BRITT | Come November, Britt residents will be asked to vote on a capital improvements tax levy that city officials say will save them money in the long run.
On Nov. 7, voters will decide whether to approve a levy of 67½ cents per $1,000 assessed valuation to establish a continuing capital improvement reserve fund that would be used for road and utility infrastructure improvements as well as public safety equipment and public works vehicle purchases.
“With the size of projects we know we have in the near future, if we want to be able to continue to do streets along with those projects, this would get us there much more quickly,” said Mayor Ryan Arndorfer.
On Tuesday, Oct. 17, the Britt City Council hosted a public question-and-answer session before its regularly scheduled meeting to explain what the levy is and how it’ll be used, but only two residents attended — a turnout Arndorfer was disappointed with.
“We’re going to have to get creative with what we put on social media,” he said.
Britt City Administrator/Clerk Shell Anderson said establishing a capital improvement reserve fund would benefit the city in a few ways.
If approved, the levy revenue would allow the city to pay for items, like computers in the police squads, without having to bond for them and pay interest.
“Right now when large finance items need to be done, we’re taking out bonds or we’re getting funding that has interest attached to it, whereas this would help decrease the amount of interest we’d have to pay in the end,” Arndorfer said.
According to a document provided during the public information session, a $400,000 fire truck with a repayment of 12 years and an interest rate of about 3.6 percent would cost $41,000 annually and accrue $93,000 in interest.
A $260,000 street sweeper with a repayment of five years and an interest rate of about 3.6 percent would cost $58,000 annually and accrue $24,500 in interest.
Based on those examples, if the city had money set aside in a capital improvement reserve fund to cover those expenditures, it could save the city of Britt, as well as its taxpayers, more than $100,000 in interest.
Anderson said the revenue from the levy could also be used to make the yearly payments on equipment, which would free up some dollars in the general fund to be used to address the city’s aging roads as well as upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant. It could also be used to shorten the life of bonds and in turn mean less interest paid by the city.
“This will just help,” she said.
Without the levy, the city will likely pay more on projects and equipment over a longer period of time, while being forced to delay other projects and purchases.
If approved, the levy would provide about $33,500 a year to the city in additional revenue.
For a property assessed at $100,000, it would cost $67.50 a year. A property assessed at $150,000 would pay $101.25 a year; a property assessed at $200,000 would pay $135 a year; and a property assessed at $250,000 would pay $168.75, a city document states.
Anderson said the levy wouldn’t go into effect until September 2018 if it’s approved and remain in place until the city council decides to discontinue it.
In March, Mason City voters approved the establishment of a capital improvement reserve fund.
The city council may host another question-and-answer session before Election Day, but it has yet to be determined.
For questions about the capital improvement reserve fund, call Britt City Hall at 641-843-4433.