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Proposed M.C. operating budget would lower tax rate by using police/fire retirement funds


This news story was published on January 28, 2013.
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City Hall in Mason City

City Hall in Mason City

MASON CITY – City staff has brought a proposed operating budget to the city council for discussion Tuesday night that would lower the city’s tax levy rate for homeowners by spending tort liability funds, police and fire department retirement funds as well as other retirement funds for city employees.

City Finance Director Kevin Jacobson explained Monday that the retirement funds as well as the tort liability fund are in “great shape” and that the interest gained by keeping the funds at their current high levels is negligible.  He feels it would be wise to use some of the balances in those funds to help lower the tax rate, so that was a major factor in how he determined the operating budget he is presenting to the city council.

For example, the tort liability fund is at about $1 million but the city needs only $365,000 to pay its yearly insurance premiums.

Due to a state rollback increase of $27.98 per year, coupled with a decrease of $12.80 in the city’s property tax rate, the average homeowner would see a yearly tax increase of approximately $15.18.

City Finance Director Kevin Jacobson

City Finance Director Kevin Jacobson (right)

City staff wrote in a memo that “by using reserves and the reduction in the debt service levy, the city can reduce that (tax) increase by approximately $12.80 for an increase of approximately $15.18 for a $100,000 home.”

Water rates are now slated to remain steady in the latest budget proposal for fiscal year 2013-2014 after initially calling for an increase of $15.24 per year when combined with a sanitation rate increase of $1.20 per year. The sanitation rate increase will hold.

That brings the grand total approximate yearly increase for a $100,000 homeowner to $16.38.

According to a City Hall memo, the library is also looking at dipping into reserves to balance its budget.

The same memo states that the city continues to owe over $51 million in debt.

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23 Responses to Proposed M.C. operating budget would lower tax rate by using police/fire retirement funds

  1. Avatar

    a citizen Reply Report comment

    February 1, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    If you don’t have it, don’t spend it. It’s really not all that difficult. Don’t borrow, don’t allocate, don’t rearrange. A quick fix today is a tragedy in the making.

  2. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 1, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  3. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 29, 2013 at 6:47 am

    I’m selling my home and getting out!

  4. Avatar

    Mallorey Reply Report comment

    January 29, 2013 at 12:04 am

    50 million in debt? what are they thinking? that’s worse than the federal debt when compare to scale!

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 1, 2013 at 11:06 pm

      That’s on going debt that was created by projects needing to be done. No city is out of debt unless they’re a ghost town or look like the N End.

  5. Avatar

    JB Johnson Reply Report comment

    January 28, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Hancock spent down reserves for several years and this year we got hit with a 28% increase in the rural section of our tax bill.

  6. Avatar

    rukidding Reply Report comment

    January 28, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    This is not responsible government. This is just passing the buck to the future when some elected officials will come back and blame the employees retirement plans for budget shortfalls. Mayor and council leave your hands off the reserves and make the hard choices when it come to the budget that is what you were elected to do.

    • Avatar

      snappy Reply Report comment

      January 29, 2013 at 12:00 am

      It’s an election year why do you think they are doing it this way plus Hickey has it out for the fire department anyway and wants to take their overtime

    • Avatar

      taxpayer Reply Report comment

      January 29, 2013 at 12:05 am

      Kuhn and Bookmeyer dont care they will be long gone from MC in the next few years. So will Trout. They want to look good now.

  7. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 28, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    And passing the problem into the future!

    Quit spending!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Start cutting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 28, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    And laziness!

  9. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 28, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    This is the height of stupidity!

  10. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 28, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    CITIZENS OF MASON CITY SAY,

    NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO N0 NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO N0 NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    get it!

  11. Avatar

    LVS Reply Report comment

    January 28, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Isn’t that what got Social Security in trouble with the Federal Government “borrowing” from it?

    • Avatar

      John Colombo Reply Report comment

      January 28, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      Social Security isn’t in trouble, never has been. Social Security’s money is, like all trust funds, invested, and it happens to be invested in US Treasury’s. The same treasury’s you or I could invest in if we were so inclined. When you invest in a US Treasury the money then goes to the government and they can choose how to spend it with the understanding that they will have to pay it back and then some. The real problem is people like you who perpetuate this myth that Social Security is broke, when in reality it’s running a surplus and by some estimates will be solvent for the next 100 years.

      • Avatar

        Katie Reply Report comment

        January 28, 2013 at 6:40 pm

        Drink some more Kool-aid, John. Those treasury bills are going to be pretty worthless once all we baby boomers start drawing our retirement. They will have to keep borrowing from China to pay the treasury bill holders back. Social Security is only solvent in your head.

      • Avatar

        JB Johnson Reply Report comment

        January 28, 2013 at 9:49 pm

        That “invested” money is being used to pay day to day bills so how in the future do you think we will be able to pay the daily bills and repay into SS fund.

        You can’t use the same money twice

      • Avatar

        John Reply Report comment

        January 28, 2013 at 10:31 pm

        Mr. Colombo
        You have been lead down the wrong path, there is no SS trust fund. That went away years ago when Washington put that money into the general fund. It is a pay as you go system. There are more people collecting than paying in. It is not solvent now and will not be in the future. I don’t know where you got the 100 year figure.

      • Allen

        Allen Reply Report comment

        January 28, 2013 at 10:49 pm

        With the national debt at about 16.5 trillion dollars and climbing, I doubt that there is enough money in the US treasury to take care of the debt it owes, let alone the SS system.

      • Avatar

        LVS Reply Report comment

        January 29, 2013 at 9:39 am

        @John-The Federal government has “BORROWED” 2 TRILLION dollars from S.S. over the years. You are wrong in your assumptions.

  12. Allen

    Allen Reply Report comment

    January 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    I don’t pretend to know more about finances then Jacobson, but the “we have it, let’s spend it” attitude is not good. You should not take money from one budget to pay on another. What happens when it runs out. The city is not quite like the Fed, when they need money, they just print more. You are seeing where that mentality is getting us. Sure, I don’t like to pay more taxes, but I’d rather pay $20.00 more now, than pay $75.00 more next year. With the lack of good paying jobs and big industry in this town, coupled with the loss of tax money due to the flooding, even with good intentions, you can’t put money back that you don’t have, and never will have. Case in point, the SS system.

    • Avatar

      Katie Reply Report comment

      January 28, 2013 at 3:29 pm

      I’m in total agreement with you. It will come back to bite them in the butt.

      • Allen

        Allen Reply Report comment

        January 28, 2013 at 3:49 pm

        Katie, it won’t bite them, it will bite the tax payers of mason city. of which I have been one for 65 years.