Good morning everyone,
I hope this email finds you doing great on this Monday morning!
With just over one (1) week until Election Day, I wanted to forward to everyone the FAQs that were recently published in the Richfield Happenings newsletter. I would be very appreciative if you could please forward this on to your respective organizations, subdivision HOA members, Lake Association members, friends, family, etc. for circulation to help raise voter awareness and answer some of the questions we’ve been hearing over the last several months regarding this planned referendum. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration of this request. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at your earliest convenience.
Take care and have a safe and happy rest of your week!
Jim Healy, Village Administrator (262)-628-2260
Question 1: If the Village residents vote in favor of the referendum, what would stop the Village from spending the $750,000 on something other than “road maintenance” and “road construction”- like a community pool?
Answer 1: The 2017-2018 Wisconsin State Budget requires that any ballot question relating to exceeding a municipal levy limit (ie: raising property taxes) via a referendum must include the specific purpose for which the additional property taxes would be used. In this instance, if the referendum is successful, this money cannot, under any circumstance, be used for anything other than “road maintenance” and “road construction”. That is what the law mandates.
Question 2: Once a new tax goes into effect, it never seems to go away. Is this referendum going to be like the “Stadium Tax” we are still paying for?
Answer 2: No, this referendum is in place for nine (9) years and cannot be extended beyond that. The Village Board made the decision from the beginning that they wanted any referendum to be in place for a limited period of time. It was their belief this voluntary process brought greater accountability and financial transparency to the taxpayers.
Question 3: How will we know for sure what this money is being used for?
Answer 3: To increase the transparency of the proposed referendum dollars, a separate account will be created entitled “Road Referendum Expenditures” within our Public Works Department budget. Additionally, the Village has a “financial transparency” section on our website right now! This portion of our website, under the Deputy Treasurer’s departmental page, shows our year-to-date and monthly expenditures by Department, our monthly Treasurer’s Report, and an accounting of every check the Village writes and whom it is written to.
Question 4: Why doesn’t the Village just borrow the money?
Answer 4: Richfield could borrow the money and include the principle and interest into the amount of property taxes the Village collects. However, that was not the policy direction the Village Board wanted to pursue. Our community has the ability to borrow approximately $82,200,000 during its normal budgeting process. If the Village were to borrow the money and construct all of the roads at once, the total principle cost would be approximately $13,500,000. Over the life of a typical loan, the amount of interest paid would be over $6,000,000. To put that into perspective, that equates to approximately 20 miles of road that would be spent in interest payments.
Question 5: If the referendum passes, what is it going to cost me?
Answer 5: In the last edition of the newsletter, we detailed how property owners could calculate this cost themselves. But, by using approximate values, here is how much property owners would be paying each year, for nine (9) years, if this referendum were successful:
$250,000 value home + property - $116
$300,000 value home + property - $140
$400,000 value home + property - $186
Question 6: What roads does the Village intend to fix over this time period?
Answer 6: The Village Board recently adopted its 5-year CIP and have laid out its blueprint for road construction, although it is subject to slight change. A map of the intended Plan is included in the latest edition of the Richfield Happenings newsletter. Without the proposed referendum being approved, the timing and amount of roads to be constructed annually changes significantly and likely will revert back to the Village constructing 1-2% of the Village’s total roads, annually. The full detail of our 2019-2023 CIP is available on our Village’s website.
Question 7: Why did the Village choose the amount of $750,000 annually for nine (9) years?
Answer 7: The Village aims to double the amount of money it allocates each year for road construction from approximately $750,000 to $1,500,000. The result of which would equate to a funding level where every road was paved in the next 30 years, which is the typical life span of a road in Wisconsin. By doubling the dollars the Village spends on road improvements, we will be able to address the 40-45 miles of road in need of repair upon the conclusion of the nine (9) years, assuming each mile of road is approximately $300,000. Right now the Village is on pace for replacement every 75 years.