Iowa City City Council adopts fiscal 2020 budget

During a formal meeting on Tuesday, the Iowa City City Council adopted the budget for the fiscal year of 2020. Disagreements surrounded increased funding to local nonprofits.


Grace Colton

A citizen addresses the Iowa City Council at a meeting in City Hall on Tuesday March 12 2019. (Grace Colton /The Daily Iowan)

Caleb McCullough, News Reporter

In a formal meeting on Tuesday, the Iowa City City Council officially adopted the budget for the fiscal year of 2020.

The budget was adopted 6-0 with Councilor Mazahir Salih absent.

The proposed budget was reviewed and made available for the public on Dec. 21, 2018. Since then, a number of changes have been made to the proposed budget.

The budget proposes a property tax rate of $15.833 per $1,000 of taxable value. This marks a decrease of 2.16 percent from the property tax rate of $16.183 in fiscal 2019.

Changes include an increase of the affordable housing fund from $350,000 to $1 million, $25,000 added to the public art budget, and a $100,000 solar project at Terry Trueblood Recreation Center.

Another change to the proposed budget, which caused division among the council, was a $251,500 increase in funds for Aid to Agencies.

RELATED: City Council discusses concerns surrounding Mormon Trek lane reduction

Aid to Agencies is a program that the city uses to provide funds to local nonprofits. The fiscal 2020 budget originally allocated $355,000 to the program, but the city council since voted to add $251,500 to the funds.

Councilor Susan Mims said she had considered not supporting the passage of the budget because she found the size of the increase in funding for the Aid to Agencies program irresponsible.

Mims said she had supported a $37,000 increase and a work session in spring to discuss how to increase funding to the agencies.

“This was not an emergency,” Mims said. “If it had been an absolute emergency, I would entirely agree that somehow we find that money in our budget.”

Councilor Rockne Cole, who voted for the increase, said he thought the members of the Housing and Community Development Commission, the organization that requested the increase, made a compelling case for the increased funds.

Cole said the fact that the funding for Aid to Agencies hasn’t increased over time as the population has increased was one of the reasons he voted in favor.

“What really struck me about that particular Aid to Agency meeting…is I felt the members of those commissions made a very compelling, data driven case,” Cole said.

Councilor John Thomas said he understood Mims’s concerns around the funds, but he felt the importance of the agencies to the community warranted the increase. However, he suggested that long-term funding would need to be worked out.

“It was a one-time decision that revealed the fact that the whole funding to the Aid to Agencies should be evaluated,” Thomas said.