116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — The Marion city budget for the new fiscal year will reflect the opening of two new facilities — the Marion Public Library and the Marion Fire Department headquarters.
“We have these great new assets to our community that are needed for a community that is growing like ours,” said new City Manager Ryan Waller, who’s been on the job for a month. “This is great for us.”
The proposed fiscal 2023 budget, presented to the Marion City Council on Friday morning, is “basically a status quo budget,” he said.
A $113 million expenditure budget is proposed for fiscal 2023, which begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2023.
The proposed general fund budget — which covers public safety, parks/recreation and other city operational costs — is $28 million, about the same as this fiscal year. No new hires are recommended.
The capital expenditure proposal totals around $37 million. Included is money for Seventh Avenue improvements, Uptown Plaza and Depot development, trail improvements and the next phases of Tower Terrace roadwork.
The council is to conduct a public hearing on the budget March 17 before approving the spending plan for the new budget year.
The proposed property tax rate to support the new budget is $14.34 per $1,000 taxable valuation, up from this year’s $14.20 rate.
Though the rate is higher, the owner of a $200,000 house will pay $1,553 in city property taxes, a decrease of $49 from this fiscal year.
“Even though the rate is up from last year, the impact to residents will be negligible due to the growth of our community and the state rollback,” the budget memo reads. “We are unable to control the value of a property. If a flat rate were budgeted, the presented budget would have a $930K deficit.
Waller noted people focus on the tax rate, “but it’s an artificial number. … The city is one component of the tax bill. You have the school districts and the county (tax levies) as well … that gets rolled up in that total rate.”
Waller said the city is losing $1.1 million in revenue because of changes in the state rollback percentage and the Iowa Legislature phasing out the “backfill” that the state has provided local governments since it cut the commercial property tax rate in 2013.
“When they’re doing that, we’re losing money,” Waller said. “It’s challenging when communities are told one thing and something else happens later.
“We have to deal with that reality … but if we didn’t grow from last year to this year, everything looks a lot different.”
The long-awaited new Marion Public Library — being built between the old library and Marion City Hall — is to open within the next few months, with construction set to finish in mid-February.
The library’s proposed budget for FY23 is $2.58 million, an increase of 12.8 percent from this fiscal year, when it operated in a storefront location after derecho damage to the old library, 1095 Sixth Ave.
“The library had a great year,” new Library Director Bill Carroll said. “It was difficult but busy. It’s very difficult to check out books when you have no primary library building.”
In the proposed budget, wages for part-time library workers will increase, with shelvers going from $8 to $11 per hour. If approved, Marion will move from having the second-lowest pay for shelvers among peer libraries to the second-highest, Carroll said.
The other major new city facility is the fire department headquarters that opened last summer at 100 Irish Dr.
The department’s proposed budget for FY23 is $5.9 million, an increase of 6.6 percent. Primary drivers include the new facility, overtime and paying on-call expenses.
The department received 4,934 calls in 2021, an increase of 6.2 percent from 2020. Since 2015, the department has seen a 62 percent increase in calls along with a 42 percent increase in personnel.
A budget of $7.92 million is proposed for police, an increase of just over 1 percent. The department responded to 29,692 calls for service in 2021.
The city also is increasing its sanitary sewer fees from $4.39 to $4.60 per flow unit due to increasing costs associated with wastewater treatment.
The council will give final consideration to the increase at its next formal meeting, with additional increases anticipated in July.
The increase in the fee would be around $1.26 a month for a single-family home that uses around 600 cubic feet of water during the month.
The city of Marion contracts with the city of Cedar Rapids for wastewater treatment services, and charges for those services have continued to increase, the budget memo states.
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