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January 21, 2014

First peek at tax rate: $16.637 for Clinton residents

CLINTON — After only one budget session, city leaders have found ways to shave dollars off proposed funds. While part of the goal in setting the Clinton’s limit on spending is to maintain as many services as possible, the city council made clear on Monday it’s serious about lowering its tax-asking for residents.

The council scoured through hundreds of financial pages trying to find ways to lower that rate, which tentatively stands at $16.637 per $1,000 in assessed property valuation. Although that’s roughly 8 cents lower than last year’s approved rate ($16.71), councilmen Tom Determann and Ed O’Neill both said they’d like to start making headway toward a $12 to 15 rate during their four-year terms.

“Ideally what we’d like to see happen is for it to get down to that level,” Determann said.

“If we save a nickel one place, 20 cents there, and the property tax levy gets down to $16 this year and $14 next year, I’ll be a happy camper,” O’Neill said.

The first of five budget work sessions was slated to take place for two hours. But council members had much to say about the initial figures they were presented — extending their workshop by more than an hour. In particular, the discussion over the Capital Improvement Projects slated for Fiscal Year 2015 featured a lot of fine combing.

A list organized by the capital improvement plan committee included updates to Eagle Point Park, funding street lights on Main Avenue and sidewalk construction on 13th Avenue North (in anticipation of the new Clinton School District’s middle school). Greenlighting those projects would mean the city would begin to pursue financing them this year, although their payments may not come around until the next fiscal year.

The council proposed cutting a $3 million project for a Regional Wastewater Reclamation Facility Laboratory, and slashed $1.5 million off the $2.8 million proposed Pavement Management Program (PMP).

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