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Council approves $26 million budget

By James Grob,

The Charles City Council approved the city budget for fiscal year 2022, which starts July 1, at Monday’s meeting.

“They’re never easy, they’re always unique,” Charles City Administrator Steve Diers said of the annual budgeting process. “Overall, our levy rate went down just a little bit.”

Diers said that revenues are higher than expenditures, much due to finishing the water resource recovery facility project.

The city’s total revenues and transfers are budgeted at $26,210,937 and expenses/transfers out are budgeted at an anticipated $25,279,214. The budget has an increase in overall taxable valuations from last year, and the levy rate ended up at $15.98 per $1,000 valuation, compared to $16.02 per $1,000 valuation. There is a decrease in overall tax rate of about 3.8 cents

The revenues come partly in the form of property taxes, but also include several other sources, including fees for services such as water and sewer, transfers of funds from the community’s TIF zones, and transfers from other governmental entities. The portion of the budget that comes from property taxes paid by Charles City property owners amounts to $4,271,686.

The “Max Levy” saw a 1.25% increase in total tax dollars levied from the previous year from those specific levies.

“All in all we are again doing a lot and getting good value out of this budget,” Diers said.

Costs in the budget are mainly being driven by the start of Charley Western Bridge payments, added capital costs to the Police Department from dispatch transferring to the county, setting funds aside for future fire station roof replacement, an increase in ambulance shared operational expenses and remodeling the fire station to accommodate ambulance staff.

The general fund has a “planned deficit” of about $136,000 — due largely to the $140,000 Parkland Development Project which will be reimbursed through TIF district increment revenue.

Some of the items budgeted are the beginning of loan payments for the replacement of the Charley Western Trail Bridge, a $33,333 (year one of three years) payment to The Learning Centers (TLC) for its proposed move to the North Grand Building, $87,500 (50% cost share with county) to AMR Ambulance as well as $60,000 (year one of two years) to help offset the remodel of the fire station for its office space as negotiated in our current contract.

“I think it’s a good budget,” said City Council member Jerry Joerger. “I think it’s important that we got that levy down below what it was last year.”

There were no public comments at the public hearing required before the budget vote.

Part of the budgeting process includes short term borrowing for various pieces of equipment and repairs. The council voted to hold two public hearings on consideration of entering into these loan agreements, because some items are considered essential corporate purpose and some are general corporate purpose.

The total for all of these items is $300,433, and includes such items as the ambulance bay remodel ($60,000), nuisance abatement ($40,000) and The Learning Center ($33,000). The two public hearings will take place at the March 15 meeting.

In other business on Monday, the council approved a supplemental amendment to the SEH agreement for the housing department’s sidewalk and parking lot project.

City engineer John Fallis explained to the council that SEH engineers were first retained in May 2019 for the design of parking lot and sidewalk improvements at North and South Cedar Terrace. A supplemental agreement was approved in April 2020 for the construction services to monitor and administer the construction project.

The supplemental agreement fee was not to exceed $22,500 based on an estimated number of hours. SEH requested approval of a second supplemental agreement for an additional $3,800 to observe and consult on work that was not included in the original project.

The first supplemental agreement included an estimated 80 hours of project observation time. A total of 113 hours of Resident Project Representative (RPR) time was spent on the project.

Fallis said there were adequate funds in the housing department budget, and recommended approval.

In other business on Monday, the council:
— Approved a resolution accepting the Wayfinding Project and authorizing final payment. Signs and More LLC was the general contractor, and the project was completed for less than the original bid amount of $157,427.99. The total project cost was $152,680.11, and the amount of the final payment is $10,696.43.
— Approved a quote from Henkel Construction for window/door work at 401 N. Main Street, for a cost of $60,520, and approved a quote from Henkel Construction for ambulance bay work at the fire station in the amount of $138,900. The total costs for both quotes is $199,420.
— Approved a resolution providing an official endorsement for a Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) project application. The council has previously discussed the project to move the former railroad depot to the intersection of 11th Avenue and North Grand Avenue. The proposed use of the depot building will be for the American Passenger Train Museum and also include public restrooms for a trailhead for the Charley Western Bike Trail.
— Approved an agreement with the school district, the Chamber of Commerce and Community Revitalization on the provision of services related to the local access cable channel and other related services. This agreement is very similar to previous agreements in that the city uses funds derived from the Mediacom cable franchise fees to promote usage of the channel 4 local public access channel, the PAN website and other duties.
— Approved a cigarette permit for Rush Stop and a Class LE Liquor License for Wildwood Golf Course.

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