SL Council Begins City Budget Process

The Storm Lake City Council is beginning the task of developing the city budget for the fiscal year that begins on July first.

Monday evening, finance director Brian Oakleaf reviewed revenue issues that will affect the city’s budget over the next several years. He told the council the city’s general and emergency funds are capped, which are the only funds available to pay for operations and salaries. He noted 53-percent of the general fund is used to pay for the police and fire departments.

Oakleaf said the state has rolled-back property taxes on commercial and industrial property, with the state providing “backfill” funds to the city to make up the difference… but there’s no guarantee that will continue. He also noted the tax levy on multi-residential housing is being cut by the state, which has a profound effect on Storm Lake… and there are few options to replace that lost revenue.

City manager Jim Patrick suggested taxes will go up and city services will be cut in the future. Patrick noted the city charges a three-percent franchise fee to gas and electric utilities, and that could be raised to five-percent, which would help the city’s budget.

Oakleaf told the council developing the city budget is a two-and-a-half month process, with a budget workshop for council scheduled for February seventh.