The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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March 13, 2014

UPDATE: City Council passes the budget

CLINTON — For nearly three months, city finances have been likened to things like “pizza” or “cheap beer.” Those metaphors portray what the average Clinton citizen will save based on lower property taxes.

The City Council on Thursday finalized its budget, where it will be held up against past and looming decisions. Council members voted 5-1 on a $16.32 property tax rate, 39 cents lower than the current fiscal year. Councilwoman Lynn McGraw was the lone “no” vote; councilman Paul Gassman was absent from the meeting.

By lowering taxes, council members achieved what they set out to do during November elections. The cut, though, will have repercussions. Major changes will come to the city’s sewer department — called to eliminate five positions — and by closing the Clinton Public Library branch in Lyons.

Before voting, another private citizen urged the city to reconsider its stance.

“You don’t make Clinton a more appealing place to move to, work in and to raise a family by rejecting the things that raise the quality of life in this community,” said Brad Wiles, a Main Avenue resident up the street from the library. “You can’t cut your way to prosperity, and you can’t nickel and dime your way out of debt.”

McGraw agreed, stating the city is losing “a lot” by defunding certain services.

“If I look at my property taxes on a half year basis, I look at $6 and it’s not going to make that much difference to me,” she said.

She’s also concerned with projects coming to the Lyons District.

“I think it’s a shame we’re going to be doing those things and we’re going to have another closed building up there,” McGraw said.

Regardless of their stances, At-Large Councilman John Rowland commended his colleagues for their diligence early in their new terms. As a senior member, Rowland said this council is “the best” he’s worked with.

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