City budget falls along with valuation
Shortfall would threaten equipment replacement and public works projects
Accountant Dale Clark took city council members on an oft times puzzling and confusing assessment of a proposed 2018 budget Monday as they tried to understand his conclusion that they will have to get by on less tax money next year.
“Guys, I wish I had better news,” he said. “You’re going to lose about $45,000.”
Using calculations developed from state-provided worksheets, Clark tried to explain how different funds and transfers would be affected by decreased property valuation, mandatory changes in how bonds and interest are paid, and the state-imposed budget cap.
The general fund mill levy would increase by 6.2 mills to 57.447, but the levy for debt service would decrease by nearly 11 mills to 20.281. The city’s total mill levy would be cut from 86.372 mills to 77.728 mills for 2018.
Factoring in Peabody’s assessed property valuation drop of $74,000, the overall decrease in what the city could spend in 2018 was abut $45,000, Clark said.
Although often appearing confused, council members asked few questions during Clark’s analysis.
However, the impact of the projected decrease wasn’t lost on Mayor Larry Larsen.
“Most of that money is going into the bank for future stuff — sewers, special things we need,” he said.
The city would be able to pay its bills in 2018, Clark said, but there wouldn’t be money for equipment replacement or to set aside for long-term projects like sewer and water line replacements.
With this being the first year of a state-imposed budget cap, Clark said setting a lower budget this time would affect future years.
“If the state legislature doesn’t change the situation that you can only go with the Consumer Price Index multiplier, we’ve lost that $45,000 for 2018, 2019, and forever,” he said.
The net effect over 10 years would be $450,000 less in property tax collections that could have been put toward equipment replacement and public works projects.
Homeowners would see slightly lower property taxes if the proposed budget were to be adopted, but given the long-term implications, Clark recommended having a special election to approve a larger budget.
“You’re not doing an election to levy more tax on citizens than you currently do; you just want to retain what you had,” he said. “Someday you will need to replace water lines and sewer, so we need to have $200,000 or $300,000 put away toward that, and I’m shooting you in the foot this year.”
Council member Tom Spencer said July 1 was the deadline to ask for a special election, which would cost about $3,000. Clark said he would call the state to ask for an exception.
“If we can’t have a special election this year, if the state does not change the rules next year, we sure want to have a special election to get our $45,000 back for future years,” Clark said. “You have to replace equipment. You have to replace sewer lines.”
Council members did not vote to set a date for a budget hearing.
Larsen told the council that Randy Dallke had agreed to remove unused porch posts as requested at the June 26 council meeting.
“I talked to him, I think it was last Thursday, and he said, ‘If it’s a problem, I’ll take it out,’” Larsen said.
Council member Rick Reynolds addressed comments made by Dallke in a June 28 article in this newspaper.
“He says that I have a personal vendetta against him,” Reynolds said. “He didn’t name me in particular in the article. He said somebody from planning and zoning went to city council and that person has a personal vendetta against him. Obviously that would be me.”
Reynolds responded to Dallke’s assertion that a house on 7th St. had a similar issue that the council hasn’t addressed.
“He’s right,” Reynolds said, “but he’s portraying that I’m picking on him and I’m not. I don’t have a personal vendetta against him.”
Reynolds said all citizens, regardless of name or community stature, should be held equally accountable for complying with zoning regulations.
In other business:
- A proposal by Peabody Market owner Mike Crow to have decaying sidewalk bricks on the northeast corner of Walnut and 2nd Sts. removed for safety reasons was discussed. A proposed replacement concrete walk would extend north to the printing museum. Council members agreed to investigate possible financing options, but took no action.
- Reynolds brought up required fall protection and confined spaces safety training for city crews. He was asked to look at adding some firefighters to the group, and to investigate joint training possibilities with area cities and businesses.
Last modified July 13, 2017