BRITT | The Britt City Council has set its 2019-2020 budget.
And residents will likely see an increase in the city’s portion of their property taxes.
On Monday, March 11, the City Council, with Dwight Leerar absent, unanimously approved the $3,156,+909 budget, a nearly $83,000 decrease from this fiscal year, after a public hearing where no residents were present.
Britt is anticipating about $1 million in property tax revenue, a $76,728, or 8 percent, bump from 2018-2019 due to an increase in property valuations.
The tax levy rate for fiscal year 2019-20 will be $18.385 per $1,000 taxable property valuation, which is a 51-cent increase from this fiscal year,
The approved budget was among five options Debra Sawyer, Britt city administrator/clerk, presented to the City Council for consideration in February during a budget workshop.
The other options included increases ranging from 54 to 78 cents with higher capital improvement levies.
In November 2017, residents passed the ballot measure allowing the city to create a capital improvements levy of 67 ½ cents per $1,000 assessed valuation to be used for road and utility infrastructure improvements as well as public safety equipment and public works vehicle purchases.
The maximum the city can levy for capital improvements is $38,690, Sawyer said. It’s proposing $24,000 for fiscal year 2019-20.
The other four options showed capital improvements levies between $25,850 and $38,690.
The total property tax levy comprises the city’s debt service, capital improvements, special revenue and general fund levies.
Sawyer said the increase in the tax levy is attributed to three things: the debt-service levy, the capital improvements levy and the city’s desire to rebuild its general fund balance.
With the budget, the city's also trying to bolster the city’s general fund balance, so it doesn’t have to borrow from other funds, like water and sewer, for support.
At the end of fiscal year 2017, Britt’s general fund, or cash balance, was about $25,000, and in 2018, there was a $47,000 deficit.
If everything went according to the approved budget — without any unforeseen expenditures — Sawyer estimates the city would have about $50,000 in its general fund at the end of fiscal year 2020, which would still require the transfer of funds from water and sewer to cover gaps but it’d be better than years past.
Since 2008, the city of Britt has increased property taxes twice. A 13-cent increase in 2015 and an 85-cent increase in 2017, according to Iowa Department of Management data.
The 2019-20 fiscal year begins July 1.