Minocqua officials are drawing closer to finalizing the town’s proposed 2013 budget and work has been going well on the spending plan.
That’s according to town chairman Mark Hartzheim who said that as of Friday the board had completed meetings with all of the town’s departments and with community organizations applying for funds from the town.
“Those have gone smoothly and I see no real issues in what we’ve seen and heard so far,” Hartzheim said. “But we are facing a problem with health insurance costs for 2013.”
According to Hartzheim, the town has been told if it sticks with its current insurance carrier they will be facing a 22 percent increase in costs.
“That’s a substantial increase and we’re going to shop around and try to see if we can find a better option,” Hartzheim said. “We hope we can find something with an increase of 10 percent or less over what we are paying now.”
Hartzheim said whatever the cost is for the town’s insurance it will have a big impact on whether or not the town can approve a budget with a no-tax increase.
“We want to keep the tax rate as flat as possible,” Hartzheim said. “And what we find for our final numbers for our insurance costs will play a big part in being able to do that.”
Hartzheim also highlighted other areas in the town’s proposed budget that have already been discussed, but need to be finalized:
• The town’s property and casualty insurance. Hartzheim said those costs are still not known, but no significant change is expected.
• Aqua-Bowl lights replacement. The cost is expected to be about $40,000 for installation, poles, lights, underground digging and new speakers.
According to Hartzheim, the town is still considering whether some of the costs could come from CSS funds received from the U.S. Highway 51 reconstruction or from the town’s general fund. The town already has saved $9,000 toward the project and the Min-Aqua Bats may also contribute in some way to the project.
• Torpy Park tennis courts repairs. The projected cost wold be about $16,300. Hartzheim said no final decision has been made to do the work, but some discussion has been held on whether the town should do the work considering there are eight new tennis courts at the high school that are available for public use.
• Going paperless effort. The cost would be about $5,000 to purchase iPads and related software and other related materials so members of the town board and the clerk could use electronic devices instead of paper for all communication and town information they receive and send.
• Purchase of one squad car for the police department. The town already budgeted half of the car’s cost in the 2012 budget. The remaining half of the cost will come from the department’s 2013 budget.
Hartzheim said it’s hoped the town can complete most of the final work on the 2013 budget when it meets Nov. 7.
Joe VanDeLaarschot may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.