Once again, it is budget review time for the City of Muscatine. This is an annual process designed to plan the city’s fiscal year and review the proposed budgets for all the departments and agencies involved.

The approved budget must be filed with the County Auditor for certification by March 15, 2018. The City Council is currently meeting with city
departments and agencies to review their proposed budgets.

The City reports that the proposed 2018/2019 budget reflects no increase in the overall city tax rate. The proposed rate is $15.67209 per $1,000 of taxable property valuation. The city reports that this rate has remained steady for the last nine years.

According to the City Budget Overview, “The proposed General Fund balance is on target with the updated General Fund Balance Policy, which provides that the minimum fund balance be equal to two months of expenditures or 16.7%.” The Overview also proposes a 21.2% ending balance for the 2018/2019 budget.

The City Budget Overview shows that the General Fund Property Tax Rate remains at the maximum $8.10 per $1,000 limit. The $8.10 General Fund tax rate will generate $200,460 more in tax revenue compared to the 2017/2018 year due to the increase in taxable values.

The City Budget Overview reports that General Fund revenues were reduced due to the loss of fine collections from Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) revenues. The loss of these ATE revenues resulted in the budget including a proposed increase in the Utility Franchise Fee from the existing rate of 1% to 5%, which is the maximum rate allowed. This rate increase is projected to generate $325,600 annually, which would help offset the ATE revenue losses.

The City Budget Overview lists proposed General Fund Budget Assumptions containing other noteworthy proposed budget items, which include funding for the police and fire pension contribution of $1,402,568, which is a 3.7% increase from 2017/2018.

The City’s contribution to IPERS for other City employees will increase from 8.93% to 9.44% for July 1, 2018. The City Budget Overview report stated that “the employee share of IPERS contributions increase when the City’s share increases since IPERS contribution rate increases are funded 60% by the local government and 40% by the employee.”

The report also stated that a 3.00% cost of living increase for both union and non-union employees was included in the budget. The 2016/2017 addition of four firefighter positions will be maintained in the 2018/2019 budget.

A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for March 1, 2018, at which the public will have the chance to voice their thoughts on the proposed budget. The city website has indicated their goals to reach out to the community and ensure that the information regarding the budget and budget process is readily available to its constituents so they can participate and engage in the budget process.

Information regarding the public hearing with dates and times can be found at www.muscatineiowa.gov. Once the city adopts the proposed budget, it will be sent to the County Auditor for certification.