Newspaper Archive of
N. Warren Town and County News
Norwalk, Iowa
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 Nine MARKETA OLIVER Concluded from p. 7 larger capital improvement projects included in this budget is the replacement of water mains in the area south of North Avenue. There are several small water lines and dead end lines that hinder water quality and fire protection. Limited funds have been budgeted to address some of these issues on an annual basis as they directly impact health and safety. The community has only one transmission line that feeds our system. That combined with limited storage will need to be considered. In wa- ter, in FY 19, the City is planning for the construction of a pump station and trunk main. This project is estimated to be around $2,000,000. In the streets area, it is our desire to begin a mill and overlay program, through which a little is done each year throughout the community. Changes to the gas tax made during this year's legisla- tive session could be a much-needed source of funding overlay projects. Parks is another area in which capital improvements have been sporadic due to funding. Funding for park equipment for a new Orchard Hills Park is currently identified in FY 17 in the capital plan however, no funding source has been deter- mined. The City knows that there are serious maintenance and other concerns with the pool. Policy Initiatives/Accomplishments Throughout the past year to eighteen months, the City has taken on some major initiatives. We partnered with local developers to solicit and ultimately win the 2014 Home Show Expo. The Expo was held the last three weekends in July of 2014 and brought approximately 12,000 people into Norwalk. The Expo was considered a huge success by the developers and the Home Builders Association. The City has submitted to become a "certified site" through the State of Iowa, which means that our property information will be immediately available for out of state inquiries and will give us a competitive edge. There are currently only six communities pursuing this designation and the funding to complete the process was included in the FY 15 budgeted and the annexation of the properties identified in the application was completed in 2014. In October, the City kicked off the "City Improvement Advisory Committee" pro- cess, in conjunction with the "School Improvement Advisory Committee" process. The response from the community has been fantastic. Following an article the Mayor wrote in Norwalk Living, a number of residents volunteered and are working on the three different committees, which include Infrastructure; Economic Development and Public Safety. The committees are working in their respective areas and will report at the wrap up meeting in April. We will also schedule the committees to present directly to Council members at a council meeting. One of the greatest developments of the past year is the addition of Produce Inno- vations to the Norwalk business community. Upon opening, Produce Innovations became the City's largest private employer. The past action by the City to construct public infrastructure in the industrial park area was successful in helping spur de- velopment there. The City also appreciates the participation of Warren' County through an economic development grant and the assistance from Warren County Economic Development Corporation making the prospect of Loffredo Gardens a reality in Norwalk. Additionally, in the area of development, the City entered a development agree- ment with Hy-Vee. This will be more growth in the industrial/commerce park and could spur yet wider growth in that area. Funding for signalized intersections at Chatham/Hwy 28 and Echo Valley Drive/Hwy 28 is included in the five-year capital plan, should they be warranted in that time frame. Upcoming Issues Street lighting is an issue staff will approach this upcoming year. Our FY 16 bud- get projection is a cost of $115,000. I would like topursue the possibility of LED street lighting. The City installed LED lighting on Colonial Parkway east of High- way 28 and they have worked very well. I would also like to pursue discussions with MidAmerican representatives to identify any and all options to contain or re- duce lighting costs, especially in the face of possible rate increases. Reserve Levels The City's General Fund reserve levels are currently an area which could use em- phasis. The FY 16 budget adds $63,206 to the General Fund reserves. The City's General Fund reserve is critical because it is the City's only unrestricted reserve. Utility reserve balances are adequate and the stormwater balance is quite healthy and has been built up in anticipation of large capital projects, projects also included in the FY 16 budget. Legislative Issues The City remains concerned about the elimination of the backfill to local govern- ments. The projected FY 17 budget does not include any of the reimbursements, but would be helped a great deal by their presence. The City applauds the legislature in their efforts to address transportation funding. Benchmarking City staff members are continually looking for ways to enhance efficiency and reduce costs. Following is a graph benchmarking Norwalk's General Fund expendi- tures for FY 15 compared to those of surrounding and comparable communities. This information is taken from State budget forms filed with the Department of Management. FY 15 Per Capita General Fund Expenditures $800 - $700 $600 $500 $400 S300 $200 SI00 SO owship Community Church www.fcc n o rwal k.o rg (s s) Tax Rate]Residential Rollback The projected tax rate is $15.69376 per $1,000 of taxable valuation. This rate is effectively the same as last year's rate of $15.68944. Combined with the residential rollback rate of 55.7335%, the average homeowner in Norwalk will pay a total of $1,551.61 in City property taxes, which is $37.53 above the 2015 amount of $1,514.08. The stability of the City levy rate and the amount of taxes a property owner will actually pay is a primary objective in our budgeting. With the City property taxes of $1,551.61, this means that for approximately $129.30 per month, the citizens and visitors of Norwalk receive 24 hour Police and Fire protection; emergency medical services; recreational facilities and parks programming; road repair and reconstruc- tion; utility assistance for those in need; capital projects upgrading the infrastructure they use every day; snow removal; and a host of other services and protections. It is important to note that City property taxes are not the only taxes a resident pays. To that end, the City works with the Norwalk Community School District to try to contain costs for the end payer. The joint maintenance facility and technology project was recognized last year by the International Association of City/County Management with a Program Excellence Award. Continuing those partnerships, the City and School are also partnering on HVAC maintenance, an effort which is also going well and recently purchased a joint piece of equipment, part of which was paid for by a grant. Following is a chart depicting the distribution of property taxes for FY 15. where do taxes go? If you have questions regarding the City's budget, please do not hesitate to con- tact the City Manager at 981-0228, extension 2254. Deadline for ads, legals and stories is Noon Friday! SUBSCRIBE TODAY! Send $18 check or money order for a one year subscription to PO Box 325, Norwalk, IA 50211 1 We Offer: Preschool (3's, 4's, 5's) ChUdcare, B/A School Care Summer Programming (PK & School Age) Elementary Program Piano &Voice Lessons We are expanding our program to include Kindergarten & I st Grade! Please call for a tour & more information! The .... eo ,n Warren Comnarahle Cities Coun'h/ m Ci~n General Fund per Capita ex#enditufe fortarger cities in Warrencounty is$5411 which is $3,l MORE@an ;~ :,rwalk. median pe~ capit~ expend~tu[e ~0r comparab e cities acroossthestateis S649,o~ S172 MORE than Norwa}