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Street maintenance proposal deserves public input

Published: Friday, July 25, 2014 11:01 a.m. CDT

The Newton City Council is beginning to address a long overdue necessity — funding for annual maintenance of city streets.

At first glance, residents may be miffed by the proposal that includes a possible increase in the gas and electric franchise fee. However, the city administrator has done his homework, and taxpayers will be given ample time to give input on how street improvements are funded.

We think the city is right to be exploring possible funding options for street maintenance. In Iowa’s brutal climate of extreme winter cold followed by blistering summer heat, road maintenance isn’t an easy chore.

The tedious and often lackluster city budget item has gone untouched for too long.

Meanwhile, people look at their city’s infrastructure as one of the quality of life matters that is simply demanded.

Newton City Administrator Bob Knabel has come up with five possible revenue streams for street maintenance. Knabel rightly recommended the option that doesn’t raise property taxes and is the least expensive for city residents.

This is an opportunity for Newton residents to explore these possible options and see how it fits in line with the city’s strategic plan.

We believe Newton is in the process of forging an exciting future. While road maintenance may not seem like the most exciting item, we know it’s one people consider when they “Get to Know Newton.”

Now is the time for public input to help determine whether Knabel’s proposal is right for Newton. We urge you to learn more about this matter and contact your city council members with your opinion.

• Option 1: An emergency levy, which would tax 27 cents per $1,000 taxable value, raising $121,000 per year. This option would cost the average household $13.95 annually. 

• Option 2: A capital improvement levy, which would tax .675 cents per $1,000 taxable value, raising $302,000. It would cost the average household $34.88 annually. 

• Option 3: A bond issue, which would tax $2.27 per $1,000 taxable value, raising $10,500,000. The annual cost for the average household would be $117.34.

• Option 4: The franchise fee would be a 1 to 5 percent increase on gas or electric, or both. The annual revenue would be $1,025,000 and the cost per average household would be $97.69 annually. 

• Option 5: The final option is using the ending fund balance, which varies from $175,000 to $350,00 and costs the average household $19 to $38 annually.

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