Sioux City is proposing higher property taxes in its operating budget for fiscal year 2014. But, in talks Tuesday, the city council said they'd like to avoid it.
Sioux City has a heap of budget challenges to overcome. They include less funding from the state, increased litigation costs, and bigger payments to the state's police and fire pension system.
City Manager Paul Eckert says to make next year's budget work, departments were asked to cut where they could.
"They were tasked six months ago with finding ways to do all the services they currently do, with less," said Eckert.
On top of that, the city's administration has offered a list of other changes. Eliminate five full-time positions by not filling open jobs. Keep part-time employees at 29 hours to avoid fines from the Affordable Heath Care Act. And finally, a proposal the council doesn't want to resort to, upping the property tax rate by 1.3%. With the state rollback that's an increase of $43 for the average homeowner.
"We take a property tax increase very seriously. We don't want to if we don't have to," said Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott.
Scott says it'll be a challenge to keep the city's share of the tax rate from increasing. He says the council will need to slice out an additional $500 thousand dollars, from the already skinny proposed budget.
"We're just going to be scraping the edges now. It's going to be very difficult to get a whole lot more out of these budgets, but we are going to do what we can. Everything is under the microscope," said Scott.
The city council will be reviewing the proposed operating budget for the next few weeks. They're scheduled to vote to approve it Monday, February 25th.