City budget meetings set for January

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


A series of three special sessions will be held so members of the Washington City Council can go over the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2018.

Workshops are scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 23, Jan. 30 and Feb. 13 in the Washington Public Library. Traditionally, the first meeting is an introduction to the proposed budget, the second meeting is when the department heads explain their askings, and the third is when the council votes on the budget. The budget is required to be in to the state in mid-March.

Washington City administrator Brent Hinson said the city is facing some ?challenges? this coming year with the goal of keeping the flat tax rate. He said the city has kept the exact same tax rate for six years, and he expects the tax rate to continue. The city has taken a policy of holding the tax rate flat and operating with the resources the taxes provide. Taxpayers can expect to pay the same rate, he said, but if the assessable valuation of the property has increased, the taxes will increase. He said that he expects the flat tax rate to continue.

?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.?

The budget is due to the state on March 15. Hinson said the projects and items included in the budget are based on previous guidance and direction from the council.

Hinson said that 2018 is going to be a ?busy year for projects,? saying the city plans to complete the water plant improvements, complete the Well 6 improvements, begin construction of a new fire station, begin phase one of the wellness park, a joint trail project with Washington County Conservation, and a $1 million sewer project. Hinson said the city plans to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to pay for $600,000 of the sewer project.