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If Racine passes the 2017 budget as is, here are 5 things you’ll need to know as the Common Council mulls over this 264 page document.

Racine’s proposed 2017 budget

Proposed 2017 Capital improvement budget

If approved, the budget would result in a $23.75 increase for a home assessed at $100,000 on the city portion levied to Racine residents. Property owners would also see an increase in storm water utility ($6.09) and recycling fees ($6.93).

The tax increase would support a proposed levy of $53,851,527, a $748,380 increase or 1.4 percent over the 2016 budget. The levy is the amount of funds property owners pay to support the budget, which includes a variety of line item like the general fund, debt, and capital projects.

The proposed budget calls for spending $200,072,706 in 2017, a $2,881,353 increase or 1.46 percent over 2016. Included in that budget is $81,161,448, a $245,550 or .3 percent increase.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be writing more on these topics. But here are five things we found in the capital improvement budget for 2017 that impact Racine residents.

$200,000 for way-finding signage

During Dickert’s budget address, he highlighted the need for a “more scenic entry way” into the city’s downtown area. The proposed budget includes a new signage program for way-finding. The current signs are confusing and cluttered, he said.

“Between the decluttering of the current signage in town and this new system, tourists, residents and friends will be able to easily find their way to our beautiful downtown and lake front,” he said.

$600,000 for the solid waste cart system

To cut the number of work-related injuries and re-assign City of Racine workers to help fix the roads, administrators started a program last year that automated the solid waste collection system. The program is similar to the city’s recycling collection system.

The city plans to fully automate the solid waste collection process in phases. Starting in July,  ⅓ of the city was given a 95 gallon cart, another ⅓ of the city will be given carts by July 2017 and the remaining property owners will receive their carts by July 2018. The city has already uses carts for its recycling program.

$100,000 for Metra Extension Planning.

Using the existing train line, the City wants to fund a study that will look into the cost of extending Metra line service from Kenosha to Racine.

We’ll have an update on this part of the budget over next few weeks.

$200,000 for Planning and Designing a Proposed Event Center

Dickert wants to build a $46 million event center, but he needs to figure out how to pay for it with the county continuing to do its due diligence on a proposed cost sharing plan.

The construction of the event center — which would be located on 3.5-acres on the southeast corner of Lake Avenue and Gas Light Drive in Racine — could be financed and paid for with tax dollars: 2/3 by city residents and 1/3 by Racine County through a.5 percent stadium tax, a Downtown Racine Arena Market and Feasibility Study suggested.

The project would come with hundreds of jobs, a possible minor league hockey team and a Milwaukee Bucks developmental franchise. The deadline the Bucks want to make their decision by: Oct. 15. Racine County residents already pay a .1 percent tax for Miller Park Stadium.

While the county has invited the authors of the study to speak to the county board on Oct. 18, Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave has said the county board needs more time to vet the project.

The city has been in discussion with its financial consultants to see how the city might partner with investors. While attending a meeting about green infrastructure in New York a few weeks ago, Dickert met with several investors to talk about the possibility of them helping the city fund the project.

$1 million for Machinery Row Projects

This public works project includes building sea walls; building, designing and implementing the Root River Promenade; the 4th Street Bridge; street extensions, water street street scaping; River Loop; Green Infrastructure and Remediation; and building a 6th Street Bicycle Path Bridge. The project is being paid for with tax incremental finance dollars, grants, and intergovernmental funds.

The public part of the Machinery Row project took a step forward with a grant while the developer of the private portion of the project will be given more time to sort out development issues.

This project has been a bumpy ride for the city. The developer, Rodney Blackwell, has been given extension on the commercial/residential part of this project.



Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.