City of Decatur aims for same tax rate

By Brian Knox | Published Wednesday, August 16, 2017
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The city of Decatur is working on a budget that won’t require much if any increase in the tax rate, the city council was told Monday.

During a budget workshop, City Finance Director Mike Erwin said the proposed budget includes a couple of items missing from last year’s budget: an extra $114,000 for a 2 percent salary increase for employees and funding for a number of capital projects, including a backhoe, chipper truck, fire station repairs and completion of the city’s water meter project.

The budget also includes funding for a full-time building inspector and a part-time fire inspector.

One thing the budget does not include is a water or sewer rate increase like last year.

Overall, the city is proposing an expenditure budget of $8,142,742 in the general fund and $4,993,441 in the water and sewer fund.

Erwin said the budget committee proposed a tax rate a fraction of a penny higher than the current rate.

“We always want a balanced budget,” he said. “We are at 70.3 cents (per $100 valuation), and the suggestion was to propose 70.5 as our advertised rate. It can go lower than that.”

He explained the city traditionally sets the tax rate slightly higher than what they think will be needed just to give them a little flexibility in case of last-minute emergency items that might need to be added to the budget. Otherwise, he expected the council to keep the tax rate the same.

“So effectively if the proposed rate ends up at 70.3 cents, then we’re not raising our tax rates, we’re not raising our water rates and we’re not raising our sewer rates,” he said.

During the regular meeting following the workshop, the council did propose the 70.5 cent tax rate.

Public hearings on the tax rate were scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 28 and Sept. 5 and on the budget for 6 p.m. Sept. 5. The tax rate and budget will be approved at the Sept. 11 meeting.

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