After a lengthy discussion, the Anamosa City Council members voted to set their max levy rate at the previous year’s level.
The published max levy was proposed at $14.656 per $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of $.64 per $1,000, in addition to the 5.5 percent increase of assessed values in town.
In addition to the annual increases in wages and benefits, City Administrator Jacob Sheridan said that the increase was needed to keep upkeep on the amenities that the city had, citing that the Lawrence Community Center needed a roof repair, if not a full replacement.
“There’s been a lot of facility maintenance costs that have been deferred on that facility because we didn’t have the money,” he said. “If we want to maintain that great facility and attract people to our community because of it, then we have to maintain it.”
However, the public stated that the increase was more than they could afford.
“Increasing the levy rate at this time when…assessments went up significantly is a little excessive for some households,” Dennis Holland said.
Dawn Koob said she feared the effect it would have on small businesses, not only in their ability to stay open, but also their ability to donate to various causes around town.
“We’re losing any small advantage that we had before of attracting people into town,” Dick Dearborn said
Even the members of the city council were wary of the increase.
“When you talk about trying to attract and maintain existing families and residents and attracting new ones, I don’t think this is going to help,” Council Member Jeff Stout said, noting Anamosa was already high when compared to surrounding communities.
“I’ve been here since 1997 and I love this town,” Council Member Alan Zumbach said. “I want to stay here…we can make it through (the tax increase), but there are a lot of people that are living paycheck to paycheck.”
Zumbach said he wondered if there was something the city could do to alleviate the hike. Council Member Rich Crump said he’d like to see the city set up a five-year plan to make proposed changes in stages to cover maintenance costs looming on the horizon.
When asked where he saw the ability to make cuts, Sheridan said the only spot where he saw wiggle room was with the health insurance numbers, which was estimated at a 7 percent increase, which he believed would come in a little lower.
Mike Dearborn said it was time for the council to make some tough decisions.
Council Member Rich Crump made the motion to set the max levy rate at the same rate as the previous year, $14.0195 per $1,000 of assessed value. That set the overall increase for city properties at 5.5 percent, or the amount assessments went up.
The move means that the general fund has to be cut a little more than $88,000 before the final budget. A work session was set for Monday, March 2, and Tuesday, March 3.