Preliminary budget has increase for police, fire

By Dave Fidlin

Correspondent

Despite challenges in recent years surrounding COVID-19, Village of Waterford officials sounded an optimistic tone about the village’s operating budget for the year ahead during a recent glimpse into the extensive document.

While no formal action was taken, the Village Board on Oct. 11 discussed the budget, which has been under the microscope within the Finance Committee as fall has set in.

Trustee Adam Jaskie, who chairs the Finance Committee, said he was pleased with the plans in motion for next year’s operating plan.

“I think it’s a great budget,” Jaskie said. “It’s very comprehensive.”

Village Administrator Zeke Jackson said the 69-page document presented to board members was the result of a months-long process that necessitated input from all department heads.

“It’s a team effort. It’s a big process,” Jackson said. “We’re in good financial health.”

A review of the draft document reveals the village is anticipating an uptick in property tax income in the year ahead to fund general government operations.

Village officials are anticipating $1.59 million in levy dollars for the purpose next year. This year, $1.54 million in taxes were incorporated into the general government fund.

On the expense side of the ledger, village officials are proposing changes to the public safety budget in the year ahead, though a dual relationship with the Town of Waterford Police Department and Racine County Sheriff’s Department is included in the plans.

According to village documents, the proposed local police contract line item with the town has tentatively been set at $352,395, up from this year’s allocation of $145,000. The third-shift sheriff’s budget could total $41,608, down from $200,500 this year.

Elsewhere, the village plans to double down on its commitment to staffing a school resource officer, or SRO, at Waterford Union High School. A total $148,405 contribution has been proposed for the service.

Within the village-run fire and emergency medical services department, a proposed $749,072 budget has been earmarked for EMS operations in the year ahead, while a $692,877 budget has been appropriated for fire protection.

All told, next year’s proposed public safety budget clocks in at $2.07 million, up from this year’s $1.44 million.

The library’s operations budget, according to the plans in motion, is $813,357, down from this year’s allocation of $824,448.

The public works budget, meanwhile, could increase slightly, from $644,942 this year to $692,036 in the year ahead.

Village President Don Houston, who also sits on the Finance Committee, emphasized the budget remains in a draft state. More details, as well as a formal public hearing, will take place next month.

“This is not final, whatsoever,” Houston said.