The Denison City Council will conduct public hearings at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, February 18, on an amendment on the fiscal year 2019-2020 budget and on the maximum levy for the fiscal year 2020-2021 budget.

The term “maximum levy,” however, is a misnomer, as City Clerk Lisa Koch pointed out during discussion at the council’s January 21 meeting.

“This is not the entire levy amount,” she said.

Koch said the very fine print at the bottom of the maximum levy document says the total city tax rate will include voted general levy, debt service levy and capital improvement reserve.

“They are not included, so it’s confusing,” she added.

She explained that a new law requires publishing the maximum levy for only certain portions of the total levy.

One column of figures in the document shows the city’s levy at $14.824 for the current fiscal year. Koch said it is actually $19.05.

She said depending on the amount of debt the city issues in fiscal year 2020-202, she will have to adjust the published levies down so that the city remains at the $19.05 levy.

She said if the state was going to require the publication of a maximum levy, the legislature should have included the entire levy instead of just a portion of it.

“Even with this, it looks like for next year’s budget we’re asking for $16.09 (per $1,000) but it will be $19.05, but these amounts will reduce,” Koch said.

She said the published maximum levy required by the state can be reduced but can’t be increased.

The explanation of significant increases in the budget are the following.

- Liability insurance, property and self-insurance costs increased significantly due to the number and dollar amount of claims, including lawsuits paid by insurance for the city

- FICA and IPERS would increase significantly due to proposed annual wage increases and possibly adding a city manager

- Employee benefits would increase due to increased health insurance premiums and for possibly adding two full-time dispatchers, possibly adding a city manager and not using cash reserves

At the council meeting at which department heads presented their budget requests, Police Chief Dan Schaffer said he was considering eliminating the part-time dispatcher positions and instead adding two more full-time dispatchers.

At the same meeting, Koch said an idea had been raised to split the city manager/city engineer position into its two components. If the council follows through with the idea, current City Manager/City Engineer Terry Crawford would retain the city engineer duties and another person would be hired to be the city manager.

Budget amendment

The budget for fiscal year019-2020, which ends on June 30, will be amended by $68,654 in revenue and $253,578 in expenditures.

The city’s fund balance will be reduced by the difference between the increased revenue and increased expenditures - $184,924, leaving an ending fund balance on June 30 of $1,729,725.

Budget amendments do not affect the property taxes paid. Taxes levied on property will remain the same at $4,142,775.

Following are the reasons for the budget amendment.

More revenue: Federal Emergency Management Agency $38,684 grant for flood damage; miscellaneous donations of $29,970 for holiday lights, Market in the Park and Denison Aquatic Center mini-golf rehabilitation project

More expenses: $15,000 furnaces at the fire department training center; $19,606 for mini-golf rehabilitation project; $1,198 for holiday lights; $6,195 for Market in the Park; $90,000 for an increase in property/casualty/workers’ compensation insurance premium increase; $25,000 for an increase in legal fees; $45,000 in grant money on hand for Chamber & Development Council (CDC) of Crawford County community room (Ignite Denison) project; $51,579 for flood damage repairs

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