By Scott Unger • Of the News-Register • 

Council remains split over proposed utility

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Personally, I could get behind the wastewater charges if the current $13/ mth utility charge had a sunset date. My understanding was that current $13 fee was necessary to offset a budget deficit (in 2021?). That deficit amount must be nearly rectified by why does the fee continue?
Use ( and reduce) the current fee to cover wastewater improvements.


Part 1...
I’m not disputing the condition of our stormwater system. What I am disputing is the way the city council continually tries to add fees to us as taxpayers. Case in point: the city faced a $1.8 million shortfall and added a $13 fee to utility bills in January 2023 to address this shortfall. At that rate, the $1.8 million debt should have been satisfied in January 2023, yet THE FEE REMAINS? Not only that, but the city has collected $2.1 million OVER the amount they needed to cover the debt. There is no sunset provision for that fee to end! Now, as I understand it, the city needs $4 million to get the stormwater system to “interim” operating level. And they want to add another $9.50 monthly fee. Are you serious? On top of that, you know full well they’re going to try and re-instate the $1.50 per thousand assessment on our taxes that was for the fire department. (As a reminder, voters agreed to a $2 per thousand increase for the new fire department. The city is keeping the former $1.50 per thousand that was allocated for the fire department) . So all or part of that $1.50 per thousand is going to hit your pocket book come November when you get your tax bill. On top of that, the city is going to be looking for voters to approve a BIG bond next year for a rec center/pool, and that’s going to cost us dearly.


Part 2...
Oh… I almost forgot, they city is talking about an $8.7 million bond in the next couple of years just to get started on the $102 million parks plan they are eyeing. The city is being very strategic about how they roll out these fees and bonds. They just get us used to one, then they layer another one on top of it. They’re doing a good job of either scaring us into agreement (fire department levy and stormwater fee) or they’re selling us on how beautiful the new rec center and parks will be. I absolutely know I’m not the only one feeling the pinch here. Wages do NOT cover expenses, so we are all looking for ways to stretch our budgets. There is absolutely nothing any of us are buying that doesn’t cost significantly more than it did even 2 years ago. Kudos to councilman Chris Chenoweth who seems to be the only city councilperson aware of what we as taxpayers are facing with personal budgets. Do your homework and ask questions.


I appreciate that everyone, including the usual naysayers, are coming at this with a reasonable perspective. And yes I too am wondering how we can get these increases under control. Unfortunately today I will take the position of reluctant naysayer. I can assure you that it is only going to get harder to find a balanced budget without more increases or cuts.

If memory serves this is the last year of our current police contract. And if all of the local-ish contract negotiations are an indicator of what we can expect then we should reasonably expect that we will see an increase anywhere from 12% to as high as 20% and that would be to maintain current levels of service. I'm not sure if all employees of the police department are covered(I'm pretty sure it's just sworn officers) but to be conservative I calculated every employee's salary and fringe benefits. That number comes to $8,586,545. Which is 30% of the total budget for personnel services or 6.1% of the total budget. A 12% increase would be $1,030,385 and a 16%(most likely in my mind) would be $1,373,847 and worse case for the budget scenario 20% increase would be $1,717,309.

Now the likelihood is those increases would take place over a 3-4 year period, so we won't have to budget the total amount until year 3 or 4. But for those who are adamantly opposed to the City fully levying the permanent tax rate please start considering where the money will come from for the next police contract. Being that measure 110 is likely being repealed we will need those officers to help enforce those reinstated laws.

I acknowledge that some of my numbers may be off but not enough to make a major difference in cost. Here's the link to this years budget. Again if anyone finds that gross misspending that the city gets accused of incessantly please let us know so we can address it.

Don Dix

Lest anyone forget, the city also purchased the RB Rubber site for $4.25M, and is on the hook for $20K/mo. interest payments until that property is sold.

It seems the city spends to fulfill it's desires, then looks for new angles to fund the spree. That's not a sustainable approach to sound fiscal management.

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