Fee hikes, 3% levy increase passed by council

By Per Peterson

The Tracy City Council at Monday’s Truth-in-Taxation meeting approved a 2021 budget that includes a 3% levy increase, which is down slightly from 2020, as well as numerous rate increases for city services. The council on Sept. 28 originally adopted a preliminary tax levy of $1,247,558 — $712,449 in the General Fund; $493,109 in Debt Service; and $42,000 in Capital Projects.

“We believe this is a fiscally-responsible budget,”  City Administrator Erik Hansen said. “This balances our budget, it meets our needs as a community, it meets the priorities of the city council and it does so within our means. I believe that this is a strong, positive step toward investing in our community. And we’re really modernizing our financial structure; that’s gonna give you more transparency in where we’re spending our money and give us better tools to evaluate where we’re at on an annual basis.”

The resolution to approve the 2021 budget was made by Jeri Schons and seconded by Dave Tiegs. It passed unanimously. Kou Thao made the motion to approve the 3% tax levy increase, and it was seconded by Tiegs.

Hansen said he appreciates that it’s difficult for Tracy residents to take on an added tax burden and increased fees but said the community is now essentially paying for improvements already made in town.

“It’s something we had to do,” he said. “We can’t keep moving forward with water mains that are 130 years old, in some cases. Eventually you have to replace that infrastructure. This is about preserving the future of the community, so we can grow and proposer and be successful.”

Monday’s was the fifth meeting concerning the budget. Hansen outlined the main points of the streamlined budget. Highlights of the budget include nearly $4 million for the Phase IIIA-2 and IIIA-4 road construction project; $362,000 for an enhanced street maintenance program; $40,000 for the City’s website and other marketing efforts, the revamping of the City’s finance office with new software, chart of accounts and a new director; and the start of grading for new airport hangars.

“This is a pretty ambitious work plan — this is not even everything that we’re doing,” Hansen said. “It reflects (the council’s) goals and priorities set back in the June priority-setting session.”

Total projected expenditures for the 2021 budget are $12,687,589 on revenues of $9,163,578. An estimated $3,863,640 will be used from fund balance for capital projects, primarily in the Phase III street project from bonds issued in 2019. The total net position of the city is projected to decrease $319,970, primarily due to the use of $362,017 in unrestricted fund balance from the sewer fund for street maintenance.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.