MunicipalFacts Book MunicipalFacts13

May 2013  •  Vol. 2013
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  • Summary
  • Press Release
  • MunicipalFacts13 examines patterns and trends in municipal finance for 243 of Wisconsin's most populous cities and villages.

    Included in the analysis are expenditures, property taxes and values, shared revenues, debt, and income for communities with populations between 2,000 and 150,000. Because of their size and unique characteristics, Milwaukee and Madison are excluded.

    This 112-page, 9x12 professionally bound book is published annually. The data is organized in easy to read charts that allow you to review your municipality's expenditures in many categories (police, fire, ambulance, general government, etc.) and compare them with peers. It includes per capita figures for easy comparisons.

    It includes a narrative with clear explanations of what each spending and revenue category means so you'll be able to follow the finances of your local municipality like never before.

  • Dale J. Knapp or Todd A. Berry

    Municipalities Spend More to Maintain Streets

    3.8% Increase is First Since 2008

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    MADISON—It was catch-up time for local street upkeep as Wisconsin municipalities emerged from the recession. Having cut street maintenance in 2009 and 2010, the state’s largest cities and villages increased expenditures 3.8% in 2011, according to state figures released earlier this year. However, the $116 per person these communities devoted to streets was still below the 2008 level ($122). These figures are part of MunicipalFacts13, an exclusive study released annually by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX), an 81-year-old nonpartisan organization devoted to public policy research and citizen education.

    The 3.8% rise in street expenditures outpaced spending on overall city and village operations, which increased 2.7% to $851 per capita. It also topped spending increases for police protection, typically a municipality’s largest expense, which increased 2.6% to $228 per person.

    In addition to streets and police, government administration and fire-ambulance services are the four "basic" municipal services that together account for about two-thirds of municipal budgets. On average, the 243 municipalities WISTAX studied spent $563 per capita on these four basic program areas, 2.5% more than in 2010.

    Municipalities use property taxes and shared revenues from the state to fund a large share of their services. In 2011, per capita shared revenues were 2.3% less than in 2007, while 2011-12 property taxes per capita were 9.1% higher than four years earlier.

    Although growing debt loads are a concern for some governments in Wisconsin, per capita general obligation (GO) debt among the state’s 243 largest cities and villages was nearly unchanged in 2011 at $1,531. Debt increased an average of 2.5% per year during 2007-11. Under state law, municipal GO debt is generally limited to 5% of total property value.

    Note to Editor: The following paragraph can be adapted to individual communities from the data tables attached to this release.

    Closer to home, spending on municipal operations in ________ was $________ per capita vs. the $851 average among the municipalities studied by WISTAX. In 2010, average law enforcement spending was $228 per resident, while police spending in ________ was $________. Street maintenance spending climbed ________% to ________in __________, compared to 3.8% elsewhere. In other findings, general obligation debt averaged $1,531 per person among the 243 communities studied. That compares with a debt load of $________ in ________.

    MunicipalFacts13 is the best resource for comparing municipal finances in Wisconsin’s 243 cities and villages with populations between 2,000 and 150,000 (excludes Milwaukee and Madison). In addition to spending, the 112-page book provides financial information on property taxes, property values, and debt. MunicipalFacts13 groups municipalities by population, making it easy to compare taxes and spending in similar-sized cities and villages.

    In addition to financial information, MunicipalFacts13 also has a wealth of demographic detail. The publication allows citizens to compare municipalities by income, state income taxes, and population. Plus, each community’s property tax base is broken down by class: residential, commercial, manufacturing, and other types.

    MunicipalFacts13 was researched and printed with support from Ehlers, an independent financial advisory firm whose fiduciary responsibility to clients is to design customized financial solutions to help grow their communities. For more information or to purchase a copy of MunicipalFacts13, available for $19.95 (plus tax), visit, email, call 608.241.9789, or write WISTAX at 401 North Lawn Avenue, Madison, WI 53704-5033. Customized reports showing information for any 10 municipalities can also be ordered for $14.95 (plus tax).

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