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Charles City proposes 54 cent reduction in levy rate for next fiscal year

It’s no April Fools joke; higher property valuation will allow the city to raise more revenue with a lower rate

By Travis Fischer,

The Charles City Council talked taxes, trees, and tires during its regular meeting on Monday, April 1.

Ahead of the meeting, the council held a separate special meeting to hold a public hearing about the consolidated general fund levy for the upcoming fiscal year.

The city is seeking a total of $4,169,275 in property tax for the fiscal year 2024/25 budget, an increase of $147,994 from last year. To reach this amount, the proposed taxation levy for the fiscal year is 15.96573 per $1,000 of taxable valuation, a roughly 54 cent decrease from the current tax rate of 16.50961.

Though the levy is lower, the city will receive more revenue due to the overall increase in property valuation this year.

Going into the regular meeting, the council began with recognition of Dan Mallaro, who passed away on March 20. Mallaro served on the city council from 2012 to 2019 and was fondly remembered by council members he served with.

“He was always watching out for the budget,” said Mayor Dean Andrews.

Charles City proposes 54 cent reduction in levy rate for next fiscal year
Mayor Dean Andrews signs proclamations from Renee Harris and Amber Hicks of Crisis Intervention Service and the Child Abuse Prevention Council, declaring April Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month during the regular council meeting on Monday, April 1. Press photo by Travis Fischer

Continuing the business of the mayor, Andrews read two proclamations for Amber Hicks and Renee Harris, both with Crisis Intervention Service, to recognize April as both Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Crisis Intervention Service and the Child Abuse Prevention Council will be doing different activities to raise awareness and collect resources to help those in need, such as a drive to collect used cellphones for abuse victims.

Moving into regular business, the council held a public hearing approving plans for the 2024 Tree Removal Project. Phase three of an ongoing effort to eliminate diseased trees in the community, the 261 trees marked in this phase will bring the total trees removed to 746.

“Not quite all, but we put a dent into it,” said council member DeLaine Freeseman.

While the previous two phases of the project have been done by GDB & Sons, this time around the council accepted a bid from Wilson Custom Tree, whose $95,540.25 bid came in substantially lower than the other eight bidders.

“They have a use for the wood,” said city Engineer in Training Brian Sullivan.

With the project coming in more than $50,000 under the next best bids, the council discussed if the unexpected savings could be put toward a phase four to remove even more trees.

“I’m sure we can utilize it,” said City Administrator Steve Diers.

Addressing a series of street closure requests, the council spoke with Community Development Director Mark Wicks and Event Coordinator Eve Welton about street closures for upcoming summer events.

The Charles City Downtown Farmers Market is requesting its usual closure of Blunt Street adjacent to Central Park on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings from May 4 through Oct. 19.

Party in the Park is also requesting the closure of streets adjacent to Central Park for its four Friday events, scheduled for May 31, June 21, July 5, and Aug. 2, with the caveat that Jackson Street will be left open in the event that the Main Street reconstruction project closes down that portion of Main Street during the event.

Likewise, Police Chief Hugh Anderson has asked to coordinate with the Chamber about contingencies for this year’s Fourth of July celebrations and the street closures that would be involved in the event that it conflicts with the Main Street project. That request was tabled until the next meeting.

The council also approved an April 19 closure request for Court Street adjacent to Tellurian Brewing, which is hosting a Full Moon 5K that evening with the Charles City Community Fund.

In regular business, the council approved the purchase of a new lawnmower for the Parks and Recreation Department, utilizing CIA funds, to be delivered later this summer.

Parks and Rec Director Tyler Mitchell noted that the bids received did not come with Tweel tires, a brand of airless tires resistant to puncture, but that it would be beneficial to utilize them over standard tires.

“We run over a lot of stuff that people leave in the park,” said Mitchell.

Finally, the council approved a change order for the 1 million gallon Clearwell Tank project, allowing the contractor to resume contracted days once the weather allows it, with a deadline of April 29.

Concrete work was suspended last winter to avoid freeze damage with the intent of resuming on April 1, however March’s unseasonable snowstorms and cold weather disrupted that plan.

“Winter decided to show back up again,” said Sullivan.

It was also noted that the Planning and Zoning Commission will be holding its meeting on Thursday, April 4, at 5 p.m. in the council chambers to hold public hearings on the rezoning of three properties selected for potential housing development projects, including the recently annexed property on the north side of 21st Avenue.

The public will be invited to comment on the matter before the commission decides on its recommendation to the City Council.

From there, the city is internally discussing whether it would be prudent to immediately act on the commission’s recommendation or to wait on making a decision about rezoning until an actual project has been proposed.

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