The property tax levy rate to support the city of Hastings' budget looks to remain the same for the fourth consecutive year.
As part of his 2019-20 budget presentation during the Hastings City Council meeting Monday, City Administrator Dave Ptak said the city’s proposed property tax levy rate is 44.97 cents per $100 valuation, which is the same rate that has been in place since 2016.
That means for property valued at $100,000, the owner would pay $449.70 in property tax to support the city of Hastings.
Property taxes in Hastings have gone down during the last 10 years, from 47.28 cents in 2009 to 44.97 cents now.
The city’s estimated 2019 valuation is $1.454 billion, which is an increase of more than $75 million from the 2018 value of $1.378 billion. The deadline for certification of taxable valuations by county assessors is Aug. 20.
Valuation for the city of Hastings increased by about $50 million between 2017 and 2018.
Ptak, who had served as city attorney since 2013 and became city administrator in May following the retirement of former City Administrator Joe Patterson, said his first budget preparation went smoothly due to the hard work of other city staff members, especially finance director Roger Nash.
Ptak said Nash made the budget preparation process “almost pleasant.”
“Roger was a Yeoman as far as with the budget efforts he did,” he said.
Ptak discussed several issues and capital items to be addressed in the upcoming budget year.
Officials hope construction of 42nd Street between U.S. Highway 281 and Baltimore Avenue will be bid this fall with construction to take place in the spring.
The city looks to purchase a second quint fire truck and take one of the older ladder trucks out of commission.
Planning for road improvements at Parkview and Mount Sinai cemeteries also will occur. This is something council members discussed during their April work session.
“We’ll get an overall plan and then fund it over probably over three or four years to completely redo the roads of the cemeteries, which I think is an important thing,” Ptak said.
The city should see a possible increase in sales tax revenue due to online collections.
“I imagine that will be a political football in the Legislature,” Ptak said.
Also during Monday’s meeting, Utility Manager Kevin Johnson provided a budget presentation for Hastings Utilities.
HU staff is not proposing rate increases for electric, water and sewer services. There is, however, a 5 percent natural gas rate increase proposed.
That would be the first gas rate increase since 2000.
Using 130 CCF, based on average household monthly gas usage during the winter, a 5 percent rate increase would mean customers pay an extra $3.80 per month — $90.41 to 94.21.
However, Johnson said those projections are based on winter gas consumption. Averaging gas consumption over 12 months, the proposed rate increase would mean customers pay about an extra $1.90 per month.
Distribution, transmission, administrative and general expenses, plus capital replacement costs have exceeded gas revenue.
This has been the case since 2012.
Those extra costs would have meant the gas department has operated in a deficit — or would have if not for credits that have been available.
Johnson said those credits now are exhausted.
No water and sewer rate increases are proposed because Johnson said those departments have amassed ample monetary reserves and because bids for different projects have come in lower than anticipated.
Johnson said there is no electric rate increase proposed because the cost-of-service study that is planned has not yet been undertaken, and because of the potential of the city’s electric service agreement with Breechblock Renewables LLC.
Council members will discuss both budgets during the Aug. 19 City Council work session.
In other business, the council:
— Voted 8-0 to approve Ordinance No. 4598 amending the Hastings City Code to add a subsection providing clarification that failure to comply with any provision contained in a conditional use permit constitutes a violation of the Hastings City Code. The council also unanimously suspended the requirement to read the ordinance three times to pass it.
— Unanimously approved the preliminary plat for Trail Ridge Subdivision.
— Unanimously approved an agreement between the city of Hastings and Jason Soucie for biosolids transport using a city-owned trailer from the Pollution Control Facility to agricultural land used for the application of biosolids.
— Unanimously approved Joe Patterson to serve on the Civil Service Commission for term to expire Aug. 12, 2024; and for Anna Baker to serve on the Museum Board for a term to expire Aug. 12, 2023.