Potential changes to the funds for the Colfax Public Library and the city’s water, garbage and sewer funds were among the topics involved in talks between the Colfax City Council members during a budget meeting March 6.
Colfax Library Director Jill Miller was present to address potential budget cuts for the library. She asked for a two percent increase in the budget, but councilwoman Karla Jones compared all of the libraries in Jasper County and averaged them out.
“It was saying we were getting 0.80 cents more than the average out of all the libraries. She was using that as a reason to cut our budget,” Miller said. “So I was concerned about that because I would rather have an increase than a budget cut.”
Budget cuts for the library could have an effect on its ability to have programming, impact the book budget or additional areas the library would have to cut corners. In this case, the 2 percent decrease would most likely affect its book budget.
“That’s the only line items where there’s any wiggle room in,” Miller said. “Because we have utilities, telephone and payroll. All of those are fixed amounts that we really can’t change.”
After she expressed her side to the city council members, Miller was told they would consider what she had to say.
“I was glad to hear that they were going to consider it and think about it further before the vote Monday night,” Miller said.
At the Monday meeting, the council voted to approve the predetermined budget for the library.
Also during the budget meeting, Maggie Burger, vice president of CIPMA, joined via speakerphone to help clarify some of the numbers regarding the utility rate options. Options for garbage and sewer came up, but water was the first one to be addressed due to the Community Development Block Grant (CDGB) for the upcoming project, said Colfax Mayor David Mast.
The first option includes a rate increase on usage only for 5 percent in 2020, and 3 percent annually over the next couple of years after that. The second option, using a debt fee, uses $5.50 per month per account, thus holding off any usage rate increases for the next couple of years. Both options center around repaying a debt of more than $1.2 million, not including the $500,000 CDBG.
Mast said he was in favor of the second option to make it easier on senior citizens and low-income residents who don’t use as much water.
“Because of the number of fixed-income people we have and low-income people we have, I would myself prefer not to do much to the flat usage rate,” Mast said Wednesday night.
Monday night, the board voted unanimously to approve the date to make a decision regarding a public hearing and vote the water rates. That date is April 8, their next city council meeting.
Contact Orrin Shawl at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or at firstname.lastname@example.org