Residents of Waukee will likely see their city continue to grow into the next year, but will see their property tax bill decrease. The city’s property tax levy of $13.50 per $1,000 of valuation will change for the first time since 2001, and will but cut by 10 cents to $13.40 per $1,000 of valuation.
The cut was approved as a part of the fiscal year 2018-19 budget after a public hearing during the City Council on Monday, March 5 at City Hall.
“We’ve had good growth and we’d be able to help to fund some staffing things and still have capacity, so we’re doing that,” said City Administrator, Tim Moerman during the public hearing.
The consolidated tax levy in Waukee is about $36.82 per $1,000 of taxable valuation, which is the eighth lowest in the Des Moines Metro Area. The consolidated levy includes about $3.91 to Dallas County, about $17.86 to the Waukee Community School District, about $0.67 to area colleges, about $0.003 to the State of Iowa and about $0.88 to “other agencies.”
Moerman said that the consolidated levy helps them stay competitive as a “growth community.”
“People are investing one or 200 million dollars a year in Waukee and a lot of that is because they have confidence in Waukee,” Moerman said.
More than half of the revenue for the general fund comes from property taxes. Property taxes contributed over $7.5 million to the general fund last year, and 54 percent of the general fund is spent on public safety.
“You’re aware that public safety is a big draw on our general fund, but it’s a needed one and we do a lot to fund police and fire services in the community,” Moerman said.
Of the staffing changes proposed for 2019, four belong to the public safety department. They will be adding a police lieutenant, a police officer, a 24-hour fire fighter/EMT and a fire fighter/EMT lieutenant.
“As we grow, our population grows, it’s proportional that we have a need for more services for police and fire,” Moerman said. The staff additions are a part of the city’s 10-year plan.
Other 2019 staffing additions include a building inspector, senior librarian, an HR assistant, an IT help desk specialist and a utility billing customer service supervisor.
The budget was approved unanimously by the City Council and council member, Anna Bergman, stated that lowering the tax levy is “a big deal” for Waukee.
“I just want to say a huge thank you to our staff, for not only being able to continue to provide us new projects, new programming, but to do so and then simultaneously reduce our property tax levy rate,” Bergman said.
Moerman also presented the city’s 2019-2023 capital improvement plan which includes transportation improvements, parks and community beautification, sewer improvements, infrastructure maintenance and storm water improvements.
One of the transportation improvements is the Alice’s Road Phase V Construction, which will widen Alice’s Road from Olsen Drive up to just north of Hy-Vee. The project is slated to cost about $13 million and is scheduled to begin this year.
Putting in the roads around the site of the second high school is not in the budget for this year, but is a part of the city’s 5-year plan.
The major park projects include Fox Creek Park Phase II — which will include a splash pad — the dog park, Westown Meadows Park and Community Entrance Signs.
“I’m continually amazed at your guys’ ability to make sure that all of the numbers work out every year and that there is funding sources for the continued development,” said council member Courtney Clarke.
Some costs are going up in the city. Along with increases to parks and recreation and ball field rental fees, ambulance service fees public works departments to reflect actual costs and stay consistent with costs throughout the metro, utility bills will also increase.
A news release from the city of Waukee said that the utility bills would see an increase of $4.34 per month including $1.34 for water, $2.75 for wastewater and 25 cents for stormwater.