The Marshalltown City Council voted 6-0 at the February 12th meeting to set the City tax rate at $15.28 per $1,000 of taxable value. This is the same rate citizens of Marshalltown have paid for the past two years. Holding the rate the same for three years is not what has been expected, following the borrowing of $17.5 million to build a new Police and Fire Building. “By using money designated for property tax relief, the City Council is able to help offset any increases from borrowing for the building,” Finance Director Diana Steiner stated. The City Council is using an $633,375 in addition of Local
Option Sales Tax for property tax relief.
The City is also proposing a balanced budget in the General Fund for the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2018. “We started the fiscal year on July 1, 2017, with a deficit of nearly $200,000 in the General Fund. The Local Option Sales Tax election in August gave us the ability to eliminate that deficit, and fortunately we do not have to do the same thing for the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2018,” stated City Administrator Jessica Kinser. “There has been a lot of confusion around the issue of what the City is doing with the 911 wages we are not budgeting. As we looked at our General Fund for the year starting July 1, 2018, we still had a very minor $15,000 deficit in the General fund even after we removed the $450,000 wage expense. The Council has the ability to not have to use Local Option Sales Tax to fund operations because our operational tax levy will nearly cover all of our expenses.”
Critics of the City have claimed that the City is withholding tax dollar savings. But Kinser contends it is actually a discussion on the use of funds. “Local Option Sales Tax is a funding source which can be used for many things besides paying for operation and have an impact on the community. Choosing to continue to fund operations with the operational tax levy just makes sense.” Mayor Greer agrees. “Local Option Sales Tax is not a guaranteed funding source after 2025. For our long term financial health funding our operations with property taxes now rather than moving this problem years into the future is the wisest choice we can make.”
The budget for fiscal year 2019 will not be final until the City Council holds a public hearing, which is set for Monday, March 5, at 12pm in City Council Chambers. Public hearings will also be held on amending the current year budget and the City’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan.