City property tax rate remains unchanged

Balanced budget proposed

Editor’s Note: On Tuesday, the City of Marshalltown issued a press release printed in its entirety below, on recent city council actions concerning the city tax rate, use of Local Option Sales Tax funds, and E-911 wages. The press release was a promised response from Mayor Joel Greer to address resident questions and comments posed at the Feb. 12 city council meeting concerning taxes, use of Local Option Sales Tax funds and E-911 fund budgeting. Efforts to clarify some details with city officials and councilors before press time were unsuccessful.

TIMES-REPUBLICAN

The council voted 6-0 at its Feb. 12 meeting to set the city tax rate at $15.28 per $1,000 of taxable value. This is the same rate residents have paid the past two years. Holding the rate the same for three years is not what has been expected, following the borrowing of $17.5 million to build a new joint Police and Fire Headquarters.

“By using money designated for property tax relief, the city council is able to help offset any increases from borrowing for the building,” Finance Director Diana Steiner said. The city council is using $633,375 in addition to Local Option Sales Tax for property tax relief.

The city is also proposing a balanced budget in the General Fund for fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018 and ending June 30, 2019.

“We started the fiscal year July 1, 2017, with a deficit of nearly $200,000 in the General Fund,” said City Administrator Jessica Kinser. “The Local Option Sales Tax election (passed by voters) in August gave us the ability to eliminate that deficit, and fortunately we do not have to do the same thing for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2018.”

Kinser also addressed E-911 wages.

“There has been a lot of confusion around the issue of what the city is doing with the E-911 wages we are not budgeting,” she said. “We looked at our General Fund for the year starting July 1, 2018. We still had a very minor $15,000 deficit in the General fund even after we removed the $450,000 wage expense. The council has the ability to not have to use Local Option Sales Tax to fund operations because our operational tax levy will nearly cover all of our expenses.”

Critics have claimed the city is withholding tax dollar savings. But Kinser

said it is actually a discussion on the use of funds.

“Local Option Sales Tax is a funding source which can be used for many things besides paying for operations and have an impact on the community. Choosing to continue to fund operations with the operational tax levy just makes sense”

Mayor Joel Greer agrees.

“Local Option Sales Tax is not a guaranteed funding source after 2025,” he said. “For our long term financial health funding our operations with property taxes now rather than moving this problem years into the future is the wisest choice we can make.”

The budget for fiscal year 2019 will not be final until the council holds a public hearing set for noon, March 5, in council chambers. Public hearings will also be held on amending the current year budget and the city’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan.

The next city council meeting is one to discuss the FY 19 budget, which begins July 1, 2018, and ends June 30, 2019. It will be noon, Feb. 19, in city council chambers. The next regular city council meeting is 5:30 p.m., Feb. 26, in council chambers. For complete agenda packets and to subscribe to agenda notices and department news, visit Marshalltown-ia.gov.

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