Workshop set to discuss budget and “dire situation” of city’s general fund


FORT MADISON – After a lengthy discussion last week about city budget planning, the Fort Madison City Council will be holding a budget workshop after its regular meeting on Tuesday.

According to a report that was part of the City Council packet distributed last week, the city’s general fund is in a “dire situation”.

Several City Councilman at the Jan. 2 meeting expressed concern that there wasn’t more of a discussion about budgets and the budgeting process prior to the budget planning meeting that’s typically held in February.


However, this year the general fund, according to the report, is in worse shape than previous years, and City Manager David Varley has reiterated that the budget is extremely tight.

According to data included in the councilmen’s report, the city’s enterprise funds, such as the water department and other departments that charge fees for services, are pretty healthy. However those departments do not rely on the city’s general fund for operations.

Varley has said that his goal for working capital in the general fund is 30 to 35% of expenditures in the fund. Preliminary figures for the 2019-20 budget show that number to be at 5.3%. The report indicated that figure wouldn’t cover monthly cash flow to meet the city’s obligations, “let alone provide funds for any type of emergency or backup”.

The report lists some options for either increasing revenue or decreasing spending that is occurring in the general fund.  The report indicated the options aren’t necessarily supported by staff but are listed to show options available to them.

Some of the highlights of that list include reducing hours at city hall or the city library, reducing capital expenditures, adopting a franchise fee, hiring freezes, closing the Old Fort, leasing or closing the marina, reducing city staff work week to 36 hours from 40, eliminating Spring and Fall cleanups, eliminating sidewalk replacement assistance, reducing/eliminating contributions to outside agencies and increasing/adding city fees and charges.

Early 2019-20 fiscal year numbers show a general fund balance of $2,657 with the hotel/motel funds and the docks/marina fund showing negative balances at the end of the year. The budget includes revenues of $5.6 million and expenditures of $6.1 million, with a $100,000 payment to capital improvements for streets and a $200,000 payment to the Amtrak platform project.

The regular council meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. with the budget workshop to follow the regular meeting.

As part of the regular city council meeting:

 – the council will be looking to approve 10 abatements for new condos in the Woodland Heights subdivision.

  • the council will hold a public hearing on the proposed sale of city property located at 1136 Avenue H to MM Real Estate through a quit claim deed for $13,500.
  • the council will consider a resolution setting a public hearing and bid letting for a public improvement project consisting of a bridge deck overlay and the surrounding approaches and sidewalks on Avenue G, and a similar resolution for a bridge deck overlay construction on 14th Street over French Creek.

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