SCOTTSBLUFF — As a new budget year approaches on Oct. 1, Scottsbluff City Council members got their first reading on the new city budget for fiscal year 2018-19.
With a total taxable value of just under $886 million, Scottsbluff is requesting the property tax be set at $1.91 million for the city and $54,100 for the downtown business improvement district.
The levy will remain the same as last year at $216 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, for a rate of .0026.
Scottsbluff City Manager Nathan Johnson said their budgeted operating expenses for the upcoming year are $30.102 million, an increase of $2.905 million, mostly due to economic development.
“You can see this is a no-frills budget,” Johnson told council members. “We’ve had to downsize a few things but were able to keep the full-time equivalent employees the same as last year.”
Johnson said that in the future, the city will try to allocate more funding into economic development to reinvest in the community.
“We hope our sales tax revenues will increase because we’re heavily tied to that revenue,” he said. “Eighty-four percent of our general find comes from sales taxes. Three percent is from property tax and 8 percent from franchise taxes.”
A second reading and public hearing for the draft budget has been scheduled for a special council meeting on Monday, Sept. 10, at noon in the council chambers.
The final reading and passage of the new budget will be at the next regular council meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 17.
The council also heard the second reading on a number of ordinances, updating fees for electronics waste collection for non-residents; utility user fees for water and sewer, solid waste collection and storm water surcharges.
The council also approved an ordinance that will charge fees for non-residents for yard waste and tree disposal.
In other action, council members approved sending out Request for Proposals for sanitation services. One option is to privatize the entire solid waste collection process.
Another option would continue collection as currently in place, with city employees collecting trash and delivering it to a transfer station or landfill.
A third option would be to consider another proposal from interested parties.
’We want to measure our own services to make sure they’re cost effective,” Johnson said. “We also want to look at all options on the table pertaining to sanitation services.”
The council also approved the first phase of a contract with Laramie, Wyoming-based Trihydro Corporation for engineering services for siting, permitting and designing a new landfill for Scottsbluff and Gering. Gering will also need to approve the contract.
The first phase will cost $264,512 for site assessment and investigation of five potential individual sites. The monies will come from the sinking fund both cities established to pay for siting a new landfill.
If both councils vote to pursue the other three phases of the project, the total cost would come to $878,272.
Marjorie Bedessem, project manager for Trihydro, said success of the project is dependent not only on having good criteria, but also on transparency and strong communications throughout the process so no one is surprised.