City sales tax revenue up 37% in 2020

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

FORT MADISON – In what one city official called an “interesting” figure, the Fort Madison City Council found out that sales tax revenues were up almost 37% for the year in 2020.

City Manager David Varley gave a brief update at Tuesday’s regular City Council meeting on the city’s financial health ahead of next month’s city’s budget discussions.

Varley said the city’s finances are slowly improving with a general fund balance of several hundred thousand dollars compared to the previous year.

“Most finances are looking up and doing fairly well. There’s a few hiccups, but our general fund is up a couple hundred thousand dollars for December this year, compared to December last year,” Varley said.

He said the city’s enterprise funds, which are self supporting funds, are doing well with most fund balances on the rise.

He said despite a decrease in sales tax payments from the state of 41% in December, sales tax revenues were up 37% for the year. He said the November payment was a calibration payment the state makes yearly and the city received more than anticipated.

‘If things go the way the state has told us they will go, and they give us the money the said they will continue to give us for the rest of the year, that could be an increase of $200,000 to $300,000 into the general fund,” he said. “That could be a big shot in the arm and we’re excited about that.”

The city did implement a 1.5% franchise fee on gas and electric consumption within the city which could generate net revenues of close to $400,000 annually to supplement revenues.

“As far as hotel motel that’s probably the one biggest hit by COVID. For the first half of the year our receipts are down 42%,” Varley said.

“We worry about it not only for us, but we’re concerned about our local businesses and we want them to be doing well. We are hopeful that this won’t last much longer for them.”

He said the city’s sewer fund is taking a hit after one larger customer switched to a different rate which has caused a drop in the fund balance.

In an unrelated issue, City Police Chief Mark Rohloff said the city has begun putting up no parking signs along the south side of Avenue E. Not all the signs are up yet, but he said the city will soon begin an education phase where warnings are issued for parking in the new non-restricted parking area.

In other action, the council:
• approved, 7-0, a resolution annexing property at 2110 30rd Avenue into the city limits.
• approved, 7-0, the sale of property located between 2601 Avenue L and Dry Creek to Christopher and Tara Vincent.
• approved 6-1 (Councilman Kevin Rink opposed) an amendment to a services contract with HRGreen for additional services on the Great River Health System-Fort Madison Community Hospital Community Foundation Trail project for an additional $37,876. THe increase is due to services for additional topographic surveys and design of the 18th Street trail and a 15th Street box culvert extension.
• appointed Dianna Holmes to the Historic Preservation Commission, Jason Lynk to the Fort Madison Southeast Iowa Regional Riverboat Commission, reappointed Andy Andrews and Dan Reppert to the HPC, and Stephanie Knoch to the Civil Service Commission; and David Varley to the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission.

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