APPLETON - The Appleton Common Council has passed a nearly $150 million budget for 2013.
Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna told FOX 11 it gets more difficult to pass a budget each year.
"Revenues aren't increasing and demands aren't decreasing," said Hanna.
In fact, he told us talks for the 2013 budget began in early 2012. They culminated in a 10 hour Saturday meeting a few weeks ago and in a final vote after three hours of conversation Wednesday.
The good news? The property tax levy will be one percent lower in 2013 than in 2012.
"Lots and lots of meetings and discussions about how we continue to provide the level of service our citizens ask for," explained Hanna.
Before the vote the council discussed several amendments to Hanna's original proposal.
One conversation dealt with a new $1.4 million automated recycling program. Some debated the allowance of one 96 gallon bin per household.
"Some of our citizens are saying, 'wow that's a big container. I don't want that big container,'" explained Hanna.
Some alderpersons even asked if it might be a good idea to scrap the entire program. In the end the council voted to move forward with only the 96 gallon bin option.
"There is gonna be a little bit of savings if we do the one size fits all, if half of them get 45 and the other half get 96, all the inventory and parts you have to keep on board, it's gonna wipe out any savings," said Alderperson Jim Clemons.
Households will face a quarterly charge of three dollars for the new program. That charge will only last for the first few years, until the bill for the bins is paid off.
Another topic that drew a lot of conversation was the proposal to add one new police officer to the force each year over the next three years.
"The budget, I believe, is gonna get tighter every year. So either we start doing it one at a time each year or somebody down the line's gonna get hit trying to add three police officers in one budget," explained Clemons.
But many alderpersons were concerned about the lack of a concrete plan for that amendment and voted it down.
"I think we made it clear to the mayor it's something we want to see happen, but we need a better plan for it down the road," said Alderperson Curt Konetzke.
Hanna said the conversations like these will continue, but overall the city is in a good spot monetarily.
"We have a backup plan and financially we're very healthy," said Hanna.
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