By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.
The Mill Creek City Council is scheduled to set next year’s property tax and emergency medical services (EMS) levies at their regular November 14, 2017, meeting. They perform this task each November.
Although a 1% property tax increase is budgeted, the city council may decide to set a different amount. It all depends on the city’s financial projections.
On November 24, 2015, City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto recommended a 3% property tax increase for 2016, which was much higher that the budgeted 1%. At the time, she said the city had a structural financial issue that needed to be fixed, “It is not a temporary issue and reserves are great for temporary issues, one-time spending, but they won’t fix a structural issue.”
The city council voted unanimously to go along with her recommendation.
In November 2016 Polizzotto recommended the smallest property tax increase since 2010. The city council unanimously approved her recommended 0.953% increase.
At the October 10th city council meeting Finance Director Peggy Lauerman told the city council that revenues were above budget and expenses were below budget so far in 2017.
She said that as of September 30th, the net result was the city had accumulated a whopping $907,000 more in the General Fund than what was budgeted.
A big part of the increase comes from one-time revenues, which the city council wants to use for capital projects.
Lauerman reported, “Construction sales tax revenue of $185,000 has been recorded in the CIP (Capital Improvement Program) Fund to fund one time revenues with one time expenditures as budgeted for the biennium.”
According to Lauerman’s financial report, the city collected $466,639 of construction sales tax revenue in just the first three quarters of 2017. Since only $185,000 was allocated to the Capital Improvment Program Fund, it seems that about $280,000 of this one-time revenue has been earmarked for other purposes.
Large construction projects such as East Gateway’s Vintage at Mill Creek and the new Arena Sports recreational facility near Gateway Village undoubtedly contributed most of this one-time revenue, but every little home remodel or roof replacement added to the total.
Mill Creek’s Capital Improvement Program planning has been pretty much on hold for the past two years while Polizzotto develops the city’s long-range financial strategic plan with her new staff.
Mayor Pam Pruitt wrote in the September 15, 2017, issue of the Mill Creek Beacon, “After much delay, we will be starting our Capital Improvement Program or CIP process. I’ve been waiting for this for two years, but as many of you know, we had major obstacles to overcome. Well, we are almost through the morass, and there is exciting work ahead.”
She went on to say, “We need to plan and pay for road overlays, replacement police cars, street sweepers and new technology.”
At the November 7th regular city council meeting Councilmember Mike Todd said that he would like to have more information about the city’s forecast of one-time vs. ongoing revenue for the upcoming property tax discussion.