Archive for Thursday, August 10, 2006

Mill levy has slight reduction

August 10, 2006

A full-time fireman is in the Baldwin City budget for fiscal year 2007. While that's good news, the better news is it won't cause taxes to go up. In fact, the mill levy is going down.

The Baldwin City Council conducted a public hearing for the budget Monday, but no one attended to discuss it. The city's budget for 2007 will be $15,248,736, which will take a mill levy of 32.39. That's down 1.08 mills from last year's levy of 33.474.

"I've just got it in my head that 32, 33 mills is where we should be," said City Administrator Jeff Dingman.

The mill levy decrease will mean a lower tax for property owners. The owner of a $100,000 home will pay $372.48, compared to last year's tax of $384.95. A mill is $1 in taxes per $1,000 of assessed value. Baldwin's assessed valuation increased from $27,125,007 to $29,437,643, an increase of 8.53 percent.

The first full-time fireman for Baldwin is budgeted at $40,000, but that will depend on the level of experience, Dingman said. The position would be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday when the current volunteer department is lacking fire fighters. The full-time fireman would have other duties, such as checking fire hydrants, doing various inspections and public relations.

It isn't the only position being added to the city staff this year. Also budgeted are a full-time public works maintenance technician, a part-time animal control officer and a part-time clerical position in the police department.

The mill levy only generates $953,470 in tax money, which is up from last year's $907,977 or an increase of $45,493. The city could levy up to $987,000 under current conditions and more if an ordinance was passed.

The lion's share of the city's budget comes from other sources, such as electrical, water and sewer revenue, various permits, fines, etc. For example, the electric revenue for next year is budgeted at $3.2 million, water revenue at $1.14 million and sewer at $664,000.

The budget was adopted unanimously.

The council did get some more good news regarding its electricity generation. Gardner has again requested to purchase power from the city. Gardner bought power from Baldwin last year and made efforts to increase its contracts for power. However, continued growth there forced the city to again seek power from Baldwin.

"If you remember, we did this last year," said Dingman. "The net of this will again be in the $30,000 range. It's a $30,000 windfall for us."

Just like last year, the council lauded the sale as a good example of how the investment several years ago in building the city's new $5.2 million plant has paid dividends. It means paying less for power, as well as the ability to sell it.

"It's so good to see the investment we made on the power plant come back," said Council Member Nancy Brown. "I know there were a lot of people who didn't think we should do it and that we should get out of the power generating business."

The council also discussed changes to the "Uniform Personnel Rules and Regulations" for the city. The policy manual had been revised. Of note were changes that provide reimbursement for city employees to take classes and the grievance procedure. Both will be discussed more.

Baldwin City Recreation Commission Director Monte Ezell told the council that the Municipal Pool will be closing Wednesday as far as regular daytime operations with school starting.

"As of the 16th, the pool will be closing during week days," said Ezell. "Lap swims will continue and we've got pool parties scheduled almost every day.

"It's been a really good season," he said. "I have had fewer phone calls and people stomping on my head."

He also told the council that soccer and flag football will be starting soon and the commission has developed a before school program in addition to the after school program it has with the elementary schools.

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