Camanche council meets tonight

CAMANCHE — The City of Camanche is proposing to keep its tax asking at $12.17 for fiscal year 2020.

City Administrator Andrew Kida outlined his proposed budget last week. Kida proposed the tax levy remain at $12.17 referencing a proposed increase in public safety funding with additions of a School Resource Officer and part-time ambulance positions.

"The part-timers will provide relief for the ambulance service," Kida said. "Those folks do a lot of work, especially on weekends. And it really will boil down to [Fire] Chief [Dave] Schutte figuring out the number of man hours necessary to cover."

Kida proposed the city consider lowering the water rate and raising the sewer rate by the same amount, resulting in the same total between the two rates. He recommended the city decrease the water rate by 10 percent from 32 cents to 29 cents, decreasing revenue approximately $36,000 from $360,000 to $324,000, and increase the sewer rate by 8 percent from 44 cents to 47.5 cents. The change will increase sewer fund revenue from $450,000 to $486,000, leading to a $36,000 increase, Kida said.

"We have all this extra money coming in water," Kida said. "If you decrease the water rate, increase the sewer rate, an equal amount, then more money's coming into sewer, less money going into water. You end up being able to pay for everything without a problem. You're just not accumulating the amount of money that you would be in the water fund or that you have been.

"The end result is no change to the customer," Kida said. "No change to anyone's bill. The amount they pay for sewer will go up. The amount they pay for water will go down. It balances out."

Kida recommended the city also look at a 1 percent franchise fee. The fee is added to gas and electric bills but does not change the amount billed because the local options sales tax is removed when the franchise fee is added, Kida said.

"Other taxing bodies that participate in a local option sales tax... receive large portions of that local options sales tax," Kida said. "We only get a sliver. I think on the electric we get $800 and on the gas we get $450.

"But if we do a 1 percent franchise fee," Kida said, "that local option sales tax comes off everybody's bill, gets replaced with a franchise fee, and we get all $39,000. And what we lose is the sliver that we get. The sliver gets replaced with that. So nobody's bill changes."

Council member Paul Varner supported having the water and sewer rate cancel each other out. He said the 1 percent franchise fee is an excellent idea.

Council member Amber Metzger said the only reason she was previously against franchise fees was because did not understand that it would not be an increase to Camanche residents.

"That's why I have always been against franchise fees because that was my understanding," Metzger said. "But this just makes more sense. So I guess I'm disappointed I didn't understand it clearly when it was presented."