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Newspaper Archive of
N. Warren Town and County News
Norwalk, Iowa
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March 5, 2015     N. Warren Town and County News
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March 5, 2015
 

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Thursday, March 5, 2015 N/Warren Town and County News Page Seven MARKETA OLIVER Continued from p. 6 The issuance of a significant bond has led to the question of how Norwalk com- pares in per capita debt load. Following is a graph showing the per capita outstand- ing obligations as June 30, 2013. Cities in Iowa are required to reportthis to the State annually and the information is available from the State Treasurer. opeo Ci'l~s ~ wotr~ Coun'Iy "to : The Enterprise Funds Enterprise Funds are often referred to as "proprietary." These funds account for operations that function in a manner similar to a business, usually city utilities. Norwalk's main enterprise funds are water, sewer (wastewater), stormwater and the equipment revolving fund. As discussed later under Capital Projects, the City is facing the need for some major investment in water infrastructure. Staff will ask the Utility Advisory Com- mission to evaluate the City's rate structure in light of the identified needs in the capital plan. Staff has also been working with the City Improvement Advisory Com- mittee for Infrastructure to develop their recommendations for priorities. Norwalk is also a participant in the regional drinking water governance study which should bring forth some recommendations at some point during the next fiscal year. Included in the FY 15 year-end budget is funding for a sewer trunk extension for the Warrior Run project, located on the southeast comer of the city. Also included in the FY 15 year-end estimate is funding for the sewer trunk project in the area of 50th and North Avenue (the Blooming Heights project). The equipment revolving fund, which is reported as part of the Business Type Expenditures category, is used for major capital purchases so that it will be easier in the future to track and compare operational expenditures in city departments. Following is a graph showing recent history of the Business Type Expenditures fund. $2,ooo.ooo i $1,800,000 i Sl,6oo, ooo St,4oo, ooo i Sl,2oo, ooo ! Sl,Ooo, ooo $800,000 $600,000 $4oo,ooo $2oo,ooo $o : Business Type Expenditures Water Utility Sewer Utility Stormwater Other Busioess Enterprise Enterprise Utility Type Debt Service Capital Projects (Equipment Fund) m 2016 =i 201SYE ~ 2014 1 2013 ~ 2012 Total Expenditures Following is a graph showing a history of the City's budgeted expenditures in the various funds. 'lease note the TIF Special Revenue is broken out as its own cab egory pursuant to how the City is required to report these expenditures to the State of Iowa.) Ss,0oo,00o ~-,500,000: S4,000,000 $3,5oo,0oo S3,OOO,OOO S2,soo,o0o S2,ooo,ooo S1.5oo.oo0 $1.0oo.ooo SsOO.O00 So Total Revenues by Fund 2016 "2015 2014 2013 *'2D12 2011 ! General I Spedal Revenues UF Special Revenue II Debt Service ~ Capital Pro~e~ts Proprietary *Year End Estimate The total expenditures in all funds and all categories proposed for Fiscal Year 2016 are $24,285,227. This includes $6,583,002 for capital improvements (budgeted in the Capital Projects Fund and the Business Type Activities Fund) and $719,227 for capital equipment (budgeted in Business Type Activities Fund). Please note that FY 16 expenditures are more than FY 16 revenues. This is not anything to cause alarm. This is due to the large capital projects undertaken in FY 15 and that will be under- taken in FY 16 and for which the revenue has been previously received. For ex- ample, the bond proceeds for the Norwalk Community Infrastructure Study (NCIS) projects are reported in the FY 15 year-end estimate, but a significant amount of expenditures for construction work are included in the FY 16 budget. A fund bal- ance sheet of all of the different funds the City has, including projected revenues, expenditures and balances through June 30, 2017 can be found on the City's website at: http://www.norwalk.iowa.gov/YourGovemment/CityFinancialInformation.aspx. Personnel The bulk of the City's budget is driven by personnel costs. The City currently has 50 regular, full-time and 12 part-time regular authorized positions. (Not all posi- tions are currently occupied.) Of the 50 current full-time employees: 15 are in the Police Department; 14 in Pub- lic Works; four in Fire, three in Library; two in Administration; two in administrative support roles; two in customer service/utility billing; one and a half in Community and Economic Development; two and a half in Planning and Building; and four in Parks and Recreation. Approximately 28 paid on call employees comprise the rest of the employees in the Fire Department. A current organizational chart is included in your packet. Of the 12 regular part-time employees, all are in the Library. In the FY 13 budget, there was a great deal of discussion regarding additional funding and funding was included in the budget that year to expand the City's Fire/ EMS services to have overnight, in-house staffing and to add a Police officer. A total of $240,000 was budgeted for this purpose. Partial additional staffing was included in the budget and full staffing levels were tied to the franchise fee, which went to a vote and was defeated in August, 2012. The Fire/EMS costs were approximately $130,000 of the $240,000 total. The expansion of services was also predicated on an EMS rate increase, which was projected to increase revenues by $70,000 to $200,000. Given the outcome of the franchise fee vote, the Fire Department was able to increase services to offer week- end, in-house coverage in FY 13, but not able to offer the overnight, in-house cover- age. While not sufficient to Offer the full, in-house coverage yet, the City's budget includes an additional $51,558for EMS personnel funding to cover night shifts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. This does not meet all of the department's staffing needs, but is a start to build towards providing sufficient levels. The City also solicited and received a COPS (Community Oriented Policing) grant to add a police officer. Recruitment is underway and the officer should be hired in the near future. This will help towards the goal of having two officers on patrol at any given time. Future Issues In 2013, the State Legislature adopted measures which devalued the commercial property in the State of Iowa by 10% this year. The legislation also reduces over a period of time, the valuation Of apartment buildings from commercial to residential meaning apartment buildings will eventually be subject to the residential rollback. The City's total loss of revenue in FY 16 due to the State action would be approxi- mately $145,229, $102,463 of which translates to a loss to the General Fund. The State initi ly indicated its intent partially to reimburse cities for this revenue loss for two years and possibly longer. (For example, the City is receiving $52,463 in reim- bursements for FY 16 for General Fund revenues losses; $18,739 in Special Revenue and $24,026 in the Debt Service fund, for a total of $95,228. The other revenue losses that are not reimbursed are related to the devaluation of taxable value of apartment buildings.) The discussion so far this year has been around whether or not they can continue the reimbursement, so the future of that revenue is uncertain. City staff is constantly looking for ways in which we can reduce expenditures, increase efficiencies or secure outside funding to help accomplish the City's goals. To that end, in 2013, staff made changes to a number of contracts and procedures which continue to save the City money. Examples include the changes made to the City's insurance plan to self-fund a portion of the deductible, an action which contin- ued to save mone) $90,000 in 2014. Also, in 2014 and to date in 2015, the City re- ceived $70,168 in grants (this does not include COPS grant revenue), contributions and donations to assist with capital projects, economic development and training and identified an additional $8,366 in savings, for a total savings of $98,366 in 2014. We will continue to aggressively pursue alternative revenue sources to fund City projects whenever possible. It remains a goal of the City to further enhance public safety when the revenues are there. Revenue enhancement in the General Fund is extremely limited. Growth is the long-term solution, however addressing the needs in the interim is challeng- ing. Currently, 90% of Norwalk's valuation is residential the property category which will pay property taxes on only 55.7335% of its value during the next year. The maximum levy rate that can be charged for the general fund is $8.10 per thousand dollars of taxable valuation, a rate which has not changed in 40 years. The City has the option of levying an emergency levy, limited to $0.27 per thousand dollars of taxable valuation, which it currently does. The City has in place a hotel/motel tax which would be a General Fund revenue, but collects none currently because there is no hotel yet in town. The release of TIF value has helped the General Fund because the valuation then becomes available for the City (as well as Norwalk Community School District, Warren County and other taxing entities) to collect general taxes from that value. While revenue enhancement is extremely limited in the General Fund, expendi- ture growth is not. For example, the City's cost for providing public safety commu- nications (and respond to Federal mandates) is going from $110;000 in the current fiscal year to $199,000 in FY 16. Staff is working to curtail the cost as much as pos- sible, but it is critical to meet the Federal requirements and provide appropriate com- munications and support to our first responders. Capital Updates This City is beginning a number of large capital projects. First, the Norwalk Com- munity Infrastructure Study that was finished in 2013 produced a project list based on the condition of the streets. The streets conditions were then correlated with the amount of use they receive to develop recommendations to prioritize projects. The Council identified the two Sections of Wakonda and a section of Holly (between Shady Lane and Knoll Drive), along with sidewalks on Happy Hollow as the first areas for construction. Engineering work has been completed, contracts awarded and the contractors'have requested pre-construction meetings. The bond to fund the improvements was sold in January. A regional stormwater retention pond in the industrial park is in the final design stages and another in Orchard View is in preliminary design. The facility should be located somewhere in the industrial park area. Additionally, in the same area, an expansion of Colonial Parkway is planned. Other projects budgeted for next year have been touched on briefly and a full copy of the capital plan can be found on the City's website at: http://www.norwalk.iowa.gov/YourGovemment/CityFinancial Information.aspx. It should be worth noting here that there are significant identified needs for which no funding source has been identified. There are ongoing needs in water and streets. The City is facing several challenges both short term and long term with its water system. As the community grows'so will the demand. The water distribution system is in need of some major upgrades in the older part of the community and one of the Concluded p. 9 ' , : : ,i :~ ! . /!', , ', ;c