CAMANCHE — A public hearing has been set for the Fiscal Year 2019 city of Camanche budget, which includes a hike of 20 cents in the city tax asking.

The Camanche City Council on Tuesday voiced support for a proposed budget that will raise the tax asking from the current rate of just under $12 to approximately $12.20. The increase will cover the cost of an eighth police officer, the payment of the community center bond, a police department administrative assistant and police station repairs. Camanche City Administrator Andrew Kida said the city’s property valuations and increase in sales tax revenue play a role in the city not having to raise the tax asking by more than 20 cents.

“Our property valuations continue to rise. That means we’re having more property on the tax rolls. And I sat around trying to rack my brain to figure out why did our valuations go from $168 million to $174 million in a year. And it turns out seven years ago, when they approved the urban renewal processes and these new homes started being built, they get their property taxes abated for three years,” he said. “So they don’t appear on the tax roll for us. So it takes a year to get through that and then three years out and then those properties start coming in on the tax roll. Well, they’re coming on the tax roll now.

“So these properties that weren’t paying property taxes because they were abated are now coming on the tax roll. Our property valuations are going up. That means more properties that are paying taxes to us. More revenue coming in. So we see an increase in revenue there. We’ve seen an increase in revenue in sales tax revenue. So that’s helping out. All these things work in our favor. So we owe a debt of gratitude to those folks who had the foresight to start that urban renewal process and get development happening. That was a brilliant move.”

Camanche Mayor Trevor Willis believes the city’s property valuation remains high due to the safety of the community. He added the city’s tax asking has not increased in the past six years and he believes city residents will be OK with the increase knowing the police staff will return to “full force again” at eight full-time officers.

“We saw what happened when we cut staff in the police department and what’s going on now with our staffing level at the police department,” Willis said. “I think in order to continue the trend we need to have a safe community and therefore I believe adding an eighth officer back to the staff is key in this budget.”

Councilman Paul Varner stated that as someone who is on a fixed pension he can identify with those on a pension. He said reality dictates the city cannot continue to run a community on the current tax asking. He said the increase is needed to support the community “for the betterment.”

Police Chief Colin Reid said the police department’s intent with the eighth officer is to provide more services to the city.

“I appreciate the support for the police department, public safety, certainly the safety of our employees,” Reid said. “And I believe it helps with our liability as a city. I think it’s a positive step and it’s for us to do more, not less, but to do it safer.”

Council members Brent Brightman, Tammy Campie, Danny Weller and Varner voiced support for the budget. Councilwoman Amber Metzger was absent. A public hearing on the FY 2019 budget is set for 6 p.m. March 6.

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