Council proposes lowering levy

The Fairfield City Council plans to lower its property tax levy in the 2019-2020 budget.

The current levy is about $15.79 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Under the proposed budget for next fiscal year, the levy would fall more than 8 cents to $15.70584.

Fairfield City Administrator Aaron Kooiker said a 6-cent reduction in the debt service levy, falling from $3.15 per $1,000 assessed valuation to $3.09, is the driving force behind the reduction in the overall levy. He also mentioned that the council was able to reduce the levy by diverting a portion of the 1 percent Local Option Sales Tax toward property tax relief.

Anticipated revenue for 2019-2020 is $4,915,000, up almost $1 million from this year’s budgeted revenue of $3,842,000. Expenditures, meanwhile, for 2019-2020 are expected to be $4,917,000, up from this year’s budget of $3,944,000.

Why the $1 million increase? Kooiker said the city is borrowing money to replace lights downtown, expected to cost $700,000. According to a proposal the council approved in January, 55 light poles will be replaced and the lightbulbs will all be converted to LED (light emitting diodes).

Why are projected expenditures greater than projected revenue? Kooiker said budgets tend to overstate expenditures while underestimating revenues. For instance, he noted that the council’s budget for the current fiscal year assumed it would receive no back-fill dollars from the state, but it did receive those dollars, $155,000 to be exact.

The public will have a chance to share opinions on the budget at the council’s meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in city hall. The council is expected to approve the budget at that time.