Utility rates to be discussed in work session tonight at City Hall

By Adam Strunk 

For those who get fired up or are curious about local utility rates, tonight they will have the opportunity to see the subject discussed by the City Commission at a work session tonight at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

City commission members requested the  work sessions following feedback from citizens in February over utility rates.

“Work sessions give the commission a chance to discuss issues more in-depth outside the regular meeting time,” City public information officer Erin McDaniel said

The discussion is part of a larger three-month set of work sessions discussing the city’s future budgeting. A proposed budget is set to be  discussed on June 11 and a public hearing on the budget will be held for on July 23.

“All work sessions are open meeting and citizens are more than welcome to attend,”  Erin McDaniel said. “ So much good information is discussed that can really help you understand the issue.”

During the process the city will talk about current funding requirements, future projects, supplemental requests from city department heads and long-term planning.

The size of the city budget determines the amount of property tax the city will levy on residents as well as possible transfers from other funding streams such as utility revenue and sales tax revenue.

All three sources are used to fund the city budget and pay for staffing as well as equipment and infrastructure.

For this year utility transfers to the city’s general fund are projected to be at $3.55 million for this fiscal year. According to a prior article published by Newton Now, that amounts to approximately 24 percent of total utility revenues. It would take approximately 27 mills of additional property tax to generate that amount.

Last year the city published a proposed budget calling for the authority to increase local property taxes by five mills, only to revise the increase down to two mill after a public hearing and a long debate by the city commission.

The current city property tax rate 62.509 mills.