Cities OK budgets in uncertain times

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The Waterloo and Columbia city councils on Monday night approved budgets for the 2020-21 fiscal year despite an uncertain economic future due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Municipalities must pass a budget prior to the new fiscal year that begins May 1.

Waterloo budget officer Shawn Kennedy said the city’s budget was prepared prior to the pandemic and will most likely need amendments in near future.

“It is too early to know exactly what the effects of COVID-19 will be on certain revenue sources such as sales tax, income tax, replacement tax and video gaming taxes,” she said.

The Waterloo City Council approved a 2020-21 budget with projected revenues of $31,023,955 and projected expenditures of $29,002,680.

That includes revenues of $12,342, 900 and expenditures of $11,002,599 in the city’s electric fund and revenues of $9,305,755 and expenditures of $9,248,475 in the general fund. 

Kennedy said $2.2 million in general fund revenues are coming out of invested funds to fund projects completed in previous years but not yet billed from the state. 

“There are some additional street department projects that are budgeted to also come out of invested funds,” she said. 

Kennedy said $3.2 million in general fund expenditures are for capital projects. The larger budgeted projects include $791,500 of previously completed projects, an asphalt overlay project for $826,050, $400,000 of multi-purpose/sidewalk projects,  $185,000 on a sealing program, $200,000 in engineering for road projects, and $152,200 on making an ADA-compliant sidewalk.  

The water fund will be using $754,000 from invested funds as the city continues engineering on a new water treatment plant near Valmeyer.  

“These costs will be included in a low interest IEPA loan,” she said.  

There is also a waterline project budgeted for $535,000. 

“We will be monitoring the impact the pandemic has on our receipts and we may be delaying some of the projects,” Kennedy said.

The city has budgeted slightly more than $5 million for salaries, which is up 2 percent from the year prior.

 Also on Monday night, the council OK’d managerial salary increases of 2.75 percent for Kennedy, community relations coordinator Sarah Deutch, public works director Tim Birk, zoning administrator Jim Nagel, police chief Jeff Prosise and deputy police chief Dane Luke. 

Columbia budget

The Columbia City Council approved a $20.5 million budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

The budget also reflected an anticipated decrease of $25,000 in sales tax revenue caused by the economic downturn due to COVID-19 stay at home orders.

Columbia City Administrator Douglas Brimm said that no cuts were made to any budget items because “the city has sufficient fund balances to absorb the reductions,” adding that the city “does not anticipate any reduction in services” but will delay some expenditures such as new equipment purchases.

The budget is an increase of nearly $2.5 million from the 2019-20 budget, although $900,000 of the total comes from alternative revenue bond proceeds as a result of video gambling. 

The funds will be used for upcoming park projects, including the Creekside Park design. 

Creekside Park is part of a $2 million capital development fund budget, a 58 percent increase from last year. The capital development fund budget includes upcoming work on the Bohm-Schuhkraft Connector Trail, Quarry Road construction phases one and two (including roundabout construction), Main Street resurfacing and continued work on the Streetscape project phases two and three, among others.

The city also passed an amendment to its fee schedule for the upcoming fiscal year. Sewer and water rates will increase 3 percent. The amendment also increases fees for certain permits, zoning actions and inspections in addition to a 5 percent increase for Columbia emergency medical services.

Another agenda item approved Monday by the council involved changes to the Columbia Plan Commission. Hal Hoppe, Elizabeth Kutterer-Sanchez and Will Trowbridge will replace Caren Burggraf, Russell Horsley and William Seibel, whose terms expire April 30. 

None of the outgoing members wished to be reappointed.

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