The mayor unveiled his proposed 2017 executive operating budget for La Crosse Friday, and one priority that will be carried over into next year is neighborhood revitalization.
This year's $69.17 million budget is down more than $2 million from last year, and the mill rate is the same as last year’s ($12.24 per $1,000 in property value), which means property taxes will be staying the same unless your property has increased in value.
Mayor Tim Kabat will be targeting two neighborhoods next year: Northside Logan and Holy Trinity-Longfellow.
"The thing that I’m particularly proud of is how we've come together as an organization, especially with a focus on neighborhood revitalization,” he said.
"It's really about making it a desirable place to live,” Jennifer Trost, chair of the Holy Trinity-Longfellow neighborhood association, said. "The mayor, one of his platforms has been to run on revitalization, he's designated neighborhood associations with improvement money."
Holy Trinity-Longfellow is one of two neighborhoods receiving citizen led capital improvement funds, which means neighbors have a say in where that money goes. Trost said they will put the $375,000 to good use, starting with Tower Park.
"We'll rename it and make it more versatile and usable,” she said.
Neighbors also want to find ways to slow down traffic in pedestrian areas, and address what Trost calls the heart of the neighborhood: South Community Library.
"This was our main concern keeping this branch open, maintaining its vitality as a library,” she said.
Kabat is happy with his proposed budget.
"It keeps our neighborhood programs; there's no layoffs,” he said. “It reduces spending and keeps the mill rate at $12.24, so in my mind, it's got it all."
And Trost’s neighborhood is excited for their future.
"It comes at a time where we're just organized enough to take advantage of it and use it to spring us to the next level,” she said.
The budget plans for some staffing changes, like the proposal to get rid of the public works director, and add a full time environmental planner.
Kabat said there are a few things he wishes had been in the budget, like merging the city and county's library system.
He also wants to start conversations about cooperative boundary agreements and regional revenue sharing with communities around La Crosse.
Kabat’s proposed budget goes to the board of estimates next week, and they'll make their changes before it's finalized.
The common council will take final action on it in November.