City council budget talk
CITY COUNCIL members (from left) Rob Merrill, Jim Lange and Corey Granquist discuss the City of Norfolk budget Monday night.

The budget for the City of Norfolk was approved by the city council Tuesday night, and the council, mayor and city staff believe it shows how the city is taking positive steps forward.

Andy Colvin, city administrator, gave a presentation about the proposed budget, which was passed unanimously on all three readings.

Colvin said the budget was constructed to meet a series of goals set by the elected officials, including investments in the city’s parks and trails, improving and maintaining streets and increasing economic development opportunities.

The total budget is about $112 million, about $86 million of which will be spent. The total budget is an increase of about 14% compared to last fiscal year.

General fund expenditures

The city’s general funds, which cover services such as police, fire, parks and the public library, are about $25 million, with the police and fire division receiving about 38% of the total general fund budget.

The general fund is funded primarily through taxes, with about $8.5 million in sales tax and $1.5 million in property taxes. Rents from Nebraska Public Power District also bring in about $4.6 million in revenue.

Colvin said in his report that sales tax and property tax revenue is expected to increase. Even though the city’s property tax levy is not increasing, the value of property has been going up. There is about $1.6 billion in property valuation in Norfolk, he said.

The largest portion of the city’s budget is its enterprise fund, making up nearly 40% of the budget with $34 million. The enterprise fund is used for water and sewer maintenance and construction and solid waste management. It is primarily funded through bonds.

Colvin said the enterprise fund includes a number of expensive projects, mainly involving construction and maintaining water and waste plants.

Other major expenses the city is budgeting for include reconstruction of Braasch Avenue, Benjamin Avenue and bridges.

There also will be investments in repairing the levee and acquiring certification from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“We’ve all seen how important that structure is to the community,” Colvin said. “We are planning to invest in that levee to ensure that it is structurally sound.”

Moenning said the budget shows how Norfolk is growing and the city is using its resources to accommodate that growth.

“We are on a good trajectory and in a good period of growth,” Moenning said. “This will allow us to expand services to meet community needs and maintain a quality of life culture that’s unique to anywhere else in the state.”

The council passed a series of ordinances approving the budget, fees for various services and public employee salaries.

Fees for ambulances, building permits, electrical permits and water usage rates are increasing.

The highest paid public employee is Colvin, the city administrator; followed by Shane Weidner, public safety director; Steve Rames, the city engineer; and Danielle Myers-Noelle, the city attorney.

The only other business at Monday night’s meeting was a pair of zoning changes and a hard surfacing waiver for a water tower.

The Norfolk City Council met Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Norfolk City Council Chambers.

Council members present: Mayor Josh Moenning, Dick Pfeil, Corey Granquist, Shane Clausen, Jim Lange, Gary L. Jackson, Rob Merrill, Fred Wiebelhaus and Thad Murren.

Council members absent: None.

Meeting lasted: One hour.

Others in attendance: City staff, five; media representatives, three; and about 15 from the public.

Action items:

— The council held a public hearing to review the city’s municipal and proprietary budget. Andy Colvin, city administrator, gave a presentation to the council outlining the proposed budgets. After a discussion between council members and Colvin, the public hearing was closed.

— The council unanimously approved a resolution approving a 1% increase in restricted fund authority.

— The council unanimously passed an ordinance on all three readings approving appropriations for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

— The council unanimously passed a resolution approving property tax requests for 2019-20.

— The council held a public hearing to consider a zoning change from C-1 (Local Business District) to C-3 (Service Commercial District) at 1510 Market Lane at the request of Target Corp. The zoning change was approved on all three readings unanimously.

— The council held a public hearing to consider a zoning change from I-1 (Light Industrial) to C-3 at Riverside Boulevard and Benjamin Avenue at the request of S.W.A.M.T., LLC. The zoning change was approved, 7-0, with Clausen abstaining.

— The council held a public hearing to consider a hard surfacing waiver for the City of Norfolk near Victory Road and Northeast Industrial Highway and the waiver was approved unanimously.

— The council unanimously passed an ordinance on all three readings approving 2019-20 pay plans.

— The council unanimously passed an ordinance on all three readings approving fees and rates for various services and permits to take effect Oct. 1.

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