Nevada residents will not see a tax increase as a result of the proposed Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget, even though the budget has a few major differences from the current one.
In reviewing the budget, Nevada City Administrator Matt Mardesen said he is satisfied with the proposed budget in that the city can remain at the same levy rate, while planning to provide the same level of services as in years past and still addressing the needs of many departments.
The FY 2018-19 budget, which goes into effect July 1, forecasts revenues of $24,975,850 and expenses of $22,331,736.
“One major change (in the new budget),” Mardesen said, “is an increase in grant revenue as the city of Nevada received a $1.2 million Surface Transportation Program (STP) Grant from the Iowa DOT for the intersection improvements at Lincoln Highway and West 18th Street.” The intersection improvement project, which has been talked about at length by council in recent years, especially during discussions about potential projects along Highway 30 and what they could do to traffic along Airport Road, is scheduled for the summer of 2018.
Several departmental issues that come into play in the new budget are from the public safety, parks and recreation, and water departments.
“The Nevada Public Safety Department will be adding another police officer to the department after July 1,” Mardesen said. “The Nevada Fire Department will also be replacing truck #710 with an Ultra High Pressure attack vehicle aimed at providing a quicker response to fires due to the advancement of firefighting technology.” Nevada’s fire department officials have been involved in several training exercises with the new technology, including one they sponsored here in town.
Mardesen said Nevada Parks and Recreation has agreed to take over the program oversight of the North Story Baseball/Softball Little League, which has now disbanded. “The budget does show an increase in revenue and expense, but these are expected to offset each other due to the organization change,” he said. “Another addition to the Parks and Recreation budget is the support for the high school baseball concession building (at SCORE) that is estimated at $250,000.”
The Nevada Water Department saw an increase in the new budget due to the need to dredge the city’s second lagoon, which Mardesen said is “to maintain that our treatment processes are in compliance with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.”
One of the biggest areas of discussion for the new budget was about how to handle human services disbursements from the Local Option Sales Tax revenues, Mardesen said. This fund has helped support local charities and service groups in previous years. Mardesen said former mayor, Lynn Lathrop, recommended that the disbursements be divided into two categories, and that charitable organizations receive 75 percent of the funding, while civic organizations receive 25 percent. “I believe the recommendation allowed the Ad Hoc Committee to process the requests much easier, while establishing some equalization parameters into the process,” Mardesen said.
In getting the budget ready for approval, Mardesen notes the hard work of City Clerk Kerin Wright. “I have to tip my hat to Kerin for all the work she puts into compiling the total budget. The budget process is a team effort that begins with the department heads evaluating their needs for the upcoming fiscal year before bringing it all together for the council to review,” he said. The council met for a work session on Feb. 5 to do some review work. “I have to admire the interaction that the council puts forth in the budget process to ensure we are aligning with our long-term goals and questioning where we can save money,” Mardesen added.
Worth noting is the fact that this is the fourth year in a row the city has proposed a budget with the same tax levy rate, and that rate was lowered in fiscal year 2015/16 to the current rate, after 11 years at a higher rate.
What lies ahead in terms of the proposed budget is setting a public hearing (which will happen at the Feb. 12 council meeting). Mardesen predicts the public hearing will be March 12. After that public hearing, it is expected that the council will request approval of the budget to meet the March 15 filing deadline with Story County.