Waterloo, Columbia OK budgets

Waterloo Community Relations Coordinator Sarah Deutch and Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith display a new flag Monday night commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I that will be posted along with military service flags along Main Street during such holidays as Memorial Day, Flag Day and Veterans Day. (Corey Saathoff photo)

The Waterloo and Columbia city councils each passed budgets Monday night for the 2017-18 fiscal year that begins May 1.

Waterloo passed a $29 million balanced budget, up about $2 million from last year’s. Receipts are budgeted at $30.5 million for a surplus of $1.2 million.

In the electric fund, the largest portion of the city’s budget at 38 percent, receipts of $12.1 million will exceed expenditures of  $11 million.

The general fund, which encompasses 29 percent of the city’s budget, anticipates receipts of $8,673,120 and expenditures of $8,669,000. This fund pays for large, capital projects and day-to-day operations.

Also budgeted is a 5 percent increase in city salaries.

The budget passed by a 6-0 vote with aldermen Steve Notheisen and Stan Darter absent.

The Columbia City Council passed a $16 million budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year with a 7-0 vote. Alderman Jeff Huch was not in attendance.

For the second year in a row, Columbia will have a balanced general fund, the lifeline of the city budget.

“Our financial position is much improved over what it’s been,” city accounting manager Linda Sharp said. “Those were some really tough times (during the recession). Our budgets were really lean.”

Making up a steady 34 percent of the city’s budget each year, the general fund encompasses a wide range of costs including administrative overhead and salaries, police operations and salaries, and street work not covered by motor fuel tax revenue.

The new budget has about $1.2 million in expenditures over last year and $355,000 more in receipts. Some of this small drop is due to the evening out of sales tax revenues after two years of increases greater than 10 percent.

This year’s sales tax receipts are estimated to be about 3 percent, a dip administrators last year predicted as several new businesses had opened in the last fiscal year.

Still, revenues are healthy.

In 2016, the issuance of general obligation bonds infused $450,000 into the city. This money can be used to finance capital projects over the next three years.

Also helping Columbia’s coffers is the retirement last fiscal year of a settlement with Horner & Shifrin that had cost the city $100,000 annually.

“We’re starting to be able to do some improvements to our parks and our streets,” Sharp said.

The largest single expenditure budgeted for Columbia is about $800,000 for new outdoor warning sirens. Five new sirens will cover more of the community than the previous three, and will sound tones that travel farther and are customizable to meet emergency notification needs.

An increase of about $120,000 for the police department will allow for the hire of an additional officer later in the year and also reflects an increase in health insurance costs.

The ambulance department will use its additional $200,000 to hire one full-time paramedic and purchase equipment, most notably a Zoll cardiac monitor for $31,500 and a Physio Control CPR-assist device for $22,500.

In other news from Monday’s meetings:

• Waterloo aldermen approved a lease agreement between the city and William and Teresa Hatley for parking lot rental at the former auto dealership lot on South Market Street across from Ja Bowl restaurant. Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith said the lot should be ready for public use by the end of May and will add 27 parking spaces to downtown.

• Waterloo also OK’d a facade grant in the amount of $6,800 for exterior work to be conducted at Willie’s West End tavern.

• Waterloo also approved a mural policy for downtown, which limits future murals to the commercial area and requires an approval process through the city. Murals should “complement and enhance the building,” according to the new statute.

• Gary Schroeder was reappointed for a two-year term on Waterloo’s police pension board; Chuck Pittman was reappointed to the board of police commissioners for a three-year term to expire May 1, 2020.

• Dan Kennedy was reappointed to the Waterloo Cemetery Board as secretary/treasurer for a three-year term, as was trustee Jean Jung.

• Waterloo also approved Henke Excavating as low bidder in the amount of $89,219 for the 2017 street, curb and sidewalk improvement plan.

• Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith recognized Jude’s Dog Grooming at 305 S. Moore Street for 25 years in business, and also honored Waterloo High School track athlete Donovan McBride for his success in wheelchair racing events at last year’s state track meet.

• The Columbia City Council approved three variances and a special use permit, paving the way for a Burger King to locate adjacent to McDonald’s in Columbia Centre.

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