By Jack Mayne

Deputy Finance Director Shawn Hunstock told the Des Moines City Council on Thursday, Nov. 12 the overall assessed value of City of Des Moines increased more than $271 million, an increase of 5.94 percent to just under a total value to just under $5 billion.

In addition he said during the past year, Des Moines has had $38 million in new construction which added $42,727 to the overall property tax revenue base.

Despite the increased values, he said the city staff was proposing a rate decrease of 3.95 percent over the 2020 rate instead of collecting the 1 percent allowable increase which would amount to $52,528 for city coffers.

The recent high levy for Des Moines was $1.65 and the proposed levy in 2021 is 34.8 percent less than the amount in the “bad old days” in 2016 when there was serious discussion of potential city bankruptcy.

Hunstock said the city’s 8.72 percent of the total tax levy Des Moines property owner pay is a much smaller amount than 34.61 percent the Highline School District collects.

Emergency Ops
The Council approved an Interlocal agreement with South King Fire District for the operation of Emergency Operations Center at Fire Station 67 as well as the exchange of resources.

Fire Chief Vic Pennington said the move by the council is “taking the city to the next level of emergency management by advancing the capability of the emergency operations. You will now have a dedicated emergency operation center. This is a highly secured facility in one of our fire stations in Des Moines. It is a dedicated facility that you’ll walk into, turn on the lights and go to work to carry out the “commands of emergency management.”

Human Services
During consideration of a motion to approve the Human Services budget in the amount of $175,000, Councilman J.C. Harris (pictured, right) objected, saying he was denied information when he asked to get city staff for it, but was denied this by the mayor and city manager.

In response, City Manager Michael Matthias (pictured, left) said the advisory committee that put the issues together was a “great process” and it was “not the prerogative or purview of Councilmembers to second guess that or to participate in it” and he added the presentation to the Council as part of the city budget discussions was the opportunity.

“It is exactly my prerogative to second guess any dollars,” Harris replied, adding he was sure the citizen committee did a good job, so “thank you for your service,” but said he liked to get his studying on matters “done ahead of time” and not during Council sessions.

Harris said he was certain spending a bit of time with staff would have gotten the responses he needed, “but I am not allowed to, and that’s the point.”

The human services budget was approved five to one, with Harris being the lone objector.

The Council also approved a “proclamation recognizing the Saturday after Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday.”