But the big question was by how much how much; now it seems we finally have an answer.
The city is about $2.7 million dollars short of meeting its needs for the next year.And city leaders have been whittling away at that amount so you don't have to pay a lot more in property taxes.
" At this stage, it-- there's no indication of what it will even be yet so I'm not going to go out and say we're going to have an eighty three dollar tax increase 'cause I can tell you that's not going to happen. There's- I don't think there's any willingness on the council for that to happen," Mayor Bob Scott told Siouxland News' Beairshelle Edmé when asked in January about the possibility of increased taxes.
Now, despite Council's willingness, property taxes are going up. The city's operational budget before Tuesday's study session meeting was set at about $179 million dollars.
Since then changes have been made, including the increase of property taxes by $83. It's now been lowered to an increase of $31. In spite of city cut-backs and a soft hiring freeze, there's still a $2.7 million dollar budget gap that needs to be filled, which is where your tax dollars come in. "We did our best to hold the line on taxes. It's been a very challenging year, uh , with the loss of revenues from different revenue sources and not being able to increase revenue it's been a real challenge for us," said Sioux City Council Member Dan Moore. In order to counter the budget shortfall, officials also proposed closing Lewis Pool because of its high repair expenses, but that plan has since been taken off the table.
Lewis Pool and the four other public pool plan to open July 1st, at which time city leaders want staff to evaluate their pool facilities and their needs.
Unlike public pools, libraries though will take a small hit.
Both the Perry Creek and Morningside branches will have reduced hours to save the city about $27,000 in wages and utilities.
Several city departments will also receive some cuts to save about $190,000. "We're gonna eliminate a part-time budget analysis. We're eliminating the transit fleet purchasing manager and then there's some other, you know, one position will be downgraded or upgraded type things," said Donna Forker, Sioux City's budget and finance manager. Forker said these changes won't mean lay-offs for any city employees; instead, vacant positions won't be filled and others will be combined to help decrease the budget gap.
A public hearing on the budget is set for Monday, February 24th at the council chambers.
After that, it's expected the council members will vote on the new budget.
If you have a story you want to tell or an incident you think needs to be investigated, our reporter Beairshelle Edmé wants to hear about it.BEdme@siouxlandnews.comfacebook.com/beairshelle.edme OR twitter.com/BeairshelleKMEG