Archive for Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Baldwin City Council publishes proposed 2016 budget with 4.57 mill levy increase

Baldwin City government

Baldwin City government

July 22, 2015

The Baldwin City Council has reached consensus on a proposed 2016 budget that includes a 4.57 mill levy increase.

The city’s 2016 mill levy in the proposed budget, which is published in today’s issue of the Baldwin City Signal, is 42.304 mills. That compares to 37.623 mill in the current 2015 budget and a 34.127 mill levy for 2014.

A mill raises $1 of revenue for every $1,000 of assessed valuation. At 42.304 mills, the city share of property tax for each $100,000 of value on a single-family would be $486.50.

Brad Smith, the city’s financial director, said the council came to consensus on the details in the 2016 budget at a July 13 work session.

The published budget sets maximum 2016 spending levels for the city’s different funds. When it considers final approval of the budget Aug. 3, the council can’t exceed spending levels in the proposed budget without republishing the document. However, the council can reduce spending levels at that meeting. The council did just that two years ago, when it approved spending reductions that maintained the mill levy at its 2013 level.

Baldwin City Administrator Chris Lowe said the city’s overall spending in the 2016 budget decreases, but that there were proposed expenditure increases for the city’s general, cemetery and debt service funds — all of which are partially or entirely funded through property tax receipts.

The published budget establishes the general fund expenditure lid at $3.07 million, or about $465,000 more than projected current year spending.

In a memo to the council, Smith wrote a 3-percent cost of living/merit pay increase to city employees coupled with an anticipated 17.5 percent employee health insurance hike were factors in higher general fund spending. Another factor was the $20,000 Douglas County now charges for dispatch.

Lease purchase payments on a front-end loader and trencher contributed to the increase in debt service expenditures. That fund increased from the $508,961 projected this year to $514,469 in 2016 (both are less than the $540,874 spending level of 2014).

The debt levy fund does not include any payments for capital improvement projects the council discussed extensively this spring, such as a public works building, new police station, east-side sewer interceptor, Lumberyard Arts Center theater or City Hall improvements. Should the council go forward with any of those projects in 2016, they would be bonded with the first debt service payments made in 2017, Smith said.

One positive note on the budget was that the city’s overall valuation increased for the first time since the start of the recession in 2009, albeit by only $8,000, Smith said.

Residents will have the opportunity to voice their opinions on the proposed budget at a public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 3 at the Baldwin City Public Library. The council will consider the budget after that hearing.

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