The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

January 24, 2013

City ‘skins the cat’ in budget cuts

Property taxes to increase slightly, streets to be prioritized

OTTUMWA — The city is doing more with less, councilmen and department heads say, but services will remain the same, and street repairs will continue.

While the city’s portion of the property tax rate is dropping by 3.6 cents next fiscal year, taxable property valuation from the state is increasing 1.23 percent, said Councilman Brian Morgan, “which we have absolutely nothing to do with.”

The City Council discussed the proposed fiscal year 2013-14 budget at their work session Wednesday night.

This means the average residential property owner will see an approximate 1 percent increase in the city portion of their property tax bill. The city only makes up 45 percent of a resident’s property tax, though; the remaining 55 percent comes from the county and schools.

The city will receive nearly $12.9 million in property tax revenue in fiscal year 2014, which will constitute 24 percent of its expected total revenue of more than $53 million.

“We are up here trying to do the best we can to cut things where we can do it at,” Morgan said. “All you see in the end is, ‘You raised my property taxes.’ No, technically we lowered them.”

Mayor Frank Flanders said the state is “really good at making local government look like the bad guy.”

But starting on Jan. 1, 2016, 10 percent of Ottumwa’s Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) will go toward property tax relief.

The proposed budget includes nearly $67.4 million in expenditures, 33 percent of which will go toward capital projects,  and 25 percent of which will go toward business activities.

Out of the estimated $13.7 million gross expenditure from the general fund in fiscal year 2014, 46 percent will go toward police and 36 percent will go toward fire, since the two entities are not considered “revenue-generating” entities.

The tax levy has been reduced to 20.3 cents in fiscal year 2014, and Finance Director Bob Jay said the city needs to try to keep that rate level so the debt service doesn’t increase again.

“We’re trying to do the best we can without any gigantic increases,” Jay said. “We’ve cut things and maintained flat spending levels. We’ve skinned the cat.”

Councilman J.R. Richards hoped department heads could find a way to cut around $125,000 out of the budget.

Jay said any cuts would have to come out of the general fund, but “there isn’t a lot we can pull out of there without affecting service.”

Councilman Jeremy Weller said two years ago the City Council went through the budget and got rid of a lot of waste and some over-budgeting.

“Now we’re getting into the meat if we start cutting $125,000,” Weller said. “We’re either dropping projects or employees.”

By 2016 and 2017, Jay said the city won’t have to borrow as much in the debt service or for sewer projects.

“After that we’ll be able to cash flow everything else that comes through here,” he said.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel, Weller said, and it’s not too far away.

“We’re right at the cusp,” Morgan said.

Flanders said he was happy to see that citizens’ top concern — street repair — was priority No. 1 in the upcoming budget.

“We’re giving them what they want,” Flanders said. “It’s the start of a trend where we are going to have streets fixed.”

Text Only
Local News
  • The Art of Kong OTTUMWA — The Mona Lisa. Whistler's Mother. Donkey Kong? Don't be so surprised, said Walter Day, that video games and the surrounding memorabilia are being considered art. The creativity and artistic vision required to create a poster, said the found

    July 28, 2014

  • Slideshow: Truck overturns on roundabout

    July 28, 2014

  • 0729 OTT Picture veteran -T -M Veteran finally receives his medals OTTUMWA — A World War II injury may have saved the life of a U.S. Coast Guardsman from Iowa, but he lost friends and a box of military awards. Francis Hardy Harbour was born on Dec.16, 1919, in Drakesville. He joined the Coast Guard in 1941 as a mach

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Seasonal forecast Cool summer leading to cool fall? OTTUMWA — By late July, the average daytime high temperature starts to drop. What is normally the hottest part of the year is over. Averages are still in the mid-80s, and it certainly wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see days in even the upper 90s.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Grant helps Hills keep students on track OTTUMWA — Thanks to a grant designed to improve graduation rates, Indian Hills Community College now has even more tools in its campuswide effort to help students with needs and give them the resources they need to stay in class. Indian Hills is one

    July 28, 2014

  • 0728 OTT ribs in eldon BBQ dinner with a hundred friends

    ELDON --- This year's Eldon Rib Cook-off was won by three BBQ chefs --- and about 150 hungry visitors. "I was down here last year, too," said Dwayne Yates from Floris, who was biting into his third smoked rib. "I never had a bad one yet." That's what

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mediacom: Rural cable consumers and companies mistreated OTTUMWA --- You may want to add just a racing channel, a court channel or a nature channel to your cable line up. Unfortunately, you'll probably have to buy a "bundle," which, ironically, is what it will cost you here in Wapello County. That's accord

    July 26, 2014

  • Alternate juror could not have convicted Techel based on evidence DAVENPORT — An alternate juror who was dismissed before Seth Techel, 23, of Agency was convicted of killing his wife and the non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy says the verdict could have been different if she had been in deliberations.D

    July 25, 2014

  • Overcome testing fear, get a good job OTTUMWA — It's not who you know, it's what you know. That's what City leaders say about getting a good paying job in Ottumwa. "It seems like in the last year we've had a real reduction in the number of individuals who've applied," said Joni Keith, hu

    July 25, 2014

  • Water Pollution Control Facility gets OK to upgrade OTTUMWA — An emergency Ottumwa City Council meeting resulted in spending $140,583 for the Water Pollution Control Facility. Friday afternoon, council members listened intently as Ottumwa Water Pollution Control Facility Superintendent Kam Reeves told

    July 25, 2014

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook