The most pressing business matter on the Carroll City Council agenda Monday night was the public hearing on the proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget. Shortly after the hearing was opened, Carroll resident and former County Supervisor, Mark Beardmore, requested the opportunity to ask questions of the council. He says he wants to make it clear he was only representing himself, but felt he needs to go on record, objecting to the proposed budget and a three percent tax increase for Carroll residents.
Beardmore says this is not about the library, “that ship has sailed.” He asked for a general dialog to be opened with council members and city staff. Although the entire county was subject to property tax assessed valuations that rose by about seven percent, Beardmore wants to know how the city was going to work to bring tax levies down further to offset those higher valuations. Mayor, Dr. Eric Jensen, says the city’s total levy rate actually dropped from $11.59 to $11.28 and the debt levy has also decreased by 50 cents, from $1.28 to 88 cents.
Rich valuations are a sign of economic development, not a bad thing, Beardmore says. However, he would not have been at the meeting if a promise had not been made. City Manager, Mike Pogge-Weaver, says he wants to stress the point that the library and city hall projects are coming out of the debt service levy, and it is lowering. Beardmore’s main source of information on the details of the tax increase are from a recent print article he claims flat-out pointed to the project as the reason. Perhaps, he added, it may be in-part incorrect. The bottom line for him, however, was the information put out prior to the referendum vote last year and he wants council to answer to that.
Jensen says they will “own” what was put up on the website. LaVern Dirkx and Jerry Fleshner say they had no citizens approach them with the idea that the city would not be borrowing any money at all for the project. In fact, Fleshner adds, the citizens voted on the spending of $3.8 million. According to Pogge-Weaver, the three percent increase will be covering inflationary issues as well as rising employee costs. In part also, the city is building a reserve for the street maintenance facility to save interest costs for Carroll citizens in the long run. It is a balancing act being conscientious of the taxpayer and living within their means, but also making sure that there aren’t potholes in the streets and the services the citizens need are readily available. Carroll has seen very modest tax increases over the years and Pogge-Weaver says this continues that trend.
The other comparison of note is the average home value to total city taxes. In Denison, for instance, a $95,000 home is taxed in the $950 range. In Carroll, a $125,000 homeowner will pay about $750. So higher value and lower taxes. This comparative data can be found here, along with a link to the entire budget that was adopted by the council.
Carroll Budget Link: http://www.cityofcarroll.com/Uploads/PDF’s%20for%20site/CompleteFY19BudgetBinder.pdf