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Friday, September 18, 2009

City Budgets: Lots of Increases, Madison One of Biggest

Last week I noted that Madison's 11.5% budget increase for 2010 seems a bit steep given the recession, the drop in sales tax revenues, and budget cuts at the state level. But what are other towns doing?
  • Britton just gave first reading to a municipal budget that spends 3.9% more than last year. Most of that increase comes from the city's 3% share of a federally funded $2-million airport project.
  • Hot Springs plans to boost its 2010 budget 2.3%, with a $17,000 increase going to the library. Hooray for learning! (Amusing side note: Hot Springs Councilman Barry Field helped defeat a motion to send Arlin Fenhaus to the South Dakota Golf Course Superintendent’s Association meeting. Field said he wouldn't approve Fenhaus's trip "until he begins to take direction." Ouch!)
  • Sioux Falls is going for a 4% increase. The budget includes $1.7 million for golf course improvements but bupkis for the homeless shelter, in a city where one thousand children are homeless.
  • Then there's Watertown, which is considering a 29.5% budget increase. Holy cow! Is that all stimulus money?
And a local comparison: Lake County just approved a $5.8 million budget, an increase of 3.6% over the 2009 budget.


  1. When a business operates a monopoly this is what happens.

    A monopoly, according to the definition, is "exclusive control or possession of something". It also says, "when you have a monopoly, you can ask any price".

    The definition of monopoly goes on to say, "a particular service dominates the market and exerts powerful control over it." Sound familiar?

    You'll notice that City Trash Hauling remains competitive, because we have local private competition to keep those rates in check.

    At some point, the City of Madison needs to consider ways to reduce expenses in every department rather than relying on electric utility rate hikes each year that far exceed the rate of inflation on our blue collar community.

  2. I had an interesting conversation with Mayor Hexom tonight following passage of the 2010 budget.

    Basically, the reason for the big increase has to do with the increase in costs for water, sewer, and electricity. WAPA is going to increase its wholsale cost for electricity by 13-percent. This is to offset the costs that it has had to endure by buying electricity off the market to make up for the shortfall in the amount of electricity produced from the Missouri River dams over the past few years. WAPA is contracted to provide so much power to the city each year, and because of the low water levels on the Missouri River, WAPA has had to buy electricty on the market to meet it's contract, which costs siginifiacantly higher.

    Water is also going to see increaes in costs, due to work that the city will have to do on its well field, and the eventual replacement of the water tower on the nortwest side of town, which was built in 1935 and nearing the end of its life. From what Mayor Hexom told me, preliminary figures will run around 2-million dollars.

    I also asked him about wind turbines. He said with the cost of setting up towers, maintenance, and all the other costs, the cost would be about 20-cents per kilowatt hour... which is significantly more than the 3.1-cents per kilowatt hour that WAPA will be charging the city next year.


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