WAPELLO — Wapello city residents may see a nearly 54-cent increase in the Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget’s tax levy, the first increase after four consecutive tax levy declines, according to budget documents presented during a city council budget work session Thursday.
If there are no changes, the proposed spending plan will include a tax levy of around $13.50 per $1000 taxable valuation. That compares to the $12.96 per $1000 tax levy in the current fiscal 2019 budget.
Projected expenditures in the proposed budget would be $2,434,515, which would be balanced by a similar amount of revenue. According to previous documents, projected expenditures in the fiscal 2019 budget is $2,248,809, although that figure was approved before the city decided last year to acquire and operate the nonprofit Wapello Ambulance Service.
City clerk/public works director Mike Delzell said a portion of the increase in the fiscal 2020 budget was tied to his pending decision to retire in December after 36 years of working for the city.
“I plan on leaving, (so) we actually hire two new employees out of this budget,” Delzell said after the council’s regular meeting that followed the budget work session.
Other General Fund anticipated spending in the fiscal 2020 budget proposal includes $273,000 for police, $167,118 for administration, $142,240 for sanitation, $121,244 for the library, $79,820 for the swimming pool and $59,381 for parks.
Road use spending is projected to be around $218,423, while the city’s water fund spending is anticipated to be $224,450. Sewer spending is projected to be around $308,581, with an additional $212,945 earmarked for the sewer sinking fund, which is used to pay for construction and other projects.
Following the city’s normal policy, the water account budget will include a 4 percent hike in water bills.
A Mar. 7 public hearing on the budget proposal was set during the council’s regular meeting.
In other action during the regular meeting, local resident Tim Coleman asked the council to delay any decision on upgrading its social media and website technology until more details on possible options are reviewed.
The city has been investigating technology options with consultant Josh Jackson, but has not made any decisions. Coleman, a member of the city’s betterment committee, said he had also been talking to Jackson about incorporating county and city demographic information into any technology upgrades.
Coleman indicated by assimilating the area’s demographics into any upgrades, local governments could provide more focused social media opportunities.
“We’ll tread slowly,” Mayor Shawn Maine assured Coleman.
Coleman also reported to the council that the betterment committee was creating a new community newsletter that would hopefully provide a common source of information for the various groups and organizations now providing activities in the community.
The council also approved a $250 donation to the Wapello High School Post Prom, the same amount as last year. It also approved appointing Bill Small as the city’s representative to the Louisa County E911 Board and Jason Griffin as an alternate.
In final action, Maine reported the city had apparently negotiated a preliminary agreement with the owner of 302 Van Buren to transfer the building to the city.
The city has filed numerous dangerous building complaints against the owners, who have frequently transferred ownership after being cited. Maine said it may take 30 days to finalize the agreement, but in the interim, city officials would be researching possible grant programs to rehabilitate the building.