TAXPAYERS RESEARCH COUNCIL Y OUR T AX A DVOCATE S INCE 1937

N EWS AND N OTES
January 19, 2012

F INANCING

A

N EW C ITY O PERATIONS F ACILITY

City staff has proposed building a new city operations facility which consolidates all of their current facilities into one location. There is debate whether the city should even build the facility, but the Taxpayers Research Council will cover this debate in a future News and Notes. The Taxpayers Research Council’s recent concern has been with the proposed financing of the estimated $18,000,000 facility. City staff has proposed using multiple revenue sources to fund the project. The sources and amounts can be seen in the accompanied graph.

Original Funding for City Operations Facility      Bonds  Funding Over Four Years  Water Bonds  $394,420  Sewer Bonds  $394,420  Riverboat Bonds  $3,131,580  Sales Tax Bonds  $746,200  $1,252,960  The use of red light camera revenues and bonding future red light camera Red Light Camera Bonds  revenues is not good public policy. Currently, there is discussion in the Speed Camera Bonds  $2,280,420  state legislature which could possibly lead to eliminating the cameras, Other Revenues    setting caps on the fines or even allowing the state to capture the reveProject Balance  $604,224  nue. These issues show the future of red light cameras is very volatile. IFA State Grant  $3,800,000  The Taxpayers Research Council expressed this matter with the city CIP State Grant  $550,000  council and city staff. Our discontent has been addressed and city staff Speed Camera  $3,201,000  has issued a revised source of funding which can be seen in the second graph. Red Light Camera  $1,000,000  Water   $150,000  There is still another revenue source in this project worth discussion. The use of riverboat bonds to fund a new city operations facility is reSewer   $150,000  quiring changes to how the city is financing other projects. Last year, the Sales Tax    $378,974  city had used riverboat revenues, not riverboat bonds, to pay for a variTotal  $18,034,198  ety of projects like annual Long Lines Center upgrades, annual park infrastructure and maintenance, cemetery repairs, annual technology imRevised Funding for City Operations Facility  provements and city trails. Using riverboat bonds, which requires     money from future riverboat revenues, blocks the city’s ability to use Bonds  Funding Over Four Years  these funds for typical annual infrastructure improvements. These other Water Bonds  $394,420  annual projects will now be funded using General Obligation Bonds. Sewer Bonds  $394,420  It would be better public policy to use the riverboat revenues as they had Riverboat Bonds  $3,131,580  been previously used - to fund annual infrastructure projects and use Sales Tax Bonds  $746,200  General Obligation Bonds to pay for the City Operations Facility. The Red Light Camera Bonds  $0  reasoning behind this is during future annual budget meetings, a city Speed Camera Bonds  $2,280,420  council may want to improve the city’s debt capacity. Eliminating proOther Revenues    jects being funded by bonds would be the first place to start looking for Project Balance  $604,224  cuts. Annual infrastructure and maintenance projects are not items IFA State Grant  $3,206,000  which could easily be cut. CIP State Grant  $550,000  Speed Camera  $3,201,000  Red Light Camera  $0  Water   $150,000  Sewer   $150,000  Sales Tax    $378,974  Total  $15,187,238 

W OODBURY C OUNTY N ON -M ANDATED A SSISTANCE
For many years, The Woodbury County Board of Supervisors has provided non-mandated assistance to various organizations. This current budget year, tax dollars have been spent to fund the following organizations: Council on Sexual Assault $5,586; Meals on Wheels $11,760; Senior Aids WCCAA $10,474; Siouxland Regional Transit $33,320; Siouxland Senior Center $10,831; and Moville Senior Center $1,960. During the budget meeting this week, a recommendation was discussed to ask these organizations to begin showing balance statements at next year’s budget hearings. I commend the supervisors for their request; however, I believe they should not wait till next year’s budget hearing to begin the process. The supervisors should ask these organizations for their balance statements and have them appear before the board to make their budget request to create more transparency to Woodbury County’s budget. A public forum to address any questions on what the public money is being used for should be the minimum standard.

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