Budget work beginsNo change is recommended in the tax rate this year
As the Washington City Council began working on the coming fiscal year’s budget during a special session Wednesday, they learned that there was little change over the previous budget and that the property tax rate would remain the same.
Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson distributed 2-inch binders with the proposed budget for the year to the city council. He then gave a multimedia presentation highlighting the items that would change and these would remain the same. He said the property tax levy remains at $15.82079 per $1,000 of taxable valuation.
“We have made wonderful progress in the city’s financial condition,” Hinson said. “We are getting great support and buy-in from our department heads. I think we have a budget this year that is going to differ a little bit less than previous budgets. In previous budgets we had some changes and a lot going on. We were getting a good system set up. Now, we can work within that system in future years and hopefully have a little more consistency.”
Hinson said that general fund spending is expected to drop 4.73 percent, or 1.89 percent if the Washington Community Y manages the city’s aquatic center. Revenues to the general fund are projected to be $3,658,591 with expenses projected to be $3,457, 201.
Council member Bob Shellmyer asked if there were any way the city could lower the property tax levy to the 2010 askings of 14.98 by trimming money from the budget. Hinson said that in order to do that, the city would have to eliminate several positions or not provide certain services.
Hinson showed a pie graph with a breakdown of projected spending for the coming year. It showed the majority of money collected will be used to fund the police and fire departments.
Special projects this year include funding paving for South 12th Avenue and East Tyler Street; installing 12-inch water mains in the new industrial park; and replacing the north water tower.
The budget was based on a 10 percent increase on the water rate and a 5 percent increase on the sewer rate. Hinson said that funding was also included in the budget for architect fees related to a municipal building study. Other changes include budgeting for a part-time code enforcement worker and technology funding for Geographical Information System mapping.
The police department budget shows an increase of $23,996, to $1,373,833. Hinson said that the increase is due to the unknown cost of the Washington/Louisa Drug Task Force. Funding for the fire department decreased $1,765 over last year to $383,736. Of this, the general fund will pay for $196,236.
The amounts requested by outside entities were also examined at the meeting. According to Hinson, the Washington Economic Development Group is requesting $21,000; PAWS and More is requesting $18,320; Main Street Washington is requesting $15,000; the Washington Tourism Commission is requesting $15,000; and $4,000 is reserved for fireworks. Hinson said there may be two firework displays — Independence Day and during the 175th celebration. Much of this is funded with money from the Washington County Riverboat Foundation.
Hinson said the amount the city will receive from property tax will not be quite as much as last year because area valuations have dropped slightly.
Over the next few months, the city council will examine the budget and determine a final budget to be approved.