Meeting Watch

  • The City announced a community conversation has been scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 16, at 6 p.m. at the New Richmond High School large forum room. Residents are invited to participate in a discussion with representatives from Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions about the new library project.

  • Nomination papers for Alderman District 4 (Wards 7-8), Alderman District 5 (Wards 9-10) and Alderman District 6 (Wards 11-12) will be available in the Clerk’s office starting on Wednesday, Dec. 1.

  • Council members approved a proposal from EPS Engineering & Design not to exceed $450,000 to provide engineering services and project management to implement upgrades to the City’s three electrical substations. The EPS proposal projects competition for the upgrades by 2024. The City’s 2014 Distribution System Study suggested numerous upgrades to the equipment some of which dated back to the 1950’s. The estimated labor and material costs for the upgrades are in the neighborhood of $5 million. Completion of the engineering and specifications portion of the EPS proposal will guide discussions on the schedule of the project, bond issuance, acquisition of materials, approval of the Certificate of Authority from the Public Service Commission and impact on electric rates moving forward.

  • The Council approved the purchase of one new Police Department patrol vehicle for a total of $72,015. Purchase of the new vehicle is included in the 2022 Capital Improvement Plan. Delivery of the vehicle is expected mid summer 2022. 

The New Richmond City Council held its monthly meeting Monday night, November 8. 

1. Council adopts 2022 budget worth $7,485,294 

Following a brief public hearing Monday night, the New Richmond City Council adopted a 2022 proposed budget worth $7,485,294. That represents an increase of $459,147 or 6.5% from the 2021 adopted budget (7,026,147). It also represents an increase of $52,903 or 0.9% from the budget published October 21, 2021. 

The primary driver of the 0.9% increase was the hiring of an additional police officer scheduled to begin in August 2021 at a cost of $48,858 in wages, taxes, benefits and uniform allowance expenses.   

The Council also approved a 2022 tax levy of $6,276,585 representing an increase of $230,490 or 3.8% more than the levy adopted in 2021. The council’s goal was to keep the levy increase as close as possible to the new construction rate which stands at 2.7%. The levy provides funding for general operations, annual principal and interest obligations, replacement of capital assets and supports tax increment districts. 

The new estimated 2021 City mill rate is $5.99 per $1000 of assessed value, a reduction of $2.70 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Council members approved a list of 37 projects to be considered as part of the 2022 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). Estimated funding for those projects totals $5,224,016. The City would be responsible for $2,641,634 of the costs. The balance would be paid for by a variety of sources including grants, levys, impact fees, fund balance and outlay, cost share and financing. Funding for projects going forward will be addressed on an individual basis by the Council.

The City’s 2022 Budget and CIP can be reviewed in detail at City of New Richmond 2022 Budget and CIP at newrichmondwi.civicweb.net.  

2. Council approves Resolution #112104 authorizing a 3% sewer rate increase effective Jan. 24, 2022.

The New Richmond Sewer Utility is projecting an operating loss of $320,266 in 2022. Although the loss is not expected to affect performance or cash flow, it does indicate that the utility is not taking in enough funds to account for equipment replacements and contingencies. 

The utility last raised rates in 2019 a hefty 16% translating into a $3.87 increase for the average residential customer. A rate study that same year suggested a smarter solution would be to increase rates less but more frequently until the utility is no longer operating at a deficit and has built back contingencies.

The new increase effective Jan. 24 will raise the average customer’s bill approximately .86 cents per month and is anticipated to reduce the 2020 deficit by more than $57,000 to $263,006.

Tom Lindfors is a western Wisconsin freelance journalist and former Star-Observer reporter. Contact him at tom@lindforsphoto.com

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