Council: Local option sales tax for city services

The Marshalltown city council, minus one councilor due to the second ward seat vacancy, met Monday at noon in council chambers to work on the FY 19 budget.

It takes effect July 1, 2018, and expires June 30, 2019.

City Administrator Jessica Kinser led off.

“There have been changes over the weekend we need to talk about,” she said. “You will recall at our last meeting (Jan. 29, and discussed was a) $15,000 deficit in the general fund, in which we removed a contract proposed for next year, to eliminate that deficit. And over the weekend in looking at employee benefits transfers, in which we transfer-in funds from accounts for employee benefits, there were some things that were under-budgeted and over-budgeted, and we have a new deficit of $34,679. That is where we stand today.”

Kinser said it would be necessary for council to address that in the immediate future.

A key outcome from Monday’s meeting was a council decision not to fund 22 requests from a variety of Marshalltown groups who had responded to a city invitation last week to submit applications for funding.

Local Option Sales Tax funds were proposed to be the funding source, and the council was originally scheduled to discuss applications at Monday’s meeting.

However, At-Large Councilor Bethany Wirin, participating via telephone, told the council LOST funds should be reserved only for “essential city services, and not to fund organization requests.”

Instead, the council, at the suggestion of First Ward Councilor Sue Cahill, will convene in the near future to develop a uniform application process where groups can apply.

Suggestions centered on using detailed application formats used by the Community Foundation of Marshall County and Martha Ellen Tye Foundation

Any applications funded would be paid for from the city’s general fund.

Residents Reed Riskedahl, F. Leigh Bauder, and another resident echoed Wirin’s sentiments.

Bauder is one of five candidates for the second ward seat. (Others are Jay Carollo, Gabe Isom, Brittany O’Shea, and Bob Untiedt, and will be on the ballot for the special Feb. 27 election).

Riskedahl also wanted further discussion on the E-911 funding issue after the final agenda item was discussed Monday.

However, no comments were taken and the meeting was adjourned.

Mayor Joel Greer told the Times-Republican, “Jessica (Kinser) is preparing an answer to Reed’s questions and concerns.”

Riskedahl had brought the issue to the council’s attention at the Jan. 29 budget meeting.

At that meeting he asked the council not to treat the previous E-911 levy of $582,000 as “found” money for the city’s FY 2019 budget. He was alluding to a new E-911 property taxing entity formed recently which will tax Marshall County property and telephone owners to pay for E-911 staff pay, benefits and equipment upgrades.

Before the new E-911 entity had been formed, the city collected those funds for E-911.

“I identified this issue publicly in June and November, and my comments have been ignored.” Riskedahl alleged at the Jan. 29 meeting.

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 regular city council meeting is 5:30 p.m., Feb. 12 in council chambers on the second floor of Carnegie Building, 10 W. State St. 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