Wisconsin cities spending more on street maintenanceAn annual study released by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance shows that the state’s largest cities and villages increased street maintenance expenditures
By: Superior Telegram staff, Superior Telegram
An annual study released by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance shows that the state’s largest cities and villages increased street maintenance expenditures 3.8 percent in 2011, catching up with work deferred during the recession. In Superior, street maintenance spending climbed 6.6 percent to $169 per person.
The 2011 increase followed two years of decreased maintenance work. Statewide, municipalities spent $116 per person on streets, still below the 2008 level of $122.
These figures are part of MunicipalFacts13, an exclusive study released annually by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, an 81-year-old nonpartisan organization devoted to public policy research and citizen education.
The 3.8 percent rise in street expenditures outpaced spending on overall city and village operations, which increased 2.7 percent to $851 per capita. It also topped spending increases for police protection — typically a municipality’s largest expense — which increased 2.6 percent to $228 per person.
In Superior, spending on municipal operations in 2011 was $952 per capita compared to the $851 average among municipalities studied by the alliance. In 2010, average law enforcement spending was $228 per resident, while police spending in Superior was $272.
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 the alliance studied spent $563 per capita on these four basic program areas, 2.5 percent more than in 2010.
Municipalities use property taxes and shared revenue from the state to pay for a large share of their services. In 2011, per-capita shared revenue was 2.3 percent 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 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 percent per year during 2007-11.
That compares to a debt load of $1,291 per person in Superior.
Under state law, municipal debt is limited to 5 percent of total property value.