The Sioux Center City Council is considering decreasing the property tax levy rate by 2.2 percent for the 2018-19 fiscal year. The city’s tax rate continues to be among the lowest of non-metro communities of similar size in Iowa.
In the proposed general fund city budget for 2018-19, the council is looking at a property tax levy of $11.547 per taxable $1,000. Last year, the rate was $11.80 per taxable thousand.
“The new growth in our community and the continuing strength of property values here allows us to keep our levy rate low compared to other communities,” said City Finance Director Darryl Ten Pas.
Highlights of the 2018-19 proposed budget:
• Park improvements
Children’s Park is going to start seeing some upgrades. With building a modern shelterhouse planned for this spring, the budget includes plans to improve parking and accessibility. Recreation trail improvements and ongoing erosion prevention at the Children’s Park waterway are also in the proposed budget.
• Aquatic center construction
Construction is planned to begin this year on the new outdoor aquatic center at the All Seasons Center, which will include a lazy river, a variety of water slides, a zip line, climbing wall and more. The anticipated opening is summer of 2019. Cash reserves are being used to decrease the amount borrowed for this project, Ten Pas said.
• Ongoing Highway 75 planning
City staff continues to work with the Iowa Department of Transportation to place improving Highway 75 in Sioux Center on the DOT’s five-year construction plan. The proposed project would replace the aging pavement, add lanes to decrease congestion, and incorporate safety features for pedestrians and travelers. The 2018-19 budget includes ongoing work on the project plan.
• Final payments on three bonds
The city will pay off three general obligation bonds during the 2018-19 fiscal year. Those bonds are for Centre Mall, the Ridge development, and the demolition of the old hospital to prepare the site for future development.
“We've been paying off a lot of debt, which puts us in a strong position financially as we begin new projects like the aquatic center,” Ten Pas said.
• Fire truck upgrade
The budget includes purchasing the body of a new fire truck in 2018-19. That truck body will be outfitted in 2019-20, as part of that year’s fiscal budget, and will begin service.
• Changing airports
Once the new Sioux County Regional Airport is operational, with the first flights slated for late 2018, Sioux Center will transition from its current airport north of town to the regional airport. As joint partners in the regional airport project with Sioux County and Orange City, Sioux Center will make payments to the regional airport and not need to upkeep its own airport.
The current airport will not be used as an airport after the regional airport is operational.
The city council will decide whether to approve the proposed 2018-19 budget at its March 12 meeting at the City Office, following a public hearing. Copies of the budget are available for review at the City Office and the Sioux Center Public Library. The city’s portion accounts for approximately 35 percent of the total property tax bill. The total bill also includes taxes levied by the county, local school and Northwest Iowa Community College.