By Michael Schaffer - Managing editor
The Centerville City Council Tuesday night at City Hall during a special meeting voted 3-1 to approve the fiscal year 2014 budget.
Councilman Rob Lind voted against the budget and before the end of the meeting he explained why.
The budget year begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2014.
The estimated total tax levy rate per $1,000 valuation on regular property is $17.48820. The estimated tax levy rate per $1,000 valuation on agricultural land is $3.00375.
Total revenue for FY 2014 is estimated at $7,900,392. Total expenditures and transfers out for FY 2014 are estimated at $8,028,735.
Lind said he voted against the FY 14 budget because more than 1/3 of the total property tax levy was coming from the employee benefit levy.
The FY 14 budget sets the total property tax levy at $17.48820 per $1,000 of valuation. The total employee benefit levy is set at $6.82990 and includes police and fire retirement, FICA and IPERS and other employee benefits.
Lind said Centerville should be devoting more money to things like the pool, parks and infrastructure.
"How long can we survive as a city if such a good share of our tax monies go towards the benefits and we forsake the pool, the parks, the streets and recreation and stuff like that," Lind said. "Next year, I think we need to make it a point that we do what we can to divert more money towards the city itself."
Lind said the city was "awful heavy with personnel."
Lind's explanation didn't sit very well with Centerville Police Chief Tom Demry and Centerville Fire Chief Mike Bogle.
Bogle asked Lind if he meant reducing staff?
"We might have to," Lind said.
Bogle followed up and asked Lind if he felt that city employees don't deserve good benefits?
"That's the question, how much can we afford? You take the police and fire retirement of our benefits levy, that chews up 30 percent of that right there," Lind said. "Just for your guys retirement. It doesn't even consider the hospitalization that we carry on you guys."
Bogle insisted Lind answer the employee benefits question with a yes or no.
Lind said the city needs to look at alternatives to get them what they need. He said the city has a hard time funding what they are getting.
Bogle questioned Lind about his timing in making his statements in an open forum and making departments look like they don't care.
"You could've sat down and talked with us instead of doing it in an open forum like this," Bogle said.
Demry said departments the last couple years have done what they could to help the city, including trimming budgets to the bare bones.
"When you compare our city to cities our size in the state we are basically dead last in the pay grade," Demry said. "Our officers are $5-$6,000 behind a year the deputy sheriffs in our county."
Lind said the city and department heads have to work together as a group to find a solution now or in the future services will have to be cut.
Demry said he took offense with Lind's assertion the department heads have not been trying to assist the city and they don't have valuable employees.
"We have differences of opinion, but we'll get this fixed," Lind said.
Joyce Davis, temporary city clerk, said Centerville's levy rate is not out of line with other rates. Albia has a $19.6, Des Moines has a $16.9 and Davenport has a $16.7 levy rate.
"We're not high. We're not low," Davis said. "But there's nothing out of line by the levy."
In other action:
The council voted 3-1 to not approve a proposal submitted by Chariton Valley Planning & Development in Centerville to manage the Davis-Bacon compliance requirements for the Sludge Processing Facility Improvements project at a cost to the city of $30,400. Councilman Richard Smith by telephone was the one vote to approve the proposal.
The council received a second offer from Hall Engineering Company of Centerville to do the same Davis-Bacon compliance work for $16,300. The council at their Monday, March 18 meeting is expected to consider Hall's offer.
Bill Buss, with Hall Engineering, discussed an issue with the Sludge Processing Facility Improvements project. The council voted 4-0 to follow Buss' recommendations.