After four earlier years of input, City Manager Mary Bunting has a pretty good idea of how the citizens value city services. Last year, more than 2,500 people offered their views. The result: After 4 years of significant budget cuts for both city and schools, close to 90% of those involved said it was time to adjust the tax rate to maintain existing city and school services and programs. In addition, most agreed that it was time to start investing to help the city reach strategic goals and the schools increase access to technology.
The full revenue picture isn't in yet, but the biggest portion of city revenues comes from property taxes, and taxable assessments are down 1.2%. In addition, both city and school operations are seeing expense increases due to factors outside their control. For the city, rising costs at the regional jail and other regional services are a factor, as are increases in retirement programs. The schools also face retirement increase, and at the same time, cuts in revenue from the state.