Mistakes can happen when you manage a budget worth tens of millions of dollars. Merrill's Finance Director apparently made a few calculation errors that led to many upset people. The city is now working to make sure confusion and calls for resignations don't happen again.
Tuesday night at a Committee of the Whole meeting a financial consultant came in to explain more about taxation and how Tax Incremental Districts (TIDs) affect a budget.
Finance Director Kathy Unertl says many factors contributed to the misestimated tax rate, but one of the biggest factors was her self-described "inadequate assessment" of how TIDs worked within the budget.
"I was using assessed value TID in instead of assessed value TID out in my calculations," said Unertl.
Another factor was that Merrill lost about $11 million in property value when a reassessment happened in 2016. All of that caused the rate to go up, but not the amount the city was collecting.
"We told them a wrong percentage," said Merrill Mayor Derek Woellner. "So Tim [Meehean] is saying we aren't charging more because the budget we approved was for the same amount, we just gave the wrong percentage to expect."
Members of the public also had an opportunity to ask their own budget questions so they could also further their understanding.
Unertl proposed a new way of displaying the city budget next year in the hopes that a similar mistake can be avoided with the future. Woellner said he feels optimistic about next year's budget process.
LAC DU FLAMBEAU - A business development agency in the Northwoods pictures new homes, apartments, and jobs coming to Lac du Flambeau in the next decade. Building those and making them a reality may get a boost from a new tax deferral process.
Lac du Flambeau has been identified as an "Opportunity Zone." Essentially, it allows investors to avoid paying taxes on capital gains through things like profits made through trading stocks.
PHILLIPS - You can still get protection with a flu shot. The Price County Health Department says it's not too late. In Wisconsin, the number of people taking advantage of the flu vaccine is up this year.
Last year, 37 percent of people in Wisconsin received a flu shot during the flu season. This year, that number slightly rose to 38 percent.
Many of us worry about the flu during the winter months. But it can still be a problem through the warmer months because of airplane travel. Travel between the northern and southern hemispheres will allow the flu to spread anytime during the year.
Even in late February, we are still encouraged to get the shot.
TOMAHAWK - Two local car mechanics told us a stretch of Highway 51 near Tomahawk is so bad, they won't even drive on it. Both said the road is rougher than they've ever seen it, a condition echoed on roads throughout the Northwoods.
But the nine-mile stretch near Tomahawk especially stands out for some drivers.
"[Highway] 8 to Highway S, the southbound lane, is buckling so bad, you just bounce down that road. The cars, when they bounce down there, the suspension just takes a beating," said Gary Luedke, the service manager at Heritage Chevrolet in Tomahawk.
Luedke has seen problems with ball joints, tie rod ends, and even tires with chunks missing. All of the damage comes from bad winter roads like Highway 51.
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