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Budget talks begin for City Council

Public safety department sees increase

The City Council of Webster City held a work session Monday night to discuss the Operating Budget, Capital Improvement Plan and Capital Equipment Plan for the 2017-2018 through 2021-2022 fiscal years.

“I must say for me it’s interesting coming in to a budget as it’s being prepared and coming in the last quarter and trying to figure out what exactly has been done and where we are headed. When you look at the overall figure, there is a deficit of about $134,000. We have dwindled that down from what I think was originally closer to $223,000 I believe,” said Webster City City Manager Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez.

Ortiz-Hernandez noted an increase in budget in the public safety portion the Capital Equipment Plan. The increase would provide for possible body cameras for local police as well as other necessary equipment for both the fire and police departments in the future.

“One of the things that we’ve looked at in the past or have considered is body cams as well as moving down the road, some vehicles and equipment for police and fire. So you see that reflected back in the budget,” Ortiz-Hernandez said.

Adjustments for sewer rates in the Operating Budget were put on hold.

“We initially had the idea in mind of also looking at sewer rate adjustments. Those are tentatively on hold until we have a final decision on what direction we’re going to head with the wastewater plant,” Ortiz-Hernandez said. “Once we have an idea of what the long-term goal will be, whether it’s upgrades to the plant, a new plant, or a secondary plant, then we have a better idea of what those costs are going to be.”

Ortiz-Hernandez explained the need to examine a cost of service study concerning city electric rates in order to keep funds “positive and steady.”

“If you look at our trend without doing anything to electric rates, you can see over the five-year projection what happens to our fund balance and how we eventually dip into a negative fund balance by year 2020-2021,” said Ortiz-Hernandez. “Thus the need to look at our cost of service study and hopefully have an outcome that we can implement.”

The street department’s mosquito spraying budget is projected to be reduced in the 2019-2020 by approximately half. The decrease is due to street department workers being able to do the physical spraying themselves instead of hiring outside of the city department.

Other budget items discussed included street repairs, the airport commission fund, and the possibility of a goal setting session to help determine the needs for future budgets.

No action was taken during the work session Monday night. The council moved to send the budget forward to reviewed at the next planning and zoning meeting. After discussion, the budget will be brought before the council to possibly pass and adopt.

Hearing set

A public hearing concerning Brewer Creek 5th and 6th Additions will be held on Monday, Feb. 20 at 5:50 p.m. The hearing concerns the proposed plans and specifications and proposed form of contract and estimate of cost for the Brewer Creek 5th and 6th Additions project. The engineering estimates for Brewer Creek 5th and 6th Additions, including engineering fees total $2,901,699.90. The cost estimate for Brewer Creek 5th Addition is $1,197,262.55. The cost estimate for Brewer Creek 6th Addition is $1,704,437.35.

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