Hearings slated for '19 budget

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BELOIT - The Beloit City Council will move its 2019 budget process forward Monday, along with advancing an update to the city's comprehensive plan to guide future development.

Public hearings for the city's operating, capital and block grant budgets will be held on Monday. A final council vote on the budgets is expected at the Nov. 5 council meeting.

The council's meeting begins at 7 p.m. Monday in the City Hall Forum.

The city's proposed budget represents a $96.3 million plan, down nearly $10 million along with overall expenses down just under $200,000 to $71.4 million. The large decrease stems from capital borrowing being listed in this year's budget compared to next year, officials said.

As part of the budget, revenue is expected to increase nearly $1 million to just over $32 million, while the property tax rate is expected to decrease from $11.40 per $1,000 in property value this year to $11.29. A 3 percent water and sewer rate fee to fund future infrastructure projects is expected to take effect in the second half of 2019.

In total, the city is proposing just over $9 million in citywide capital projects for next year, along with $742,276 in community development block grants to 13 Beloit area service groups.

A public hearing regarding the Home Investment Partnership Program (HOME) budget also is scheduled for Monday. Beloit expects to see $195,000 in funds aimed at improving housing for residents. Up to $120,000 is expected to go towards owner-occupied rehabilitation loans, with the remaining balance to be used for acquisition for rehabilitation or new construction. The funds are intended to further efforts started by the Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Areas (NRSA) plan for the Hackett and Merrill areas.

Nearly a year ago, the city started on a path to update its 2008 comprehensive plan to reevaluate growth and future development in Beloit. On Monday, the council will accept changes made to the document by Beloit planning staff and development stakeholders after nearly a dozen public meetings and two open houses to gauge public support and field input on what Beloit's future growth should look like.

According to Planning and Building Services Director Drew Pennington, the plan will be submitted to council for its first reading to be laid over before a final vote.

"We're excited to complete this year-long process and to proceed with some of the implementation steps that will support and strengthen our existing neighborhoods," Pennington said.

A steering committee established for the planning process endorsed the new Wisconsin Department of Administration (WDA) projections that show expected growth in Beloit of 8.6 percent by the year 2030. Projections show a predicted land use demand totaling 642 acres for residential, non-residential and infrastructure development in the same time period.

As part of the plan, the steering committee updated development trends and shifted housing types, while accounting for new areas of future development across Beloit. Plan recommendations include incentivizing single-family and other residential options; creating an entertainment district in the Gateway Business Park; drafting names for all city neighborhoods; and encouraging future business growth.

The city's registry of 193 vacant buildings was also looked at as part of the plan, weighing future uses for the debilitated lots that are comprised for 173 single-family homes, two multi-family buildings, 12 commercial properties and six publicly-owned facilities, according to city housing data.

The plan recommends new uses for properties, but stops at tackling density issues. All recommendations in the plan must adhere to future zoning process changes, with none of the listed uses being mandatory, with some recommendations covering privately-owned land.

In other business, no action is expected following a closed session discussion of City Manager Lori Curtis Luther's mid-year evaluation. The council completes an annual review of Luther's performance as part of her hiring agreement with the city.

The council will vote on adding the Village of Orfordville to the Rock County Alcohol Enforcement Task Force. The agreement between Beloit, Janesville, Town of Beloit and the Village of Clinton looks to boost increased operating while intoxicated enforcement.

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