Newton to discuss utility rate transfers, planning and zoning restructure and more March 14

By Adam Strunk

NEWTON–On Tuesday, the City of Newton will hold a work session to discuss transfers from the utility fund and discuss restructuring its planning and zoning board and changing policy on how animals are classified as dangerous.
The commission set its agenda in a meeting at 7:30 a.m. Thursday for the upcoming Tuesday meeting.
At 5:30 p.m., the commission will discuss with staff transfers into the general fund from city utility funds.
At a previous meeting, the commission directed staff to cut in half transfers of revenues from those funds (water and sewer) to the general fund ($1.14 million last year.)
The direction followed previous discussions about raising utility rates for the public to help shrink reserves in the utility funds. The funds are solvent, and revenue generated from them supports the fund. The city has long transferred additional revenue from those funds to its general fund, which can be used to fund most city functions–administrative costs, law enforcement, roads, etc.
Decreasing the practice would mean the general fund would receive $570,000 fewer dollars from utility transfers. It’s likely commission and staff will discuss what cuts would need to be made in ending the practice.
On the budget front, however, the city should have a bit more wiggle room this year, with property valuations increasing by 11.6 percent for 2023, according to recently released information from the county appraiser’s office.
At 7 p.m. Tuesday, at the regular meeting, the commission will consider restructuring its planning and zoning commission and historical preservation commission. Right now,  the two function as separate boards. It would also split North Newton off Newton’s planning and zoning board.
According to the conversation at the agenda meeting, discussion of this idea began between North Newton and Newton Mayors Leroy Koehn and Ron Braun, as well as Newton City Manager Kelly McElroy and North Newton City Administrator Kyle Fiedler.
The city will also consider updating policies on how it determines what animal is vicious. The policy update language wasn’t immediately available after the agenda meeting. Last week, a large dog bit a Newton police officer twice, and the injury required medical attention.
The city will also consider a memo of understanding in continuing to have police officers present at the hospital. Chief Craig Dunlavy said the officers help deal with some of the disturbances and issues they have at the hospital, as well as the surrounding area like the nearby Walmart. Dunlavy said officing out of the hospital gives the department a location on the south side of the railroad tracks and prevents officers from regularly getting blocked by trains when responding. According to meeting discussion, the hospital already pays the city for an officer’s presence, approximately $85,000 annually.

0 replies on “Newton to discuss utility rate transfers, planning and zoning restructure and more March 14”