DOVER— After five long nights of reviewing the city’s budget, council members Wednesday night agreed to raise the property tax rate by 6.72 cents per $100 assessment.
City residents also will pay more for electricity under the proposed budget since it calls for an average rate increase of 3 percent.
Council President Timothy Slavin said the thought of raising taxes is a difficult one for council members.
“But this budget presents a unique set of challenges that if we choose as a body to go forward with an increase in revenues from various sources we can correlate those to specific improvements we’ll be making to the city as well as ongoing improvements to our infrastructure,” he said.
The first ordinances to enact the increases will be read on June 8 and the final adoption will be read on June 22.
Councilman David Anderson proposed that an alternative budget be presented that will not increase taxes more than 5.5 cents, but the motion failed 6-2.
“It’s not final as far as I’m concerned,” Mr. Anderson said. When the budget ordinances are here I’m waiting for some of the studies to come back. I actually have several plans and we’ll continue to fight because 1 cent out of a dollar, it’s not too much to ask. I’m not into tax increases that cover everything that’s been on the wish list for years. This is a public safety issue.”
In January, the council voted 7-1 to add 10 officers to the city’s police department.
Based on an estimate of $1.5 million needed to pay for the officers’ salaries, equipment and other costs, the move will cost an extra $4 million over the next five fiscal years.
Nine additional cadets will be added as well.
“I think the council did great work of trying to reduce the tax increase,” Mayor Robin Christiansen said. “If you look at it most of the money that the tax increase are going to will cover public safety and that’s the number one priority with me.”
Councilman Anderson also proposed to eliminate a librarian position of 18 hours for 10 months that would cost the city 18,900 annually.
The motion failed 5-2
City Manager Scott Koenig believes it’s a very positive budget for the long term.
“I think from an administrative standpoint we’re satisfied that we made progress in the general fund and this expands service in both in public safety and maintains the capital plans,” Mr. Koenig said.
“It’s a very positive budget for the long term of the city and in addition there’s a slight electric rate increase, but in general the quality of the services and the quality of the utilities are a bargain of what people pay.”