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Council ponders how much of a tax increase is tolerable

The Hudson City Council held a special meeting on June 12 to review options for a five-year financial plan that it is working on with financial advisor Sean Lentz of Ehlers and Associates.

Lentz presented the council with three choices for increasing the city's property tax rate in order to fund an increased schedule of street projects and the potential construction of a fire station.

The options were to increase the mill rate to maximum of $5 per $1,000 of assessed property value, $5.25 per $1,000, or $5.50 per $1,000.

The 2012 mill rate was $4.60 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The question, Lentz said, is: "How do you find that sweet spot where you get done what needs to be done, but (the tax rate) is tolerable?"

Lentz cautioned the council against drawing down the city's healthy fund balance, saying the reserves are the reason for its good bond rating of aa2.

He also reported that Hudson has very low debt and a low tax rate compared to most cities its size.

City Administrator Devin Willi said Hudson is usually in the bottom 5 or 10 percent of cities in the state when it comes to property taxes.

Mayor Alan Burchill noted that the city gets much less state aid than cities such as River Falls and Chippewa Falls. "We do more with less," he said.

Hudson gets less state aid because it has a high total property value in comparison to its population.

Alderperson John Hoggatt said he would like to know what additional street projects the city could take on at the different tax-rate levels.

"I haven't met a person yet who likes our roads in Hudson," he said.

Alderperson Lori Bernard countered that Hudson's streets are pretty good compared to those in a lot of cities.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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