Income and expenses highlighted the December 13 meeting of the Morris City Council. That was through the review of the proposed budget for next year. City Manager Blaine Hill went through the budget highlighting any changes to the money coming in and going out.
A part of the budget that will affect homeowners is an increase in water and sewer utility rates. There will be a 3% increase in the rates that will generate about $40,000 annually. The need to increase rates stems from a $110,000 depreciation in the water utility mandated by the terms of the funding for the water treatment plant. There was also a major one-time expense of $75,000 for a sewer jetter tank in the sewer utility.
Many of the other budget changes are due to inflation with rates going up, wage increases and the increase of insurance rates. Health insurance came in at 49% more than the previous year.
The budget also includes the addition of one full-time worker in the public works department. This is being done to recognize the need for maintenance work and to correct what Hill considered a mistake a few years ago to downsize and shift positions to part-time. The city found it difficult to find part-time workers.
Fuel costs continue to be a concern so adjustments were made to that fund. The city continues to update equipment and work on roads. There will be no major road or utility improvement projects next year but the city will meet and continue discussion on the East 7th Street work.
Hill recommended raising the Fire Relief Annual Benefit amount from $2,300 to $2,350. After all was reviewed the council approved the final General Fund budget for $4,514,236 which is a 2.4% increase over last year’s budget. With the budget approved the council moved on to approve the tax levy of $1,716,916 which reflected a 3.6% increase over the 2022 levy.
Hill also told the council members that he is hoping for a Local Government Aid, LGA, increase due to the state surplus. He is optimistic that this legislative session will have some decisions made since there was a shift in power after elections. He is also hoping additional funding will be put into things like transportation, roads and bridges, sustainability, water and sewer infrastructure, daycares and schools.
“There is no doubt in my mind that they will get their work done,” Hill stated. “There will be things that benefit us and things to watch out for.”
The new EV Transit Bus will be ordered soon. This is a bus powered by electricity. The grant guidelines and requirements have been worked out and the city is now working with a vendor. Since this is a federal/state transit purchase, the city has to follow state guidelines including specific vendors. The cost for the bus is approximately $293,000 with this 100% funded by federal and state resources.