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Oskaloosa publishes budget with no increase

When the process started last month to formulate the 2011 Oskaloosa City budget, many council members had some ambitious wish lists.

Mayor Mike Boyd wants to double the man hours police are on the streets. Councilwoman Kelly Hattemer wants to make much needed repairs to the city’s pool. Councilman Allen Wise wants to continue with street and sidewalk projects and everyone wants a remodeled City Hall.

None of the above mentioned (with the exception of streets) will become a reality in 2011 if council members are set on a mill levy with no increase.

The city council had to come up with some creative measures last week during a special city council meeting at the Little Red Barn to hear from auditor Brian Nyp and to get some concrete direction for the next budget.

Nyp told council members last week that with the numbers presented, the city would have to raise the mill levy by 22 mills to accomplish the set goals. To make matters more challenging, projections for an ending cash balance for the city’s general fund are written in red.

“The general fund is in trouble,” Nyp said. “Put it that way.”

However, the city’s cash position is in good shape according to the audit figures that illustrate the city’s many funds including a one-cent sales tax earmarked for public improvements.

Wise pointed out that the city has not spent any of the funds that have been accumulating. City Treasurer Polly McInroy predicts a balance near $400,000 by the end of the year.

“That’s a big enough cushion to start using out of,” Wise said.

To get the general fund in the black this year, the council agreed to tap into the sales tax fund to pay for the 2010 street budget of $105,000. To make cuts to next year’s budget the street repair line item of $109,000 will also be paid for with sales tax numbers.

Some council members were hopeful that some sales tax money could be used to pay for the remodeling of City Hall. However, the city’s attorneys have argued against using the sales tax. Some believe the wording of the ballot question allows the tax to be used.

Nyp pointed to the City Hall property purchase as one of the big reasons the general fund cash balances are projected to be in the red by the end of 2010. The purchase was a $125,000 unbudgeted purchase, although only $42,000 of the purchase came out of the general fund.

Nyp said the other big factor is interest rates. In 2007 the city collected more than $25,000 in interest payments. Last year the city collected $1,500 and Nyp expects that number to drop this year. McInroy said the city is collecting about $25 a month.

“We used to collected thousands,” McInroy said.

Nyp told council members that they can put together a budget that holds the mill levy down, however, if expenditures are not budgeted or underspent, the problem will catch up.

“There’s no silver bullet here but what it comes down to is you have to completely watch what you’re spending if you want to keep your levy down,” he said.

 by Dennis Sharkey

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Posted by on Aug 22 2010. Filed under Municipalities, Oskaloosa. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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