RF 2024 budget to increase by 13%

By Sarah Nigbor
Posted 11/16/23

RIVER FALLS – The River Falls City Council Oct. 24 heard a first reading of the 2024 budget, which totals $53,131,499. Of that amount, 15% will be financed by general property taxes.

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RF 2024 budget to increase by 13%


RIVER FALLS – The River Falls City Council Oct. 24 heard a first reading of the 2024 budget, which totals $53,131,499. Of that amount, 15% will be financed by general property taxes.

The total property tax levy will be set at $7,795,350. For taxpayers, this means the estimated city portion of their tax bill on a $250,000 property is $1,493.

The budget for 2024 increases by $3,243,629, which is 13% higher than 2023. According to Finance Director Josh Solinger, the city continues to see an increase in net new construction for both Pierce and St. Croix counties (2.34% and 3.25% respectively. The city’s equalized value increased by $291.9 million from 2022 to 2023 to a total of $1.8 billion. Residential property values increased by $244.8 million, while commercial property values went up by $45 million.

“Most of the city’s 20% growth in equalized value is attributable to market adjustments due to inflationary pressures,” a memo states.

Solinger said that about $5.5 million of the increase is attributed to notable changes in the budget:

  • General fund: Cash financing of the fire station design and police roof ($540,000) – supplemental shared revenue from the state, public safety projects are one of the allowable uses.
  • Special revenue: Creation of TID 19, effective for 2024 budget ($967,000) for Mann Valley
  • Capital projects: South Wasson Lane project ($3,960,500),
  • $500,000-$600,000 – inflationary adjustments

BID Board

Jolene Larson of the Business Improvement District Board spoke to the council about the BID’s community involvement and dedication to improving the historic downtown business district. The BID includes North Division Street to Cascade Avenue, businesses along the White Pathway and Second Street.

“The BID was started to augment and support the improvement, business retention and beautification of our core historical district,” Larson said. “We are the single source and really the only primary economic development program totally charged with the River Falls downtown historic Main Street.”

In the last 20 years, the board has invested $1.1 million in the BID, Larson said, with 95% of money raised going toward façade and sign grants and programming. Recent façade grants awarded went to Edward Jones on Second Street, Tarnation Tavern, ChiroWay Chiropractice, Kinni Properties, Swinging Bridge Brewery and Glass Express.

COVID and inflation “really mixed up the small business world,” Larson said. Lack of goods, lack of manpower and economic uncertainty has been difficult, but Larson is looking forward to a good 2024.

The BID Board is also responsible for maintaining the Second Street gardens and Main Street planters. Several downtown art projects are in the works, plus the BID Board provides garbage receptacles and benches throughout the district.

The council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing special assessments for the downtown BID totaling $44,500. The amount is spread across businesses and used to fund BID initiatives.

“We’re thinking that somewhere down the road that there’s some talk about River Falls downtown, the Main Street being redeveloped and redesigned and we want to be ready for that, Larson said.

Fee schedule

The council approved an updated fee schedule for 2024. Changes are made when services are added or removed, when statutory changes impact services or the ability to charge for services, or to keep up with inflation.

Some notable changes include:

  • False alarm fees increased from $100 to $250 (second false alarm), fifth and above $1,000.
  • Daily pool passes from $2.50 to $3 for residents, from $1.50 to $2 after 5 p.m.
  • The addition of fees for malicious false fire alarms ($2,500), careless use of smoking materials ($250), negligent handling of burning materials ($500), illegal burning in city limits ($250) and negligent strike of a property marked gas line ($1,500).

Other business

  • Due to a delay on closing of the property, the city council (minus Scott Morrissette, who abstained) to give FAO River Falls LLC an extension on performance dates in the developer’s agreement for a 106-unit apartment building on the lot north of Tattersall Distilling (1777 Paulson Road). Construction is now set to start on or before Dec. 1, 2023 and be completed by Aug. 1, 2025.
  • The council approved a resolution authorizing the city administrator to enter into an agreement with the Wisconsin Division of Emergency Management for a Federal Emergency Management Agency Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities grant for a study and solution to localized flooding in the Hoffman/Greenwood watershed. Flooding issues near Greenwood Elementary prompted the study of the watershed. This planning rant would provide 75% funding to conduct an in-depth flood study, which would provide accurate flood modeling and propose solutions to mitigate flooding. The total study would cost $183,500, with the city share being $45,875.
  • Mayor Dan Toland, with council approval, appointed Grace Birdseye to the River Falls Housing Authority Committee through December 2026.


2024 Budget, River Falls City Council, River Falls