Taxes talks top meeting

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 2, 2000

Because of the Labor Day holiday, the Austin City Council will meet Tuesday at 5:30 p.

Saturday, September 02, 2000

Because of the Labor Day holiday, the Austin City Council will meet Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers.

Email newsletter signup

Maybe an extra day to talk with constituents won’t hurt; Tuesday is the day the council will set its preliminary tax levy. After that, although the process of fine-tuning the budget won’t be finished until the Truth in Taxation hearing at the end of November, the levy may only be decreased, not increased.

And an increase is almost certain this year for the first time in nearly a decade – the question that remains is how much of an increase. At a council Finance committee meeting last week, committee members recommended a maximum increase of 8 percent, or $200,000. That increase would bring the city’s total tax levy to $2,363,795.

Unanswered and undecided budget requests include the hiring of two additional police officers, a move that looks increasingly likely and that would bring the department’s manpower up to 30 full-time officers. More questionable is the replacement of a full-time firefighter’s position, funding for an intern at the J.C. Hormel Nature Center, replacement of brick with exposed aggregate in the downtown mall area, a new vehicle, dog and supplies for the police K-9 unit, play equipment for Wildwood and North Todd Park and $200,000 to move Marcusen Ball Park. Those are all requests, among others, not included in a preliminary budget prepared by city staff. The final decision on budgeting, however, rests with the elected officials.

A public hearing on the levy increase will be held at the beginning of the council meeting; members of the public are invited to comment.

There will also be public hearings Tuesday on the business subsidy agreement with the Cooperative Response Center – this hearing has been repeatedly delayed, but is expected to take place this time – and on the final platting of the property at the corner of Fourth Street and First Drive NW known as The Point.

And, while where to get the $800,000 to build a four-diamond baseball complex at Riverland Community College is still an unknown, the council will vote on a $68,000 appropriation from the city’s Building Fund to begin work on the complex. At least one additional diamond is needed at Riverland, to replace the field removed from Wescott Field earlier this year. The money to create that diamond is being loaned by the city to the school district, and will be paid back with funds from the Wescott Field fund-raiser.

Other items on Tuesday’s agenda include a resolution to receive a grant from the Federal Highway Administration for a trail to East Side Lake and a motion approving a proposal for inspection of the city’s two dams, at a cost of $5,000 each. The costs may be reimbursed by FEMA, should the inspections reveal any damage from the July flooding.

City Council meetings are open to the public and take place in the Council Chambers on the lower level of the Municipal Building at 500 Fourth Ave. NE.