Budget discussions to begin Tuesday

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


The first of three budget workshops will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Washington Public Library and City Administrator Brent Hinson said the proposal will contain no increase in the existing tax rate.

The city has taken a policy of holding the tax rate flat and operating with the resources the taxes provide. He also said there are too many variables to make a broad statement on whether property owners? taxes will be increased as a result of the increase in taxable valuation. Hinson said the city value is up to $242 million from $229 million last year.

?Things are looking pretty good,? Hinson said. ?Proposed in the budget there will be no sanitation rate adjustments and we will be at our lowest water and sewer rate adjustments we have had in a long time. Things are shaping up pretty well.?

Hinson said during the meeting he would be giving a presentationon the proposed budget and taking questions.

The city is facing some ?challenges? this coming year with the goal of keeping the flat tax rate.

?Our health insurance did go up a little bit so we have that to deal with,? Hinson said. ?The IPERS withholding rates are going up July 1, and that will be a little money out of the budget and out of the employees? paychecks.?

Hinson also said it is undetermined if a state policy to possibly removing commercial property tax backfill will impact the budget. He believes the city is positioned to be able to weather many financial crises.

?The tough part of budgeting is that starting in January, you are trying to budget for up to 18 months away,? Hinson said. ?We like to have the five months of data in the current fiscal year to help budget because otherwise you are almost budgeting for a longer period.?

The budget is due to the state on March 15. Hinson said the projects and items that will be included in the budget are based on previous guidance and direction from the council.Other workshops for the council are scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 30 and Feb. 13 in the Washington Public Library.