The Beatrice City Council approved the city budget with a small tax increase for the coming year on Tuesday night.
The approval followed an overview of the budget the week before, where City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer said the budget had only minor changes.
This is due largely to the fact that the city has a biennial budget that covers two budget years. The city is currently in the middle of its budget cycle, but the council reviews changes and what Beatrice can expect in the fiscal year.
“We’re in our biennial budget and we talked about some of the changes that we’re looking at,” Tempelmeyer said. “Really, there’s not many changes for the fiscal year 2019 budget. We do have a two-year budget, but we come back and have a public hearing in the middle of it just so everybody is on track and knows what we approved already, where we’re going.”
One approved change was a minor increase to the tax levy expected to generate an additional $17.70 in taxes on a $100,000 of property valuation.
“We’re looking at really two things when it comes to the property tax request for fiscal year 2019,” Tempelmeyer said. “One being the public safety debt that we issued during fiscal year 2018. Those payments started to come due. The other portion of that is the municipal equalization funds are decreasing next year by about $250,000 for the city. What we are presenting tonight is a levy increase of about 1.77 cents.”
One member of the public, Wayne Bruns, attended the public hearing Tuesday and questioned of this was the right time to raise the levy. Bruns asked if the increase, plus a county proposal to raise taxes as high as allowed to prepare for potential Beatrice 6 payments, would hurt the chances of another sales tax proposal going before voters in November to build a new fire station.
“With the Beatrice 6 thing coming on the taxes, and people notice that, I just don’t think it’s good timing now to put this on there,” he said.
The Nov. 6 general election ballot will feature an item that could add a half cent sales tax in Beatrice to fund the proposed new fire station.
The council approved the budget unanimously, with members Dwight Parde and Rich Kerr absent.
On the Board of Public Works side of the city none of the utility departments, electric, water and waste pollution control, are expecting rate increases for customers this year.
Total revenues for the city are higher than anticipated, largely because of a $650,000 settlement for the gas plant cleanup downtown.
Expenses are expected to be down in the coming fiscal year in part due to more projects in 2018, including improvements at Hannibal Park.