T.A.C.I. in the Tavern
is an informal, educational event showcasing current public sector issues.
Open to the public, our programs are designed to keep members and the community involved and informed about key issues.
The Cub Club Restaurant at Principal Park
Understanding Property Taxes – Part III
How School Budgets are Developed
T.A.C.I. in the Tavern – November 13
We (TACI staff) noted that all three municipalities implement many of the best practices that TACI advocates:
- They set budgets based on goals and priorities established in strategic planning. Most use a 5-year plan for developing capital improvement budgets.
- They actively seek cost-saving measures and collaborative opportunities. Of note, the City of Des Moines collaborates with the Des Moines Public Schools parks & rec programs and the two entities are about to finalize a joint vehicle maintenance agreement. Bondurant’s purchase of an ultra-high pressure water system improves response time fighting fires and saves wear and tear on larger equipment, thus extending the life of high-ticket equipment.
We note that these cities remain mindful of their mission.
- While all understand their role as service providers, Ankeny stands out for its “core” service approach, insisting on being a nuts and bolds provider of services. Projects not identified in the general fund of the 5-year capital budget go through a rigorous review process.
Each city faces unique challenges.
- As the fastest growing community in Polk County, Ankeny’s status quo is growth. They must plan for continued population growth–anticipated to e at 135,000 by 2040. Kudos to this city for noting the impact of their budget decisions on the taxpayers and their development of a Voter Impact Statement.
- In Des Moines, the largest city in the state, public safety expenses (police & fire personnel) account for 62% of the budget; property taxes represent 59% of the city’s revenue. During the recent recession, property valuations grew at 2%/year while expenses grew at 3% necessitating staff and service reductions. Recent increases in property valuations along with the implementation of local option sales tax is generating more revenue, although 40% of Des Moines property is tax exempt. The downtown tax base benefits from continuing commercial development while neighborhoods struggle with aging infrastructure and blight, which are being addressed with the local option sales tax revenue.
- Attracting commercial development is seen as a way for the smaller community of Bondurant to grow its revenue base and limit increases in property taxes. Revenue from the local option sales tax will allow they to reduce their levy by $1.95.
All three managers encourage input from the public and note that the budget process is ongoing. Any time is a good time to visit with staff or council members about city budget concerns.