Budget questions - Debbie Nuss

By Corene Brisendine

1. What is your view of the property tax levy: too high, about right or too low? If too high, how would you reduce it?  The mill levy rate, the rate applied to a property’s assessed value, may increase or decrease each year because of changes in home values and may or may not result in a tax increase or decrease.  Through the annual budget process, the city commission works to find an acceptable balance between providing services and programs without putting an undue burden on the taxpayer.  The current property tax levy is “about right” as it has allowed the city to meet its adopted budget. 

2. Which social service agencies should the city be responsible for funding, at least in part?  The current process followed by the Social Services Advisory Board (SSAB) to recommend to the city commission which social service agencies should be funded has worked well.  I would not presume to know which agencies should be funded aside from those recommended by SSAB. 

3. Does the city need to reduce its debt? If so, how?  The passage of the half-cent sales tax guarantees that 35% of the monies collected will go to debt reduction.  Prior to the passage of the sales tax there was already a reasoned plan in place to pay down the debt; debt that was being paid down faster than planned because sales tax revenues have been higher than projected.  The additional money from the half-cent sales tax will help the city continue to pay down the debt more quickly than planned.

4. What guidelines would you follow to determine how to spend the city’s 65 percent portion of the half-cent sales tax that is dedicated to economic development and infrastructure?  As was done when the sales tax was passed in 2002, I would recommend that the city commission appoint a committee to do the following:  1) review the current economic development application and guidelines to determine whether or not they still meet the commission’s needs when asked to approve a funding request;  2) establish criteria to determine what types of infrastructure should be funded; and 3) determine whether there should be a certain percentage set aside for infrastructure vs. economic development.

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