City council will hold a budget hearing on Tuesday
North Platte City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget on Tuesday, giving voters an opportunity to speak and intervene.
The hearing will be held at City Hall, 211 West Third.
The board will vote on the budget at a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
The general fund budget of $34.6 million includes expenditures of $1.8 million more, an increase of about half a percent over last year.
On the revenue side, sales tax revenues are expected to increase by $1.2 million. That, plus a $3 million increase in the city’s initial cash balance and other income, contributes to a predictable overall increase of $6 million.
Property valuations are higher, but the rate of tourist tax (levy) will decrease by approximately 1%. Individual homeowners will see a slight increase in their property taxes for the city, totaling approximately $600,000 across the city.
In addition, water, electric and sewer rates will each increase by about 3.65%, City Administrator Layne Groseth told council during a budget working session Sept. 1. .
Groseth said the cost of electrical supplies such as wiring, pipes and transformers has risen sharply. In addition, the city will need to replace approximately $12 million in water mains over the next two years. The electrical network on the north side would need to be replaced.
The city will also charge about $200,000 more in user fees than last year, including for the delivery of pedestrian barricades, traffic cones, garbage cans and picnic tables during special events. Groseth also said an additional $200,000 is expected from an occupancy tax levied on jurisdictional casinos.
Groseth said departments have worked hard to contain costs. Despite inflation, departments have slashed about $1.8 million from their budgets from a year ago by stretching resources and looking for places to cut costs. That money is carried over to this year, helping to boost the city’s starting cash balance and keep property taxes relatively low.
The overall 2022-23 budget also contains a $20 million increase for sewer spending, but the money will not come from municipal taxes. Groseth said the money is a state grant for a new sewer at the Sustainable Beef plant.
The budget also provides for a new elevator as well as repairs to the roof of the public library, but these expenditures will not increase the library’s budget from that of the previous year.
During the discussion on the police department, Chief Steve Reeves said the department is almost fully staffed now that salaries have been increased at a competitive rate. The police department’s budget is about $900,000 higher than a year ago, while the fire department’s budget is up about $400,000.
Reeves mentioned the police department was considering a contract with Great Plains Health to provide security assistance, but he did not elaborate.
Councilman Ed Rieker asked about plans for improvements to the police and fire (public safety) building. Rieker said the building’s sewage system is built into the walls, making repairs difficult, and some sinks and toilets can no longer be used.
In response, Groseth said a $45,000 feasibility study is planned using money from federal COVID-19 relief funds. He plans to come back to the council later to specifically ask for this allowance.
For more details, the hour-long budget work session can be seen below. It can be viewed in whole or in part.
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