SIOUX CITY — Top staff recommend increasing the city of Sioux City’s operating budget next year by $5.8 million, or $2.62%, which would result in a slight increase in the city’s property tax rate.
The City Council will begin its review of the proposed $226.7 million fiscal 2023 budget at a special meeting that begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in the Council chambers.
The proposed property tax levy is around $15.43 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, up about 6.7 percent, from the previous year’s levy of around $14.45.
The owner of a home assessed at $100,000 would pay $761 in property taxes to the city, up $16 from the previous year, while while the owner of a commercial or industrial property with an assessed value of $100,000 would face a city tax bill of $1,389. up from $89 the prior year, according to the budget.
The proposed increase of 4.25% in general fund expenditures is due primarily to increases in employee wages and benefits.
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In a letter to the Council accompanying the budget documents, City Manager Bob Padmore and Finance Director Teresa Fitch also cited a number of financial challenges, which include a 39 percent increase in insurance premiums and a series of state-approved property tax reforms that they say are impacting the city’s budget and levies.
“Staff has worked diligently to cut expenses where possible to offset the increases,” Padmore and Fitch said in the letter. “The proposed budget is a realistic and responsible budget that will fund our City’s operations and provide for a high level of service to our citizens.”
On a positive note, the top staff noted total property valuations increased 9.31% in the last fiscal year. Much of the growth is attributed to rapid growth in new residential construction and the development of several major commercial and industrial projects.
The taxable base used to calculate property taxes increased about 6.62%, or $235.2 million.
Public safety, which includes the police and fire departments, accounts for the bulk of the general fund budget, or 32 percent. The next largest segments are 17% for utilities and 15% for public works.
The Police Department is requesting an operating budget of $24.3 million next fiscal year, an increase of $367,938, or 1.5%. Staff is recommending that three senior police identification technicians be reclassified as full-time crime scene investigators, which would result in a net expense of $8,038. Staff are not recommending the addition of two more police officers, a net expense of $238,290, or adding one full-time evidence technician, a net expense of $80,656.
According to the budget documents, the department’s goals for the incoming fiscal year include expanding the its ability to rebuild relationships with minority communities, continuing to build partnerships in effort to alleviate homelessness and substance abuse issues locally, and re-defining job roles to more appropriately set workload and job responsibilities.