by Jack Mayne To help balance the city budget, the Des Moines City Council increased taxes on utilities to 8 percent at Thursday night’s session (Nov. 6). Approved unanimously were 2 percent increases of the city’s current 6 percent tax on cable television providers, solid waste utilities and surface water management providers, The higher percentage “could potentially increase revenues” in 2014 by $300,000. Above the limit State law gives cities the authority to raise taxes on cable and solid waste collection utilities as well as on the city owned surface management utility above the 6 percent limit state law has on electricity, telephone, and gas providers. The state law says a city cannot have disproportionate tax levels on city-owned utilities, so both rates must be at the same level. Such taxes are routinely passed directly to subscribers and service users. The Council has also approved a five-year sunset provision that means the Council can reconsider the tax increase for its 2020 budget. The city has until Jan. 1 to pass the new two-year budget. Marina repairs needed Ben Stewart, a Marina tenant and Des Moines resident, said he was a representative of Three Tree Point Yacht Club, and the “marina needs a lot of repairs” and “there is no money to do it” and there is “no plan to put the money together.” Stewart suggested a marina oversight committee be formed to put together a five-year business plan, a 10-year sustainability report and to suggest proposals to the Council and the city staff. Long-time Des Moines resident and Marina user Doug Andrews said he has watched the marina deteriorate over the years. “It is hard to understand how, after 45 years, there is no money put aside to do many of these (needed) repairs,” Andrews said. “It is appalling. If we keep deteriorating, I am going to have to look for a place down in Tacoma because if you folks – somebody doesn’t put some money into that facility, it is not going to be here.” More police needed James Payne, a 2013 losing City Council candidate, told Councilmembers the city has a “crime problem” that is exacerbated by having “only four, sometimes only three police officers” patrolling the city – fewer he said than the state average for the same size community. “You must fund and sustain at least 10 more police officers and even more if you want to drive the crime rate down. We need more cops now.” But City Manager Tony Piasecki later said crime was somewhat being controlled on Pacific Ridge and that a bank-owned six-plex has been emptied of tenants “through the efforts” of many agencies. “This particular property was responsible for 150 incidents in the last six months – that is almost one a day and often times two or three a day,” he said. Another nearby property “was quite a problem for the neighborhood” and some tenants have been evicted and others put on notice of eviction if problems continue. Saltwater Park bridge Piasecki said the Saltwater State Park bridge is in need of shoring up, repairs and a seismic update. “We were lucky enough to get a very large grant from the state” to cover the projects. He said the bridge will be closed to traffic on Nov. 12 “for approximately six months” but should be reopened by the end of April 2015.]]>