Nevada City Council looks at tax $$ wish list, halts home’s water bill bike
January 25, 2013
After postponing residential water rate hikes until at least next year, members of the Nevada City Council got their first look Wednesday at proposed expenditures of added, voter-approved sales tax revenue.
The discussion at the council's second monthly meeting Wednesday came close to three months after voters approved Measure L, a three-eighths of a percent sales tax hike, by a 75 percent majority.
Revenue from the measure will bring in $325,000 annually until its sunset clause kicks in after five years.
While the preliminary expenditure list was put on the agenda to gauge the council members' support of the proposed expenditures, little opposition was voiced to the outlined items.
"I am thrilled with this list, as long as we hold to our promise to hold these public meetings to refine this list," Mayor Duane Strawser said.
Among the items proposed for sales tax measure, the foremost need is building a reserve fund for the city, said David Brennan, the city manager.
"Reserves is a very important item," Brennan said, "I would say it's the number one item on our list."
While the minimum advised reserve fund for the city would be equivalent to 8 percent of general fund or $325,000, Finance Director Catrina Olson noted that common practice is to have a two-month operating cushion in the bank, which would be $650,000.
"We've been lucky in not needing one in the last few years," said Councilman Robert Bergman.
Other items on the proposed expenditure list include eliminating furlough days, restoring eliminated positions and bring the city manager, police chief and city attorney positions back to full time jobs — all three are currently operated by part-time retirees.
Other proposed expenditures include replacing roofs at city hall and at a city fire station, new computers and other office technology for certain city departments, and replacement equipment for the police service and vehicles for public works and other departments, among others.
"I don't see any fluff here," Strawser said. "I see very prudent expenditures of this money."
However none of the items on the preliminary list were accompanied with justifications, something Bergman asked by included as a way to explain the proposed expenses to the public.
Much of the discussion at Wednesday's meeting focused on garnering public feedback on the proposed expenditures.
"I think the public will have a lot of questions," said Councilwoman Terri Andersen.
Councilwoman Sally Harris suggested sending out a notice to residents in their water and sewer bills.
Brennan noted that the first year's expenditures would need to be approved by the time the budget is formulated in April, but that left adequate time to solicit public feedback.
Council also directed city staff Wednesday to defer water rate hikes on residences this year, in light of the more funds coming into the water fund due to residents not conserving use from the last two previous year's water bill increases.
Councilwoman Jennifer Ray noted that postponing a water rate hike would be an appreciated move considering residents just voted to raise the sales tax.
Commercial water rates were increased though, to come in line with residential rates.
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4236.
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