Tax levy, proposed budget top council agenda

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 5, 1999

The Austin City Council could approve a proposed budget and property tax levy when it meets in regular session Monday.

Sunday, December 05, 1999

The Austin City Council could approve a proposed budget and property tax levy when it meets in regular session Monday.

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The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers at the Austin Municipal Building.

Last Tuesday evening, the Austin City Council and Mayor Bonnie Rietz held the required Truth In Taxation hearing to unveil the city’s proposed year 2000 budget of $20,277,794 and an eighth consecutive unchanged proposed year 2000 property tax levy of $2,163,795.

No objections were heard.

Both the proposed budget and levy were unanimously approved by the council members (only Mickey Jorgenson, 1st Ward, was absent).

The proposed year 2000 city budget increases by a scant 2.5 percent over 1999’s actual budget of $19,785,067.

The city’s general fund is slated to get the lion’s share of the proposed levy, $,233,232, while Austin Public Library will get $406,551 and the Austin Port Authority, $21,890.

Debt service (general obligation improvement bonds) will receive $320,791.

The Austin Board of Education has also approved a proposed year 2000 budget and property tax levy. In the case of the school district, it calls for a 15.48 percent levy decrease.

But Mower County is also proposing a property tax levy decrease of its own, 13.8 percent.

However, the proposed levy deceases must be weighed against the financial condition of each government entity.

The Austin School District is bathed in red ink and was chastised for its deficit spending habits that has placed the district in six-figure amounts of red ink.

As accountant Darwin Vickers of the Austin LAWCO offices pointed out at District No. 492’s TNT hearing, shifts in the property tax burden, class rates changes and new educational/agricultural credits allowed the district to reduce its levy.

Meanwhile, Mower County apparently has more money than county staff and officials know.

At the county’s TNT hearing last Thursday, repeated questions from citizens about the size of the county’s excess fund balance held in reserve failed to get definitive answers.

It appears the amount is at the $35 million level.

Another visit from the State Auditor’s staff resulted in another reminder to the county to reduce its reserves in late November.

County officials claim they are doing that, but they are levying for $592,000 for their building fund.

The subject of taxes, the city, school district and county levies combine to form the entire property tax levy for residents, is sure to come up at Monday’s council meeting.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Austin Mayor Bonnie Rietz will announce her choice to replace Kenneth Regner on the Austin Utilities Board of Commissioners.

Regner is resigning at the end of the year and the new appointee will fill his unexpired term for year 2000 and must decide to run for election to the post next November.

The agenda also includes:

– An award presented to the city for wining the annual Mower County/City of Austin food drive for the Salvation Army Austin Corps.

– Report on the vacation in Sterling Place 4th Addition.

– A property transfer to the Austin Port Authority.

– A request to waive subdivision regulations for Betty Srock and David Buxton.

– An orderly annexation request from Michael and Elaine Wagner.

– A request for the city to remove an accumulation of garbage at the property owner’s expense.