The North Platte City Council approved the 2012-2013 city budget Thursday that is seven percent higher than last year and will raise utility rates. The overall city budget total is $26,299,193 -- 7.7 percent higher than the 2011-12 budget. It passed on a 7-0 vote. Judy Pedersen was absent.
The property tax levy remained the same as last year, on a 6-1 vote. The city levy stands at 0.474637, which will add up to $5,884,338.
Councilman Jim Carman cast the only no vote on the levy.
“This is the second year in a row we’ve had the opportunity to lower the property tax levy a little bit,” Carman said. “Both times we haven’t done that. We should go back to the drawing board and try to lower it.”
No one responded to Carman. Councilman Dan McGuire moved to adopt the levy.
Also, the council approved rate increases for electrical, water and sewer. The electric rate will go up 4.4 percent, water 4.2 percent and sewer 3.3 percent.
The levy will be allocated to: $3.5 million for general expenses; $2 million for debt service, $300,000 for pensions.
The city’s taxable property is valued at $1.24 billion – a 2.5 percent increase over one year ago, according to the budget.
The budget takes effect on Oct. 1, the first day of the new fiscal year.
At a work session after the meeting, the council heard presentations from four financial institutions seeking consideration to handle the $2.6 million Newburn Fund.
The fund is currently in CDs at very low interest rates and Mayor Marc Kaschke has suggested looking for better investment plans.
Council members Martin Steinbeck, Carman, Judy Pedersen and Jerry Stoll sat in on a financial committee that set the criteria for selecting financial institutions. From 13 institutions that applied, city staff narrowed it to four.
City Administrator Jim Hawks said “based on the criteria that were sent down from the committee we tried to narrow it down to those that meet that criteria.”
Wells Fargo Bank, First National Bank, Adams Bank and Trust and Bank of The West made presentations to the council.
Council members Dan McGuire, Larry Campbell and Tim Barrett asked how the committee was chosen and why they were not aware it existed. Mayor Kaschke said the committee was formed in June and had been discussed since January.
Campbell expressed concern that none of the institutions are locally owned.
“There’s been some concern about the final four, how they were picked and if there was any favoritism,” he said.
Barrett suggested that an advisor be used to help with the investment process.
“If we’re going to get serious about this we’re going to need help” he said.
No official action was taken at the work session.