A COVID-19 stimulus bill passed at the federal level could help backfill some of the shortfalls the City of Dyersville is expecting in tax revenues that were negatively impacted by pandemic-related issues.

The Dyersville City Council convened at a special meeting March 29 where it unanimously passed its budget for the coming fiscal year in which most of the big budget categories saw an even split of increases and decreases across departments: Public Safety $1,118,305 ($1,032,913 in last year’s budget), Public Works $721,748 ($745,906) Culture and Recreation $1,163,542 ($1,069,027), Community and Economic Development $1,233,208 ($1,295,776), General Government $503,489 ($540,200), Debt Service $942,019 ($503,727) and Capital Project $340,000 ($918,000).

Councilmember Mike English voiced concerned with a downtrend in revenue being brought in by property taxes, especially given the council has approved raises for employees and health insurance premiums continue to get more expensive.

According to city documents, the taxes levied on property dropped from $2,521,080 in the current year’s budget to a projected $2,449,742 for fiscal year 2022.

City Administrator Mick Michel said the approximate $71,000 decrease was due to several factors including COVID-19, which delayed the assessment of several large projects in the downtown area, resulting in less tax revenue for the city.

“We were anticipating more assessed valuation in the fiscal year 2022 budget but because of delays in finalizing that, it never got inserted,” Michel said. “But we’re hoping that will be offset by next year.”

The general fund balance also took a hit due to COVID-19, but Michel said the hope is that those losses will be covered by Dyersville’s share of the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus bill that was recently passed.

Michel said staff is still waiting on guidance from the Treasury Department for exactly how the money can be used, but he added the legislation does dictate that all the money must be spent by 2024. The city should see the first half of the money arrive sometime in May.

The council also discussed possibly starting the budgeting process a little earlier next year.

At its previous meeting, the council decided to table the budget until the agricultural land tax was reinserted, forcing it to host an additional public hearing and approve the budget just before the March 30 deadline. In light of this development, the council informally agreed to host its public hearing on the budget earlier to avoid potentially repeating this situation in the future.

While Michel said that shouldn’t be an issue, he did inform the council that the county doesn’t release several important financial figures until mid-January, making it difficult to start too much earlier than the council currently does.

In a scenario where the council was to miss the state-mandated deadline to submit its new budget, Michel said it would revert to whatever budget figures the council had approved the previous year.