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Richland Center City Council September 19th Meeting

At the September 19th Richland Center City Council meeting, a report was given describing the audit for the year ended December 31, 2016. The city of Richland Center continues to have a strong financial position, cash liquidity, and fund balances.

An audit report presented last night shows the city’s general fund saw an increase to fund balance of $205,744, and the overall governmental fund balance increased by $289,836. Revenues from the Tax Incremental Financing Districts totaled $1,259,374 for 2016, which includes $1,232,938 in taxes and special assessments, $23,276 in intergovernmental revenues and grants, and $3,160 in interest income. TIF districts expanded $455,638 on projects and debt service in 2016. The city’s Economic Development and Housing Loan Program had loans totaling $758,786 outstanding as of December 31, 2016, which have been made to city property owners for improvement and developmental projects. The city’s General Fund has fund balances of $946,575 set aside for future projects and future expenditures.

For the trend in equalized value of property, the city’s overall valuation has decreased slightly over the past 10 years. It was observed that “Like other Wisconsin cities the size of Richland Center, the city experienced a decline in its equalized values starting in 2009 as a result of the economic downturn. Values began to increase again in 2014.” The report stated that in spite of this recent upward trend, “there has been a small decrease of 1.8% from 2016 to 2017.

Under property taxes- excluding tax increment levies, the city complied fully with the state imposed property tax levy limits and in the property tax roll, 2016 levy collected 2017, showed the largest portion, $2,175,766 (or 32%), as the local school followed by the city at 27% with $1,826,777.

The report also pointed out that the city’s utilities are self-reliant in their operations and continue to demonstrate strong balance sheets, strong cash flows, and cash balances.

Dr. Charles Clark, the Regional Executive Officer & Dean of University of Wisconsin Colleges-Southwest and many other UW-Richland Staff and Supporters were welcomed at the city council meeting. Dr. Clark spoke to the status of the campus saying that UW-Richland has developed a 10 year plan to make the necessary changes to the facilities. In hopes of upping the overall total enrollment, currently at 287 students, UW-Richland now faces the challenge of reaching out to surrounding communities and cities, as plans are being made to explore ways to put the campus on the radar of young people throughout Southwest Wisconsin. UW-Richland currently has a very strong International Program, making up roughly 20% of the student body.

A report was given by Lon Arbegust regarding tourism in the area. Arbegust said the department of tourism is considering conducting a tourism study in hopes of targeting in on the draws and needs of the community. He mentioned that Richland County currently ranks 63rd in the state, out of 72 counties, in total tourism impacts ranked by visitor spending. To enhance our present standings, Arbegust expressed a want to develop and swiftly put a plan in progress.

The City Council approved the authorizing the payment of $4,000 to Southwest Partners for Economic Development purposes; the site plan and current standard land lease for Brent Montry to construct a new 60’ x 60’ private hangar at the Richland Airport; the changing of the meal site agreement to allow hours of use as 8:30 am - 1 pm, rather than 9:30 am - 1:30pm; the Ad Hoc committee for the improvements of the Richland Center Pool was approved as well.

It was also brought to attention in public comment that the Salvation Army Bell Ringers are searching for volunteers. Volunteers will be taking turns running 10 hour days this coming holiday season to make up for the loss of a local grocery store.