La Crosse Common Council approves 2022 budget with tax hike lower than 2021

Weighing the pro’s and con’s of a city administrator

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — The La Crosse Common Council approved an operating budget Monday of just under $65 million for the city for 2022, a decrease of about $3.5 million from 2021.

The 11-0 vote, which calls for a mill rate increase of 4.28 percent per $1,000 valuation, OKd a budget that amounts to a tax hike of $32 on a house valued at $150,000, according to figures that Finance and Human Resources Director Valerie Fenske presented to the council.

That compares with $36 for 2021.

“It’s a very minimalist budget,” said Mayor Mitch Reynolds, adding that it also presents hope for “easing up our past COVID difficulties.”

The pandemic cost the city about $4 million in revenues this year. It also forced the city to cut some services and staffing during the past year, with public libraries suffering particularly severe hits.

The lower operating budget continued a trend tracing at least to 2018, when expenses totaled a tad over $74 million and 2019, when expenditures were a little under $72 million.

The 2020 budget was about $61.3 million, while the 2021 figure was $69.5 million.

The council opted out of the state’s Expenditure Revenue Program for 2022, with review of that next year.

Money from the pandemic-related American Rescue Plan Act helped the city recoup some losses, Reynolds said.

Total property tax bills include levies for the La Crosse School District, Western Technical College, La Crosse County and other minor levies.