A Town government’s main responsibility has always been and will remain to be road construction and maintenance. What has changed over the years is the cost of maintaining the roads. The Town of Pleasant Valley has 67.36 miles of road to maintain and approximately $200,000 budgeted per year for road construction and maintenance. The current cost of milling and overlay paving 1 mile of road is approximately $200,000. In 2006 this amount was $75,000. If the current average costs were to remain the same, the Town road surface replacement schedule would be spread out over approximately 67 years. The most efficient schedule for milling and paving is 20 – 30 years. Other common road maintenance expenses have escalated similarly. Our current average schedule for chip sealing is 25-30 years, the most efficient schedule is 5-7 years. Crack filling average schedule is 12-15 years with the most efficient schedule at 3 years. These increasing costs have put all towns and certainly Pleasant Valley in a difficult situation. The cost of maintaining roads has simply exceed our allowable budget.
A 20th century budget cannot support a 21st century economy.
How Did We Get to This Point?
In 2006, the State of Wisconsin placed limits on the amount a Town can levy. A levy is the amount a Town can tax the taxpayers of the municipality. This amount is spread out equally among the tax payers based on assessed values of property. A low spending Town at the time of the levy limit caps was forced to remain a low spending Town with no ability to increase taxes to cover the increasing monetary demands. i.e. road construction and maintenance, fuel, vehicle maintenance, salaries, utilities. These demands have simply over run our allowed spending. The only levy increase a Town is allowed each year is the percent of net new construction. Typically, for the Town of Pleasant Valley this is 1-2% per year for a net increase of approximately $10,000. Many Towns do not have any growth and therefore do not have an annual levy increase.
What Are the Options?
1. Continue the funding route we are on and only complete a fraction of the miles of road we should be improving with our existing budget. With this option, many of our lesser traveled roads will eventually be turned back to gravel.
2. State Statute allows for a Town Board to approve a loan via resolution. If the Board were to take out a loan for road construction, the annual payments are then added to the allowable levy to cover the interest and principal each year.
3. State Statute also allows Towns with a population over 3000 to increase the levy via referendum. A referendum is a general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred to them by the Town Board for a direct decision. Pleasant Valley’s current population is estimated to be 3356. A referendum can ask the voters for a specified dollar increase to the levy for any length of time, including permanently. An increase in the levy would allow for the completion of more road projects annually and avoid any interest payments which would result from a loan. If the Town Board were to choose to place a referendum on a ballot, state statute dictates how the question is worded. Due to the information required in a referendum question, November 2020 would be the soonest feasible election you may see a referendum question. If the board decides to place a question on the ballot, a public hearing would also be held prior to the Election to answer any questions the voters may have regarding the referendum.
The Town Board takes all of the above options very seriously. As the Town continues to fall behind in the ability to fund necessary road construction and maintenance projects, the need for an increase in funding is becoming increasingly apparent.
How Would A Levy Increase Affect My Taxes?
| $200,000 Levy Increase|
–Creates an additional mill rate of .000565832
–This amount increases taxes $56.58 per $100,000 of assessed property value
| $100,000 Levy Increase|
–Creates an additional mill rate of .000282916
-This amount increases taxes $28.29 per $100,000 of assessed property value
*These numbers are based on 2019 assessed values. As the Town continues to grow, the same amount of levied dollars is spread out over an increased value, netting out a decrease in the taxed amount per assessed dollar. These numbers reflect only the Town portion of your real estate tax bill. Approximately 13% of your real estate tax bill is Town tax. We cannot predict any increases or decreases in County, School or Technical College levied dollars from one year to the next.
The Town Board will continue to keep you informed of any proposed referendum questions in the future. Any questions or comments can be sent to [email protected] or by contacting any board member.