Tax rate expected to decrease 2 percent

By Kellen Olshefski


The City of Elkhorn has set a public hearing on the 2019 Municipal Budget for 6 p.m., Monday, Nov. 12 in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 9 S. Broad St., Elkhorn.

As in years past, the City has opted for a 6 p.m. start time to allow all citizens interested in attending the opportunity. A digital copy of the budget and City Administrator Sam Tapson’s transmittal letter are available for download by clicking on the 2019 budget link, “latest news” at

According to Tapson’s letter, the proposed 2019 municipal budget calls for a general property tax levy of $5,439,529. Based on this levy, the projected tax rate would be $7.39 per $1,000 of assessed value, about a 2 percent decrease from the 2018 levy rate. For owners of a $100,000 home, for example, this would equate to about $739 for the city’s portion of their tax bill.

In a Committee of the Whole meeting Oct. 29, the City of Elkhorn Common Council further reviewed all operating budgets and funds when it comes to the proposed 2019 municipal budget.

Overall, the most notable expenses are related to the fire department, no surprise when considering discussions that have taken place over the past few years about the desperate need for staffing and for new equipment.

For this year’s budget, the cost of contractual staffing services will again make up a large part of the fire department’s budget, accounting for about a projected increase of as much as $150,000 over last year’s budget.

“The biggest increase, of course, is the staffing, which we all know is a continuing issue and is going to continue to be an issue until we figure out how to fill those spots and how we’re going to manage it going forward,” Fire Chief Rod Smith said at the meeting.

In terms of new fire department equipment, the 2019 budget accounts for the cost to replace breathing apparatuses, though the department has applied for a grant that would cover the vast majority of the $400,000 cost. As such, the department would avoid spending the money until the end of next year when it determines whether or not it has received the grant. If the grant is received, it would cost the city $40,000, split four ways between the City of Elkhorn and the three townships the fire department serves.

Also notable, for the Public Works Department, while the budget for street maintenance will be lower than previous years, the garage operations expenses will see a slight increase with the new public works garage coming online in 2019. Public Works Manager Matt Lindstrom said garage operations are projected to increase from $100,000 last year to $133,000 this year, primarily because the city will have two garages in operation during the completion of the new garage and the move.

The city has also devoted $15,000 to a structural review and potential repairs of the Sunset Park band shell.


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