By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
The City of Clinton Conference Board on Monday approved the proposed budget from the City of Clinton Assessor’s office that includes 2.5 percent pay increases for the assessor’s office, but an overall reduction in the total budget.
City Assessor John Moreland presented the budget to the Conference Board, which came in $40,000 less than the budget for fiscal year 2012 at $637,000.
The budget includes a pay increase for the assessor and deputy assessor who will make $76,812 and $53,442 respectively. The three other personnel in the assessor’s office will receive the same percentage increase.
“I tried to keep in step with the county in terms of raises,” Moreland said.
Conference Board member and Ward 4 City Councilman Paul Gassman noted the lack of pay increases for other non-union city employees.
“I wanted to mention, I got some feedback on the amount of increase and the fact that city employees, especially our non-bargaining ones, are getting nothing, or have gotten nothing. It’s been a pretty difficult time,” Gassman said. “I just wanted to bring that forward for everyone here to consider.”
Despite Gassman’s gesture, none of the other Conference Board members, who come from the City Council, County Supervisors or school board, discussed the pay increase differences between the city employees and city assessor’s office.
While the five employees of the office will receive pay increases, the budget will be smaller than last year overall. The reduction in total budget is due to the special appraisal fund going from $300,000 to $250,000.
The budget was boosted by $50,000 last year in order to cover the costs of attorneys needed as the city continued to fight Archer Daniels Midland over property taxes. That dispute will be brought forward in court on June 10 of this year, before the next fiscal year begins.
The ADM property in question, commonly known as the co-generation facility, was labeled a utility plant in 2008 and was exempt from property taxes in 2009. However, Moreland and other city officials protested the tax-exempt designation.
In 2010, legislation was passed saying that a co-generation plant would be locally assessed.
Moreland conducted that assessment, determining the facility’s value at $78 million.
In 2011, ADM lobbied for new legislation that would relieve the company of its property tax obligation. The company was successful, and that ruling applied retroactively to the previous year.
Because the case is in active litigation, Moreland would not discuss any details.