By Alex Foultz

The major order of business of the Muscatine City Council regular meeting held on March 1 was discussion of the city’s 2018/2019 budget. The budget includes $61,477,636 for operating and capital project expenditures, $52,765,727 of revenue, $0 of new general obligation debt, $13,837,957 of general property taxes, with the city tax rate per $1,000 holding at $15.67209.

There has been no increase in the city tax rate since the 2010/2011 fiscal year. The property taxes are dedicated for the use of the City of Muscatine (39.5%), Muscatine Schools (37.6%) and Muscatine County (23%). The full budget and explanation of funds are available online. The proposed budget and certification of taxes for the 2018/2019 fiscal year was approved unanimously.

A public hearing was scheduled for March 15, 2018. This public hearing will concern the designation of the expanded consolidated Muscatine Urban Renewal Area and on the Urban Renewal Plan Amendment.

A public hearing was also set for March 15, 2018, to discuss the proposals to enter into a general obligation loan agreement. This bond issue would fund projects that have been recently completed, are currently underway, or will be constructed in 2018 and 2019. The bond estimate is $4,090,000.

A third public hearing was scheduled for March 8, 2018, on the discussion of increasing the franchise fee for Interstate Power and Light Company from the current rate of one percent to five percent. A public hearing was also set for April 5, 2018, for the annual application of state and federal transit funds. This public hearing is required to be set approximately 30 days in advance of said hearing, per the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The council members urged the citizens to vote on the local option sales tax. Clarification was made that the money from this proposed sales tax that comes in to the City of Muscatine would stay in the city and be used to improve infrastructure.

Councilman Brackett proposed that a committee be made to look at issues with the permitting process to provide a system of checks and balances. This committee would consist of three council members and one member of the Chamber of Commerce. The committee would survey individuals to receive feedback and perform quality checks. Councilman Fitzgerald stated that forming a committee seemed like “overkill,” as he had heard that only one business had experienced problems. Mayor Broderson said that she had heard from the chair of the Board of Supervisors that at least three businesses had experienced problems. The item was added to the March 15 agenda.

For more details on the happenings of this meeting, please visit the City of Muscatine’s YouTube page for the full meeting’s video.