The Ames City Council is having three special budget meetings this week to discuss how federal, state and local funds will be dispersed in the city's budget.
The meetings occur on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the City Council chambers and will begin at 5:15 p.m. each night. The meetings are all open to the public, but public input is reserved for a meeting on Feb. 12 during the budget wrap up.
The final budget hearing and adoption of the fiscal year 2019-20 budget will be held on March 5.
Tuesday’s meeting mostly includes financial allotments to the city’s utilities and transportation programs. The council will also discuss funding for the Ames Public Library and internal government services, such as finances for the vehicle fleet and utility customer services.
Transportation costs in the budget include traffic engineering and maintenance, parking maintenance and airport operations. The council will also discuss how Iowa State enrollment is affecting CyRide revenue.
“Decreasing ISU enrollment has lowered CyRide's student revenues and will challenge the system to maintain its current services as well as the enhanced services implemented this year under CyRide 2.0,” according to city documents.
Wednesday’s meeting will disclose budgetary spending regarding Parks and Recreation, public safety and community housing, which includes the first ever dispersal of Home Investments Partnerships Program funds.
Ames residents met at a public forum last December to discuss how they want Home funds to be spent. They emphasized housing for low-income and homeless populations as a priority moving forward.
Thursday’s meeting will focus more in depth on internal government services, this time prioritizing funding for things like health insurance, legal services and risk management. The council will also continue budget discussion regarding public safety on issues such as street lights and the city’s storm warning system.
$600,000 in unused funds still remain from the budget for fiscal year 2018-19. The city can either program these funds back into the 2018-19 adjusted budget or absorb an amount into the 2019-20 budget, which would lower property tax rates. However, this could result in property tax increases in the following year.
“This strategy, however, would only lead to a larger increase in the following year when this one-time balance would need to be replaced with a more permanent revenue source,” according to city documents. “Therefore, the staff recommends that the one-time available balance be used for one-time expenses.”
The overall economic conditions of the city is strong, according to city council documents, and the city is predicted to incur a 3 percent growth in 2019.