City Council Unanimously Approves FY 2015 Budget

Oskaloosa City Hall

Oskaloosa City Hall

By Eduardo Zamarripa, CRI Weekly News

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The Oskaloosa City Council unanimously approved the budget amendment for fiscal year 2014, as well as the budget for fiscal year 2015 on Monday night.

City Manager Michael Schrock gave a 55-minute presentation on the approved budgets. The city approved amending the FY 2014 budget and added an additional $294,946 to that budget. According to the city council agenda, “the changes are due to local option sales tax projects, grant funding, pavement management projects, water utility, sanitary sewer utility and the airport project.”

The city’s total expenses for FY 2014 are $20,624,836, and its total revenue is $18,807,196.

The council also unanimously approved a budget of $24,873,307 for FY 2015. The city anticipates the new Fire Station being the No. 1 project this next fiscal year. Along with that, the city also has to replace equipment for the police and fire departments, and has agreed to contribute to the Forest Cemetery ($50,000 for FY 2015, and $50,000 for the amended FY 2014 budget), the Animal Shelter ($43,000), and the Chamber of Commerce ($37,500).

In addition to that, the city’s property tax rate will decrease from $14 per $1,000 of assessed value to $13.85816. However, Schrock the average taxpayer will pay “just a few dollars more per year” because of mandated rollback changes. The residential rollback is up from 52.82 percent to 54.50 percent. That means that a homeowner with a home assessed at $70,000 will see a $10 tax increase.

“They’re going to pay more for their house (property taxes), and that’s not something that you as a council control. It’s outside of your control,” Schrock said.

Schrock also said that commercial/industrial rollbacks have decreased from 100 percent to 95 percent.

In other agenda items, the council reconsidered a motion to revise the site plan requirements for a housing development project called “Tuscany Village” located at 1510 Edmundson Drive.

In its last meeting, the council denied the revision of site plan requirements on a five-to-two vote. Brian Booy requested a waiver from the site plan’s sidewalk construction stipulation.

Councilmen Jason Van Zetten and Aaron Ver Steeg voted in favor of allowing the revision, but the council voted it down.

Booy attended the meeting on Monday (March 3) and asked the council to reconsider its decision. Booy said people are waiting to move-in in six of his properties. But before that happens, Booy needs a certificate of occupancy from the council to allow people to move in. That permit hasn’t been granted because the sidewalk requirements haven’t been met.

“The request to deny this (the sidewalk requirement), really isn’t here to say, ‘I don’t want to do the sidewalks.’ I guess I’m just asking, as you see the letter, what we need to do to (receive) an occupancy permit when there isn’t any sidewalks on here,” Booy said.

Van Zetten supported waiving the sidewalk requirement for Booy.

“I think we should be laying new sidewalks with new construction, I’ve said that before, as long as there’s a connectivity plan to it,” Van Zetten said.

Schrock said that the site plan submitted by Booy in 2011 originally included the construction of sidewalks, which is why the staff recommended not granting Booy a waiver.

Van Zetten then proposed a motion waiving the sidewalk requirement until the city figures out where the sidewalk would connect to. At that point, Booy would have to comply and build the sidewalks.

That motion failed on a five-to-two vote. Ver Steeg and Van Zetten voted “yes.”

Following the failed motion, Councilwoman Scottie Moore made a motion to grant a temporary certificate of occupancy for six months. After those six months, Booy would have to build the sidewalks. The council unanimously approved the motion.

The council debated the decision for 40 minutes.

The next city council meeting is on March 17 at 6 p.m.

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