SIOUX CITY | Sioux City homeowners would see the city's share of their property tax bill rise by about 1 percent, under a proposed $207.1 million operating budget.
Documents released this week show the city's property tax levy would grow from $15.77 to $16.33. At the higher rate, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay an additional $8 in taxes to the city, from $821 to $829, or nearly 1 percent.
The city share of taxes also would rise about $51 per $100,000 of commercial and industrial taxable property.
City officials say those numbers could decrease by the time the budget is certified in early March. The City Council will begin scrutinizing the operating budget during a day-long hearing that starts at 8 a.m. Saturday at City Hall. During the session, officials plan to look at ways they can streamline the budget.
"I hope there are some areas that we can cut," Mayor Bob Scott told The Journal Thursday.
The city expects to generate $4.1 million, or about 9.37 percent, more in property taxes in the upcoming fiscal year. The increase is driven primarily by new construction and higher assessments on residential property, compared to the last year's budget.
Spending in the fiscal 2019 budget is proposed to rise .91 percent, from $205.2 million to $207.1 million.
City Finance Director Donna Forker said the larger increase in the property tax levy comes because the city last year opted to use several fund balances to keep taxes low.
The projected increase in spending is a result of higher workers' compensation and general liability insurance premiums, as well as increased debt service, an increased subsidy for the Emergency Medical Services Division and increased subsidies for the city's airport and transit systems.
The budget includes an additional $1.4 million in workers' compensation insurance premiums and an additional $400,000 in general liability insurance premiums.
The budget anticipates the city's new EMS division will require a $415,000 subsidy in the upcoming fiscal year. The division, part of Sioux City Fire Rescue, took over 911 ambulance on Jan. 1 after a private provider, Siouxland Paramedics, discontinued that service. Over the next six months, the city's ambulance service will be subsidized by revenue from the city's automated traffic-control cameras.
Increased paratransit costs and increased debt service expenses for an airport runway project have raised the transit and airport subsidy by an estimated $500,000.
Sioux City is one of a handful of entities whose tax levy make up the overall property tax bill, which will be due in two equal installments, Sept. 1 and March 1. Others local taxing bodies include the Sioux City School District, Woodbury County and Western Iowa Tech Community College. The city has for the past three years been the highest-taxing entity, with the school district second.
Many Sioux City property owners could also notice larger amounts on their bills due to an increased valuation of their homes. The city assessor's office last year raised property values on many dwellings, estimating an 11 percent increase in valuation for residential property.
Residents also will likely experience a 6.65 percent water rate hike beginning July 1. The rate increase was previously scheduled as the third in three consecutive years of water rate increases, and the council will vote on it later this year. No sewer rate increase is anticipated.
The city also is proposing $98 million in capital improvements for the upcoming budget year. The city discussed those improvements during a hearing last month and will adopt the capital improvement program along with the fiscal year 2019 budget March 5.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with the correct amount of additional taxes a residential taxpayer would pay under the proposed budget. The number was incorrect in a previous version of the story due to incorrect information provided to The Journal.