FD property tax rate to stay the same

By BILL SHEA

bshea@messengernews.net

The property tax rate in Fort Dodge would remain unchanged for the third consecutive fiscal year under a proposal introduced to the City Council Monday.

That proposal would keep the tax rate at $20.42 per $1,000 of taxable value in 2018-2019.

Also on Monday, the elected officials learned about changes that were made to bring the roughly $11.7 million general fund budget into balance for the next fiscal year. About $178,000 was trimmed from the budget. Much of that savings was realized by moving some big purchases out of the general fund.

After a series of budget meetings that began in December, the council is now poised to act on the budget during its March 12 meeting.

Property tax levy

The total levy of $20.42 per $1,000 of taxable value is divided into components that provide the money to run different aspects of city government.

The 2018-2019 levy is divided as follows:

• $8.10 for the general fund, which pays for police and fire protection, parks and recreation, the library, Blanden Memorial Art Museum and the airport

• $5.62 for employee benefits

• $4.77 to pay off general obligation bond debt

• 56 cents for property and liability insurance

• 55 cents for the emergency management agency and 911 dispatching

• 39 cents for Dodger Area Rapid Transit

• 27 cents for an emergency levy to help balance the general fund

Although the amount levied for each category may have changed from the current fiscal year, the total levy rate remains the same.

“Overall, the levy is staying flat,” City Manager David Fierke said.

The general fund

The general fund has historically been the toughest part of the municipal budget to balance, and the 2018-2019 budget is no exception.

“We did everything we could to get that thing into the black,” said Jeff Nemmers, the city clerk and finance director. “I’m pleased that we’re able to balance the general fund.”

The general fund expenditures for 2018-2019 total $11,740,802.

The fund is expected to receive $11,743,704 in revenue.

But when the budget writing process started late last year, there was a $250,000 deficit between the expected revenues and the requested budgets for various city agencies.

To erase that deficit, about $178,000 was trimmed from the proposal.

The biggest portion of that reduction, about $124,000, was achieved by removing equipment purchases from the general fund. Fierke said short-term loans will be used to buy that equipment and the debt will be paid off with money from the $4.77 per $1,000 of taxable value debt service levy.

The equipment to be bought with those short-term loans includes software for the Police Department, a vehicle for city inspectors and mowers.

A proposed part-time position at the Fort Dodge Public Library was eliminated to save $17,000.

Another $10,000 was cut from a program that would digitize decades worth of blueprints and building permit information.

An additional $27,000 was saved by making small cuts from multiple budget line items.

City staffers also raised some revenue estimates by a total of $80,000 to help balance the general fund.

Nemmers said he looked at what revenue trends have been in various categories and adjusted his projections accordingly. For example, he said the city used to budget $4,000 annually for liquor license revenue but actually receives about $4,200.

Revenue estimates were revised upward for building permits, sports fees and Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex.

FD budget talks conclude

The Fort Dodge City Council wrapped up weeks’ worth of budget meetings by reviewing these proposed budgets for some of the smaller city agencies and facilities.

These proposed budgets were reviewed:

• City clerk’s office — $177,950

• Municipal Building — $98,000

• Office of the mayor and city manager — $94,000

• Human resources — $93,695

• Information technology and data processing — $74,000

• Legal services — $40,000

• City Council — $17,400

The council is scheduled to act on the budget during its March 12 meeting.

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