City to take input on budget

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


With three special sessions completed for the fiscal year 2019 budget, the next step in the process is to publish the notice and hold a public hearing during the March 6 meeting before submitting the budget to the state.

Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said today that people wishing to make comments on the budget can also do so before the meeting at 6 p.m. on March 6 in the Washington Public Library. He said that comments can be made either verbally or in written form at the Washington City Hall. The city budget is due to the state on March 15.

?There weren?t many changes from the original draft,? Hinson said. ?I think it is pretty much the budget we presented back at the beginning of the process.?

Hinson said no comments had been made so far.

Under the proposed budget, Hinson said the tax rate for the city would remain the same for the seventh year. The property tax levy will remain at $15.82 per $1,000 of taxable valuation. A 3 percent average salary increase for non-union staff is budgeted in. The net increase in general fund spending is projected to be 3.25 percent.

Hinson said the general fund budget is balanced exactly to keep a general fund balance of $1 million.No personnel changes are projected in the coming fiscal year. Funding is included for a South 15th Street subdivision, South Aveue E paving, the wellness park, fire station, a major inflow and infiltration project and finishing water plant improvements. The general fund is projected to show revenues of $3,812,996 and an equal amount of expenses.

The Washington Police Department shows revenues of $22,375, with expenses of $1,537,192. In the askings, health insurance increase amounts to about $25,000 of the increased budget. The department also plans to replace a 2010 Ford Explorer with a new Explorer at a cost of $34,555.

Projected revenues for the Washington Fire Department are $85,000 with expenses at $418,728. Highlights of the fire department budget include a $10,000 increase in health insurance; $7,000 for physicals; and $5,000 for gear replacement.

Development Services is estimated to have revenue of $61,500 and expenses of $78,598.

The Washington Public Library revenues are projected to be $85,000 and expenses are $410,879. Expenses have increased about $9,400 from last year. The cost of building maintenance and library materials are reportedly both up. County funding is expected to be down somewhat due to circulation calculations included in the countywide library formula. Washington and Wellman library circulation is down while circulation in Kalona is up.

Revenues for the Washington Parks Department is estimated at $450 and expenses are $261,382. The budget shows an increase in part-time wages of about $2,000. The payment to the YMCA of Washington County for running the city?s pool is $32,000. The budget also includes $7,000 for the municipal band.

The budget for the cemetery department shows revenues at $70,500 and expenses of $162,225.

Revenues are at $3,052,671 and expenses are at $851,594. The city will continue the policy of maintaining $1 million in the fund balance and transferring an additional at year end to the fund for city hall, police and fire building improvements.

The city also plans to provide funding to the Washington Economic Development Group of $22,287; PAWS and More of $21,000; Main Street Washington of $20,000; the tourism committee of $20,000; and the July 4 fireworks display, $6,000, which is a $2,000 increase.

Total debt service payments for the year ate projected at $1,202,347. There are also planned debt issuances of $3,185,000 for sewer, streets and the wellness park, and $1,700,000 for the fire station.

Revenues for the Washington Airport are estimated at $432,400 and expenses are $550,597. The Airport Commission plans to draw down the fund balance significantly in order to construct a new large hangar.

Revenues from the water fund are estimated at $1,928,248 and expenses are $1,786,840. The budget assumes a 3.5 percent increase in usage, which would be the lowest increase since 2012. The city expects to start debt payments on the water plant project which is expected to be $267,866 per year for 20 years.

The sewer fund shows expenses of $2,338,720 and expenses of $2,431,202. It assumes a 3.5 percent increase in usage.

?Obviously that is kind of what we shoot for as a staff,? Hinson said. ?We try to put together a budget that is responsible and one the council can live with. Obviously the council is always free to change it however they want to change it. This time around I guess they were satisfied with what was put together.?