OTTUMWA — The Fiscal Year 2015 Ottumwa City Budget went through several public input meetings and work sessions before it was finally approved by a 4-1 vote of the Ottumwa City Council on Tuesday.
The highlights of the budget look a little different than what was enacted for the fiscal year 2014 budget.
City Administrator Joe Helfenberger said overall there will be a $23,773,967 decrease in the taxable property valuation from fiscal year 2014 to 2015, meaning the total property value that is taxable by the city will decrease from $622,356,319 to $598,582,352.
The city will also see a drop in the amount of property tax revenue, from $12,717,875 to $12,375,471.
To help with the loss of revenue, the city’s department heads and supervisors were asked to come up with ways to cut or defer funding to help keep city services at their current level. Helfenberger said that the different departments were able to cut or defer $1,803,416 overall from all of their budgets for the fiscal year 2015.
He also said that the city is looking to be very aggressive in increasing the property tax base to help keep property taxes as low as possible with the loss of revenue. According to Helfenberger, right now Ottumwa is at the limit for property taxes, so without a wider property tax base they will have to look at a loss of services.
“Even if we weren’t at the limit for property taxes, we wouldn’t want to raise them,” he said. “To keep being attractive to businesses and young people, we want to make every effort to serve our residents and businesses to the best of our ability."
Property taxes will rise 59 cents per $1,000 in the fiscal year 2015 budget, taking it from $20.33947 per $1,000 to $20.89648 per $1,000. The increase is entirely due to a 14-cent increase in the debt levy and 45-cent increase in the trust and agency levy, which encompasses employee benefits, according to Helfenberger.