The West Lafayette budget is expected to increase by $1.7 million next year --an approximately 9 percent raise -- but city officials say that's not likely to raise property taxes.
City Clerk-Treasurer Judy Rhodes says even though the 2016 budget indicates a small increase in the city's property tax rate and a decrease in its total assessed value, it's standard practice to overestimate taxes and underestimate property values in order to give flexibility to a city's ever-changing budget.
"We expect the tax rate to be the same or even lower in 2016," she says. "It's been falling for the last several years because of the annexation and very high activity of infill development in the city itself."
Mayor John Dennis says the city's 2014 annexation has increased costs for police and fire services.
"Obviously, the annexation was a significant geographic growth for our community, but it's not yet been populated," Dennis says. "There's a sense of forward thinking when it comes to providing services for the annexed area. "
The largest monetary increase in the budget is an approximately 18 percent bump in fire department funding. Dennis says the increase in manpower needed to cover the city's most recent round of annexations was initially absorbed by a federal grant. Now that the grant is expiring, the salaries for the seven additional firefighters needed to cover that larger land area is being reverted back to the general fund -- at a cost of about $640,000 annually.
Other increases in the budget include an additional $203,000 for the police department and $139,000 more for facilities.
Rhodes says residents shouldn't expect their property tax rate to increase, as the city has other ways to absorb that 9 percent increase.
"We're going to have increasing revenues from income taxes, hydrant fees, gasoline taxes," explains Rhodes. "A number of our revenues have increased because of the annexation."