Marshalltown city budget kickoff

The Marshalltown City Council met in special session Monday at noon in council chambers.

Their mission: Work on the fiscal year 2018-19 budget, which takes effect July 1, 2018.

it was the first of several budget meetings scheduled this month and next.

Because agenda items were listed as discussion, no formal motions were made or official votes recorded.

However, discussion can serve as the basis in making decisions at future council meetings.

Finance Director Diana Steiner presented to the council, department heads, and nine residents looking on, information ranging a memo presented by the Marshalltown Municipal Band to the Employee Benefit Fund to Road Use Tax.

Marshalltown Municipal Band

Steiner said the band is funded by the city via property tax levy. The current levy is .03551 per $1,000 of taxable value or $9,000. The band made a request to the council to increase the levy another .0024 per $1,000, thereby adding $2,000 to their budget — from $9,000 to $11,000. A letter from Matthew Herrick, president, Marshalltown Municipal Band asked for the increase because their allotment had been frozen the last five years.

“In that time, there has been no equipment expenditures and wages have been lowered to less than minimum wage($20 for 3 hours equals $6.66/hour.”

Herrick claimed some equipment was in “dire straits.”

There were no oral objections by councilors public to the request.

Budget Deficit

A $20,701 general fund budget deficit was identified by Steiner at the Jan. 22 city council meeting. At Monday’s budget session, Steiner suggested a combination of reductions, cuts and adjustments to eliminate it.

They ranged from eliminating a consultant’s $15,000 fee to lowering the Convention &

Visitor Bureau’s allotment from 67 percent to 65 percent (saving $9,240) to mandating major departments reduce expenses by $1,000 each. Major departments were listed as Fire, Housing, Library and Police. City Administrator Jessica Kinser said a $6,500 double-entry had been found in the budget, thereby reducing the $20,701 to $14, 201. Discussion by councilors followed, with the consensus being to remove $15,000 for LEAN consulting contract.

Fire and police department staffing requests

Steiner reported that the city had budgeted $3.1 million from Local Option Sales Tax dollars.

Residents who purchase goods and services within Marshalltown city limits pay an additional one percent in addition to the six percent Iowa sales tax. The LOST had previously been approved by Marshalltown voters, and will sunset June 30, 2025. Consequently, the fire and police departments had requested council permission to hire individuals from the LOST. The MFD requested that the council approve hiring of a Fire Marshall, a position which had been eliminated in 2015, and the Firefighter Inspector position also eliminated, and add a firefighter position, budgeted at $79,379. The MFD also proposed reclassifying an existing position to Fire Marshall at a cost of $5,736, and reclassify an existing position to Firefighter Inspector, at an expense of $2,549.

The MPD is requesting councilors to add a 43rd police officer to fill a position eliminated due to budget cuts. In its application to Steiner, the department said, “By filling once again, this position would supplement the uniform patrol ranks and provide additional staffing flexibility,”

While councilors were supportive of both departments requests, At-Large Councilor Bill Martin said position requests should come from the general fund, and not LOST, since the latter can be unstable. Kinser said relying on the general fund totally for FY 2019 budget would result in a $110,000 deficit. More discussion followed. The consensus was to use LOST funds for 2019 budget. In closing, Fourth ward councilor Mike Gowdy said residents should known buying goods and services locally enhances the LOST fund.

Riskedahl comments

During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Reed Riskedahl asked the council not to treat the previous E-911 levy as “found” money for the FY 2019 budget. He was alluding to a new E911 property taxing entity was formed recently which will tax Marshall County property and telephone owners to pay for E911 staff pay, benefits and equipment upgrades.

Before the new E911 entity had been formed, the city collected those funds for E911.

“I identified this issue publicly in June and November, and my comments have been ignored.” he alleged.

In a recent letter to the editor, Riskedahl wrote: “So, the way this stands now, both the city and the new E911 commission will be levying property taxes that will result in increased costs to residents.”

The next special city council meeting discussing the FY 2019 budget is noon, Feb. in council chambers on the second floor of Carnegie Building, 10 W. State St. The next regular council meeting is 5:30 p.m. Feb. 12 in council chambers. For more information, contact 641-754-5701, or visit marshalltown-ia.gov. Council meeting packets are also posted on that website.

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Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com