dec. 5

Town Clerk Martie Wells.

WHO'S IN CHARGE NOW? With the majority of voters approving the Nov. 18 incorporation referendum, another common question is who's running local government now that there is a town and a village of Bloomfield? Although the referendum results haven't been state-approved yet, Wells said assuming they will, the Bloomfield Town Board will run both communities until a special election occurs. She said that election to select village and town officials may occur in February 2012. Another aspect of the town/village split will be who retains the current town's assets. See future editions of the Regional News for more about this and other issues related to the incorporation.

IF YOU GO - What: Town of Bloomfield public hearing on the proposed 2012 budget. When: Monday, Dec. 5, at 6:30 p.m. Where: Bloomfield Town Hall, N1100 Town Hall Road.
November 30, 2011 | 08:11 AM
BLOOMFIELD — Town Clerk Martie Wells said becoming a village is going to be like reinventing the wheel. She said even preparing for the special Nov. 18 election to incorporate a 12-square-mile region of the town was a learning experience.

Now that the majority of voters approved the incorporation referendum, apparently it's still business as usual when it comes to adopting the town's 2012 budget.

That may occur Monday, Dec. 5, at a public hearing.

"The incorporation doesn't really affect the budget at all," Wells said during a Nov. 21 interview. "I mean, it will have to be split at some point. A portion of the taxes that will belong to the town would go to the town and a portion of the taxes that will belong to the village will go to the village, and they will have to work from this budget."

First things first, the state has to approve the Nov. 18 election results. Wells said that's expected to happen soon.

But with the town/village split pending, a lot is up in the air.

Or "out in the air," as Wells put it, because she said she recently sent a list of Bloomfield parcels and addresses to the assessors, "so it's out there."

"Things will change," she said. "I guess either the town or the village, someone, is going to be paying for services. … Are the assets of the town going to be split? I don't know."

This is the topic she predicted will generate the most discussion at the Dec. 5 hearing.

"It's going to be split," Wells said. "I guess that's the impact (of the referendum). Otherwise, it truly was a simple budget year."

Budget proposal

Some key factors of more than $2.67 million budget aren't all in yet, Wells said. She expects state aid figures, sales tax and school credit numbers to be in prior to Dec. 5.

As of Nov. 21, Wells said the tax rate estimate is $2.78 per $1,000 of assessed value. With that rate, the owner of a $200,000 home in Bloomfield would pay $556 for town services.

Portions of a Bloomfield property owner's taxes also go toward the state, Walworth County, Gateway Technical College and local school districts.

Wells said this falls between the projected rates for the proposed village and the remaining town.

Incorporation proponents touted a $2.88 rate for the village and $2.66 for the town.

However, Wells' rate estimate is 3 cents more than this year's rate, which means a slight increase may be on the horizon, pending the figures which aren't in.

Still, the budget itself is down less than 1 percent. This year's budget was more than $2.69 million, according to the proposed 2012 summary.

"We cut everything we could cut," Wells said.

But election expenditures are almost double what they were this year. The proposed 2012 budget has $7,150 in that line item.

This year, election expenditures were $3,675.

"The only thing that went up significantly was the elections budget, but that's because we may have between four and six elections next year," Wells said.

Two are expected to occur in February — a primary and an election to select officials for the town and village of Bloomfield.

Then, there's the spring election, the presidential preference in August and the presidential election in November.

That's not counting what may happen with the state governor's office.

"I don't know if there's going to be a recall election," Wells said.

Other budget numbers dropped.

Some by a lot, such as the budget for the Parks, Lakes and Recreation Committee, which decreased from $12,000 to $6,500 because the town no longer funds the Fourth of July fireworks display, Wells said.

But some by a little, as was the case with the town's Highway Department, which went from $627,382 to $600,881.80.

The tradeoff in budget decreases is less expenditures which means less improvement projects.

Wells explained how, for the Highway Department, budget season often is a difficult one.

"The highway shop, I think, always takes the biggest hit (because) we can't put extra money aside for roads," she said. "Costs go up — the costs of maintaining roads, the cost of fuel, of purchasing equipment. … With every department, it's like that. But for them, I think it's more difficult."

Wells said that means less can be done next year.

"But what are you going to do? You pull on your belt," she said.

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