MARENGO – Some Marengo officials are scrutinizing the Marengo Cemetery Board’s budget as property tax levy discussions loom.
Marengo City Council members agreed in November to reinstate a portion of the board’s requested property tax levy after significantly reducing it for the past several years. The city agreed to reinstate $10,000 in fiscal 2017, with the option of escalating payments in the next two fiscal years.
Now, Marengo must consider whether it will fulfill that escalating payment option and reinstate $15,000 to the board for the coming year. Some aldermen are expressing concern about the board’s unbalanced budget, which is operating on a deficit.
“I am concerned with several issues here as a taxpayer,” 1st Ward Alderman Mike Miller said. “Frankly, I am kind of outraged that they haven’t made any attempt to come up with a balanced budget or even cut their costs. … I really do want to take a good, hard look at it.”
Cemetery Board member Brittany Richardson said the board has demonstrated fiscally responsible behavior for years, which is the reason it had been able to operate without the city’s financial help for two years.
“We didn’t have a deficit until the city changed the tax levy,” Richardson said. “They changed it because they thought we had too much. We had that money because of the fiscal responsibility we exercised.”
The Cemetery Board’s general fund balance sat at $216,000 in May 2016, and the board projects it will deplete to $146,000 in 2018.
The board is projecting its income in the coming fiscal year to be $57,223 with expenses of $72,104, which includes its $27,574 payroll, $15,600 in administrative expenses and $8,525 for mowing expenses, which includes repairs and gasoline, according to the budget.
Marengo must consider whether to reinstate funding for the Cemetery Board of $15,000 before it sets its property tax levy in November.
“At our first meeting in November, I would anticipate we would have discussion about what we want the levy to look like,” Interim City Administrator Josh Blakemore said. “What do we want to include in it? Do we want to ask for an increase? If we keep it flat, where are those funds coming from?”