Tomah City Council members approved the city’s 2018 budget Monday during a special meeting at Tomah city hall.

The approved budget will decrease the city’s portion of local property tax bills next year.

The city’s mill rate drops to $7.90 in 2018 from $8.51 in 2017. The property levy will remain nearly flat, rising from $5,121,713 in 2017 to $5,153,441 in 2018, an increase of $31,728 or .06 percent.

For the owner of a $100,000 home it means a decrease of $62 in city taxes.

One change was made to the budget before it was unanimously passed — a transfer of $29,730 from general government to public safety. The amount represents the increase in wages for the Tomah fire chief from $24,915 to $50,467, an amount approved by council members during November’s regular meeting.

The 2018 budget contains several areas of significant change, city administrator Roger Gorius said. He said there was a significant increase in ambulance service revenue because the paramedic service is going full time.

He also said the city has experienced “quite a bit of construction this year, so an increase in building permits was rather significant.”

Expenditures have stayed pretty much the same, Gorius said. One new expenditure is for the county S.M.R.T. bus service at a cost of $7,500 annually.

“We were approached by the county,” he said. “Tomah has put in, Sparta has put in, so they’re going to try and run a S.M.R.T. bus that will be going down to La Crosse. We’re going to put in our amount for this year, and then it will come back to the council next year, and we’ll see how the program ran and whether or not we feel that this was an investment that we should continue to do.”

Gorius also reviewed the city’s capital expenditure projects. Three new trucks will be purchased, city walking trails will be expanded, excavation and paving will be done at Recreation Park, a splash pad will be added to the aquatic center, new turnout gear will be bought for the fire department and a new salt shed will be built.

Also, a drone will be purchased for the fire, police and public works departments, Gorius said.

“We’d like to use it primarily for search and rescue, and we’d also like to use it in the public works area,” he said. “We found that utilizing a drone has helped us quite a bit mapping out problem areas.”

He said the city recently used one with a Madison engineering firm “and it cut our manpower time down by two days.”

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